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View Full Version : Isolation via Direttissima, Glen Boulder, and Davis Path, 6/16/2012



BIGEarl
06-17-2012, 08:52 AM
June 16, 2012: Isolation

Trails: The Direttissima, Glen Boulder Trail, Davis Path, Isolation Spur

Summits: Isolation

Hikers: Trail Trotter (Sue) and me



The forecast for the day was good, good enough to spend some time above the treeline. We havenít hiked Glen Boulder Trail for quite a while. In fact, the last time Sue and I were on this trail was over three years ago and the hike didnít go quite the way we planned. It was an interesting day but we got back to the trailhead late, very late; a little after 1:30am Ė Long Day! Looking for a little variety we decided to hike from PNVC via The Direttissima. This approach only adds .6 miles each way, allows us to park at PNVC (Glen Ellis Falls parking area has a bad reputation regarding break-ins), and gets a little red-lining accomplished. We worked out the timing for the day and had our plan.

The Direttissima is a good way to start the hike providing a great warm-up by the time we were hiking Glen Boulder Trail. The trail is clear and dry with very little mud along the way. Soon we reached the junction with Glen Boulder Trail, made the turn, and started the climb. At 2.8 miles and 2900 feet of elevation gain, Glen Boulder Trail is a pretty good workout all of the way to Davis Path. Roughly half of the trail is sheltered in thick conifers and the other half is in complete exposure with outstanding views. Glen Boulder Trail is a real treat in good conditions, but Iíd never use this route if the weather wasnít good. At Glen Boulder we came upon the first of many others we would see in the course of the day. We paused for a couple pictures at Glen Boulder and continued the climb.

Soon we reached the ridge leading to Slide Peak and were back in the thick conifers for a while. On our way through this last sheltered section before complete exposure to Davis Path we passed the spur trail that leads down to a spring. We made it to Slide Peak and stopped to enjoy the views and get some pictures. The remaining hike to the junction with Davis Path is fully exposed and a milder grade than much of the previous climb. After the short break at Slide Peak we continued to Davis Path. Ever since Glen Boulder we had been leapfrogging a couple other hikers also headed to Isolation and they passed us again on this section. We reached Davis Path, made the turn, and started south to Isolation.

Hiking this route to Isolation requires us to descend roughly 1500 feet to reach the summit. The Glen Boulder Ė Davis Path trails junction is significantly higher in elevation than the summit of Isolation; call it the price you pay for the views. From the trail junction to Isolation we enjoyed a generally downhill run of 2.9 miles with a small final climb to the summit. Along the way we met Jason Berard and his friend Brent. They were backpacking in the area for the weekend and completing some sort of survey. We stopped to visit for a while and were soon back to our hikes; they were headed north on Davis Path and Sue and I were headed south. Eventually all of us would reverse direction and meet again before the afternoon was over.

There were only a couple bad sections of trail we came to all day and one was in the vicinity of Isolation West and Isolation East trail junctions. There is an area of blowdowns and mud pits that the trail passes through. Itís passable but I think there might have been one or two trees that needed some attention. We passed the trail junctions with Isolation Trail and continued south on Davis Path to the string of mud pits leading to Isolation (this was the other bad section of trail). The bridges in this area are completely deteriorated. We managed to get through with relatively clean boots but it sure would be nice to see these bridges through the pits built.

The next surprise we found was at the Isolation Spur junction. The sign at Isolation Spur has been replaced. Thatís helpful. We made the turn and completed the final short climb to the summit. There were a few others at the summit when we arrived and more came in after. Eventually there was quite a crowd but still not nearly as many people as there were black flies. As far as the black flies were concerned it was lunch time. So far I had been able to avoid the deet, but if we hung around the summit for long Iíd pull it out. We got our pictures and after a small adjustment in footwear we were heading back down the summit spur.

We left Isolation and started to pay the price for the views; a re-climb to the Davis Path Ė Glen Boulder trails junction was next on our to-do list; thatís a price tag of ~2.9 miles and 1500 feet of elevation. Itís not so bad; along the way we once more went above the treeline and again had the unrestricted views to enjoy as we hiked along (this is the main reason for taking this route). Itís possible the grade becomes less significant above the treeline. Itís also possible with all of the great views the grade becomes secondary. Whatever the case; hiking Davis Path above the treeline is a treat. We reached the junction with Glen Boulder Trail, made the turn, and headed for PNVC.

