Go Away Black Flies
Alright, how many days until the first frost in the mountains? Don’t get me wrong I love summer. The days are longer and there are more activities I can do. As a teacher I also have off from school so I have a lot more time to do those activities such as kayaking or riding my bikes. But I HATE bugs. As a teacher I tell my students not to use that word because it is such a strong word but dislike doesn’t do it. I know all of the animals have a reason here on earth but the 10 black fly bites I have on one leg alone are a killer. Even with Ben’s 100 on my arms, neck, and ears the bugs were still harassing me. My big mistake was not spraying the Ben’s 30 on my compression sleeves. It’s my own fault, but in the winter I don’t even have to think about that.
Anyway, on to the actual hike. It started in the pouring rain. Cats and dogs were coming down as we got on Rocky Branch trail for Mt. Isolation. This is always a big problem for me because I get so hot with rain gear on that it is almost not worth even having on. Luckily when I got to the point I couldn’t bare sweating anymore under my rain gear the rain decided to let up some. The Rocky Branch trail is long but meandering. No big steep up hills. Don’t let the sign welcoming you to the Dry River Wilderness fool you though. This was by far the wettest, muddiest hike I have ever done. It really didn’t get that wet/muddy until we reached the sign. We also noticed a large amount of moose droppings along the upper part of the trail. I felt like every 10 feet we can across some more. It was difficult dodging all of it, last thing I wanted was moose droppings on the bottom of my boot. Other than that the Rocky Brach trail was uneventful save for the water crossing right before the Isolation trail. There was a group in front of us who were taking off their boots to cross. I just found some rocks and got across with my poles. That’s the benefit of waterproof boots; you can step on rocks that are submerged. I passed the poles to my dad so he could get across and then on to a lady from the other group. The lady thanked me and we were on our way. There were suppose to be 5 more river crossings along the way but there was a pretty visible bushwhack that cut two of them off. The Isolation trail was really no different in that it was wet, muddy, and meandering. When we reached the intersection of the Davis Path trail there was a very large group resting who pointed us in the right direction. Off we went. I was hungry but did not want to stop until the top. At last we reached the spur to the top of Isolation. It is short and steep and after 7 miles of hiking it was unwanted but the skies had cleared up some so I was excited for a view at the top.
I was not disappointed at all with the view. Sure there were some clouds blocking Mt. Washington’s full effect but otherwise many peaks were visible. At this point I would have loved to lay in the sun but the bugs were out of control. Up until now I had my lower level DEET on but I had to switch to the Ben’s 100. Even with that on I was still being bothered. While we were taking pictures the large group we had seen at the Davis intersection came up and we found out that they were a group called New England Over 40 Hiking Group. It was very clear that you didn’t have to be over 40 to join them as one of the hikes with them who was defiantly not 40 had just reach his 48th and final New Hampshire 4000footer. As they all celebrated with him we chatted a bit and found out that they post hikes on www.meetup.com for people to join. Once they left dad wanted to get going because the bugs were annoying him. I was being stubborn and wanted to stay. It really didn’t take long before I couldn’t handle the bugs anymore though.
The way back was just as wet and muddy. I guess somewhere inside I had hoped that because the sun had come out that maybe, just maybe some of the wetness would go away. I was especially wrong when I stepped in some mud that went up, over my boot, and into it. As disgusting as it was I couldn’t resist getting pictures of it. When we reached one of the river crossings I dunked my boot mostly in to try to get some of the mud off. Along the way we heard some thunder but it never came our way. Seeing the cars was a relief. No more mud or bugs. Even though I was rocking my awesome, pink, CEP calf compression sleeves (that do not protect against black flies) I immediately sat down to stretch. After 14miles of hiking that was just about the only thing on my mind, stretch the legs and drink some post hike chocolate milk. My stretching focused more on the hamstrings and quads because my calves were feeling pretty good thanks to my sleeves. I tried to tell dad to stretch but he did not listen to me. This became a painful mistake for him. Once we got back to Waterville the moment he got out of the car he screamed out in pain. His hamstring was experiencing a serious cramp and he didn’t know what to do. I gave him what little water I had left and then ran into Jug Town Country Store to get him Gatorade and a banana. I also helped stretch him out. Hopefully he stretches next time and I remember to spray my compression sleeves.
I HATE black flies, but I loved the view from the top and I shot a quick video to give you an idea of what it was like.