Sunrise on Mt. Sherman

Peak Summited2019 Mount Sherman
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadFourmile Creek
Road ConditionsRoad recommended for high clearance only
Bug StatusBugs were not too bad
Snow ConditionsIntermittent snow - not hard to cross
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition

Set out at 3 a.m. from just behind the gate, and there were about 8-9 others on the trail. Mining roads crisscrossing the trail makes it somewhat difficult to follow in the dark; most veer off and cross each other again. I routinely checked my gps (downloaded the route from 14ers.com), and the group ahead of me was consistently on track, so I followed them as my cheap headlight was about as bright as moonlight.

Not far from the TH, I came to a junction where my GPS said to keep right. The trail forks and joins again, giving you two possible routes. Having read on AllTrails a recent comment that the right is much more difficult/steep and strongly encouraging others to keep left, I went to the left. Soon, about 6 of us were crossing a snow field that was getting steeper and was incredibly slick. A group of three others were off to the right and also hadn’t found the trail, although my GPS indicated that if I did a brief traverse, I should easily hit it. I started that way and the slope only got steeper. I had Ice Trekkers and trekking poles for a traverse that could have used an ice axe and micros spikes. Every step I had to stab a pole in, kick in a step, and repeat. It was exhausting and I was concerned about what would happen if I slipped; I also wasn’t sure the rock I was climbing toward was the actual trail or just a patch of rock followed by more steep slopes of snow above.

As the others had successfully started climbing up the talus slope above the snowfield, I changed plans and climbed up, ultimately cresting a ridge where the trail switches back before going up a second snowy slope to the ridge line.

The hike was easy going after that. I reached the summit just after six, significantly slowed down by the morning snow/talus adventure. There was virtually no wind and clear skies, despite a forecast for heavy clouds in the morning and likely thunderstorms by noon. On the way back down, I saw where we had gone wrong and how very close we had been to the trail, both at first encountering the snow field and when aborted my traverse and began climbing up.

Overall, it was a great hike, but I would not climb terrain like that again unless it was planned, I was properly equipped, and it was light out.

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  1. I’m planning to do this hike on Tuesday. I’ve also read in AllTrails where everyone advises to stay to the left. Can you elaborate more on how you could have stayed on the trail better going up after you saw it clearer on the way down?