I got up fairly early, around 7:00 AM, and
hurriedly got dressed, chomped down a power bar and gulped some water,
grabbed my bow saw, and rushed off to work on my trail.
Leaving Mizpah Springs Hut, the Mt Clinton
Trail immediately drops into the woods and passes into the Presidential
Range-Dry Range Wilderness. Between the hut and the Dry River Cutoff, the
trail was in reasonable shape, with a few moderately wet areas and 2 or 3
blowdowns, which I sawed through and lifted off the trail. The woods were
mostly open and the trail was easy to follow.
After I passed the Dry River Cutoff, however,
the trail was little used and in appalling shape. There were quite a few
blowdowns, some of which I removed, and some that I left alone because
they were easy to step over or pass under. But even more apparent was the
degree to which the trail was densely overgrown. It was so obscure in a
number of spots that it was nearly impossible to follow. I hadn't brought
a pair of pruners or loppers, so I had to stick to just removing blowdowns.
In addition, the trail was particularly wet
and many areas were severely eroded from the flow of the water. The
waterbars that were supposed to drain the water off the trail were either
clogged or badly decayed. In a couple of spots, a small brook had
completely consumed the trail. I had to bushwhack around one long section.
Even if I had taken my trail maintenance class
(which wasn't scheduled until September) and had brought a hazel hoe or
mattock, there would have been little I could have done about some of the
wetter sections. The only solution I could see was that the trail needed
to be rerouted around the streams. But that would have to be something I'd
have to put in my trail report to the AMC.
Sawing blowdowns, while at the same time
trying to follow an overgrown and soggy trail, was tiring work. I only
managed to finish a bit over one mile of the 3 mile trail, and that was
probably the easiest mile. I shuddered to think how wet the trail probably
was at its lower end on the Dry River Trail. Despite its name, the Dry
River is anything but dry, frequently flooding during rainstorms.
Finally, it time to turn back, pack my tent,
and head back down to my car. I had worked hard, but I had even more work
ahead of me.
Range-Dry River Wilderness sign. Because the Mt Clinton Trail is
within this wilderness, I have to maintain it according to