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.