Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Isolation, NH
Trails: Rocky Branch Trail, bushwhack, Isolation Trail, Davis Path, Isolation Spur
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes:  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Snow - Wet/Sticky, Snow - Spring Snow, Snow/Ice - Postholes 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Snowshoes 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: I didn't lay eyes on the Rocky Branch to any significant degree, however, all the drainages and seeps had significant melting occurring. And anywhere there was a more significant brook, it was less gurgling and more closer to an outright roar. The mountain is shedding water, snow is melting quickly, and so all ice bridges should be treated with suspicion. Before crossing on the way up, ask "what will this be like a few hours from now?"  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Up at the junction with Davis Path is a substantial blow-down. Other than that, most everywhere else, things were in decent shape.  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: I was the only human on the mountain, so no pups this day. But I did see moose tracks, and a bear print. Neat!  
Bugs: A few flying insects, but nothing of particular note.  
Lost and Found
Lost and Found:  
Comments: Wow, what a day. Unbridled sunshine, and after a winter full of cloudy days, having a string of three outings featuring blue skies is just what the doctor ordered.

Snowcover was a somewhat stable crust on the way up, but after being battered by bright sun and 50 degree temps for much of the afternoon, things got a bit dicey on the trip down. On my way back to the trailhead, I spent no small amount of time postholing in spite of every effort not to, notably in the bushwhack. The bottom end of the trail was described by someone else on this site as being "rototilled", which maybe was an exaggeration at one point, but now, it's probably closer to reality in several spots. Engine Hill bushwhack is tough to follow in several spots, the crust is breaking all over... in short, it's becoming a tad bit austere. Overall, in the afternoon and especially below 3,000 feet or so, I heard a lot of melting under the snow -- the sound of rushing water where you can't immediately see any is a bit weird -- so I'm guessing we're going into mud season before too much longer, and earlier than normal. If you need to bag Isolation for your March grid, I highly recommend snowshoes, an early start, and a lot of patience, or waiting until next year and nailing it earlier in the month. With all the warm weather in the upcoming forecast, I can't see useful amounts of snow lasting very much longer.

All that said, there's still some good hiking to be had on that hill, so if you've got more than a few semi-adventurous bones in your body, it's still certainly worth a go. Just know the conditions aren't going to be pristine.

Photos and a more detailed trip report are on my blog, as always. Enjoy!  
Name: Protean Wanderer 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2021-03-24 
Bookmark and Share 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.

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