A destination can be whatever you want it to be! I vividly recall being told this many years ago by an experienced hiker who explained to me that just because a trail leads to a named mountaintop, it doesn't mean you must go to the top of that mountain. If you only want to hike a portion of the trail for whatever reason, that's okay. Hiking is hiking!
And so, with that philosophy in mind, in early July 2017, I decided that a huge rock named Glen Boulder would be my “destination”. This boulder is just a mere blip along the trail for many hikers who are using the Glen Boulder Trail as a springboard to Mt. Isolation and other distant locations.
Glen Boulder was named for the nearby settlement of Glen, NH which presumably was named for the Gaelic word describing a mountain valley. It is situated at an elevation of just over 3,700 ft. The area in the immediate vicinity of the boulder consists of bare tundra which is normally only found at elevations several hundred feet higher. One theory is that the bare tundra along the top of this portion of the ridge is caused by the scouring effect of fierce winter winds emanating from the summit of nearby Mt. Washington.
And although Glen Boulder would appear to be a glacial erratic, I'm told that technically it is not since it consists of a rock type that is the same as the rock beneath it. Apparently, to be a true glacial erratic, it must have been carried for a far distance by a retreating glacier, and thereby have a rock type that's different from its surroundings. Perhaps a reader who is versed in geology can correct or confirm this?
As you will see in the photos that follow, Glen Boulder sits precariously perched on the edge of steep slope. Each time I've visited this location (including this time), I've witnessed folks playfully trying to push over this humongous boulder and send it tumbling downhill. Fun stuff, but all such attempts will likely be forever unsuccessful . . . thankfully! :-)
The is a fun hike, and it allows you to have an above tree-line experience in a relatively short hiking distance. However if you've never done this trek, then please be aware that the trail has some prolonged steep segments, and there are a couple of very challenging rock scrambles on the final approach to Glen Boulder.
And so, shown below is a map with my route highlighted in orange. This was a simple "out and back" hike that began and ended at the Glen Ellis Falls parking area on the west side of Route 16. The round-trip hike was 3.2 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,750 ft.
|Map showing my route highlighted in orange|
|Trailhead sign at start of hike|
|First view of Glen Boulder upon breaking out above tree line|
|Arrival at Glen Boulder! Wildcat Mountains and Carter-Moriah Range seen on horizon.|
|Northward view from Glen Boulder. Peaks and ridges (at left) associated with the Presidential Range dominate the photo.|
|Southward view look down Pinkham Notch toward peaks in the Jackson, North Conway, Bartlett area.|
|While en route to Glen Boulder, there are a couple of side paths leading to some small, but picturesque cascades, such as the one shown here.|
TO SUM IT UP:
Perhaps this blog posting can best be summed up with the quote from Alfred D'Souza: "Happiness is a journey, not a destination." In other words, hike to wherever it is that makes you happy. Don't be obsessed with map destinations.