Mount Isolation in July

Mount Isolation is no joke especially if you get there via Glen Boulder Trail and Davis Path. 

My hiking legs have been in hibernation since completing my goal: 48 in my 49th Year. This hike was a challenge.

While I’ve been swimming, biking and running – this doesn’t seem to translate well to hiking in the White Mountains. I guess the best training is hiking the White Mountains to be ready to hike the White Mountains. Ross and Vicky just seemed to float up and over to Isolation while I seemed to suffer to go up and up. 

The initial goal was an epic trip. We settled for 12 miles to Isolation and back. 

Less than one mile in, while Vicky and Ross attended to a water bottle malfunction I continued on. I kept looking back and at one point stopped to wait for about 4-5 minutes. When I didn’t see them I knew something was wrong. I turned around to hike back to see what was holding them up and realized my mistake: I went down a ski trail instead of staying on Glen Boulder. 

The next 2 hours was trying to catch up to them. I asked people if they saw them and they did. I knew they were ahead of me but I couldn’t catch up. Plus, it was a tough trail. Once I got above treeline I thought I saw them and I thought they looked back to see me, but they didn’t wait for me. 

I began to get annoyed but at least I knew they were ahead. I hike with them because I don’t like hiking alone sometimes, plus “the Vicky and Ross show” is pretty hilarious. 

I caught up with them on the summit of Isolation and it turns out they thought I was ahead of them the entire time, seeing a woman with a white hat. The white hat woman, in turn, kept looking back at them from high points and Vicky was hoping she (thinking she was me) would wait for them. When the woman didn’t, they got pissed. 

View on the Glen Boulder trail heading west.

All in all, I knew they were heading for Isolation but it wasn’t a fun few hours. They were hiking faster to catch up while I was hiking fast to catch up. We were all pretty mad about it. Then laughed about it on the way down.

However, despite opting not to do the epic hike, or going on to Davis (52 With a View) we had a large visitor on the way across Isolation trail – a young moose just hanging out on the trail. We were warned by Mirra who was hiking ahead of us about the moose in the trail. I bolted into the thick brush to hide. Ross and Vicky hid on the trail but made eye contact and took pictures and video. I was scared to death but he was so cool to see. 

He slowly made his way down the trail chomping on trees. Flies surrounded his butt and Vicky saw ticks all over his butt. I saw him a bit through the trees enough to know a big, brown moose was 6 feet away. The brush was so thick on this section we couldn’t hike around him. We just had to wait for him to move along. 

Moose on the Isolation Trail July 15, 2021

Mirra then decided to join us the rest of the way down, and we laughed and chatted back to the car. The views of the Presidentials were so much better on the way down; the skies cleared and we hiked together. 

View in the late afternoon looking towards Mount Washington from Glen Boulder Trail.

I hiked in my new Timp Altras and they were a bad choice. Despite only wearing them a few times, they aren’t as grippy as the Lone Peaks. Vicky only wears Lone Peaks and I like trying different Altra models. I’m now convinced that the Lone Peaks are the choice for hiking on rocks in the Presidentials. This trail had wet rocks at all different angles and I slipped a bunch. The rocks were dry on the exposed trails but in the trees it was very damp. Lone Peaks are the way to go! 

Glen Boulder is pretty cool to see every single time; the rock is just hanging there. Rhe views looking south to the peaks in the distance is just stunning, especially in the late afternoon light. 

We completed just over 5,000 feet of climbing for 12 miles. It’s one of the tougher routes to Isolation but the alternative is Rocky Branch, which I hiked the last two times. Being above treeline and seeing Mount Washington is one of the pleasures of this trail. 

Our original plan was to hike Dry River Trail to Lakes of the Clouds, over Monroe and Eisenhower and down to the car spot. We started a bit late and hiked a bit slower so the plan was curtailed. I’d like to try it another day. 

We ran into a woman who was doing a supported Direttissima – she was on peak 5 at Isolation. She was high energy and loving life. Now that’s how you run/hike in the White Mountains for 4 days. I wish I got her name. I would’ve liked to know that she finished. 

While I didn’t get to bag three peaks for the July grid I’m happy to finish and take in the views.

Resting on Mount Isolation

Training Status Update; It’s Monday

Average Resting Heart Rate: 42
Training Status: Productive
Total Vert last week: 1,923
Total Hours last week: 7:02 
Plan for this week: 7 hours: Swim, Bike, Run, Weights

It’s a whole new ballgame folks. So many races in the coming weeks so let’s get down to it. 

I’m doing more morning hikes with these characters:

I’m doing more running and biking at Gunstock. It is so green at the mountain and I love running the Ridge loop and biking on the cross country trails.

And just all around more focused training. 

After all this rain the brooks will be running and that is good hiking with the dogs. This week also includes a trip up north to the White Mountains with Vicky and Ross. It’s going to be another epic hike.

The day I realized I was gridding it

On Tuesday Vicky agreed to meet for a hike. We both had peaks to bag in January but we agreed on Whiteface Passaconaway. We didn’t discuss route or anything significant other than I wanted to run/hike. Vicky wanted clarification on shoe/boot type. We both wore boots and spikes. While I had visions of a bit of running it – ha – wishful thinking as always: it was a hike.

