A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

(Too) Early Season Run Down the Sherburne

December 6, 2020
Tyson Sawyer

We were feeling in need of a first of the season ski fix and the forecast was calling for 10-20 inches in the Pinkham Notch area. The alarm went off at 5AM and the family loaded into the car. As we drove through the Franconia Notch area and then north and west through Carol and Gorham, there was a bit too much bare ground. Emilie and I discussed what we should do if things looked that bare at the trailhead and concluded that we should go skiing.

Blowing snow and open slush

The ground around Joe Dodge Lodge looked better. It even looked promising. The Tuckerman Ravine Trail was a mix of good powder, slush and open water run-off from recent rain storms. Keeping skins from collecting slush and ice at crossings was a challenge. Rocks poked through in substantial numbers. The peak up the Sherburne trail at the last switch back looked dismal with lots of ground showing through.

Lunch at a Hermit Lake shelter

As we climbed, the wind strengthened and the temperature dropped. By the time we reached Hermit Lake, it was bitter cold. We took refuge in one of the 3 sided shelters to eat some lunch.

At Hermit lake, the snow looked very promising. The entry to the Sherburne from the Care Taker’s Lodge was well covered. But as soon as we turned left after the bridge onto the main trail, we were met with the first of many water crossings. A short distance further we found that sections of the trail had been scoured clean by the wind.


And so it went. Some sections were beautiful powder. Most had rocks poking through to avoid or find with your skis. Some areas were blown clear of snow, though most has a strip of snow on one side or the other. Some areas had slush from run-off under the snow and there were a number of water crossings. I took one spill when I crossed what I thought was a grass section but was rewarded with the ski stopping grip of rocks.

Emilie found a little powder

For a small troop of skiers desperate for a fix, it was a good day. …even if a rather cold, windy and rocky. We were able to ski back to the parking lot where Isaac was quite literally blown uncontrollably back down the lot by the howling wind.

All Photos

GPS Track