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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mts Pierce, Jackson, Webster
August 23-24, 2012

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff, Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 2610-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Mt Jackson - 4052 ft
Mt Webster - 3910 ft
Vertical Climb: 4994 ft
Distance: 7.8 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

This was the last trip of 2012 to my adopted Mt Clinton Trail. I was going to work on the trail that first day, spend the night at Mizpah Springs Hut, and then make my way down along the Webster Cliff Trail over Mts Jackson, Webster, and, of course, the Webster Cliffs. I had never been south of Mt Jackson on the Webster Cliff Trail and I was looking forward to the views from the edge of the cliffs.

After briefly stopping at the hut to retreive my tools from the basement and stash my gear in my assigned bunk, I headed down the Mt Clinton Trail and was pleasantly surprised to find that there wasn't too much to do on the upper portion of the trail on which I had worked back in June. But below the first major brook crossing, where I had turned around on my last trip, I began to see evidence of severe erosion from last year's Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. Whole portions of the steep banks along one side of the brook were washed away and the low areas around the brook were littered with downed trees and branches left behind by the retreating floodwaters.

At one area, just north of the legal campsite at the trail's halfway point, where the trail skirts the edge of a steep enbankment, the cliff edge had been undercut by the torrent racing down the brook, and the trail was left directly at the edge of the cliff, which was now in danger of collapsing during the next storm. Since the trees and brush pressed directly against the uphill side of the trail, hikers had no easy way to avoid crossing the precarious lip of the undercut cliff. The best way I figured that I could improve things was to cut back the growth to widen the zone of safety and give hikers more room to avoid the unstable ground.

Back at the hut later that afternoon, I rested until supper, which was hearty and tasty as usual. After eating, I took my usual after-dinner climb up to Mt Pierce, where I could get a signal on my phone and call home to let them know that I was doing fine. While on top, I took some interesting sunset shots of Mt Washington and the moon rising in the sky.

On the way back down, it unexpectedly began to drizzle as it grew darker. I had my headlamp with me, and was certainly familiar with the trail, so the darkness didn't bother me, but I knew I had to be careful since the rain was going to make the rocks slick along the steep descent. At the top of the steep section, I met another hiker on his way down. Unlike me, he was unfamiliar with the trail and did not have a headlamp available, so I stayed with him as we descended, stopping every so often to shine my headlamp back up along the parth so he could pick his way over the large boulders and sections of ladders. I didn't mind helping, but I wished he had at least thanked me afterward.

The next morning, after breakfast, I quickly got my gear together and headed south on the Webster Cliff Trail. I wanted to get down to the Webster Cliff Trailhead in time to catch an AMC shuttle back to the Highland Center. The rain from last night had stopped and the sky was clear and blue, making the views back up the ridgeline of the Southern Presidentials and down toward Crawford Notch spectacular. I was particularly impressed with Mt Webster and the long descent along the edge of the Webster Cliffs. There were many crags along the way with precipitous views down into the notch. I seemed to be the only hiker heading south and down, but I met quite a few on their way up. I even met a thru-hiker on Mt Webster who thought he had reached Mt Washington. I hated to break the news to him that he still had quite a ways to go.

Back in the trees again, the weather began to warm up and the descent seemed to drag on forever. I was glad when I finally reached the bottom and sat down in the shade to rest and wait for the shuttle. It had been a good trip, but I was ready to head home.

Self-portrait on the Mt Clinton Trail. I was planning on spending one day working on the trail and the next hiking back to Crawford Notch via the Webster Cliff Trail.

Severe erosion from last year's Tropical Storm Irene. Whole parts of this steep embankment were washed away, undercutting the trail.

The trail after I pruned back the growth so that hikers would not have to be so close to the edge..

Mts Eisenhower, Monroe, and Washington at sunset..

A cairn along the Webster Cliff Trail and the moon at sunset.

The view north from Mt Jackson to Mts Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, and Washington. The tiny white dot of Mizpah Hut is just visible below Mt Pierce.

Closeup of Mt Washington and Monroe from Mt Jackson.

Self-Portrait on My Webster. The white building in the distance is the Mount Washington Hotel.

The view north from Mt Webster to Mts Jackson, Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, and Washington. If you look closely, you can just see Mizpah Hut below Mt Pierce.

Looking over the crags along the Webster Cliffs toward Mt Field on the other side of Crawford Notch.

The same view, but looking down into the notch. The two lines visible down below are the route of the Conway Scenic Railroad and Rt 302.

Looking south along the Webster Cliff ridgeline. The railroad and Rt 302 are again visible far below.

View down into Crawford Notch at Willey Pond and the Wiley House site and gift shop.

Looking back up northward along Webster Cliffs. The trail hugs the cliffs' edge much of the way.

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