Friday, July 15, 2011

#29 Mt. Isolation Traverse, August 8, 2009

#29 Mt. Isolation via Glen Boulder, Davis Path, Mt. Isolation and Rocky Branch trails,  August 8, 2009

Mileage: 12.8 miles traverse
Elevation gain: 3,800'
Trailhead: Glen Boulder trailhead (where you start) is on Route 16 heading north, less than a mile before Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, on the right (Glen Ellis Falls parking lot).  Rocky Branch trailhead (where you end up)  is also on Route 16 heading north just past Jackson.  Just before Route 16 starts to climb to Pinkham Notch, the Rocky Branch parking lot will be on the left.
Lesson learned: Sometimes a "dreaded" hike becomes one of your favorites.

Rich, Sandy, Eileen, Pam and Bob accompanied me on this hike.  The weather was pleasant, in the 65-70° range with no predicted precipitation, unlimited views and no bugs. 
Bob and Pam planned the route: Glen Boulder to Davis Path to summit, then back Davis Path to Mt. Isolation trail to Rocky Branch trail.

Glen Boulder trail has a few exposed, steep areas, requiring some scrambles. Once at the top, the views were incredible.  We stopped many times to enjoy it. But, I was anxious to keep going.  

Glen Boulder

This was just a part of the beautiful views - junction Davis Path
At the junction of Davis Path, we headed left. Right would take us to Boot Spur, another hike for another day.

Pam en-route.
The trip was long but exciting, with good company and great weather.    The summit was rock slab with a cairn and lots of views.  We met our friends Abby and Jeff at the summit and sat down to have lunch.  A handful of people were also there, enjoying the view. At about 2:15 we headed toward Rocky Branch trail and to the car we dropped off at the trailhead.

On the summit
Descending was slow for Rich and the conditions were wet, rocky and annoying down Mt. Isolation and Rocky Branch trails.  Three of the river crossings were a challenge and took some time. It had been a wet season. Some of the Rocky Branch trail consisted of rock hopping over a brook.  The sunlight was waning and it was dark when we got down at .

When I look back on this hike, I think of it as one of my top three favorite hikes for several reasons.  First and foremost, we took Glen Boulder trail on a day with fantastic weather.  It put us all in fine spirits.  The summit had fine views and it's always fun to hike nicely cut trails. The group I was with were my friends and a pleasure to spend time with.  

Mt. Isolation gets it's reputation because it is long and also because the Rocky Branch trail is very wet and predictable (boring).  On this day, our descent was done for the most part in 2-3 inches of water - Rocky Branch was that wet.  Toward the end of the journey, people were tired - of the hike, the trail, the water.  I often wonder if we would have been happier going back Glen Boulder but then I think about the elevation gain (1,500' extra).  

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