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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mt Pierce
June 19, 2007

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff,
Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail
Map:
 
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 3000-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Vertical Climb: 3300 ft
Distance: 9.0 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

This was my second trip of the year performing trail maintenance on the Mt Clinton Trail. My last trip, in late May, was a disaster because there was too much snow on the ground and I kept postholing. Needless to say, I didn't get much done. This time, I was hoping for much clearer trails and a chance to accomplish something. In addition to my small bow saw, I borrowed a medium-sized pair of loppers from the AMC toolbox at the train depot. I was going to concentrate on cutting down blowdowns and doing some brushing. Brushing is the term for trimming the encroaching branches and small trees that have overgrown the trail.

I was also trying out something new for me - a day trip. Previously, I had stayed either at Mizpah Springs hut or at the Naumann Tentsite when I worked on the trail, mostly because it takes a couple of hours just to get to the start of the trail. This time, I didn't want to take that much time off from work.

The hike up to the hut went more quickly than usual, probably because I wasn't carrying a tent or sleeping bag in addition to the tools. On the Mizpah Cutoff, about a tenth of a mile before the junction with the Webster Cliff Trail heading to Mt Jackson, there is an old former trail bed where the current trail turns sharply right. I guess people tend to want to go the old way, because they had roped it off, and put up a somewhat humorous handwritten sign that reads: "Trail → (I know it's not obvious but the trail and signs are actually this way.)"

I stopped for a short rest and snack at the hut and took a few pictures. Most of the overnight guests had left and it was pretty quiet in the dining area. I talked to a croo member about the Alpine Garden Trail, where I was hoping to go in a week or so to see the flowers. I always seem to miss the height of the alpine flower blooming season.

Then I left to tackle the trail. There were quite a few blowdowns on the trail. Most blowdowns occur during winter storms, and since I had only gotten to two of them in May, I cut down and removed about 12 in all along the uppermost mile of the trail. The area I had brushed last year also needed some touchup, more than I had expected.

Just above the 3000 foot elevation, near an area where the trail and a brook run together, I found the remains of a large campfire in the woods to the west of the trail. There was a lot of charred wood laying messily around. In the Dry River Wilderness, you're supposed to camp at least 200 feet from a trail (this was much closer), Also, open fires are discouraged as they are definitely not low impact.

I worked on the trail until about 4:00 PM, then climbed back up to the hut where I stopped for a short rest and snack. After that, it was time to start back, so I refilled my water bottles and headed up the Webster Cliff Trail, as I was taking the long way back over Mt Pierce and down the Crawford Path.

Lady's slipper. This protected flower grows at lower elevations in the mountains, usually in damp shady woods.

Handwritten sign near Mizpah Springs Hut. The closed-off former trail at the left also goes to the hut, but they obviously don't want you to go that way.

Mizpah Springs Hut front entrance. The front desk is to the right and the stairs in back of it lead up to the bunkrooms.

Front desk with various shirts for sale. The window above the desk is the library.

Dining room. Mizpah's dining area is large and well-lit by several windows, one of which looks out toward Mt Jackson.

Self-portrait on the Mt Clinton Trail. I am holding the long-handled loppers that I use to trim branches and small trees.

Mt Clinton Trail. The trail followed this clogged brook bed for a short distance.

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