Trip Report: Mt Isolation (attempt)

Mt Isolation, Sargent’s Purchase, NH


For what is just barely a four thousand-footer, this was unexpectedly interesting.

First, for not having made the summit, I’m remarkably sanguine. Anger, disappointment, frustration… those are the last things on my mind right now. They were the last things on my mind when I turned around. Probably the biggest thing on my mind was what a great day I was having, just tramping around amongst the trees. Four thousand foot list or not, it’s got a lot to offer. In my not so humble opinion, this one punches way above its weight class. I’ll happily be back.

I think most of my issues gaining the summit had to do with wind and just enough new snow to completely obscure the trail. I saw zero blazes on the trail. But more to it, I didn’t see a logical way forward after the second half of the hike. Once I got to the river, all sense of “this way, dummy” evaporated. Next time, I’ll have more GPS coordinates to follow.

Frustrations: the snow was just wet enough to ball like crazy under my microspikes. No kidding, at times, I thought I should start channeling Gene Simmons, and maybe start singing Kiss songs, because my boots suddenly had 2 inch thick “soles”. I thought it funny that, not only did I walk above the trail in terms of snowfall, but I walked above even the snowy trail due to the balling underfoot. Adding insult to injury, balling even affected my trekking poles. Yikes!

Also, the guy at the AMC Pinkham’s Notch visitor center, who after admitting he never hiked the trail in winter before, proceeded to harshly critique my attempt. In all my dealings with the AMC, he was the outlier by a long shot, so this shouldn’t be viewed in the slightest as a short against the AMC — IMHO, they do good work. But seriously, have game before you start Monday morning quarterbacking someone else’s.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: those mountains have been there for thousands of years, and I dare say they’ll be there for at least a few days more. Better to cut a trip short, regroup, and retry, than to press onward when it makes no sense to do so.

As has happened so often before, the photos took themselves today. I just had to push the trigger.


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