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July 30, 2017. Hiking Day Two: Mt. Isolation to Route 302 by Mt. Washington Hotel (HIGH ROUTE)

Davis Path, Camel Trail, Crawford Path, Mt. Monroe Loop, Mt. Eisenhower Loop, Edmands Path, Mt. Clinton Road, B&M Trail, Bridal Path

approximately 14.5 miles with 3150 feet of elevation gain

**NOTE: We took the High Peaks option today between Mt. Isolation and Mt. Eisenhower instead of the traditional Cohos Trail route.  The traditional route leaves Davis Path at Isolation Trail (west), goes down into the Dry River Wilderness, and comes up Eisenhower via the Mt. Eisenhower Trail.   The High Peaks option was created in 2011 after Tropical Storm Irene devastated the Dry River trails.  Those trails are open and usable today, but we chose the High Peaks option (minus Washington) anyway because a) we all needed Monroe and Alex needed Eisenhower for our July Grids, and b) on a nice day the views are outstanding.  I would like to suggest that the Cohos Trail keep the High Peaks option permanently open so that folks have a choice.   It is nice to have the more sheltered Dry River Wilderness route should the weather forecast be less than favorable.**

I woke the girls at sunrise so we could get moving.  Our sleeping location was uncertain for the evening, and wherever we ended up, I wanted to get there relatively early.  The plan was to use the free, first-come-first-serve forest service camping spots on Old Cherry Mtn. Road, but I was worried that by the time we got there, all the spots would be taken and we'd be out of luck (there is no stealth camping allowed along that road...we'd have been forced to go up Mt. Martha for a while before finding another spot, and that was farther than any of us wanted to go this day).

We were therefore packed and on our way by 6:30am.  We hiked past the east and west intersections with Isolation Trail and began the High Peaks option, which means we continued up Davis Path, going above treeline and gaining about 2100 feet of elevation gain.  I turned and took this photo once we were above treeline a bit.  The first bump down there is North Isolation, which we ascended and descended from Isolation.  Behind North Isolation is another, higher bump (hard to tell from this photo) -- that's Isolation (where we had begun an hour and a half or so earlier).


Onward, upward...


We reached the intersection with Glen Boulder Trail and continued on Davis Path toward the intersection with Boott Spur.  After Boott Spur, we kept walking up, toward Mt. Washington, until we reached the intersection with Camel Trail.



As you can see, the day was clear and gorgeous.  There was a brisk wind which felt wonderful to us; we could see other hikers and they were all bundled up, but we remained in short sleeves and bare legs.  We enjoy the cooler weather and the wind, and as long as we are moving we will keep our outer layers in our backpacks.

We turned left at Davis Trail, choosing not to ascend Washington itself since we don't need it for our July Grids, and headed toward Monroe.  That's the tip of Monroe in the photo below.


I didn't get a photo of Lakes of the Clouds Hut for some reason.  I have a million photos of that hut in our other blog posts from our other ascents of Monroe (and Washington).  We did stop in to the hut to buy some of their delicious food (chocolate chip cake and chocolate chip brownies...yum) and to say hello to one of the hut croo members, Dan, a Bowdoin College student whom Sage and I drove from Lincoln Woods to the trailhead for Old Bridle Path a couple weeks prior.

After enjoying some time at the hut, we climbed Monroe so we could cross it off for our July Grid.


From here, we headed south to Eisenhower (the bald dome in the left center of this photo, the third bump from the front)


It was a lovely day and, being a Sunday, there were plenty of hikers out and about.  It never felt crazy until we neared the summit of Eisenhower.  Sage and I had already ascended this peak for July, so we hung out at the intersection with Edmands Path while Alex climbed the summit cone on her own.  Alex is in the photo below somewhere, making her way up the steep switchbacks.  We could see her as she quickly hiked up -- she's fast and she passed everyone in front of her.


Alex gave me these photos to share of her on top of Eisenhower and of the view from Eisenhower's peak.

Alex on the summit of Eisenhower.  Photo courtesy of Alex


View from the top of Eisenhower.  Photo courtesy of Alex
Sage and I watched as dozens and dozens of people and around ten dogs made their way up and down the summit cone.  I was able to get a cell signal for enough time to call Applebrook B&B, the Jefferson location of our first planned rest ("zero") day, to let them know we were a day ahead of schedule and to request we shift our reservation ahead accordingly (they were able to oblige). Then, about twenty minutes after she had left us, Alex reappeared on the summit cone and made her way back down to us.  She reported that there was a large group of people lounging away from the trail on top of the fragile vegetation, packs everywhere, generally being horrible tourist-hikers.  Grrrr.

We made our way down Edmands Path (now back on the Cohos Trail's original route), saying hi to a myriad of hikers coming up, and reached Mt. Clinton Road.

