|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Isolation, Mt. Eisenhower, NH|
||Rocky Branch Trail, bushwhack, herd paths, Isolation Trail, Davis Path, Isolation Spur, Dry River Trail, Mt. Eisenhower Trail, Crawford Path, Eisenhower Loop, Edmands Path|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, October 24, 2020|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||I believe we were the first cars or one of the first cars at Edmands Path at 5:45 and Rocky Branch at 6:30am. Room for a dozen plus at Edmands Path (but overflows easily on weekends) and room for a bit more at Rocky Branch which doesn’t normally overflow. Jefferson Notch Rd in is in sound condition just very bumpy. Watch out for large rocks jutting out of the road. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant, Leaves - Significant/Slippery |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||We took the Engine Hill bushwhack to avoid two crossings of the Rocky Branch (the first at the end of Rocky Branch East just before it meets Isolation Trail and the second 0.4mi into Isolation Trail). We also took the herd path around the next two crossings of the Rocky Branch on Isolation East. So we only did the final crossing of the Rocky Branch on Isolation East which was rock hoppable. The other crossings are harder than this one I believe, but we probably could have done at least some of them. They certainly shouldn’t have been dangerous and I imagine that some of them would’ve been rock hoppable as well. We may have just had to wade. The crossing of the Dry River on Mt Eisenhower Trail MAY have been rock hoppable but it would have been very sketchy on some larger boulders over some little cascades. Everything was slick too so we just waded across a bit upstream. Waders were very, very useful to stay dry; given the temps and how wet I already was, wading across was really not an appealing idea. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Rocky Branch Trail had more yellow blaze than I would’ve thought. Still wouldn’t call it well blazed though. I don’t recall blazing on any of the other than Edmands Path which had an occasional blue blaze but the blazing was honestly less frequent than on Rocky Branch. I have seen a very faded yellow blaze on Mt Eisenhower Trail Bear it’s start before but don’t expect these trails in the wilderness areas to be marked. That said, I wouldn’t say any of these trails are hard to follow with the possible exception of Isolation West which could get confusing around the washouts and water crossings. Due to the washout, it comes down to Isolation Brook a couple times without actually crossing it. There are a number of blowdowns on this route of course but not as many as you might think and no more really on the trails in the Dry River Wilderness than on the standard route to Isolation. We thought we were coming to a section of blowdowns on Isolation West but it turned out to be an isolated one! |
||If your dog can handle a nearly 20mi hike in the rain then sure. Not much scrambling on these trails. Just a long day. Plenty of water on most of the hike ;) |
|Lost and Found:
||A group of 4 of us went to Isolation together. Our route: Rocky Branch East —> Engine Hill bushwhack (non-traditional route described below) —> Isolation East —> herd path around two crossings —> Isolation East —> Davis Path —> campsite spur —> herd path to Davis Path —> Davis Path —> Isolation summit spur |
Note that we eliminated crossing Rocky Branch River twice by sticking to the east side of the trail where Isolation East crosses it twice in a short distance (herd path shown unlabeled on Gaia). We also took the campsite spur to cut to cut off a short distance along Isolation Trail and Davis Path. The “Engine Hill bushwhack” we took can hardly be called such. We started in the usual spot with the T carved into the tree (the herd path is not obvious unless you’re looking though just because it’s perpendicular you the trail and wouldn’t normally notice it) but didn’t end in the normal spot nor did we take the normal route in between the two points. We almost just took the trail because we knew the bushwhack wasn’t normally taken out of season due to its wetness but we went for it anyway. Because of how wet we knew it would be, we started off heading up much higher than any normal route. We went up to about 3350-3400ft, then contoured nearly perfectly for 0.1mi before turning left for another 0.1mi and dropping about 100ft, then turning right and contouring again for about 0.1-0.2mi, before turning left just above 3200ft and dropping back down to the trail after about 0.4mi at 3000ft. We came out nearly a half mile south of where the bushwhack normally intersects the trail. Pretty silly of us. We were around where the bushwhack normally is around where we were contouring though and perhaps briefly once we really started to descend but we cut backwards to the trail which was foolish. We did hit some nice boreal forest in that 0.4mi at the end though. Also, while the footing was wet enough on the whack to make me regret wearing trail runners, by staying high at the beginning, things really weren’t that bad and I would’ve been totally fine in high cut boots.
We started off in fog with our headlamps but it was in the low-mid 50s when we began. The clouds, fog, and mist were much more prominent than we anticipated but it never really rained on us on our way to Isolation. That said, the trail was plenty wet. Didn’t see anyone until Davis Path I believe. We met a number of groups that came up Glen Boulder. We had the summits to ourselves though except for some gray jays. No views unfortunately.
We continued back on Davis Path until two of us headed back down and two of us continued on toward Eisenhower. Unfortunately, conditions got worse instead of better and it rained on us a bit as we descended Isolation West. Lots of wet layers. It was pretty light so a rain jacket was helpful but rain pants were not needed. Ground conditions were similar everywhere. The trails in the Dry River weren’t hard to follow except where Isolation West is washed out and comes to the brook. You may think it crosses it where it actually just continues along it. There’s really only one crossing of it. Mt Eisenhower Trail isn’t really hard to follow as there’s not wash out. A pretty nice trail especially on the descent. One spot on the ascent where it turns right and it’s easy to miss and continue straight forward. Note, however, that there are still enough leaves on most of these trails to obscure the footbed though. See notes above about the water crossing. Things lightened you and the sun shined through the clouds for about 5 seconds as we ascended Mt Eisenhower Trail but we were still I cloud as we broke tree line. Oh well, at least it stopped raining.
Definitely needed some extra layers on Ike. Temps had already dropped significantly (as predicted in the weather forecast) and winds were probably 20-30mph and guarding higher. No views of people at the summit so we turned around immediately. To our surprise, we didn’t see anyone on Eisenhower Trail until we reached the parking lot around 5:30pm.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.