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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mt Pierce
June 17, 2009

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff,
Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail
Map:
 
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 3100-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Vertical Climb: 3480 ft
Distance: 10.8 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

This was my first trip of 2009 to work on my trail. After driving up from Massachusetts, I left the AMC Highland Center around 7:30 AM and was making good time up the Crawford Path until I reached Gibb's Falls where I stopped to take a picture of a lady slipper at the side of the trail. This is where I suddenly realized, to my great dismay, that I had left my camera back in the car. My choices were to continue on and forget taking pictures that day, or to hike the 8/10 of a mile plus 400 feet of elevation gain round trip to the car. Neither choice was particularly appealing, but in the end, I chose to retrieve the camera.

After returning to Gibb's Falls with the camera, I took the fated picture of the lady slipper, and then continued the rest of the way up to the hut. Luckily, there were no more unwelcome surprises.

After a short rest, I headed down the Mt Clinton Trail to begin my work. There were quite a few blowdowns after the winter; I cleared 19 in all. I also brushed about a mile of the trail before I ran out of time for the day. The biggest problem, however, was not the amount of work, but the blackflies, which were out in full force and were absolutely eating me alive. Worst of all, they kept getting into my ears and driving me crazy. I always keep a handkerchief/neckerchief in my pocket for any such emergencies, so I tucked it up under my hard hat so that it draped down over my ears to help keep them out. Liberal applications of mosquito repellent on the rest of me did little to discourage them.

When I brush the trail to remove branches and sometimes small trees that are overgrowing the trail, most of what I trim are either balsam fir or red spruce. At lower elevations, closer to the Dry River, I also cut a bit of hobblebush. I much prefer cutting the balsam fir branches to red spruce as balsam fir needles are soft and flexible while red spruce needles are spinier and scratchy.

After returning to the hut, I stashed my tools in the basement so I wouldn't have to carry them back up next time, and then headed up the Webster Cliff Trail to climb Mt Pierce. I always like to climb a mountain after working on the mostly viewless and wooded My Clinton Trail. Usually this is Mt Pierce, as it is less than a mile and about 550 vertical feet above the hut, although I occasionally hike in the other direction on the Webster Cliff Trail to climb Mt Jackson.

The views were excellent from Mt Pierce. Mts Washington, Eisenhower, Jefferson, and even Clay stood out quite clearly against the blue skies, as did the headwalls of Oakes Gulf, a glacial cirque on the southern slopes of Mt Washington which is the source of the Dry River.

The weather was nice, but even here, with a bit of wind, the blackflies were annoying. Consequently, I didn't spend a lot of time just relaxing and enjoying the views, but shortly headed down the Crawford Path to the Highland Center and my car. I made good time going down the trail, on my way passing Gibb's Falls for the third time today. Before driving away, I stopped to take a picture of the lupines that grow in abundance along Rt 302 by the Highland Center. These flowers are common sights at lower elevations in the White Mountains in June.

Lady slipper near Gibb's Falls. I remember this spot quite clearly as it was here that I had to turn around and go back for my camera which I had left in the car.

Mt Clinton and Dry River Cutoff Trail junction. It looked like someone had taken a bite out of this sign.

Self-portrait with neckerchief. The blackflies were out in full force and driving me absolutely crazy. At least the neckerchief kept them out of my ears.

Red spruce branches. In the White Mountains, red spruce and balsam fir are the predominant conifers at higher elevations.

Balsam fir branches. When brushing my trail, I much prefer trimming balsam fir branches to red spruce. Balsam fir needles are soft and flexible; red spruce needles are spinier.

Mt Clinton Trail brook crossing. This one is just above the junction with the Dry River Cutoff.

Ladder on the Webster Cliff Trail. This is the first of several ladders above Mizpah Spring Hut on the way to Mt Pierce.

Diapensia. You can only find diapensia in the the alpine zones of the Presidentials, Franconia Ridge, and the Bonds.

Mts Washington and Eisenhower from Mt Pierce, with the Webster Cliff Trail winding down the north side of Mt Pierce on its way to the Crawford Path.

Closeup of Oakes Gulf from Mt Pierce. Oakes Gulf is a glacial cirque on the southern slopes of Mt Washington which is the source of the Dry River.

The rocky summits of Mts Jefferson (left) and Clay (right) from Mt Pierce. The wooded slopes of Mt Eisenhower are also visible in the right foreground.

Lupines. These flowers grow in abundance at lower elevations, especially along the roads.

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