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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mt Pierce
May 22-23, 2007

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff,
Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 3500-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Vertical Climb: 3063 ft
Distance: 6.5 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

This was my first trip of the season doing trail maintenance on my adopted trail, the Mt Clinton Trail. It was also my most frustrating trip of the year, as I had taken 2 vacation days off of work for what turned out to be a huge waste of time!

The AMC Backcountry Weather and Trail Conditions web report, which is updated daily on the Mt Washington Observatory website during snow season, claimed that trails were merely wet below Mizpah Springs Hut but required traction above the hut. Thus, I did not bring my snowshoes, as I assumed the Mt Clinton Trail would be relatively free of snow. In actuality, snow began around 3200 feet on the Crawford Path, and I postholed up to my knees in many places, and even deeper in some, all the way to the hut.

The Mt Clinton Trail was even worse, as the snow had not been packed from frequent travel, and I was unable to accomplish much of anything. I only managed to remove 2 minor blowdowns between the hut and the Mizpah Cutoff. I would have postponed this trip or at least brought my snowshoes if the AMC’s published trail conditions had been accurate. Needless to say, I was not very happy.

After working part of the afternoon, I spent the night at the Naumann Tentsite, choosing a tent platform that was as far away from the hut as possible. The hut was totally full of croo members for the annual all-hut croo meeting, and the tentsite was quieter. During much of the day, the AMC helicopter was also whirling overhead, delivering the summer supplies to the hut.

After cooking and eating my freeze-dried supper, I decided to climb Mt Pierce via the Webster Cliff Trail. Oddly, there was actually less snow above the hut than below it, so I didn't have too hard of a time making the trip up and back.

The next morning after breakfast, I quickly packed up and headed back down. The snow hadn't done any perceptible melting overnight, nor had it frozen into a more firm consistency as I had hoped, If anything, the temperature had warmed up a few degrees and the snow was actually softer and more difficult to stay atop.

Mizpah Cutoff. The snow was was fairly deep, and I was constantly postholing. I had not brought snowshoes because the AMC trail report had said that the trails were clear.

My tent at the Naumann Tentsite. It was nice and quite at the tentsite compared to the bustle of activity going on at the hut.

Summit cairn on Mt Pierce. The cairn is a bit above the better spot for viewing the scenery to the north.

Self-portrait on Mt Pierce. It was getting late in the day, and the setting sun cast an orange glow to the air.

Gray jay on Mt Pierce. The picture looked good when I first took it, but came out rather blurry at full size. I had to shrink it down to give it a reasonable degree of sharpness.

The Southern Presidentials. Mt Eisenhower is in the foreground, following by Mts Clay, Monroe, and Washington. There were still quite a few patches of snow on the slopes of Mt Washington.

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