I picked up the tip last night from Bikes, Hikes, Fish to get Isolation while it is 'gettable.' So we headed out today.

The trail remains in great shape and the two bushwhacks according to my calculations save about 3 miles round trip.

I had heard about both the Engine Hill and the Isolation Bushwhacks but wasn't sure quite how to do them. With the very clear track it's the ideal time to learn how to do these bushwhacks. I have the coordinates in my GPS now and I think I could do them again, even in the summer.

There were very few blowdowns on the entire trip. A couple on the Rocky Branch of no particular significance and one or two on the Isolation whack. There were none on the engine hill whack. The Engine Hill Whack, by the way, is not a whack as in 'Scar Ridge whack' for instance. The track takes you through incredibly open woods. I have a feeling that some day the trail will go that way.

You make only the last river crossing which was almost bridged and very easy to do.

It was surprisingly windy on the summit and totally overcast.

Unless there is a big dump of snow tomorrow this trail will probably remain in fairly good shape and as Bikes Hikes Fish said, if you need Isolation this is a good time to get it.

The trail is so hard packed that there was, today anyway, no need for snowshoes. There was no postholing at all unless you really stepped off the trail.

We saw no one else all day long.