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Thread: Mt Isolation via Davis Path (in), Isolation and Rocky Branch (out) - 11/29

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    Senior Member NH Tramper's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    North Conway, NH Avatar: Cannon Mtn.

    Thumbs up Mt Isolation via Davis Path (in), Isolation and Rocky Branch (out) - 11/29

    Date of Hike: Nov. 29, 2012

    Trail Conditions: After the snow on my last hike (Waumbek, 11/27), I was surprised there was no base snow at either end of this lengthy traverse (18.4 miles including spurs for Mt Crawford, Stairs Mtn, and Mt Davis). In fact, Davis Path was snow-free for quite some time -- offering lots of leaves and twigs instead -- and it wasn't until we were nearing the Mt Crawford spur junction we saw anything, and even that was a slight dusting at best. We didn't even see an inch of snow until approaching the summit of Isolation. Though it was snowing for much of the afternoon so expect any numbers I throw out to be more by morning. By the time we got back, there was a dusting in both parking lots. There were a few minor blowdowns on Davis Path to start but that changed before long. We encountered a few crawl-unders and a couple of whack-arounds and generally blowdowns became more frequent the further we traveled. When approaching Isolation (.2-.3 south), the trail has been obliterated, at least as we saw it. The blowdowns are many, stacked high, and piled deep. We lost the trail at this point and searching for it was negated by being forced to move only in allowable directions. We could have done without this. To work it out we aimed up. Go to the summit, then pick up the trail again there. It was slow going, very thick spruce trees, yet it was kinda fun as well. And we still beat book time despite that. This went without a hitch and after a .2-.3 mile slog the back side of the summit opened up to us. That was awesome. Davis Path past that had a couple of minor blowdowns, but nothing of any difficulty. Work on this side is in progress (thanks). There was a little bit of ice on Davis Path, but nothing spikes were needed for. Isolation Trail was a lot more icy and microspikes needed to be used, even though we put it off for a while. There was a good inch of snow here as well, covering the ice, thick and thin, and muddy and wet areas. More problematic, however, were the many blowdowns, and sections where the ice over mud lacked strength. The crossings were easy. We hopped rock to thick ice (avoiding thin ice and open water), back to rock. It was comfortable and felt safe. The crossings were also easy on Rocky Branch Trail, and on the latter there were far fewer blowdowns. The mud on Rocky Branch Trail was less of an issue as well.

    Special Equipment Used: Microspikes were needed to navigate safely and expeditiously. Trekking poles were very helpful for support on ice, finding ice and thin/soft spots, as well as balance in crossings. Gaiters weren't really needed, but I was wearing mine them instead of carrying them. I had expected more snow. We were glad we wore soft shell pants.

    Comments: Hiked this one with Bill Robichaud (brobichaud here on VFTT) and it was an awesome hike. Despite the blowdowns, wet spots, and ice, we were rewarded with many amazing views. Despite it all Davis Path, especially, was an excellent trail. We had originally planned to do a Franconia Range Traverse (Skookumchuck or whatever, to Lincoln Woods), the weather, however, specifically the wind and cold, prompted us to be prudent and do that hike on a calmer day. We did not regret our decision, it was pretty cold and blustery in the mountains today.

    Mike "Tramper" Cherim
    Nottingham NH
    Last edited by NH Tramper; 11-30-2012 at 07:49 AM.
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