At this point, Alex took over the navigation again, since the route between here and the Mt. Washington Hotel was new territory for us.  As a general rule, whenever we were on new-to-us sections of trail during this trip (which was often), Alex navigated.  Sage spent some time navigating too (and did very well!), but Alex had the majority of the navigation duties since she is older and hiking solo from time to time.

While we sat by the side of the road with Alex looking over the map and the data book, no less than six vehicles pulled up, one at a time, and for each one a driver would stick his/her head out of the window and ask if we were okay and/or needed help.  It was so sweet -- this was right by the parking area for the Edmands Path trailhead and all these folks coming down Eisenhower wanted to make sure we were okay.  Nice hikers.  :)

After Alex looked over the map and data book, we headed down Mt. Clinton Road (take a right from the trailhead's parking lot) and walked a short distance until we reached the "dogleg" in the road.  We discovered a dogleg means a sharp turn...in this case, it's to the right.  We then looked for the second gated entrance to the left.  In the photo below, the girls stand on the turn in the dogleg and point toward the correct gate.


The correct gate looks like this --


The trail from here toward the Mt. Washington Hotel looks like this in the beginning...you're walking on overgrown cross-country ski trails.


Lots of tall vegetation to walk through...use DEET on your pants/shoes/legs and consistently check for ticks.


This crosses a brook (not mentioned in the data book) and puts you out right on a packed dirt surface, which is part of the maze of trails connected with the Mt. Washington Hotel territory.  After you cross the brook, take a right and keep the water/river on your right -- follow the data book carefully at this point, always making sure the water is to your immediate right.


Eventually, you'll come to the edge of the golf course and be confronted with the sight of squeaky clean and khakied men riding around on golf carts and looking at you strangely because you're dirty and you probably reek.

Not long afterward, the trail curves and you see the Mt. Washington Hotel itself.


It is kind of the Mt. Washington Hotel to allow Cohos Trail hikers go through its property.  Make sure you stay to the end of the golf area, following the path, and when you come to the hotel go around it (not through it, unless you have plans to stay there that evening).  We crossed to the hotel's left side once we reached the end of the path, walked around to the left, then crossed in front through the parking area and ended up on 302.

NOTE -- you will have a strong cell reception (if you use Verizon, anyway), right by the hotel and in front of the hotel.  If you decide you want to stay here, or at any of the nearby Mt. Washington Hotel properties, BOOK ONLINE before you go to the front desk.  More on this below...

We reached the road and I decided I would spring for an evening at the Lodge (across 302 from the Mt. Washington Hotel).  We walked up to the front, I went in and had the girls wait just outside (so as to have only one smelly person in the lobby instead of three), and told the person at the front desk, a man probably in his late-50s with glasses and about 5'7" or 5'8", that we were hiking through and --

As soon as I said the word "hiking," the man shook his head, made a sweeping motion with his hand, and said "We don't have anything."  I asked if he meant that they were fully booked, and he said yes, again without a smile and with a curt tone.  Suspicious, I went outside, used my phone to open a hotel booking site, and discovered that there were at least three rooms available at the Lodge that evening.  I walked right back in, told the man at the front desk that I could see they did actually have rooms available, and booked one of them online right in front of him.  He then told me that he had said they were fully booked since the rooms they had weren't actually clean yet, and that they wouldn't be clean for quite some time (it was now 4:15pm, which is past their check-in time).  I said that was no problem, that we would wait in the lobby until a room was ready.  While we waited, another, younger front desk person came over and helped a couple who had just walked in -- I heard them ask if there were rooms available, and I heard and saw this nice hotel employee tell them, with a smile, that yes, there were rooms, but there would be a bit of a wait until they were ready because the cleaning staff was behind.  Soon after this, the 50-something fellow who had helped(?) us told us a room was ready.

Later, after I had showered, I came back to the desk and asked about laundry detergent and quarters.  Without looking, he said he had no quarters at all (we only needed $1 worth for the dryer) and that there weren't any boxes of detergent left.  A quick look in the attached store showed there was a box left, and (of course) I have no way of knowing whether or not there were actually quarters left in the cash register or not.

Make of my above experience what you will.  Obviously the guy at the counter should not have told us they were fully booked when they weren't.  We were smelly and dirty when we came in....but the point of having a hotel room is to head straight to the showers, so we wouldn't have been dirty and smelly to other guests for long.  In any event, if you want to stay at the Lodge (which isn't priced all that horribly, considering it's a Mt. Washington Hotel property), the BOOK ONLINE.  You can plan this way in advance or you can take your chances with your smartphone as soon as you get into regular cell phone range by the Mt. Washington Hotel.

I am glad we stayed there, since the next morning, as we hiked past the Old Mt. Cherry Road campgrounds, we saw that every single one of those campgrounds had been in use the evening before.  If we had continued to hike after reaching the Lodge, we would have gotten to the campground areas around 5:00 or 5:30, and there would have been a good chance all those spots would have been filled by then.

Tomorrow: Hiking Day Three -- Route 302 to Applebrook B&B in Jefferson, NH.

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