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Thread: Camping Options On Isolation Trail / Davis Path

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Camping Options On Isolation Trail / Davis Path

    Thinking about heading into Dry River Wilderness this weekend to avoid the crowds and do some sections of trails I haven't been on yet. In particular, I'd like to hit the section of the Isolation Trail from Dry River Trail over to the Davis Path and then the Davis Path to Glen Boulder Trail junction. Only trail segments I have not done in that area. Curious if setting up a tent anywhere in that stretch is an option. There are a lot of light spots on the satellite that could be light woods or just giant blow down areas and I know the section of Davis Path from Isolation to treeline on Boott Spur can be a mess. Debating if I just want to do a long day hike or make it into an overnight, maybe looping around above treeline and heading back on Mt Eisenhower Trail (which I have done). Or I could just bring a bivy sack and crash in some scrub somewhere along the way.

    If anyone can comment on the area and what my realistic options are it would be helpful for planning. Thanks in advance.
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    Iso West is pretty garbage for camping options. Your best bets might be one of the campsites near the Dry River/Iso West/Dry River Cutoff area or a slight detour south on Davis Path to the old Isolation Shelter site on Iso East or the Isolation Summit. Although, the ones closer to Iso will probably be ocupado on a holiday weekend. I did a basecamp in there a little while ago, setting up at Iso West/Dry River and doing different above treeline loops everyday. It's a mess on the ridge proper. On the AMC map there is a spring a short way down Glen Boulder by Slide Peak, I'm not entirely sure how far down, but there is a neat little hobbit campsite in the scrub near that spring.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    Iso West is pretty garbage for camping options. Your best bets might be one of the campsites near the Dry River/Iso West/Dry River Cutoff area or a slight detour south on Davis Path to the old Isolation Shelter site on Iso East or the Isolation Summit. Although, the ones closer to Iso will probably be ocupado on a holiday weekend. I did a basecamp in there a little while ago, setting up at Iso West/Dry River and doing different above treeline loops everyday. It's a mess on the ridge proper. On the AMC map there is a spring a short way down Glen Boulder by Slide Peak, I'm not entirely sure how far down, but there is a neat little hobbit campsite in the scrub near that spring.
    I've actually used that spring on Glen Boulder on the tail end of long above tree line loops. It's about midway between Slide summit and the open area at top of Glen Boulder. It used to have a small sign. It's maybe 1/10 mile but maybe a 100' drop off trail). There are several tent sites in there and it is a semi-irritating but short enough walk down to the spring.

    Last year, I think in early OCT, I stayed at that official camp site at Isolation/Dry River junction and it was absolutely jacked - tents everywhere, on the paths, etc. It is a really nice spot but not crazy about the crowds. I'm guessing this weekend will be similar. Was hoping to throw a tent somewhere on the upper parts of Isolation West before Davis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Last year, I think in early OCT, I stayed at that official camp site at Isolation/Dry River junction and it was absolutely jacked - tents everywhere, on the paths, etc. It is a really nice spot but not crazy about the crowds. I'm guessing this weekend will be similar. Was hoping to throw a tent somewhere on the upper parts of Isolation West before Davis.
    That's awful. I've always had that site to myself. There is another one by the Dry River/Eisenhower jct. It's so hard to get away from people without bushwhacking, and even then it's a crap shoot these days.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    That's awful. I've always had that site to myself. There is another one by the Dry River/Eisenhower jct. It's so hard to get away from people without bushwhacking, and even then it's a crap shoot these days.
    Yah, when I arrived about 5PM on a SAT night the one large main site had 2 guys and a tent so I took a spot at the back, pretty much out of view of each other. I was thinking this was an amazing spot, great views, no people. Then around 6PM the groups started flooding in looking for space. And for the finale, just before dark an AMC or EMS group of 2 guides and about 15 kids rolled in and pretty much started flinging tents wherever they could. I was in my tent by 7PM. Had to avoid all their tents heading out at first light.

    Not many places to hide on a holiday weekend. Maybe I'll do a bushwhack of some sort.
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    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Yah, when I arrived about 5PM on a SAT night the one large main site had 2 guys and a tent so I took a spot at the back, pretty much out of view of each other. I was thinking this was an amazing spot, great views, no people. Then around 6PM the groups started flooding in looking for space. And for the finale, just before dark an AMC or EMS group of 2 guides and about 15 kids rolled in and pretty much started flinging tents wherever they could. I was in my tent by 7PM. Had to avoid all their tents heading out at first light.

    Not many places to hide on a holiday weekend. Maybe I'll do a bushwhack of some sort.

    I don't mean to direct this at you, individually. But, collectively, aren't we as much of the problem as anything else? We demand solitude, yet likely spend more time in the mountains than anyone else on average so, logically, we are more responsible for any traffic.

    I would like to think we balance that by being good stewards. Hopefully.

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dug View Post
    I don't mean to direct this at you, individually. But, collectively, aren't we as much of the problem as anything else? We demand solitude, yet likely spend more time in the mountains than anyone else on average so, logically, we are more responsible for any traffic.

    I would like to think we balance that by being good stewards. Hopefully.
    Exactly - you can't be mad at traffic, since by definition, you're part of the problem.

