Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mt. Isolation 6-11-11

Bill and I on the summit of Mt. Isolation
A lot of hikers tend to choose to hike Mt. Isolation last or near the end of their list. That is because it is one the most remote of the 48 4000 footers, requiring 14.6 miles of hiking. My brother (Bill) and I camped at the Rocky Branch Shelter #2 in October of 2010, and it was a cool, fall day that turned into a chilly, snowy, and wet overnight. At the time we didn't bag the summit, and I had no idea I'd be hiking all of the 48 peaks this year, but we were also rookies, sort of, but we made the right decision that afternoon to not continue past the shelter when it started snowing. We were prepared, but when it got wet, it was really cold, and we were unable to start a fire in the sleet. Click here to view that trip report and photos.

I like to keep plans open and go with the flow, so when Bill said he wanted to do Isolation, I knew it was on. Despite the fact that it was cold and raw back in October, it hooked us because the snow and weather not only made it a challenge, but it was also beautiful. We didn't get the summit that time, so you better believe I had no problem with obliging on his choice of Isolation.

Knowing what to expect in terms of difficulty, we headed up the Rocky Branch Trail in a slower and steadier pace. The trail had burnt us out-of-shape rookies out that time, so relaxing a little bit in the beginning made it much more enjoyable this time. As much as I like to move forward, its fun passing the things you remember from last time. The overall trail conditions were much better than those in October. In the morning, and all the way to the summit, there were no problems rock hopping the watery parts of the trail and the river crossings were all passable with no problem. We stuck to the trail. Although rough in some places, I thought the Isolation Trail (east of Davis Path) was beautiful and was surprised to be able to have limited views from it and Davis Path as we approached the summit.
Rocky Brach Trail
Isolation Trail
Our excitement grew as we approached the summit. There was a sense of redemption and triumph as we placed our hands upon the cairn. Despite the clouds and full overcast, we were extremely pleased with the views we were greeted with. We opened up our sandwiches, then it began to rain. No problem, we put on our rain gear, finished up, took some photos, and got ready to descend.

By the time we descended to the Davis Path it was raining steadily. With our lightweight rain jackets on, it didn't phase us one bit, as we were having a blast on the way out staying completely dry. Once passed the Rocky Branch crossing, the rain had swelled the water on the trail, so hiking back over Engine Hill and that area became about the same as it was in October, but having done it before now, it was smooth sailing.
Shooting some trail video with monopod
Me on the lower wet, Rocky Branch Trail
For me, Isolation will be now archived in my memory with my photos and two trip reports. I hope to summit Isolation again some day, but for now my quest continues on with 27 more to go within about 6 and a half months. Although I am not setting this one in stone, I am aiming to end this quest much sooner than December 31st. We shall see!

Hike Stats
Trails: Rocky Branch Trail, Isolation Trail, Davis Path
Miles: 14.6
Elevation Gain: 3400 ft

To view the album for this trip, please view or click the slideshow below.

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