Thursday, March 02, 2006

Winter Peakbagging, Part XLV

Yesterday, an 11-hour trek up the aptly-named Mt. Isolation. Other than a few (very few) trail markers, I saw no evidence of humanity all day. Despite the general dearth of snowstorms this winter, a great deal of snow is lurking in the mountains above 3,000 feet. I snowshoed through deep drifts, and cut around one as high as my chin. The route included a stretch of bushwhacking, which by chance took me through a spot as beautiful as any I’ve seen in these mountains: an enormous, sloping, open glade of birches, gorgeous against the snowy floor and deep azure sky. It had the feel of a vast orchard, as if someone in the ancient past had decided to farm birches in the most inaccessible possible spot. This place is on no trail, and in no guide-book, and has no landmarks to reach it. But I think I could find it again, and I’ll take you there if you want to go (bring skis—it looks perfect.)

Later another trail climbed a long ravine to a ridge, where the forest grew gnarled and the trail indistinct. I wandered and poked, frequently backtracking, sometimes circling, trying to find the way, aiming for a trail junction where I needed to make a turn. Beyond the junction, several blow-downs obliterated the trail again, forcing hands-and-knees tunneling to continue on. Each one led to a thought of turning back, dismissed with effort. A final scramble up a steep, deep pitch brought out the ledgy summit, fierce wind, and a spectacular view.

The last time I stood on Isolation I was with College Roommate, in August ’98, the day after we nearly came to grief on Mt. Washington. I reflected on the changes in life since then, and realized with pleasure that I was dressed head-to-snowshoes in our college colors (red and black). Need to give College Roommate a phone call.

Arrived back at the car at twilight, with blisters on both big toes. I’m out of commission for a few days until they heal.


Blogger Will said...

Sounds great.

I want to come visit! (except I am afraid that you are actually a serial killer who would wack me with your machete once we got to isolation.)

3/2/06, 12:13 PM  
Anonymous girltuesday said...

take me! take me! i am dying for a little skiing. boytuesday & his da are off on a little tropical adventure of their own, i'm stuck here in the cold, looking for some cold weather entertainment.

3/4/06, 5:09 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

Oh, too bad we didn't know-- 517 and I were at the vertical skating rink (formerly known as "ski area") today, would've been happy to have you along. Except of course we'd have had no idea how to find you...

3/4/06, 10:02 PM  
Anonymous girltue said...

true, true. had i been more forward thinking i could have left some clues. i will remember for future reference.

actually favourite cousin (of mine) and i are planning on a little ski/hut trip. the question is gaspe or white mountains . . . . thoughts?

3/5/06, 12:45 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

Take me! Take me!

As for where to go-- this map (my most-clicked link all winter) may sway you to Canada:

Even more snow around Quebec than on Gaspe... I know the nordic area at Mt. St.-Anne has some cabins along their trail network...

3/5/06, 1:10 PM  

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