    You're desire to find an easy camping spot near a popular destination is at odds with your desire for solitude. That said, the upper portion of the Isolation West trail winds through a hardwood glade up high that might afford a nice camping spot, albeit not near a water source. The camping area at Dry River Site #3 is pretty big, so even if there were other groups there, you might find a decent amount of solitude.
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    Exactly - you can't be mad at traffic, since by definition, you're part of the problem.

    You're desire to find an easy camping spot near a popular destination is at odds with your desire for solitude. That said, the upper portion of the Isolation West trail winds through a hardwood glade up high that might afford a nice camping spot, albeit not near a water source. The camping area at Dry River Site #3 is pretty big, so even if there were other groups there, you might find a decent amount of solitude.
    I was not looking for "an easy spot" and I don't consider the upper parts of the Dry River like Isolation West to be a "popular destination", at least relative to many other places in the Whites. I've been in there many times and rarely see more than 20 people, usually spread out. I said I wanted "to avoid the crowds", not find solitude. And I was simply asking if it was even possible to pitch a tent in that area. Not sure why everyone reads so much into such simple questions on this forum. Just looking for info on the composition of the woods in an area and all of a sudden I'm part of a traffic problem, I need to be a good steward of the environment and apparently I'm some sort of backpacking value system paradox.

    So if you can look past the apparent enigma that is DayTrip can you hazard a guess on the approximate location of that hardwood glade on Isolation West? The trail coming West to East follows the river for about half the segment's length and then turns North and zig zags up a slope to a several flattish areas before veering more NE and joining the Davis Path. I'm guessing the glade is somewhere in that zig zag area? That area has some of the open areas on the satellite that I referenced in my original question. That would indeed be a nice spot to pitch a tent, relax and contemplate all my internal value contradictions.
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    I remember anything open being littered with blowdown. Might take a bit of work to make camp anywhere along that trail. On the upside, plenty of available down/dead firewood.

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    I remember anything open being littered with blowdown. Might take a bit of work to make camp anywhere along that trail. On the upside, plenty of available down/dead firewood.
    Hmm, I haven't been through since Spring 2016. There was a ton of blowdown on the Davis Path from Iso West heading towards Isolation, but I didn't re call much damage on the upper portion of Iso West. Is that newer?
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    Hmm, I haven't been through since Spring 2016. There was a ton of blowdown on the Davis Path from Iso West heading towards Isolation, but I didn't re call much damage on the upper portion of Iso West. Is that newer?
    Looking at the satellite image in that area, assuming it is up to date and accurate in some capacity, the patches I can see (which do look like blowdowns) are on the South side of the ridge along the zigs and zags of the trail. The North side (which I would hope to set up on facing the Southern Presidentials) didn't look "speckled" with any patches. I've noticed in other areas too that many blowdown areas have a "buffer zone" of sorts that provides usable terrain for possible tent places in the jagged gaps where the vegetation has been disrupted. Guess I won't know until I get there. I'm running out of non-bushwhack places I haven't been in the Whites and I'm spinning my wheels coming up with ideas for this weekend.

    TJsName - Obviously I don't know the area I'm inquiring about but other areas of the Dry River Wilderness have indeed changed since 2016. When I was in there last OCT there were many changes I had not remembered from prior trips. It was mostly erosion on the main trail but there were other spots. Very dynamic area I guess depending on the weather. Be curious to see what else has changed when/if I head out that way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    I'm running out of non-bushwhack places I haven't been in the Whites and I'm spinning my wheels coming up with ideas for this weekend.
    Have you banged out much in the Caribou?

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    Have you banged out much in the Caribou?
    Maine? No. Vast majority of my hiking/camping/backpacking is in the Whites. I usually hit the Catskills for 3-4 weeks in the Spring, 2-3 trips in Western MA and make 1-2 trips to Maine and 1-2 trips to Adirondacks each year. Hard to beat the above treeline exposure in NH but now that I backpack more I always have the conflict of easy water access/easy terrain to pitch a tent versus the awesome views/carry 4L of water/pitching a tent is impossible. I'm going to Baxter from the North gate in about 2 weeks so I'm trying to avoid a huge drive this weekend.
    Last edited by DayTrip; 08-29-2019 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Added a sentence
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Maine? No. Vast majority of my hiking/camping/backpacking is in the Whites. I usually hit the Catskills for 3-4 weeks in the Spring, 2-3 trips in Western MA and make 1-2 trips to Maine and 1-2 trips to Adirondacks each year. Hard to beat the above treeline exposure in NH but now that I backpack more I always have the conflict of easy water access/easy terrain to pitch a tent versus the awesome views/carry 4L of water/pitching a tent is impossible. I'm going to Baxter from the North gate in about 2 weeks so I'm trying to avoid a huge drive this weekend.
    Caribou Speckled Mtn Wilderness

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    Caribou Speckled Mtn Wilderness
    Aaahh. You know what, I actually looked at that area a few years back looking for something different and forgot all about it. I'm assuming based on my post this would be an area with nice views, woods with ability to pitch tents and less people than the popular White Mountain areas??
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