Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mt. Isolation - 5/23/15

This year's Memorial Day was a little different. I'm used to putting together a big plan, but this year it was a bit more laid back.  After enjoying a huge steak dinner out to eat with my girlfriend on Friday night, I slept in and woke up with a nice breakfast.  I even had a quick soak in the tub to ease some tight leg muscles before leaving. With everyone already involved into their Saturday Memorial Day festivities, I was just heading up the pike around noon.

It was 3pm when I started my way up the Rocky Branch Trail. The trail was nice and knowing I wanted to hike Owl's Head later, I pretty much busted my hump up the trail.  Once the trail levels off and hooks around, I could start the occasional jog as it approaches the start of the engine hill bushwhack. I walked a few hundred feet into the engine hill bushwhack, but the ground seemed sloppy, so I retreated and stuck with the trails.  I took the herd path that diverts right just before the trail heads down to the river.  It crosses the river in a tame spot, and re-joins with the Isolation Trail.

I passed some groups that were heading in and some groups that were heading out, all looked like they were enjoying the day. The trail had water in it like usual, so there was tons of rock-hopping and jumping.  I'm learning that its actually easier to hover over this terrain while moving a little faster, although there is an elevated risk of falling on the face or into some water.  It was a little breezy above the trees, so knowing that, and that I wanted to take a decent break on the summit for about 15 minutes, I bundled up with a couple of layers and my gloves, and climbed up to the summit to amazing views and deep blue skies.

Presidential Range from Mt. Isolation 
Approaching the summit 
Panorama from the summit of Mt. Isolation 
Pepperoni & Cheese summit snack.
 After the nice break, and my snack, I headed out.  I had Owl's Head on my mind, which kept me moving.  I reached the car in four hours and forty minutes, shaving about a whole hour off my previous personal best time.  It sure is fun as heck to be able to hit one of the most remote peaks, a favorite of mine, in such a quick fashion.  After removing my boots and socks, I drove through North Conway, picked up a couple of food items, drove the length of the Kanc to Lincoln Woods to ready for Owl's Head.

Isolation Summit - 11th Round
Isolation - 11th Round
Beautiful clear views
3rd visit to Isolation this year

Trail Conditions:
The lower part of the trail was pretty dry and in good condition. Once up on the hill after leveling out, the trail becomes the typical wet trail requiring some rock-hopping, and a little bit of a flowing stream heading down to the river. The river was calm and I crossed at the main crossing on the return. There were a couple of small patches of snow winding through the blow downs approaching the Davis Path, and a couple in the section towards the summit, but no traction is necessary. The trail was real easy to follow this day. On the return, I spotted a blue water bottle with a McGill Outdoors Club sticker on it. I left it by the trail head because there were so many people on the trail.
Rocky Branch Trail 
Rocky Branch Trail 
Isolation Trail on the return trip

Hike Stats
Trails: Rocky Branch Trail, Isolation Trail, Davis Path
Distance: 15.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,066 ft.
Actual Book Time: 4:40

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