On the morning of May 31st, I reached the summit of Mount Isolation, my 480th White Mountain 4,000-footer since last August, bringing me to 83% of the GRID at the same time.
After a slow start to the month, Mount Isolation was the final peak in a week long, 115 mile push to continue my bid toward the Single Year Grid.
I departed from the Rocky Branch Trailhead just after 6:00 AM, slightly unsure of what kind of trail conditions I would be up against. After finishing a Wildcats, Carters, Moriah traverse at 1:30AM the night before, I knew one thing for sure: I was beat.
Lucky for me, a lot of melting has taken place in the last month, and I’m happy to report that this wasn’t the knock-down, drag-out fight that last month’s hike was.
The trail was mostly snow-free for the first 2.5 miles, right until you enter the Dry River Wilderness. I opted to bypass the Engine Hill bushwhack and stick to the Rocky Branch Trail, navigating patches of snow all the way from the boundary to the junction of Davis Path.
Large stretches of snow continued for the last mile from the junction to the summit. The quality of the snow on this particular route is a mixed bag. I encountered finely packed monorails that were easy to stay on top of, and soft, untraveled patches that had me sinking up to my knees in places.
My best guess is that most of the snow is going to be off the trail in the next 2 weeks, but what will most definitely remain is the water.
On the way out to Isolation, there are portions of the Rocky Branch Trail that are fully submerged in water. Regardless of what footwear you choose, you will walk away from this hike wet, muddy, and a little beat up.
Isolation is no easy feat in ideal Summer conditions. The fact that there is still so much rotting snow and water along the trail makes it even more arduous right now. If you head out to grab Isolation in the near future – embrace the hardships, and enjoy what is certainly one of the most beautiful corners of the White Mountains.