Trail Review: Glen Boulder Trail (Uncompleted)
A few weeks back, we decided we wanted to go out and hike Mount Isolation in the White Mountains.
Mount Isolation is one of the bottom 48, 4000 footers and is said be a long gradual 14 mile hike to the top and back.
What was supposed to be an easy but very long hike quickly turned into a mess of a day involving taking an unplanned trail, some bad weather and never actually making it to the Mount Isolation summit.
The night before, we tried to camp at the AMC Joe Dodge Lodge near the edge of our trailhead. But after dealing with the incredibly rude women on the phone while making reservations we opted to instead stay at a friends house in Maine.
We woke up, and began our 2 hour drive — eager to get to the trail head and start our very long hike. Along the way we noticed that the weather was a little poor with fog and light rain as we neared the mountains edge.
We stopped at the AMC Pinkham Notch Lodge and talked to two of the nicest people working there, which was refreshing compared to the women who I tried to make reservations with.
We purchased a new trail map and told them about our days plans. They recommended we take the Glen Boulder Trail to get some incredible views and add a challenge to our hike, and since we knew it was going to be a long sorta boring hike. We opted for the new route.
We then drove to the edge of the Glen Boulder Trail just off highway 16, paid the 3 dollar parking fee, put on our gear, and finally headed out onto the trail.
Immediately, we noticed how steep the trail was with the constant stepping up. At this point, it was raining and misting very lightly but the leaves and rocks were wet and slippery which slowed us down greatly on our accent.
We passed a gorgeous waterfall hidden just feet off the trail, and we stopped to take pictures and rest our legs.
About 1.5 hours into the hike, we finally started to break the tree barrier and see some amazing views of Mount Wildcat behind us.
Just at the 1.5 mile mark, and just shy of two hours into the hike we had accented just under 2000 feet and came face to face with the Alpine Zone.
At this point the weather wasn’t exactly the best with the mist now turning into freezing rain and ice. We noticed that the scramble in front of us was going to be extremely slippery… but we decided to go for it.
We made it up our first pitch relatively easy, but definitely noticing the slippery cold rocks. The second scramble was a challenge as our boots were barely able to stick to the rocks and the hand holds were near impossible with the icy rocks and cold temperatures.
We looked up, turned to each other, and silently agreed that it just wasn’t worth it.
We were both cold, wet, and were unsure of what the rest of the hike was going to be. We thought about how this route would be when returning after the summit and coming back this trail to get back to our car.
We love a challenge, but this just wasn’t worth it.
We quickly got below treeline, and bundled up with gloves and rain jackets as the skies seemed to open up and the mist turned into a solid and constant rain.
About 15 minutes into our now extremely wet and slippery decent, we stopped to check on our packs and decided to put our waterproof pack covers on as well.
It was another 2 hours ,1.5 miles, and 2000 feet down, before making it to the bottom of the trail and back to the car.
We felt a little deflated but knew that continuing on would have been a poor choice. Instead we opted to cross under Highway 16 and see the Glen Ellis Waterfall just .3 miles from the parking lot where we witnessed an incredible, beautiful 65 foot waterfall.
Once spring hits, we’ll be back to conquer this hike in better weather.
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