It’s been a minute since I’ve posted. Excuse my hiatus as I played gypsy status whilst waiting to move into new apartment, settled into my new space, launched a business, and found a part-time gig. More on all of this to come soon, but for now a hiking recap. Don’t worry, I’ve kept up with hiking (I know you were totally worried 😉 )
I love love love Mt. Isolation. Specifically via the Glen Boulder Trail and Davis Path from Pinkham Notch. This frolic in the woods is most definitely not a beginner hike at 12 miles and 5000 ft elevation gain, and it most definitely does feel like a real-life stairmaster around mile 8.
Back in July I hiked Isolation with my friend Dawna, the biggest difference between that day and Monday’s hike? We found SNOW! Winter is coming, this is all very exciting. I like to say that I have a love/hate relationship with winter as I despise wearing pants (sensory), but I love snowboarding. Catch 22. Maybe I’ll just start wearing shorts snowboarding?! I have managed to keep the #teamnopants going strong so far with hiking.
I am actually kind of excited for the winter though. Now that I’m living up North, the experience is going to be and feel different. I no longer have a 2-2.5 hour drive each direction to the mountains and I’m surrounded by many humans now that also dig the outdoors and adventuring. I feel a little more in my element these days and I believe this is going to prove beneficial for the colder months.
Back to Isolation – Monday’s hike was my fifth trip up to Davis Path and fourth to the summit. This area remains one of my favorite places to be in the White Mountains. There is something incredibly humbling about the hike itself with having to hike up to 4800 ft to then hike down to the summit to then have to hike back up to go down. It’s just a different experience. The Davis Path, Slide Peak, and Glen Boulder area is along just stunning. Hands down my favorite view.
We (my friends Nicole and Corey plus myself) began our hike around 10:30am. Pro tip: start earlier unless you’re an experienced hiker, are comfortable hiking a bit in the dark, oh and enjoy hiking in the dark. Thankfully all of us meet the aforementioned “ideals” and we’re rather happy to see sunset above tree-line and perfectly time dipping below tree-line when it was “darkness stage 1”. We decided to give the darkness some stages: stage 1 is you can still see without a headlamp but it’s past sunset, stage 2 is you use your headlamp but there’s still some minor additional sky light, and stage 3 is you use your headlamp and it’s dark AF. There are about 20 minutes between 1 and 3.
From the get go the temperature was great and the sunshine glorious! I was happy to be in shorts, shocker, I know… The trail starts off going up real fast on this hike and we all felt completely out of shape by mile 1, and completely in shape by mile 2. I’ve found this to be typical of pretty much every single hike I do these days. I need my two mile warm up to let my bod know that it’s hiking for a few hours again. I honestly love the experience of feeling my body warm up and get into a groove. It reminds me of how strong I am and how grateful I am that my body can do these hikes.
We took a pit stop at Glen Boulder as we found the first bit of snow there, a chunk about 1’x1’ hiding in the shade. Knowing we were most probably going to be hitting snow further into the hike per trail reports of other 4000 footers and seeing snow on Washington (only a few miles away from Isolation), we kept moving just to stay on a good time and pace. At the point where Glen Boulder Trail ducks into the woods before Slide Peak, we found all the snow!
Even just writing this post, looking at the pictures I’m embedding into it, I’m in awe of the beauty the mountains and the outdoors hold. In my mind, nothing can replace it or replicate it.
The section between Glen Boulder and Slide Peak, while there was snow it was fairly packed and there were lots of rocks for rock hopping to avoid the slushy areas and therefore avoid wet feet for as long as possible. After popping out of the forest section after Slide Peak we were actually surprised with the amount of snow. There was consistently 6-12″ for about 3/4 of a mile, which is impressive especially seeing I was in shorts and a tank top and not cold. Good ole October. While we all had microspikes, and Corey did wear them for a short bit, we mostly opted for careful steps and catching balance as need be.
From the junction of Glen Boulder Trail and Davis Path to the summit of Isolation was a solid mix of blow downs, mud, trails that could have been mistaken for streams, more blow downs, and some snow and ice. Needless to say, the conditions were highly variable. I DIG this stuff, the type-2 fun, not knowing exactly what is in store for the day stuff. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, which is completely and totally ok, it’s mine. It keeps my brain very intrigued and I feel like a little kid again just outside playing in the woods.
Isolation summit is actually not my favorite part of this hike, I mean sure of course I’m excited to reach the summit but the views from other parts are much more Narnia-esqu in my opinion. Besides the views, there is so much more to hiking than reaching the summit. I’m finding myself more and more on hikes not experience the same feeling of excitement I once did when reaching a summit. Don’t get me wrong, I still genuinely am stoked, but it’s different. I am stoked in a different way. I’m even more appreciative of the summit, trail, forest, wildlife, birds chirping, clouds, deep belly laughs, trail signs, conversation, hiking pals, all of it.
Overall this hike was (yet another) one for the books. They all are, really. Even with all the hiking that I do, I can’t say two ever feel the same. I get déjà vu moments often, but that’s it. No matter how many times I summit the same mountain, the experience and the day is unique. Each hike feels like I’m in my home space, because really the outdoors and more specifically the mountains feel like home on a very deep level for me. Perhaps I was a mountain goat in a past life, or perhaps it’s just a safe space where adventures unfold and memories are made.
“I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.” ― Gustave Flaubert