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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mt Pierce, Mt Eisenhower
October 24-25, 2007

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff,
Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail,
Mt Eisenhower Loop, Edmands Path
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 2500-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Mt Eisenhower - 4760 ft
Vertical Climb: 4832 ft
Distance: 12.8 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

Day 1

This was my fourth trip of the year performing trail maintenance on the Mt Clinton Trail. Trail adopters commit to a minimum of three trips per year, and I had made only three trips last year. But my first trip this spring was a dud due to snow, and I wanted to get more done before the winter storms toppled more blowdowns on the parts of the trail I had already completed.

I had made reservations to stay at Mizpah Springs Hut for the night, so I hiked up the leaf-covered Crawford Path in the morning, deposited my things in my bunk, and headed out to work on the trail. This was one of the last few nights that the hut would be open before closing for the winter, and it wouldn't be crowded, so I had a room all to myself.

I was hoping not to have to do any trail work until I reached the spot where I had turned around on the last trip, but that was not to be. I encountered my first blowdown even before I reached the Dry River Cutoff, less than a half mile from the hut. Most of the woods above the Cutoff are fairly open and dominated by taller firs, but lower down, there are numerous smaller spruce and fir trees growing right up to, and often into, the path. These quick-growing smaller trees are the ones that need the most trimming.

It had rained fairly heavily the previous day and night, and many parts of the Mt Clinton Trail were little more than small brooks. I slipped and slid my way down, occasionally pausing to clear another blowdown. By the time I finally reached the brook crossing where I had stopped the last time, it was lunchtime, so I sat down on a log on the far side of the brook to eat my lunch: a power bar, some potato sticks, and Gatorade.

Parts of the Mt Clinton Trail are remnants of an old logging road. The next short stretch followed the logging road on the west side of a brook. It was in pretty good shape, and didn't need much trimming. Then, the trail re-crossed the brook while the former logging road continued straight ahead. The crossing was a bit obscure, so I piled a few branches at the turn in the trail to help block the wrong way, and trimmed the heavy growth that had nearly obliterated the approach to the brook crossing.

On the other side, the trail made a bypass around a wet area. The bypass was almost impassible and required a lot of trimming. Beyond that, there was a marked legal campsite which appeared, by the charred wood in the fire ring, to have been recently occupied. The side path to the campsite needed some trimming, but the site itself was pretty clear.

A bit lower, I reached a spot where the brook had carved out a small gorge, and the trail came right up to the edge. Nearby, there were several cascades. By the time I had worked down to the next brook crossing, it was getting late. I packed up my tools and headed back to the hut, finally arriving around 5:00 as the day was waning.

Dinner was good, and also unusual since all of us, including the croo, sat at one table. Besides myself, the only other guests were the parents and aunt of one of the croo members, who had come to celebrate his birthday. His parents were from Minnesota, and his aunt was from Virginia. They weren't used to the mountains, and I don't think they had ever stayed in a hut before, and they were a bit chilly in the unheated hut. The outside temperature got down to near freezing during the night.

I was quite cozy in my sleeping bag, and was tired from the trail work and from getting up at 4 AM for the drive up. After supper, I read for a short time and then fell quickly asleep.

Leaf-covered path. Down low, the Crawford Path was covered with brown birch leaves

Firs on the Mt Clinton Trail. For the most part, the trail is surrounded by small to medium first and spruce. In a few areas, however, there are some older trees.

Is it a brook or a trail? After heavy rains the previous day and night, many parts of the Mt Clinton Trail were extremely wet.

Waterfall. When I worked my way down to around 2500 ft, I came across several cascades in the brook.

Gorge. In a spot close to where two brooks met, one of the brooks had carved out a small gorge, and the trail came right up to the edge.

Closeup.of the gorge  Down below, the water swirled over and amongst the rocks.

Self-portrait in my bunk. After a tiring day working on the trail, I was glad to relax in my bunk at the hut.

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