Middle Tripyramid 4140’ and North Tripyramid 4180’
11.2 miles 3000’ Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma
We had been unsuccessful on our last couple of summit attempts, so, we were hoping for some luck this time. Numbers 11 and 27 have always been pretty lucky for me and it turned out we were hiking on the 11th and it would be my 27th winter 4k. We made it to both North and Middle Tripyramid, and then back to the car without major incident, so, I guess my lucky numbers helped, but probably not as much as a morning prayer to my guardian angel, Jack my late son. He loved the mountains and the camping we did together when he was young. We never hiked too many mountains together, but he is with me now on every hike. When I need strength, I think of him. He was so strong. When I am on a summit I look out across the wilderness and I think how he would have loved the view, and I know he is there with me in my heart. Then I think of his brothers, how they miss him. And his grandmother, how she aches inside for the grandson she helped raise as though he was her own. I think of my own pain, but I dismiss it. I have the mountains to heal me. I have tried to bring my other two sons here, but they do not find the same comfort I do. I hope as they grow older, they will. The snow today was like concrete. We wore snowshoes and they made quite a racket clattering along on the petrified snow. We probably should have worn something else, our microspikes, maybe, but I wanted the snowshoes in case we needed them and they were working well, so we wore them the whole trip. Apparently it was too much for my new MSR's, as the front cleat broke off of one. I didn't realize it until we were nearly done with the hike, and I can't think of anywhere it might have happened. As we climbed the Scaur Ridge Trail and neared the junction with the Pine Bend Brook Trail we entered a world of crystal trees, fragile as glass, and the trail was scattered with twigs and branches which could not withstand the ice and wind. Now, up on the Pine Bend Brook Trail, I noticed fresh tracks in the snow, and we soon caught up to another hiker in the woods just above the junction. He informed us that he had heard us coming from about a mile away and was hoping we were'nt a moose crunching through the snow. It turned out that he was also a VFTT'r, Grayjay. He had been ready to turn around, as the trail conditions had been less than ideal on the way up, but he decided to join us to the top of North Tripyramid, then return by Sabbaday Brook Trail, as he had no desire to descend by Pine Bend Brook, the way he had come. Shortly after he joined us, I bonked. I was hungry and out of energy, and we had reached the steep section of the trail. This is where Jude goes into overdrive and forges on to the summit, and I crawl along, stopping to catch my breath, saying another prayer and hoping that each turn and rise is the last. Jude, Emma and Grayjay went on, alternating tree whacking to get to the top. Along some sections I was literally on my knees crawling under frozen branches to get along the trail. When you're this high on the snow, all the trees that are beautiful over head canopies in the the other seasons are now evil, clutching, grabbing zombie hands that want to prevent your passage. They slap your face, grab your pack and hold it so that you have to back up to get loose, poke you mercilessly, or completely block your passage so that you have to leave the trail and immediately sink in the snow up to your waist or higher. Despite all this, you feel bad that as you pass you inevitably break some of their frozen fingers off and they tinkle to the snow-covered ground and slide away. Finally, I made it to the top of North Tri, and we had some lunch and conversation while I changed into a dry shirt. Then, down we went on to Middle Tri. Grayjay left us when we got to the Sabbaday Brook Trail, he had had enough. Our plan was to climb Middle, then retreat the way we had come. We didn't care to find out what the South Slide was like in winter. After pictures and a rest on Middle Tri we slipped and slid our way back down to where the climb back to North Tri began. It was an easier climb back than I had anticipated, but I was still thankful when we reached the top. We stopped to rest and I took more pictures, it was then that we noticed how quiet it was today. Not even the birds disturbed the silence of the woods. We saw some chicadees and a Hairy Woodpecker early on, but nothing the rest of the day. The sky was beautiful, azure. Some wispy clouds were now coming from the west, but the sun shone warm and bright. Mount Washington and his neighbors shone like the crown jewell of the White Mountains. Hardly the slightest breeze had blown all day. There, staring out across the expanse, the warm sun at my back, my eyes dazzled by the brilliance of the sky and snow covered peaks, the wind brought a whisper to my ear, "I'd be there with you if I could, dad."