Sunday, January 20, 2008
What: Hike to Isolation
Elevation Gain: Something over 4,000'
Who: Sherpa John, Drewski, Albee, James, Unforzencaveman, Youngblood, Melanie, Adamiata
Time: 7 Hours 24 Minutes
Another long hike and another day without my camera. Its hike like these that my energy needs to be expending moving my feet and laughing, rather than pushing down the button on a camera. Al, James and I carpooled to the trailhead where we met up with The rest of the gang. I have hiked with Adam a few other times this year and hadn't seen cave, mel and youngblood in a few good months. It was great to see everyone and this was one hell of a crew to be spending the day with in the Whites. Ahead of us was another group lef by Hiker Ed Hawkins. Ed is 11 peaks away from hiking the 48 four-thousand footers in New Hampshire for the 48th time and has completed hiking the 48 in all 12 months of the year. We relied on his crew to pack out the trail for us, that is until we disagreed with his route taking.
Before we left the lot we ran into two hikers who had enough gear on them to classify themselves as nomads. They were determined to get Isolation even if it meant spending a few nights in the frigid woods. If it did take them 3 days to complete the hike, they would have averaged 4 miles a day. (+/-) They asked if they could join us and I politely told them they could if they could "keep up." I felt really bad in answering in this way, but it was the only way I know how to convey to them that we were a VRY strong group of experienced hikers and it might be tough for them to go our speed. We'd see them later.
We took the Rocky Branch Trail from NH Route 16 to the height of land where we embarked on our version of the Engine Hill Bushwhack. Hiker Ed's crew took the whack WAY high to the top of a hardwood knoll. From the top of the knoll they banged hard left and walked through what Ed describes as completely open woods to its junction with the Isolation Trail. I have yet to take on Ed's route and perhaps will try it next time, for now, Albee led us on our own version of the EH whack, and we made it to the same exact spot as Ed's group without any problems involved thick softwoods and firs. From here we chugged our way up trail, clearing various blowdowns as we went. When we caught up with Ed's group finally, they were heading towards the Dry River Trail by staying on the actual Trail, while we embarked on the second major bushwhack of the day by climbing up a drainage. We reached the ridge well in advance of Ed's group and broke trail out the rest of the way to the Summit of Isolation.
On the summit, Drew challenged any of us to join the "Gone Wild" group. A tradition he started last winter during Tim Seaver and Cath Goodwin's winter peak-bagging record time of 9 days and change. During that hike, he climbed Isolation on an unseasonably warm March day with his shirt off. Today was anything but warm, temps in the upper teens with a calm westerly wind. I took out my camera phone for evidence and proceeded to de-shirt with Unfrozencaveman. James would join us as well moments later adding a few push-ups of his own. Ed's group eventually made the summit and we exchanged the usual pleasantries and hand-shakes before heading for home.
On the way out, Al and James bushwhacked to South Engine Hill to bag the peak which resides on another peak-bagging list. The rest of us headed for the cars. I hung back with Drew to keep him company and to hear more of his invaluable "life advice." On the way out we saw our two hikers we met in the lot carrying much lighter loads. Turns out they were members of a website we all belong to. After talking with them briefly, we proceeded to be a bit disappointed in the various Post holes they had left us for our return trip. VERY bad form! In all honesty, they weren't too bad and I could care less, but other members of my group had lots to say about it.
So.. this was my 6th peak of the 2007-2008 Winter Peak-bagging season. Aside from two short days enjoying the snow with Sarah, I enjoyed hiking two of the toughest hikes with Drew and Crew, The Bonds and Isolation. Before winter ends, I hope to enjoy the 18 mile journey to Owls Head, a "Carters and Cats" Traverse, a Presi-traverse and perhaps a one day Pemi-loop. If I can accomplish these peak-bagging missions I will have completed 27 of the 48 this winter alone. Which is more than double my total from last year. In March 2005 I completed hiking the NH 48 in Winter for the first time on top of Cannon Mountain. But for now, I have to ship my broken snowshoe away form replacement and spend some quality time with Sarah as well as running.
You can see my list by season and month HERE
You can find out what peak-bagging is by searching for its definition on Wikipedia. There are various lists that I am working on.