Thursday, May 11, 2006

Week in NH & ME Day 4 - Mt. Isolation - Very Appropriate Name

Today I drove down Rt. 16 past Mt. Washington to the Rocky Branch Trail leading towards the very isolated Mt. Isolation on the flanks of Mt. Washington.  I called my mom after climbing Mt. Moriah Cimg3372
and asked what the weather would be for today and she had told me it would be mostly cloudy with just a few showers... well it ended up nearly pouring the entire day...  I started up the very nice Rocky Branch Trail towards the first ridge I had to cross and passed through several very nice birch stands.  When I go to the ridgeCimg3375
and started to descend towards the Dry River Trail the path I was on turned into a stream, literally.  I had to rock hop down the trail for nearly a mile to meet up with the Dry River Trail which presented another big problem.... the Dry River wasn't so dry... it was swollen and flowing pretty fast.  Thus far I had managed to keep my boots dry so I took them off along with my gators and decided to wade across the river which worked fine, albeit a little dangerous.  After putting my boots and gear back on I soon came to another spot where I had to cross the Dry River again.. Damn.... apparently the trail criss crosses the river the entire way... so again I took off my boots.  It was then a while before I had to cross again... thankfully I had gained enough elevation where I could hop across the river on rocks because it wasn't as big at the higher elevation.  I barely made my last lung across... almost falling back into the river.  I crossed one more time (for a total of 4 times) before heading up to the final ridge and Davis Path Cimg3395
Trail.  The trail was still basically a stream from all the rainfall and I continued to rock hop until I hit snow near the ridge and lost the trail.... I wandered through a very flat section of woods a little bit confused (look at the picture... can you easily see where the trail goes from there? Don't cheat by looking at my footprints!).  I was in the middle of the White Mountains in a very isolated place and I couldn't see anything in the distance for a frame of reference.  The map I had printed out was soaked and disintegrated in my pocket so I turned once again to my topo maps on my phone.  I ended up walking through an open section and stumbling onto the trail again.. but with so many trails around Mt. Washington I didn't know if it was the right one and I saw a campsite area that wasn't listed on my map.  I pulled out my compass and took a reading... I was going the wrong way - towards Mt. Washington.  Something in my head told me to go a little farther just to make sure.  I'm glad I did.  Because about 40 feet further through a heavily blown down section of trail I stumbled upon the Davis Path trail towards Mt. Isolation.  I changed out of my soaked t-shirt into my capilene top and rain coat so that my core would stay warm at that elevation.  It was then an easy ridge walk at nearly 4,000 feet over a very snowy trail to the summit which was completely socked in.  I had left the car at 10am and it had taken me nearly 4.5 hours to reach the summit over 7 miles, and 3 different trails later so I didn't waste time.  I quickly laid down on the ground next to the geological surveyCimg3382
marker, took a picture at the summit and headed down the very unstable trail.  It seemed like with every step the snow would break away and collapse under my feet.  On the way down I was able to follow the trail easier through the winding streams back down to the, now even more swollen, Dry River.  Every inch of my body was now soaked except for my core which was still semi-dry underneath the rain coat I had on.  Because I was soaked I decided to just wade across up the river, balancing on rocks along the way.  I was up to my waist in fast running water and it was sketchy at times but I Cimg3399
crossed it all 4 times until I got back to the Rocky Branch trail again.  My ankle was very sore from the wet weather and the rough trails and river crossings even after taking about 4 Aleve throughout the afternoon.  I limped down the mountain and made it out to the car around 4:45pm... much later than I had expected to get out.  It was a very tiring long day and the nearly 4 hour drive home was also exhausting.  I got back to my parents around 8:30pm and had some late dinner with them before returning to Toga for the night... beat after a week of hard climbing.  I usually never get worried in the woods but twice this week I had doubts in my mind that I would get out ok (bushwacking through deep snow on tuesday and today getting lost 7 miles in the woods briefly in pouring rain and 50 degree weather).  But I returned to NY triumphant after summiting all the mountains I set out after.  :)


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