Mt. Isolation – Trip Report and Lessons About Me

isolation

On August 15, 2014 I decided to finally quell my fear and solo hike for the first time ever.  I chose a mountain I have known about for years, Mt. Isolation.  It stands at 4,003 feet…. making it tall enough for the 4K peak list.  This mountains sits close to Amanda’s camp and I have known about for nearly 10 years.  It is aptly named, as there is no short way to get there.  I chose a 12 mile route, after much hemming and hawing, when I realized the 14 mile route was going to be a muddy disaster.

So I woke up early, already having one pack ready to go and realized at the last minute I had too much gear in my small day pack to make it comfortable.  I said screw it, threw the borrowed ultralight Osprey overnight pack in my truck with the day pack and decided I would switch when I go to the parking lot for the trail.  The jitters had already set in.  I have the trail nickname “Magellan” for a reason.  I will literally wander off a perfectly good trail for no reason.  I was scared to death I would get lost.  I have no navigation skills in the woods… contrary to my driving navigation skills.  Go figure.  Here is the small video I shot after I tore my pack apart like a crazy person and repacked all my gear into the ultralight pack.  Warning…. don’t mind the shifty eyes.

I refuse to talk about the day I couldn’t find the trailhead, so don’t ask!

I put my pack on, flipped  my phone into airplane mode, and headed into the woods.  My plan (which I stuck to) was Glen Boulder Trail to Davis Path.  Off of Davis Path is the Isolation Spur trail.  This was 6 miles one way.  The ironic part of what I chose was I needed to climb from approximately 1900 feet to 5100 feet before I dropped over 1000 feet to the summit.  Then repeat that on the way out.  This put my day at well over 5,000 feet of climbing.

watch

I trekked my way up to the famous Glen Boulder in a little over an hour.  The climbing was rocky and relentless.  It didn’t stop once I hit the ridgeline that took me to Davis Path.

ridgedavis

If you look closely, you can see the ridgeline I shuffled along to get to the intersection of Glen Boulder and Davis.  I did some light running in this section.  The first “bump” you can see is where the trail junction is.  Over that “bump” and about 2.5 miles away is Mt. Washington.  I thought all day that this would be a cool way to summit that peak.  Many hikers also do Boott Spur but I chose not to on this day.

Once I hit the trail junction, the drop started.  I traveled along a well exposed ridge following over 20 cairns to below the tree line.  I sogged through a brook (panicking that I lost the trail and was going to eat all my snacks and die alone in the woods) and finally came to Spur Trail.  I should note I was wearing a bright blue VT50 long sleeve shirt, a pink t-shirt, purple capris and hot pink calf sleeves.  I was determined to be found 🙂  At no point I was in any danger… just thought I should throw that out.  I have become an experienced hiker and trail runner, had plenty of survival supplies to include a survival sleeping bag, and would never wander away from a well marked trail while alone.  However, I was still freaked out and the adrenaline was pumping hardcore!

I reached the summit and could not stop smiling.  The trail was incredibly rocky and not easy to this point, but I HAD MADE IT (3:46)!!!!!!

More shifty eyes….

I had my sandwich, sent some text messages to let people know I was alive and admired the view of Mt. Washington.  It was in and out of the clouds but still visible. I also sat and wondered how the hell we did this without our La Sportiva Bushidos.  These shoes are really the most incredible mountain shoe I have ever tried.  They stick like there is no tomorrow and are comfortable even soaking wet.  I had no foot issues all day!

After a 20 minute break, I started back.  I was determined to do it in the same time or less as it took me to get here.  No small feat considering I was going back down Glen Boulder, which proved to really test my quads and patience.  I made it back up to the trail intersection again and admired the view one last time:

trailsign

 

Check out my panoramic video:

I sucked down a Hammer Espresso Gel and made my way to Glen Boulder.  My hiking poles saved my life numerous times and despite my shaking quads I made it back to the parking lot in 7:40.  Not too shabby.  I got a little frustrated in the last mile when my watch died and I started to get hungry.  I decided at this point to tromp through all the puddles and running water I could find.  I made the best of it and came out of the woods smiling.  I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  My first solo 4K, I didn’t get lost and I had the fortitude to brave the most difficult trail of my hiking/mountain running career to date.  I also earned #11 (I will fill you in on #8, 9 and 10 later!)!!!

So, what went right?

– My shoes… will never wear anything but my Bushidos

– Water and food intake:  70oz of water, numerous snacks and sandwich over the day.  I ended the hike with no fueling issues.

– Clothing: layers were just right and I didn’t dip into my pack for the extra layers at all

– Poles: Also known as “FoShoes” (for shows) because Tony and I were carrying them and not using them.  I used the crap out of them!

– Timing: On trail at 8:20 and off at 3:50.

– Pack: So thankful I changed from my smaller day pack to the bigger ultralight.  Much more comfortable.

What else? 

– Got stung by a bee a mile in…. really?????

– Wished I could stop racing the clock and enjoy it a bit more.  I’m not fast but still….

 

I learned so much about my ability to hike alone and be alone.  Its a skill I have yet to put to the test and while I love my running family, I will certainly solo hike again.  I tackled Isolation and never felt alone.  My soul was souring!!!! I have not been able to stop thinking about this for days.  I doubt its an experience I will EVER forget.  I went to my Saturday morning workout and while I can still feel the effort in my quads, I can’t wait to get back out there.  My ankle felt great all day (thanks especially to my CEP brace)!  What an incredible confidence boosting experience for me… one I can’t wait to have again!!!

Fitness Reality Check

It’s been three years….

Three years since I decided I had enough of the flabby belly, cellulite on my legs, low energy and lack of drive.  I needed a goal and I got one.  I started to run.  Painfully.  I will never forget my first 5K.  I was exhausted at the end and came home to collapse.  I could not believe how much it took out of me.  I thought I was going to die during the race and after I was trashed.

Over the course of this weekend, I completed three workouts in 24 hours.  The first was a climb up Mt. Major at sunset for “ladies night.”  4.6 miles, 1000+ feet of climb… lots of fun.  We went up in the daylight, caught the sunset and came down with headlamps.  Dinner and bed by 11:30.  Got up the next morning for a one hour workout with my new trainer.  This was mostly upper body with lots of balance work thrown in.  Go home, nap, refuel… then 6.7 miles in Patwuckaway up and over South Mountain.  Legs were dead at first, my downhill running is GONE (no confidence left as a result of the repeated ankle injuries) but I started to come alive after a few miles.  Tony pushed me to run up South Mountain interval style.  I started to get my downhill game back near the end too.  Not too shabby a weekend for injury rehab!  And certainly made me realize how far I have come in three years.

No, I am not training for an ultra.

No, I am not ironman quality.

No I won’t be running a marathon this fall.

BUT I am building, slowly, to move forward with my fitness goals and my personal goals.

Speaking of moving forward, Katie started a challenge for our running “team” called the Fish Fry 50 and 100 Mile Challenge. The challenge runs for the month of August and you get a beer glass at the end.  You can run, walk, crawl or elliptical your way to end and best effort is all that counts.  We have 21 participants!

Finally, I will leave you with some recent pics.  Also, hop over to my 4K Quest page and check out my recaps of Mt. Whiteface and Mt. Passaconoway from last weekend!

ladies

sunmtmajor

calling