Hiking/Trekking Jeanne & Peter


Mt Isolation

Posted on July 25th, 2013
by PeterD in Hikes

There’s no easy way to get to Mt. Isolation – it really earns it’s name. Our plan was to stay at the Joe Dodge Lodge on both Friday and Saturday nights, and do the 13-14 miles all day saturday.

After the near wash-out hike at Garfield and Galehead hut last month and all the rain we’d had during June, we were a bit worried about the weather prospects, but as the week progressed, the good weekend forecast was holding steady, so we were looking forward to the sunny skies with no rain. We were not disappointed in our trip! Read on…

Wanting to beat some of the friday afternoon traffic, we left the house in the early afternoon and were in the north country by dinner time, stopping at a road-side Italian dinner place in Gorham, NH, and arriving at the lodge shortly after 7. Our hike started and ended about 4 miles apart, so the plan was to leave the car at the finishing trail-head and for Peter to ride his bike back to the lodge. While it was only 4 miles, the 9% grade sign on the way to drop the car at the trailhead was a bit intimidating.  A bit of sweat later and Peter was back in the lodge before dusk!

True to the forecast, the next day broke with nearly cloudless skies and some lowered humidity.   A great looking day for a hike.   After an early breakfast, we packed up our gear and headed off, leaving the Lodge about 7:40AM.  Book time for the hike was over 9 hours, so we wanted to make sure we were out early, but not before taking some time to enjoy the beautiful sunrise looking out toward the Wildcats from Joe Dodge.

Because the route was a loop, the trail guides and books suggested heading up Glen Boulder trail, picking up Davis Path, summiting Mt. Isolation, then returning down Rocky Branch trail.   This direction has the maximum elevation (over 5000ft) early in the hike, before summiting Isolation, leaving a much more gradual down hill trek through the bulk of the hike.  Since Glen Boulder had the views, with Rocky Branch in the woods, this also meant views earlier in the hike.    We were glad we took this direction – There were some OUTSTANDING views from the Glen Boulder trail – we were near/above treeline for a time, out in the open and exposed, with great views all around.

For this section of the route, it was still relatively early in the day – 9-10:30 or so – so it wasn’t quite so hot/humid; the sun was out and visibility was great. Later in the day, there was more filtered sun, which would have not added as much contrast to the views. To the right, Glen Boulder itself. Amazing that it just sits there (and sure, you can imagine nearly walking up to it and pushing it over – if it weren’t for it’s 15′ height!).

Heading onward, we joined up with Davis Path, somewhere over 5000′, and downhill from Boott Spurr. This also offered some outstanding views – the image below was just one of the many!   It was a beautiful day to be walking around in the high country!  And Isolation, true to name, we saw only 2 people in the first 4 hours of the hike.  Really a treat!

From here, we headed south on Davis Path, toward Isolation Trail and Mt. Isolation itself. Mostly downhill and back into wooded sections, we headed up the short spur off Isolation Trail, coming up out of the woods to the Mt. Isolation summit shortly after noon – a about 4-1/2 hours from our departure.

Time for some lunch, courtesy of the Joe Dodge Lodge, and a photo opportunity of the two of us (with the assistance from a mother/daughter who were already at the summit).  We enjoyed again being out in the open, no trees.   Behind us, in the far distance is Boott Spurr ridge, where we’d been a few hours earlier.   Still smiling!

A bit more of a break, then we headed off, first to retrace some of our steps on the Isolation Trail, back toward Rocky Branch trail and our way back to the car.

Believe what you hear about wet trails – it was all true! The Rocky Branch trail was wet! small streams running along the trail, boggy areas where we had to rock hop to make it through, and just plain mud, that required walking on the edges to keep from a complete goo mess. It was wet.

It was a very long day – slightly over 9 hours – just about book time for us.  Our water ran low at the end (it was hot!), but overall, not too bad.  And yes, thankfully, the car was exactly where we’d left it, just about 24 hours (and a short bike ride) before!

For the map geeks, we tried something new this time – using mapmyhike.com to create detailed map of the route.  Click on the map image to be brought to the details.   We also used a GPS along the way, though we’re still fiddling with all that and unfortunately, the batteries ran out about 6 ours into the hike…  We’re still experimenting!

And in our quest for 48, we’re at 37!

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