Activity Maine goes next door for some backcountry skiing and riding
FREEBoarder -by Activity Maine’s Stan Rintz
This weekend really felt like an adventure as I was driving out of Maine to the Sherburn Trail located just below Tuckerman’s ravine on New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. I was field testing a split board, which is a snowboard that splits down the middle into a pair of skis so you can hike or “skin” up a mountain trail and then put it back together and snowboard down. Pretty awesome. I went with a friend whom I played pick up basketball with in Portland several years ago. We randomly stayed in touch about skiing and riding in the backcountry one of these years and this year it finally happened. We met early Saturday morning and he brought his friend, whom he summer and winter hikes with. His friend looked familiar and as it turns out that I had recently met him at a Maine Track Club banquet last month. So what started as car ride with a person who I only knew from a basketball gym and another from only a brief encounter, ended like I knew them for years and now we are plotting the next mountain conquest this winter.
I didn’t sleep well bc of the anticipation, fear and excitement of doing something new. The two hour ride flew by and we arrived at Pinkham Notch where parking was limited due to the large quantity of people that showed up to either winter hike or backcountry ski and ride. 2 inches of fresh snow had just fallen and it was about 32 degrees at the base, which is scorching for what we were about to do.
We applied the skins to our equipment and walked to the beginning of the trail head where people have gathered and left all morning. We started the ascent and took about 2 hours due to my lack of cardio and not being used to skis and had no previous training. My friends were ahead the whole time but would stop and wait. We met several people on their way up and down and even saw a Fisher in the trail ahead of us, what a cool looking animal! With in 10 minutes we were down to long sleeved wicking shirts, no gloves or hats and still I was borderline overheating. The workout was intense for me but the fact of being in the wilderness made me forget the amount of exercise I was getting. We crossed bridges and switchbacks until we reached the summit where we had a quick snack and socialized with other people before parting ways. The summit was somewhat cloudy, unfortunately we did not get to see Tuckerman’s ravine because of the visibility. Some people kept going on to Tuckerman’s and others went to different trails. We removed the skins from our skis, packed our backpacks and I put my board back together with a few clips and snaps. Then donned the downhill gear and headed down the Sherburn.
I was a FREEBoarder. No lift tickets, no lines no waiting. The trail was in great shape with packed powder and couple bumps here and there. I would give the trail a difficulty of a blue on most mountains. Backcountry riding in New Hampshire- I knew it would be awesome but didn’t expect a life changer for today. I want to be in better shape so my body can take me where my brain is now dreaming of whats possible. Hillmans Highway, Gulf of Slides and Tuckermans. To be in better condition to do more summits and descents. I appreciate chairlifts but don’t need them all the time. Just like summitting you get feeling of accomplishment, then throw in the magic of winter and top it off with ripping powder stashes and seeing a Fisher on the trail was amazing.