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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mt Pierce, Mt Eisenhower
June 30-July 2, 2010

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff,
Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail,
Mt Eisenhower Loop, Edmands Path
Map:
 
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 3070-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Mt Eisenhower - 4760 ft
Vertical Climb: 5033 ft
Distance: 14.6 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

Day 1

This was my first real trip of the year to work on my trail. I had climbed up a couple of months before on May 1, but that was mostly to retrieve my tools that I had left at the hut all winter. On that trip, the snow had still been way too deep to even think of working on the trail.

Anyway, this time I was staying at the hut for two nights so I would be able to get in two days of work on my trail. It was the 4th of July weekend, and I was going to return home on July 2 in time to spend most of it with my family.

On the first day, I sawed my way through ten or twelve blowdowns and did a lot of brushing. The trail was in awful shape after a hard winter with heavy snows. Many smaller firs and spruces were bent completely over into the trail and had to be cut down. After a long day's work, the usual hearty meal at the hut and my warm sleeping bag were a welcome sight.

Day 2

During the night, a heavy rain began to fall and, naturally, was still falling in the morning. To say the least, I was not in a hurry to get out on the trail, so after breakfast, I waited around on my bunk for a while to see whether it might let up. It didn't. I finally resolved that I couldn't afford to let the rain stop me from getting some work done, so I put on my rain paints and jacket, and headed back down the slippery trail with my trusty tools in hand.

I was able to cut down a few more blowdowns, a couple of which were particularly tough with my small bow saw, and do a bit more brushing, but by the time I got down to just below 3100 feet, after less than four hours out on the trail, I had totally and completely had it. Water bubbled up out of my Goretex boots with each step, and every stitch of clothing I had on were little more than sopping sponges. I have to hand it to my rain pants though; like sandwich baggies, they did a great job of sealing the moisture inside. I'm sure that I was actually more waterlogged than the trees I was trimming.

I slogged and sloshed my way back to the hut around two o'clock, little by little peeled off the sticky wet clothing that was glued to my skin, changed into dry things, and hung or spread out all my sodden stuff as best as I could, knowing full well that none of it would be even remotely dry by the morning. I then crawled into my sleeping bag to rest for the remaining hours of the afternoon.

Day 3

The next morning dawned clear and dry. A front had passed by during the night and brought with it cooler and windier weather. After breakfast, I stowed my tools in the hut's basement, crammed my still soggy things into the bottom of my pack, and hoped that my dry socks would somewhat protect my feet from my squishy boots.

My plan for the day was to climb Mt Pierce, head up the Crawford Path, ascend Mt Eisenhower, and then make my way back to my car at the Highland Center on the Edmands Path and Mt Clinton Road.

At the summit of Mt Pierce, I got a taste of just how cold and windy it was going to be up on the ridge. The temperature had dropped to just below freezing. I zipped my jacket all of the way to my neck and cinched the hood tight around my face. Still, it was a beautiful day with no higher clouds to obscure the bright gibbous moon in the southwest skies.

My wet stuff next to my bunk in Mizpah Hut. My coat, hat, pants, and everything I was wearing on the second day are soaked from working in continuous rainfall.

More wet stuff. My socks were sopping wet, and I had to pour the water out of my boots. Even Gortex-lined boots don't help when you step in wet mudholes deeper than your ankles.

Self-portrait by my bunk. At least I had dry stuff to change into and a dry sleeping bag to warm up in.

Mt Jackson from the Webster Cliff Trail. The third day dawned sunny and clear except for patches of blowing fog and high gusty winds.

Bunchberries on the Webster Cliff Trail. Although the peak alpine wildflower season was over, there were still plenty of flowers in bloom.

Self-portrait on Mt Pierce. It was windy and chilly above treeline. The temperature was just below freezing.

The Webster Cliff Trail and Mt Eisenhower from Mt Pierce. In the distance, Mt Washington is hiding behind the drifting fog.

The Western slopes of the Presidentials. The clouds have obscured the top of Mt Jefferson in the distance.

Bright daytime waning gibbous moon above the firs on Mt Pierce.

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