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!!!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. limaromeobravo
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 12:45:18

    I’m still awed as heck that you tackled this. Love the videos, too!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Breaking 1000 | Learning to Run

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