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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mt Pierce, Crawford Cliff
June 30-July 1, 2011

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff, Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail, Crawford Connector, Crawford Cliff Spur
Map:
 
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 2900-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Crawford Cliff - 2400 ft
Vertical Climb: 3883 ft
Distance: 8.2 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

Day 1

This was my first trip of the year to work on the Mt Clinton Trail, and I was going to stay at Mizpah Springs Hut for one night so I could put in a full day's work on the first day and still have time for a nice hike the next day, hopefully to Mts Pierce and Eisenhower, and possibly as far as Mt Monroe as well.

The weather on the first day was originally supposed to be nice and sunny, but the forecast had changed and it was actually fairly damp, though not actually raining. However, it was relatively bug free, and I got quite a bit of work done, removing a number of blowdowns and even cutting a short bypass to avoid a section of the brook with which the trail had coincided. Because of the dampness, I had elected to leave my camera back in the hut.

After climbing back to the hut at the end of the day, I was looking forward to a nice rest in my bunk before dinner, followed by a peaceful and cozy night. It was not to be. When I got back to my room, the hut was filled with a horde of noisy Boy Scouts. One or more of them had even left bags of candy and other trash on my sleeping bag, and several items of clothing on other bunks. The scouts took over most of the hut except for five of us who, thank God, had the rear bunkroom to ourselves. The scouts were warned about quiet hour, but did not settle down, and the croo were kept busy warning them well past 10:00 and even 11:00 o'clock. Their leaders did almost nothing to control them. They were messy, noisy, and disrespectful of other's property and space. I came very very close to packing up my gear and leaving at 10:00 PM. The next day, I heard that several other hikers who had been with the scouts at Lakes of the Clouds Hut had not continued their trip to Mizpah just because of their behavior.

Day 2

After heavy rains during part of the night, the trail was quite damp in the morning. The foggy air limited the views, but gave a lush and fairylike appearance to the flowering shrubs and plants along the trail, which I enjoyed looking at and photographing. At the summit of Mt Pierce, I made the decision to skip Eisenhower and/or Monroe and just head back down the Crawford Path. The lack of views, the dampness, my experience with the scouts, and the upcoming Fourth of July weekend made me ready to just get back to my car and go home.

Since I had come down directly from Pierce, I figured I might as well go see Crawford Cliff, as I had never been up there before, and it was only a minor side trip. Thanks to its lower elevation (only 2400 ft), the views were much better, at least looking down to Crawford Notch. Distant peaks were still shrouded in mist, but there were nice views of the Highland Center and a glimpse of the Willey Slide through the trees.

My bunk at Mizpah Springs Hut. A large group of noisy ill-behaved Boy Scouts made my stay at the hut somewhat less than restful.

Webster Cliff Trail. Here, the trail goes back into the woods after making the first long steep climb and crossing the open ledge.

Looking back to the summit of Mt Pierce from the Webster Cliff Trail, just before it begins its descent to the Crawford Path.

Labrador tea. Heavy rains the preceding night left the air foggy and limited the views, but gave a lush and fairylike appearance to the flowers.

Alpine azalea. The peak of the alpine flowering season had passed, but there were still quite a few interesting flowering shrubs and plants.

Alpine brook saxifrage. Common in Iceland and Greenland, this plant is also at home in the damp rocky terrain of the White Mountains.

Yellow clintonia and white bunchberry. Clintonia is also called blue bead lily due to its deep blue berries in the late summer.

Waterfall just below Crawford Cliff. This, as far as I know, unnamed brook feeds into Gibbs Brook near the Crawford Connector junction.

The Highland Center from Crawford Cliff. In the distance, Mt Tom and Mt Field are hidden in the fog.

The Willey Slide from Crawford Cliff. The peak further south in Crawford Notch may be Mt Carrigain.

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