Sunday, January 19, 2020
Start/end: Rocky Branch trailhead
Elevation gain/loss: 3186′
After parking on the shoulder of Rt 16 since the Rocky Branch trailhead was not plowed out, I strapped on my snowshoes and headed up the trail. For the first 4-5 miles, my tracks were the only tracks since the 8 inches of snow we received overnight, except for a bunch of moose tracks. I climbed slow and steady up to Engine Hill, and then did my best to follow the past bushwhack, though I ended up getting a bit lost and having a meandering track (sorry, everyone). I did find the beaten down trail from yesterday and followed it past the first campsite, where there were two men breaking down a tent. They had hiked up to Isolation following the main trail and already broken out the trail, so I decided to forego the second bushwhack and just stay on broken trail. I summited isolation and then headed back down the way I’d come. I ran into two other people on their way up, but those two plus the two backpackers were the only people I saw all day. I made good time and managed to make a slightly better herdpath on the way back along the ‘whack, but I was happy to see my car. With the temperatures in the single digits and some wind, the weather was intimidating and made me feel my own mortality a bit more than I like.