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Mt Clinton Trailwork
September 13, 2011

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff,
Mt Clinton Trail
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 2670-3800 ft
Vertical Climb: 3172 ft
Distance: 7.8 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

In late August, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene dowsed New England with heavy rains, and was especially tough on the White Mountains, causing several road and trail closures, including Rt 302 through Crawford Notch, and the entire Dry River Trail along with its newly-rebuilt suspension bridge. Considering this, I didn't know quite what to expect when I went up to work on the Mt Clinton Trail, but was ready for a considerable number of new blowdowns.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that very little work was needed along the upper part of the trail (down to around 2900 ft), the section I had covered on my overnight trip of June 30 - July 1. However, below that point, there were quite a few blowdowns, although I suspect that many of them had been there since the winter.

The short bypass that I had cut in June to avoid a section of the brook with which the trail had coincided, was still in good shape; it was obvious and easy to follow in both directions.

Conspicuous storm damage did not begin until I reached the first major brook crossing at around 2800 ft. Judging by the detritus along the banks, the brook had to have risen several feet as the floodwaters powerfully swept downhill during the height of the storm. Just below this crossing, where the brook joins another, is a high bank. The waters, undoubtedly given a boost by the junction of the two brooks, had seriously washed out and eroded the steep cliff here, undermining it and causing a mud and rockslide into the brook.

Curiously, the floodwaters had also strewn a number of tree trunks and branches along what I had previously thought to be the continuation of the trail on the south side of the brook, while at the same time exposing the entrance to what had actually been the correct path a short distance to the left. In my defense, however, the route that I had taken to be the correct one was obviously an old overgrown logging road, as are many sections of the Mt Clinton Trail. The "correct" route had probably been cut some years before I came on the scene to avoid the former logging road which is no doubt subject to repeated floods and blockages.

On this trip, I made it down to what I consider to be the halfway point, a legal marked campsite just below 2700 ft. There was definitely more work below that point, but I was out of time if I wanted to make it back to my car before sunset, and at any rate, I was getting rather tired. Luckily, WMNF ranger Cristin Bailey, to whom I report, planned to get a crew out to work on the lower section of the Mt Clinton Trail while they were clearing the Dry River Trail.

Self-portrait on the Mt Clinton Trail. The weather was nice and I managed to get quite a bit done on this day trip.

Bypass. In June, I had rerouted the trail here to bypass a section of the brook with which the trail had previously coincided.

Downed tree blocking the trail. This had probably been there since the winter as the needles were mostly brown.

Washed-out section of the brook bank. Although you really can't tell in this picture, the brook lies in front of this eroded cliff.

Hobblebush. Lower down on the Mt Clinton Trail, the hobblebush grows rampant. Although its white flowers and bright red berries are colorful, it does require quite a bit of trimming to keep from overgrowing the path.

Mountain ash. This tree's compound leaves and clusters of red berries make it appear similar to sumac.

Mushroom. I was told that this might be a bolete, but whatever it is, the color and texture of the top remind me of a pancake.

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