(This is the second of four short Trip Reports from last weekend’s campaign. We’re breaking down each day into a separate report so our friends at TrailsNH can more easily tag each individual hike. Enjoy!)
There was only one mountain in the agenda for Saturday, Sept. 10, but Mt. Isolation is no ordinary mountain. At 4,004 feet, this “little” mountain is listed as number 47 of 48, but its ruggedness and distance from pretty much anything make it a challenge in the best of conditions.
My decision to go after it from atop Lakes of the Clouds Hut was two-fold. One, from the hut, I was already about 1,000 feet above the Isolation summit, so much of my hike would be of the going down variety. Second, The Camel Trail from the Hut has been on my to-do list for a long time and this would give me the opportunity to traverse this little known, but stunningly beautiful trail right next to Mt. Washington.
Camel Trail: This trail, though less than a mile long does not disappoint! It traverses over a “flat” plateau south of Mt. Washington, near Boot Spur and Tuckerman Ravine, and hiking it makes you feel like you are on another planet. Add a howling wind to the equation that forced me to wear my heavy Gor-Tex, and the fact that I was alone on the trail, and it made for a memorable morning.
Summit views: The summit of Mt. Isolation is stunning – 360 degree views of the surrounding Dry River Valley, nearly all of the Presidentials and just miles and miles of wilderness. Today was no different. What was different was how many people were up there. There was half a dozen hikers there when I arrived, 6 more showed up while I was on top, and I passed a Meet-Up group of about 10 on my way down. For an isolated peak with a difficult and wet approach, this little mountain certainly has a strong pull to crazy hikers!
Trails: Ugh… The Isolation Trail between the north and south branch of the Rocky Branch Trail is beat up pretty badly, lots of blowdowns and mud. But the real kicker was the Rocky Branch Trail on the way out. This little 3.7 miles is usually wet and wild, but Irene and the subsequent rains have turned huge parts of it into stream beds. It was exhausting. Much of the lower part of the trail is pointed rocks sticking out of two feet of water. After a while, I gave up and just started walking through the mud and water.
Relief: Seeing Meena waiting for me at the end of the hike was a huge relief. Add to the fact that she had a cold Pepsi and a turkey and pesto sandwich, and my gratitude sees no bounds! Thank you to my awesome wife!
Complete untouched and untoned pictures from the day can be found here: http://danandmeenakshi.phanfare.com/5275336