However, in the parking lot I told her I wanted to do the counterclockwise route since the granite ledges on the approach to Whiteface on Blueberry Ledge induces anxiety for me going up. Last year I did the loop counter clockwise and it was so much better going down the ledges than going up. I wanted to repeat what worked. Vicky is the most laid back, open for anything hiker friend I know. She didn’t care what route – she needed a long hike. Although I will note that three hikers who passed near the real summit of Whiteface as we headed to the ledges seemed worried for us. 

But let’s start from the beginning.

Great weather, clear skies and no wind. Dicey’s Mill to Passaconaway has a bunch of steep parts but doable. Spikes were clearly the best choice. We get to the “boring” summit (sorry but it is), but the views between trees showed us Mount Washington in its glory.

Back to Rollins Trail and the ridge.

It is on this amazing ridge where I realized that I was gridding. Where I knew I was In. I am gridding. I knew these trails. I knew where I was going. I knew this ridge. I knew where the true summit was. 

This may be the heart of why we want to know things so intimately. We know the familiarity that brings clarity. In the wilderness, things can change on a dime but yet we know trail junctions (and celebrate them) and can anticipate ledges or difficult river crossings. You know this place so well; and that is why I’m gridding because I love knowing a trail or route because I figured it out. I looked at the map and I hiked/ran/walked it over and over. I figured it out. I got oriented to this place.

Now, I know, I’m so gridding it. Every 4,000 footer in New Hampshire, in every month. Hells Ya. I say. 

This Passaconaway-Whiteface Loop is glorious. We saw two cute dogs; the one with a bell that warned us of his presence and number two had the cutest ears. Spikes were the wrong choice when we got to the ridge; soft snow. We should’ve brought our snowshoes.

While we wished for our snowshoes but wondered: would we have put them on if we had them since it was “yeah spikes” more then “we wished we had snowshoes”. I know – it’s a dilemma. So much energy to put them on. 

Vicky

We got to the place on Whiteface where I knew it was going to be tough. Vicky is fearless. She is taking in the views of the Presidentials and grabbing photos. I’m like, “Hey Vicky, I’m going to keep going.” I start the “bad part” and it isn’t really bad, yet. And I can’t remember which is the very hard part because I think there are three sections that are hard.

“Is this the bad part?” I ask Vicky.

“No, it’s coming up,” she said. 

We go past the crevasse and it’s okay. 

“Was this the bad part?” I ask Vicky.

“No, it’s coming up,” she said. 

We get to a part where I butt slide a bit and jump; but it’s not super hard. 

“Is this the bad part?” I ask VIcky.

“Yes, that was it,” she said. 

“Wow, that was easy,” I said.

And just like that, the bad part is over. I estimate it’s about 1% of the hike. Blueberry Ledge Trail was perfection. 

I’m gridding it. I have the best hiking partners. That is all.

Whiteface looking south. Can you see Gunstock in the distance?

Goals, Joy and Training

Now that I have finished my 4,000 in a year now it’s time to 

  1. Finish my grid (this will take years)
  2. Start training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene
  3. Finish a 100 mile trail run
  4. Ski – a lot

I’ve been following the 100 mile training plan so far. My watch tells me my training status is Productive – so that makes me happy.

Swimming has been difficult since the lanes at the Y fill up by 5:05 a.m. Biking is difficult because it’s cold however mountain biking is still possible. 

I mountain biked at Bear Brook this past weekend and since I was hiking every weekend my biking legs were a little ….. Under trained, let’s say. Sonja and Jay are so fun to bike with.

I’m considering a fat bike but haven’t looked into if I actually can find one. That could be fun.

However, I’m pretty psyched to ski. Gunstock is making snow this week and we are hopeful for a December 4 opening day. This is going to be so fun. 

These are the skis I’m considering. Aren’t they pretty and their name: Joy

https://www.head.com/en_US/sports/ski/joy

Everyone should have Joy in their life.

Hiking Moosilauke via Benton Trail in November

Two weeks ago this trail looked a little different than Saturday. I attempted Moosilauke with my dogs on the Benton trail on October 18, the day after the big snow storm, and couldn’t find a good river crossing spot with the high water running, so I turned around. 

Saturday the water was much lower and I was able to cross the river and hike to the peak.

It was a good day to be in the mountains.

Tunnel Brook trail was a nice gradual walk to the Benton Trailhead. Once we crossed the river the climb began. No big boulders and no granite slabs – it was just a nice hike. 

As we arrived at the Beaver Brook trail two families with young children came up the trail. I know that trail and it’s a tough one – good for them! We hiked for .4 and came out of the woods with a short hike above the treeline to a crowded summit. 

On Moosilauke trying to get out of the wind for a break.

As I took my phone off airplane mode I got a text message from the New York Times: Joe Biden is our 46th President. I yelled to everyone on the top the great news.

It was so windy only the people closest to us heard and cheered too. 

I could see the Kinsmans in the distance knowing I would be up there the next day. And then we headed down. We only saw one other person heading up. 

Termed the quiet side of the Moose, I opted for the Benton trail since it is the easiest trail for dogs and it turned out to be both quiet and gentle. Just shy of 10 miles, it was a great hike option. Saturday wasn’t as warm at 4,802 feet than most parts of New Hampshire however Peter wore shorts and I wore regular hiking leggings.

The dogs had a great time but are definitely tired today, Sunday. Goldies 7th 4,000 footer, and Winnie’s 20th. Now it’s on to the Kinsmans today and to accomplish my goal of 48 in my 49th year.