Had the pleasure to join Kevin up Mt Isolation on his last summit completing the NH 48 4000 footers. It was a nice hike at a decent pace to beat the threatening Tstorms.
With the possibility of clouds rolling in we decided to take Rocky Branch Trail from Route 16. This seems the most direct route up Isolation. There are several other ways, Davis Path from Kancamaugus or Glen Boulder Trail from PNVC to name a couple. Since water levels have been low this summer, the trail and crossings shouldn’t be an issue.
Kevin led off with a strong steady pace for the first couple miles. This was a bit of a rooty ascent to start. Once we gained some initial elevation the trail became quite rocky and often followed a stream. The trail was in great shape and whoever maintains this has done a wonderful job. You could see where this trail could become a mess quite quickly if left unattended.
After a bit of following the rocks over the water for nearly 4 miles we reached the junction of Rocky Branch and Isolation Trail. Also at this junction is access to the Rocky Branch Shelter location. I don’t believe the shelter remains, but there is ample space to tent camp. We ventured toward the first of many river crossings on Isolation Trail. As mentioned earlier, the water levels were low and all of the many crossings were manageable with some strategic rock hopping. It helps that I’ve been carrying hiking poles when I know there will be potential major crossings. They seem to help with balance and I’m willing to sacrifice the extra pound to stay a bit dry.
After several crossings, I believe it was 4 or 5 different times, the Isolation Trail branches away from the river, but still a lush damp trail. We started to slowly gain elevation and deeper into the wilderness, we reached a stretch of severe blow downs. They seemed aged, perhaps during a former hurricane, but the trail was decently maintained and easily navigated.
The home stretch, we reached the junction of Isolation Trail with the Davis Path which will lead us to the summit spur. We seemed to get a bit more excited and cruised this final mile of the ascent. I raced ahead to try to capture Kevin popping out on the summit to celebrate.
The descent was uneventful and paled to the tremendous accomplishment for Kevin. It was awesome to witness and celebrate as someone completed the 48 big peaks in New Hampshire.