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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mt Pierce
October 11, 2010

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff,
Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 2740-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Vertical Climb: 3590 ft
Distance: 9.5 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

This was to be my last trip to work on my trail this year, as Mizpah Springs Hut was closing in a few days, and it wouldn't be all that long before the first snows coated the mountains in their white winter blanket.

It was a chilly day, but not at all wintry. As I set out on the trail, a low morning fog enshrouded the forest in a fine mist. The wet rocks on the trail were somewhat slippery, but not icy. By the time I reached the hut, picked up my tools, and set out down the Mt Clinton Trail, the fog had not lifted and the air was damp and chilly. As usual, the Mt Clinton Trail was rather wet, but nothing like my last trip in July when it rained all day long, and I had to slog, slosh, and splash my way back up to the hut.

The previous winter had been tough on the trails and many smaller firs and spruces were bent completely over into the trail and had to be cut down. Because of this, I hadn't gotten any farther down the trail on my last trip than about 3100 feet. There were plenty more blowdowns below that point. The trail also needed more brushing, but I soon discovered that one of the bolts that hold the cutting blades onto my lopper handles had fallen off. I tried rigging up a substitute using a smaller bolt that I found in my pack, but it quickly snapped, so I was left lopperless. I stashed the loppers behind some bushes to pick up later and decided to concentrate on removing blowdowns.

The blowdowns began in earnest below the point at which I had turned around last time, and by lunchtime I had worked my way down to the trail's first major brook crossing, where I stopped for lunch. I boiled some water with my Pocket Rocket and made a nice hot cup of black bean soup. Despite all the sawing I had done, the morning fog had chilled me a bit, and the soup tasted particularly good as I sipped it while sitting on a large fallen tree trunk on the far side of the brook crossing.

After lunch, I continued working for another hour or so. All-in-all, I removed almost thirty blowdowns, a couple of which were rather large and took multiple cuts with my small bow saw. After that, I packed up and turned around to head back. It gets dark earlier in October, and I still wanted to climb Mt Pierce on my way back.

By the time I reached the hut, where I stopped or a short rest and to fill my water bottles, the weather had completely cleared and the sky was a clear autumn shade of deep blue. Atop Mt Pierce an hour later, the air was amazingly clear and every detail in the mountains stood sharply out. I could even spot the Mt Eisenhower summit cairn with the naked eye. The autumn woods were already past their peak color, but there was enough orange in the view to give that fall feeling to my pictures.

I didn't linger long on the summit. The afternoon was waning and I really wanted to reach my car before dark. I had my headlamp with me of course, but there were "miles to go before I sleep."

I headed down the Crawford Path in a bit of a melancholy mood, knowing full well that this had been my last trail maintenance trip (and as it turned out, last trip to the White Mountains) of the year.

Foggy Mizpah Cutoff. Although the day began in the fog, the sky cleared by late morning.

Misty Mizpah Springs Hut from the end of the Mt Clinton Trail.

Bringing the water to a boil on the Mt Clinton Trail. I used the hot water to make some dehydrated soup.

Self-portrait at lunchtime. The hot black bean soup tasted good on this chilly damp day.

Looking up at the treetops. As you can see, the sky had quite cleared up by this time.

Mizpah Spring Hut dining area. The croo was rather busy this day preparing for the end of the season, which was only three days away.

Looking south from a ledge on the Webster Cliff Trail. Climbers are rewarded with this excellent view at the top of the extremely steep section above the hut.

Mts Eisenhower and Washington from the summit of Mt Pierce. Over the years, I've taken scores of pictures of this view, but none of them ever look quite the same.

Closeup of Mt Eisenhower from Mt Pierce. The Eisenhower summit cairn is clearly visible in this shot.

Mts Eisenhower and Washington from Mt Pierce. The air was very clear after the morning fog burned off, and every detail in the mountains stood sharply out.

Closeup of Mt Washington. The buildings and rocks were coated with rime ice.

Self-portrait on Mt Pierce. As you can see, I didn't forget to bring my tools home with me this year.

Northwest view from Mt Pierce. Somewhere in the distance, behind the low ridge at the left, are Whitefield and Lancaster.

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