Isolation for 4K Peak #1000 and July for G2 Finish, 7/26/2014

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Jul 18, 2005
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Nashua, NH
July 26, 2014: Isolation

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

Summits: Isolation

Hikers: Lina McDonald, Rebecca Schubert, and me

My 1:30am wake-up arrived and I was quickly going through the usual pre-hike routine. Second on my list was a visit to the computer to check current conditions and the forecast. Satisfied everything was good for Plan A, I went about the remaining steps of getting from sleeping in bed to driving the truck north to Pinkham Notch. I was really looking forward to the day. Lina is always a treat to hike with. This was my first time hiking with Rebecca; the first time is always fun! My selfish interests in the hike were to finish off my July list for the second time through The Grid (G2), and reach a personal milestone of summiting my 1000th Four Thousand Footer peak.

Coming from different directions we all met at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center (PNVC) for an on-trail of 7:00-7:30 (we kinda hit the middle of our target). Time at PNVC was short; quick introductions, grab our things, and go. We left the south end of the lot, crossed the bridge over Cutler River, and set off. Direttissima is an easy way to Glen Boulder Trail from PNVC, it adds a small amount of distance and elevation to the day, but I feel the convenience and security of PNVC more than offsets the price. While we made our way to Glen Boulder Trail the “lets get acquainted” conversation started and I think it generally continued all day. Very quickly I knew it was going to be a good day; we had terrific conditions for the day, and I had terrific hiking companions.

We reached Glen Boulder Trail, made the turn, and started the long climb to Davis Path. From Direttissima junction to the treeline is a section of trail free of obstacles and with great footing along the way. The trail conditions made it an easy climb, the steepness made me sweat, a lot. As usual, the climb also ran my heart rate up and we made the occasional stops to keep it under control (frustrating but necessary). At one point while leading the parade, I zoned out and started down a ski trail (went left instead of right). Fortunately, Rebecca was keeping track of things and quickly corrected the error.

Soon the trip up the trail became more difficult and I knew we had reached the treeline. For a short distance we needed hands and feet to continue up the rocks. We cleared the treeline and had Glen Boulder in our sights; what a sight it was! With everything nice and dry the footing was outstanding and we were able to easily make our way to the big rock. I think we all knew the final outcome but Lina still gave it a try; she got under the boulder and put her back into it but the thing didn’t budge. One and done – we were again on our way up.

As we made our way to the small treed section between Glen Boulder and Slide Peak we noticed others coming up from behind, and Rebecca commented there were others in front. I thought that was a little odd since I was clearing cobwebs as we approached the treeline (we were first up Glen Boulder Trail for the day). Eventually, we were passed and we met a group of three that had camped in the area the night before (the ones in front).

The next break came at Slide Peak where we had refreshment, got some pictures, and visited with the three that had camped overnight (father and two sons). Soon it was time to go and we continued for the top of Glen Bounder Trail and its junction with Davis Path. We reached the junction, made the turn, and started our descent to Isolation. At 5175 feet we were well above the summit of our target, which is 4003 feet. We needed to lose ~1325 feet on the way from the trail junction to Isolation and then re-climb ~1500 feet on our exit hike; good exercise!

We started south on Davis Path still hiking above the treeline. Soon we went back below the treeline and found the remains of significant storm damage along the way. Once we started into the area of blowdowns, the damage continued past the junctions with Isolation Trail. The trail itself was open and cleared. What an effort that must have been to clear all of the blowdowns from the trail. There might still be one or two step-overs on the trail but that’s all I can recall. By the time we reached the junctions with Isolation Trail others were passing in both directions. The place wasn’t nearly as busy as I have seen it but we weren’t alone. From Isolation (east junction) to the summit is ~1 mile of easy hiking. We reached the summit spur, made the turn, and stepped up to the summit. There were approximately a dozen people lounging on the summit area. It seemed that as some left others arrived.

I got the usual summit pictures and then stopped for a while to relax and have a quick snack. After a few more pictures it was time to start our exit hike; back out the same way we came in. When we passed through the Glen Boulder – Davis Path trails junction we noticed the view to Isolation and the descent to it. Now, we’re looking in the opposite direction and considering the climb back out. Oh well; that’s the plan and that’s the route.

We descended from the summit area on Isolation back to Davis Path, headed north past Isolation Trail – east junction, and gradually worked our way into the climb to Glen Bounder Trail junction. We all managed to keep each other company on the ascent, and stopped as needed (mainly for my benefit). Eventually we passed through an area of trail where the brush was closing in pretty tight; and then we made our way along a section of trail that was brushed out very wide, finally we reached the treeline. From the treeline to the trail junction is a generally constant but mild ascent. Rebecca was out in front and continued to the trail junction where she found a comfortable rock where she waited for Lina and me to arrive. Once we re-grouped it was a downhill cruise to PNVC. The top section past Slide Peak and through the sheltered area nearby was the mildest part of our descent. After leaving the treed area, the trail pitches down at a steeper descent and is all rocks. We were still working with dry conditions and holding a good pace past Glen Boulder and on to the treeline below was easy. Back in the trees we started with a brief steep section but were soon on a fairly constant grade for our descent, which was loaded with rocks providing great footing.

One of the really nice surprises of the day was the conversation that seemed to continue throughout the hike, covering a wide range of topics, and was always interesting. It seems to me that getting to know each other and enjoying each other’s company is a main reason for people hiking together. This interaction alone made the day pretty special for me.

We reached the final turn for the day and went left onto Direttissima for the final mile back to PNVC. The only elevation gain since leaving Davis Path was found on Direttissima; there are a couple bumps in the trail that come up to roughly a hundred feet in elevation gain (According to the White Mountain Guide). Direttissima is generally a level route and the final mile was easy and quick. We stepped into the trailhead lot and found it generally full. When we passed through at the start of the day there were no parked vehicles at all. All that was left was a walk across the bridge over Cutler River to our waiting vehicles at the south end of the PNVC lot.

This became one of those days that I really didn’t want to end. Hiking with Lina and Rebecca for the day was great; two terrific hiking companions, outstanding weather conditions, and a really fun hike plan. All of the pieces in this puzzle fit perfectly.

I’ve posted some pictures from the day.

BIGEarl's Pictures

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