As I mentioned earlier, our last hike of this route ended late and included several hours of headlights. On that hike the headlights were out before we hit the treeline. Descending Glen Boulder Trail in the dark is a very interesting experience. We didnít need to worry about that on this hike; we were on-plan and headed for a late afternoon trailhead time to end the hike. The trail above the treeline is generally rough hiking with a lot of rock-hopping involved. We worked our way back down past Glen Boulder and below the treeline. Eventually, we were on a sheltered trail with the only real challenge being black flies. As long as we kept moving everything was generally alright Ė we kept moving. From the treeline to the junction with The Direttissima isnít far, we made the turn and started our cool-down lap to PNVC. Along the way we made a stop at the viewpoint over Pinkham Notch.

At the trailhead lot we found quite a few vehicles. I assume most were overflow from a full-house at PNVC for the day. Earlier in the day when we were above Glen Boulder we could see back to PNVC and I noticed vehicles lining route 16 south and north of the entrance; everybody was out to feed the black flies.

We tossed our things into the truck and headed into the visitor center for a quick change into some dry clothes. In the lot near the entrance was the nicest í57 Chevy I have ever seen. The New Hampshire plate was Five-7. It was parked beside a new-looking Mercedes C300 - 4MATIC. If I had a choice, Iíd take the Chevy. The thing had been completely restored. Thatís real eye candy!

Soon we were on the highway with an early stop at the Irving Station in Gorham for a little fuel (cheaper than in Nashua), and then headed south for home and Sueís car.


Pictures will follow.

:cool:

BIGEarl
06-17-2012, 05:25 PM
Iíve posted some pictures from the day.


BIGEarl's Pictures (http://community.webshots.com/user/BIGEarlshots)


Straight to the slideshow (http://outdoors.webshots.com/slideshow/582981318BOAqIm)


:cool:

Trail Trotter
06-18-2012, 02:58 AM
Direttissima is a nice trail and worth the extra mileage. Glen Boulder is even a better trail. I really enjoy taking this approach to Isolation when the weather is nice. But then again, I really enjoy being above treeline.

Thanks Earl for a fun day out. :)

Jason Berard
06-18-2012, 10:38 AM
It was good to see you both on Saturday! Brent and I were doing a high elevation songbird survey for Vermont Center for Ecostudies.
http://www.vtecostudies.org/MBW/


Good luck to you both as you close in on some cool hiking goals!

BIGEarl
06-18-2012, 03:35 PM
Direttissima is a nice trail and worth the extra mileage. Glen Boulder is even a better trail. I really enjoy taking this approach to Isolation when the weather is nice. But then again, I really enjoy being above treeline.

Thanks Earl for a fun day out. :)
I completely agree.

Descending Glen Boulder Trail in daylight is a lot different from descending it in the middle of the night with headlights, as we did on our last time through. During the day we actually got to enjoy the sights of the descent on the exposed slope leading past Glen Boulder. I donít think wet conditions would be much fun there.

On the other hand, being up there after dark with clear conditions is pretty special. Turn the headlights off and enjoy the show. Thereís always a lot to see in the sky if you look for it, and down below the small towns scattered everywhere are lit up and putting on their own show to enjoy. What a sight!

Maybe itís time for another above-the-treeline adventure with some high-elevation after-dark time.

;)




It was good to see you both on Saturday! Brent and I were doing a high elevation songbird survey for Vermont Center for Ecostudies.
http://www.vtecostudies.org/MBW/


Good luck to you both as you close in on some cool hiking goals!

Thanks Jason,

And thanks for the link to an interesting site.

It was a very nice surprise to see you and Brent as well.

I heard the comment about a survey but didnít know if you had mentioned the type survey. If you explained I missed it, sorry. I wasnít joking with my comment about poor hearing and I didnít want to ask you to repeat yourself.

:o