Mt. Isolation Snowshoe
Hiking/Walk DATE: 03/15/2014 - 03/15/2014
Trip/Event Location: Glen, NH
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
There were four GOers who have all been on Mt. Isolation before but wanted to experience it in winter. We arrive at the Rocky Branch Trail on NH16 at 8:30. We were happy to see an early bird break the trail before us on 16 inches of fresh but wet/heavy snow! We left at 9:00 with our snowshoes and soon we were on a partially broken trail. After about a mile and a half we were surprised to see the two guys ahead of us had turned around because they were exhausted. Bummer since we would be on our own breaking trail where they had turned around!
Terry was struggling today and once he caught up to us during a break, he decided to turn around.
We followed the tracks of the two guys ahead of us and noticed that where they ended there were ski tracks. It seems that they [and we] have been following ski tracks all along and not the actual trail itself. The ski tracks were making a right turn up ahead when I knew from reading the trail description that the trail should be staying left. We also noticed that we had been brushing up against branches the last few minutes. We turned around looking for where we may have made a wrong turn but since there were no blazes, it was hard to tell. We did see to what appeared to be a break in the trees so we veered left and started breaking trail. From being here before, we knew once we would reach the old logging road we would definitely be on the trail to Engine Hill Pass, even if there were no blazes. Lo and behold, we got there!
The three of us took turns breaking trail. At 11:30 we were still breaking trail to the Engine Hill Pass and it was clear to us we would not reach the summit until late afternoon. We thus made a decision to go as far as the Birch Glades on the Engine Hill bushwhack. Before we reached the height-of-land at the Engine Hill Pass we caught our first glimpse of Mt. Isolation. It was pretty much as close as were going to get today!
We arrived at the "T" tree where the Engine Hill bushwhack should begin. I had a good idea where to go so off we went. We decided to break the trail a bit higher. Before we knew it we were in the birches or the "Wow Woods". These are acres of open birches. It was around 30 degrees, partly sunny, and quite windy.
This is as far we would be going today. We broke for lunch behind some spruce trees to act as a windbreak. We enjoyed the views of Mt. Isolation and Stairs Mountain while eating lunch and drinking hot apple cider from our thermos.
We met a solo hiker on the return with a backpack who was planning to make it an overnight of it in order to get to Mt. Isolation. This was his last peak to do in order to have hiked all the New England 4,000 footers in ONE winter! There are 67 peaks. A co-worker of Bryan’s had mentioned this guy to him and that we might run into him because Isolation was his last peak. They both chatted a bit.
We made it back at 3pm. It took us 4 hours to travel 3 miles due to breaking trail to get to the Engine Hill pass and the return trek only took us 1 ½ hours on the descent. It goes to show you what a slow slog it was with all that snow. Job well done everyone!
PS. We found satisfaction knowing that we would be helping other hikers reach Mt. Isolation from the trail breaking we did. Someone thanked us at New England Trail Conditions.
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