Well, it was time for my last hike before the big 5 week vacation, and given the weather forecast, Isolation was the choice. I was also itching to get above treeline, so despite swearing it was crazy to go over Glen Boulder, I went over Glen Boulder. And it was worth all the extra effort.
I got an early start. A wicked early start, on the trail at 5:50. It was going to be a long 12 mile and 5300' of gain day, so I didn't want to get home really late, and I relished the thought of having the trails to myself for a number of hours.
The sun was already up, and the trail was bouldery from the start including some interesting scrambles. I moved along nicely, feeling pretty good and in shape. Because of the length of the trip, I just focused on small goals. The first was Glen Boulder. I spotted it from afar and as I came up to it I was amazed this thing hasn't fallen over long ago.
And the views really started to open up from there. This was already a far better choice than the Rocky Branch Trail. In places the trail dipped back in the woods, which were pleasant enough on their own.
Coming out now totally above treeline, I kept taking in the awesome views towards Mt. Washington. I didn't realize it at the time but the bump at center left was the trail junction where I'd turn south towards Isolation. It looks pretty far away.
The wind was strong and if I stood still, I got chilled. It was supposed to be warm today, but I was glad to be out early, and the wind was welcome. This is one reason I love being above treeline.
I trodded along, finally spotting the junction from afar, but it seemed to take a good long while to actually get there. I looked south, and there was Isolation, almost 1200 feet below me, and looking a long, long way away. It's the bump just right of the center of this picture. The nearest and lower peak is North Isolation at center right.
That was a bit depressing, as I knew I'd have to descend at least 1300', but worse, have to reclimb that at the end. Well, I knew I was in for that, so onward. Besides, it'd be nice to go down for a while. The trail was good, and I got views of the southern Presidentials as a a bonus. Getting a little more boulder-hoppy on the steeper bits, I moved along, and went below treeline again to the woods bushwhackers dream of.
At one point I checked my White Mountain Guide map that I got online. Hmm, what's this peak marked Isolation, North Peak. Strange, the online WMG doesn't usually name peaks unless they are of some significance. Rummaging through my memory I couldn't remember if this was on the Trailwrights list (4000 footers with only 100' of prominence, vs. most other lists' requirements of 200'). Well, what the heck, it's only a hundred or so feet off trail. I kept watching bumps and kept going up until it was clear I was near the highpoint and plunged into moderate stick woods. I couldn't find a jar at the obvious highpoint, and thought there might be some views a little bit west, but there wasn't. Back on the trail I quickly came to the junction of the Isolation Trail coming up from Dry River, and then what seemed to be a long quarter mile to the Rocky Branch Trail. The mile to the Isolation Spur went quickly, despite now going up, as the grades were nice.
Phew! Just a short little jaunt to the summit, and there it was, number 170 of 176 of the NH3k list, and my next to last 4000 footer. And the views were better than I thought. I was under the impression a lot of scrub knocked out a lot of the views, but it wasn't the case. Here is Oakes Gulf and Washington taking a little break from the clouds that moved in.
The Franconia and Willey Ranges were showing, the Twins, and here is Carrigan and the Hancocks.
I relaxed for quite a while, just enjoying the day. At 10:30, I let out a big sigh, knowing I had 1300' of climbing to do. It doesn't help when you can see where you're going. It's the bump above treeline directly in the center. Need to go over the wooded bumps first.
Well, I got to go down about 200' first, and I met my first hiker of the day. A quick hello, and moving on. I kept meeting people along the way, not surprising given the beautiful day and the popularity of this 4k peak. I passed by North Isolation and on the way down I stopped and talked with a guy who happened to ask about that peak. Well, that was a surprise given the obscurity of this peak. I told him what I found, and he confirmed it was a Trailwrights peak.
The climb back up wasn't as bad I had imagined (despite I had already gone down this). It was slow, but not excruciating, so I was again glad for the decision to go this route. As I hit treeline again, the wind was blowing harder. The observatory showed 60 mph winds at the time, I conservatively estimated 40 mph winds where I was, as I was getting pushed around. It felt really refreshing, however, given the building heat.
I made the junction again, and was psyched it was all downhill from here. I cranked it out for a good while until after Slide Peak, and I had already forgotten how bad the footing was from here, and I had to go a lot slower. Crap. To make up for that, with the sun now to the south, I had good views east. Here's Black Mountain in the midground, and the Baldfaces, Sable and Chander in the back.
And the Carters and Wildcats along with Pinkham Notch looked pretty spiffy.
The boulder hopping was wrecking my legs, making them shaky, and as I got down to Glen Boulder again, it was quite warm with little breeze, and dratted black flies were out. Chug chug chug, just get down. I got back to the car at 2:20, so the early start paid off. Leaving the Gatorade out of the cooler did not. Yuck.