Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mount Isolation via Boott Spur

I was invited to join fellow hikers Brian and Jill on a hike to Mount Isolation (4,003'). This would be Brian's 48th and final summit on the 4,000 footer list and allow him to become a member of the AMC 4000 Footer Club. This would be my second hike to Isolation and Jill has visited this summit multiple times both summer and winter. Our plan was to go up the Boott Spur Trail and down the Davis Path to Mount Isolation. The return trip would take us back up the Davis Path and down Glen Boulder trail. Jill suggested spotting her car at Rocky Branch trailhead...just in case we decided to come out that way.

Sunrise from Pinkham Notch

Crystal Cascade

Brian makes his way up the ladder on Boott Spur Trail

The drive to Pinkham Notch was foggy but cleared as I got higher into the notch. It was a great sunrise over the Wildcats. I drove into the south end of the parking lot and found plenty of spots available but it was filling up fast. Brian and Jill drove in soon after. It was actually a cool start to the morning although the humidity could be felt but was tolerable. Temperatures in the valley called for highs around 90 degrees with uncomfortable humidity. I had a feeling it was going to get a lot worse but was hoping for the best due to the fact that I've always had a very low tolerance for hot and humid weather.

A view into Tuckerman Ravine

Hermit Lake shelter

After a very short stretch of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail we were soon turning off onto the Boott Spur Trail. There was one wooden ladder we had to climb and one needs to pay attention to the missing step halfway up. I was beginning to work up quite a sweat by now but I discovered that a hot, sweaty head on a cold boulder feels great! 

Towers on Mount Washington

Brian and Jill enjoying the views

Brian taking some shots with Boott Spur far above

Tuckerman Ravine

We all take a turn trying to widen the gap between Split Rock

There are a couple of outlooks along the way. The first one has some limited but good views of Boott Spur and Mount Washington. Then further up there is a very short spur trail that leads to an exposed outlook providing spectacular views into Tuckerman Ravine. We stopped briefly for photos then continued our climb up the Boott Spur Trail.

Glen Boulder on the next ridge over

Still climbing to Boott Spur

As we climbed above treeline there was a slight breeze that was refreshing. The other bonus was the clouds that moved across the sky and kept the sun from continually beating on us, another welcome relief. The combination of breeze and clouds kept things tolerable to the top of Boott Spur. Just before reaching the summit there was an obnoxious crow that kept cawing from atop a high ledge as if to be taunting us.

Hikers on Lion Head

One final push and we were on top of Boott Spur (5,500'). There are some fantastic views from this summit. We stopped long enough to capture some more photos and then turned left on the Davis Path for the descent to Mount Isolation. It was a very nice walk above treeline and as we made our way down we could see the summit of Isolation in the distance.

Obnoxious cawing crow

Looking down from the top of Boott Spur

Brian and Jill on Boott Spur pointing at...something

Back below treeline the temperature was rising, humidity was increasing, the breeze was gone and the sun was hot. We were all sweating profusely. It was somewhere before we reached Isolation that the decision was made to forego the trip back up to the Glen Boulder trail. The general consenus was that we would take the Rocky Branch Trail back down after summiting Isolation. Jill's suggestion to spot a car at this trailhead was a great strategy.

Mount Washington from Boott Spur

A view south on the Davis Path

We reached the spur trail that leads to the summit of Isolation and Brian lead the way making a quick dash to the top. Spectacular views greeted us as Brian reached his 48th 4,000 foot summit. We took a well deserved break and Jill presented Brian with a #48 cookie and a variety of whoopie pies. The gray jays soon arrived for the celebration and I offered them some mixed nuts that they happily took from my hand.

Back below treeline on a muddy, wet, hot. humid and sunny trail

The summit celebration was short-lived and we had a seven mile hike ahead of us. The hike out would take us back on the Davis Path for nine-tenths of a mile to the Isolation Trail for 2.9 miles then on to the Rocky Branch Trail for the final 3.7 miles to the parking lot. As we made our way along the Davis Path we met a family whose young son was also finishing his 48th 4,000 footer on Isolation.


Looking back at Mount Washington on the Davis Path

Almost there!

Final push to the summit!

Brian on the summit of Mount Isolation for #48

This was my first time on the Rocky Branch Trail and I had heard a lot of bad things about it but for the most part the trail was all downhill. It was actually not that bad but did have a little of everything such as rocks, roots, wet, muddy and water crossings none of which presented any problems. The fact that there was water was actually a big plus. We were able to cool off and if needed we could have used it for drinking after treating it. I have a LifeStraw and came close to using it. I took my last swallow of water when we reached the parking lot while Brian and Jill had finished all of their water just before the hike ended.

I have to admit that the last 3.7 miles was tough on me. We arrived at the Rocky Branch trailhead looking like we had just done a 13+ mile hot and humid hike. I considered this a challenging hike just because of the heat and humidity factor. Careful fluid and electrolyte replacement prevented the leg cramps that I had developed the last time I did this hike. Although I do a lot of solo hiking this is not one that I would have enjoyed doing by myself today.


Something growing beside the trail

The end of a long hot hike

I want to congratulate Brian for completing his 48 4,000 footers, it's a great accomplishment! Also a big thanks for inviting me to join him and Jill on this monumental hike!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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