Memories from Mount Isolation

Maybe it’s because I missed out on the experience in high school.  Maybe it’s because I come from a competitive family.  Maybe it’s just because I’m a millennial.


Autumnal color palette

Whatever the reason, I appreciate superlatives.  They help me to remember things, to categorize experiences and file them neatly for retrieval even when Lyme reshuffles and upends up the files.  By this system, the summer that I spent “peak bagging” the high peaks of the White Mountains and sleeping in my old station wagon was the most fun.  And, of those peaks, Mount Isolation was my favorite.

The day I’d planned to hike Isolation, I’d almost chickened out.  In the valley where I’d spent the night, the day dawned gray and overcast; as my schedule was flexible, I considered whether it might be wiser to save the hike for another day.  But, my legs were too eager to get going; I decided that I might as well head out.


Felting wild-blown evergreens

My ascent began through quiet, rain-soaked birch woods, where golden leaves were strewn all over the ground.  I was alone in the wet woods as I focused on climbing higher, walking quickly to warm myself – and for the shear fun of exertion.  I climbed through thick fog, feeling myself enveloped in mist, and then, just as I cleared treeline, I rose though the fog, too.

I found myself in paradise.

Below me, the day appeared undercast, and neighboring mountains rose through a sea of clouds.  Above me, the sky was that gorgeous Windex blue of northern fall days.  Isolation was adorned in all the brilliant colors of fall, and her Glen Boulder was now in view, perched on the edge of a shrub-covered false summit.


Canadian gray jay

I don’t know whether I can attempt to describe the elation I felt, the buoyancy of my heart.  Just a few months before, still in bed with an undiagnosed illness and preparing for kidney surgery, I’d doubted whether I’d ever hike again.  And yet, there I was, climbing alone toward the summit of a mountain of a range I’d long considered a home, even while I lived 1000 miles away.  I didn’t want to blink for fear of missing a moment, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

When I reached the large, flat summit, I rested in solitude, enjoying the view of the Presidential Range across the valley.  At least, I did until my solitude was interrupted by a couple of gregarious Canadian gray jays.  Then, with good company, the day was truly perfect.


“Companion in the Krumholtz”

“Companion in the Krumholtz” and my other felted works are available at


      1. I would love to know what route u took up Isolation. I probs won’t get to it till next summer. Gonna try for Owls head this fall as a day hike which will be a push for sure. Even with all that flat 18 miles is a stretch for me for a day hike…I did some 16 milers on the Long Trail towards the end but I tend to prefer a 10-12 mile day especially on the rocky stuff. Was gonna revisit the Presidential range this wknd but decided it wasn’t worth the drive given the forecast…although I do like hiking in the rain but would like to save exposed alpine ridges for nicer days…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey, Tam!

        Yes, Owl’s Head is definitely a walk, and that flat at the end of the day feels like it goes on forever. I just did Allen in the Adks, which is a similar peak in that it’s far from any others and makes for a long day hike. (To be honest, it was one of my favorite day hikes ever!) Have you considered sleeping at the base of Owl’s Head? I remember passing some nice campsites.

        This has been the world’s rainiest spring, hasn’t it?! I feel as though I’m always dodging storms!

        As for Isolation, I went up the Glen Boulder Trail. Truly spectacular! I went down another way, but I couldn’t tell you which without a map around.

        Happy trails!


      3. Thanks for the tip on campsites at the base of Owls Head! Thats very alluring. Are they near where the Owls Head Path splits off from Lincoln Brook? I’m also really tempted by that northern stretch of Lincoln Brook Trail that connects to 13 Falls but anything I read online leads me to believe I’ll just get lost up there. Ever been on that section?

        And yeah so much rain!!! Finally had some sun on the Twinway heading up to Zealand yesterday!

        Thanks for the tips! and Happy Trails to you!


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