A group of 5 in all met at the Rocky Branch trailhead off of Route 16 and began our trek: Whitney and Chris, who were part of the Flags on the 48 group I was a part of this year, Kyle (who I hiked Passaconaway and Whiteface with on New Year's Day 2013), and Denise, a friend of Chris and Whitney's who I'd not met before. It was clear from the start that this would be a tough day, but we were all determined to make it, and step by step, little by little, we did!
|Newly-broken trail in our wake|
Reaching the height-of-land on the Rocky Branch Trail, we hung a right at the usual start of the Engine Hill bushwhack. The normal winter route to Mount Isolation, this bushwhack saves over a mile (one-way), a couple hundred feet of climbing, and a couple stream crossings over taking the actual trails. This bushwhack also goes through what might just be the nicest, most open birch glade woods in all of New Hampshire!
|Not sure what animal did this? Moose perhaps?|
|Chris taking pictures of the awesome Engine Hill birch glades|
|Kyle approaches the summit of Isolation|
|The Presis are hidden by clouds, but blue skies everywhere else|
|The Dry River Wilderness|
|Sunset from the birch glades|
|Sunset over Stairs Mountain|
|Sunset from the birch glades of Engine Hill|
Thanks again Chris, Whitney, Denise, and Kyle for coming along and sharing in the trail-breaking fun. Hope to see you all out on the trails again! It was close, but I was able to do a full round of the New Hampshire 4000-Footers for the second year in a row, and this hike rates right near the top as one of my favorites!
Route: Rocky Branch Trail, Engine Hill Bushwhack, Isolation Trail (East), Davis Path, Isolation Spur
Peaks: Isolation (4004, NH4K)
Mileage: ~13 miles
Elevation Gain: ~3200 feet
Book Time: ~8 hours (actual time of 9 hours)
|Note the small PUD in the middle of the track, which was in the middle of the bushwhack. Oops!|
|Comparison of routes: Yellow is the actual trails, red is the 2012 route that was broken on my trip then, gray is the route we took on this trip.|
|A closer view of the Engine Hill bushwhacks I've taken on 2 winter visits to Isolation. Next time I'd like to keep the elevation at the end of the bushwhack and intersect the trail higher up. But, this was a great route anyway!|