Saturday, March 9, 2013

#48 Mt. Isolation Last N.H. 4,000 footer

Mt Isolation (4004') 03/09/2013



Trip report:

Mt Isolation, second to lowest of the 48 but one of the longer single  mountain hikes.   10 - 11 miles with the winter bushwhack (10.6 per my GPS).  Start; 0600,  finish: 1700, long breaks;  15 minutes at .75 mile from the top when I completely ran out of steam, and 30 minutes on top. numerous 2 minute breaks as usual.

After reading Chris’s winter presi-traverse on the same day in almost the same time. I’m almost embarrassed to publish this.  Great Job Chris, and unbelievable pictures.
This was my final hike in my quest to hike all 48 NH 4,000 foot mountains. A bit anti-climatic, but it still felt good finishing up what I started 17 months ago.
   I left RI Friday night and grabbed 5 hrs sleep (12-5am) in the back cab of my truck at the Rt 16 Dunkin Donuts parking lot. I woke up just as they opened, grabbed a coffee and bagel and headed to the Rocky Branch trailhead on Rt. 16.  I took a bad fall on the ice in the D&D parking lot and bruised a few ribs. I downed some aleve but still felt every step of the hike as a jab in the side.  Not real bad, but still a nuisance.    I saw one other hiker heading up the trail just as I pulled into the trailhead, and met him again a few hrs later as he was coming down from bagging ISO already and I was less than 1/3rd of the way up.  This speed freak said he was also going to do Mt Cabot the same day. Wow!.  I’m not sure if I got his name but another hiker I met later at the peak says he goes by  “little brown mushroom” on line. There were a total of 9 hikers and a dog on the mountain that day.   Three groups of 2, and three solo hikers.  Actually another post said that someone had started up but had to turn back after hurting their knee.  I met the the last group, a young couple that started real late,  when I was half way down and they were still on their way up. Hope they made it down okay.  Two hikers with a dog that had passed me earlier were just heading down as I reached the top.  I forgot their names but from from a posting on VFTT I found it was Skarpi,  his cousin Taylor and his dog,”ALaska”.  I had a nice chat on top with a solo hiker, Art from Vt  ( goes by Emeral on line)  who also headed down after taking a few pictures for me.   The other solo hiker, Jack from Littleton, passed me on the way up and again on his way down at a level area just before the last ¾ mile steep section where I was taking a long needed break before bagging  the peak.   Jack only has the Bonds left for his winter NH4ks and I think I recall they will make the 3rd round of his 48.  I hung out at the top for a while after Art left sharing an apple with a couple of Grey Jays (see pics), and headed down myself.  Two ladies where just going up the last stretch as I was coming down, and eventually passed me ~ 1 mile before the bottom.  I had lost my cellphone somewhere on this hike and “Cindersmom” from this last group evidently found it, called my house from the contacts list, got a description of my truck from my wife, and left the phone at my truck with a note.  Thanks a bunch “cindersmom” I really appreciate the extra effort you did to locate the owner.
   This was an exceptionally warm sunny winter day. A little bit too warm because the snow was clumping to my snowshoes midday and adding weight, but the views looking up at the presidentials were great.  Unlike my failed attempt two weeks earlier, the trails were well broken out. This mountain is a bit different than most NH4Ks in that you get through most of the elevation in the first two miles (1300 to  2900) and then until the very last ¾ miles it is near level.  I wore snowshoes the entire hike but could have gone without them on much of the hard packed trail, and probably should have done what Jack did and changed to micro spikes for the last steep 75 ft,  where I slid back down  20-30 ft.  after losing traction.
  Besides my cellphone and a note from “cindersmom”, on my truck there was a congratulations note from “Lucky Laura” who had seen my posting on Views From The Top saying that I was attacking ISO that day.  Evidently she had hiked Passaconaway that day and was on her way home(?). There was also bar of fancy chocolate at my truck which I assumed was from Lucky Laura.   Thanks, it went good with my celebratory can of Heineken.


Start of Hike  0600

Tree clinging to a boulder

Short sections of the trail were not fully broken out,
one set of boot prints since it was last blown over.

After the 1st few miles all of the trail
 was snowshoe broken out.

I think this is where the Engine Hill bushwhack normally starts
but the current broken out bushwack started 300' further along  rocky branch trail..

scenes from the open and sunny birch tree glades.

This bushwhack was kind of serpentine through the trees -
Note the 180 degree hairpin turn.

The bushwhack meets up with the Rocky Branch river
 and crosses over many snowbridges  - still all stable.

back into the spruce

First good view of Isolation - not the most scenic peak in the whites

First good view of Mt. Washington from the trail.

Reached Peak ~1230    (6.5 hrs up)  I'm not sure how high this cairn is,
 but most of it is covered with packed snow.

I had another hiker (Emeral) take my 48th  summit picture

There were two hungry Grey Jays begging for food at the peak
 one was brave enough to hand feed.
Scenes from the top of Iso:

one last self photo sqinting into the sun before heading down at ~1300

View of  Mt Monroe from the trail. 
This picture was meant to show a typical "spruce trap" just  6" off the trail.  Just the tip of the tree is above the snow. When I probe with my pole (on the right), there is no resistance and its deeper than my poles length of 4' .  Step off the packed trail into one of these and you would get stuck in its branches waist deep or worse.   I did that on Mt Eisenhower and it took me 20 minute to get out.  I noticed there were many potential spruce traps just off the packed trail.

More pictures of the snow bridges and snow formations on the Rocky Branch river:

The fir trees were mostly dry, so it didn’t "rain" from them on this warm day, but they had big clumps of snow like this that would suddenly drop.  At first I'd keep getting startled  by the "thuds" they made in the woods near me and I didn't know what is was - much like the cocoanuts in the that Tom Hanks movie.   One clump actually caught me in the head on the way down.

  a well broken out trail through the birch glades -
who dragged up the snow-blower?
3 pm: shadows starting to grow longer, temps going down, 
trail surface changing from a bit mushy and clumpy back to crunchy.

a stubborn tree that refuses to die.

mountains starting to shadow each other

Done with Isolation hike at 5 pm
Done with NH4k at 5pm 3/09/13




  1. Congratualtions Marvin on finishing your 48 - 4,000 footers! Great pictures and you're right that is a picture of Mount Monroe.

    Can't wait to see what you hike next!

  2. Thanks Chris,
    I'd like to start on the rest of the NE 4K's and the NE 100 highest, but when I told my wife how far away some of the Maine & VT mts are are I got some resistance; "No way in Hell !". Maybe I'll start with the rest of NH mts on the NE 100 highest list. I'm definitley going to slow down the pace now. I've been letting too many other things go. I do hope to do some more hikes with my grandson Kris this summer and help him toward his 48.

  3. Good for you! Great report, too. Extra points for hiking with the grandkid -- enjoy whatever turns out to be next.