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Mt Clinton Trailwork, Mt Pierce
July 2-3, 2008

Route: Crawford Path, Mizpah Cutoff,
Mt Clinton Trail, Webster Cliff Trail
Elevation: Mizpah Springs Hut - 3800 ft
Mt Clinton trailwork - 3200-3800 ft
Mt Pierce - 4310 ft
Vertical Climb: 3499 ft
Distance: 10.0 miles
Who Went: Paul (solo)

I was sick a good deal of June with pancreatitis, so this was my first trip of the year to do trail maintenance on the Mt Clinton Trail. Over the winter, I had bought more of my own equipment including an axe, a new bow saw (I lost my other one last year), a hat hard, and a pair of loppers. I bought extra long loppers because bending over all the time to cut off growth at ground level is hard on my back. All of these tools came to a fairly hefty weight, so I was planning to store them in the basement at Mizpah Springs Hut for the season. That way, I wouldn't have to lug them up the Crawford Path from the Highland Center each trip.

I had made reservations to stay at Mizpah Springs Hut for the night, so I hiked up the Crawford Path in the morning, deposited my sleeping bag and extra clothes in my bunk, and headed out right away to work on my trail. It was the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend, and the hut croo expected several busy nights during the coming week.

There were only a few blowdowns, which I managed to easily remove using only my bow saw, so I never got to try out the axe. But I was dismayed to find how much had grown back after last year’s extensive brushing. With all of the cutting I had to do, I only managed to get down to about 4200 ft. I had really hoped to not have to begin brushing until I got about halfway down the trail. But such are the fortunes of a trail maintainer. They wouldn't need me if nothing ever grew back.

When it started getting late, I packed up my tools and headed back to the hut, arriving around 5:00 PM to a very full house. I was tired, my pants were thoroughly soaked and muddy, and the bottoms of the pant legs were ripped to shreds. Luckily, they were zip-off pant legs, so after I got home again, I just threw away the torn legs and kept the top half as shorts. After changing into dry clothes and cleaning up a bit, I relaxed in my bunk until supper.

As usual, dinner was good and the croo was welcoming. There were a number of small groups staying at the hut that night, including a troop of Boy Scouts from New Jersey who were in the middle of a multi-day Galehead-to-Madison Hut traverse. After supper, I read for a short time and then quickly fell asleep.

After breakfast the next morning, I was anxious to get home as we were planning on going to see the fireworks that night if the weather was good. I refilled my water bottles and headed up the Webster Cliff Trail, for as usual, I was taking the long way back over Mt Pierce and down the Crawford Path.

On top of Mt Pierce, the weather was nice and sunny, but the views were a bit hazy. Mt Eisenhower stood out clearly enough, but Washington shimmered in the distant haze and my pictures weren't as good as I would have liked them to be. I did manage to take a few decent pictures of wildflowers though. It was past peak blooming time, but there were still a number of blossoms, including bunchberries, Labrador tea, and three-toothed cinquefoil, that made for nice photographs.

Back at the Highland Center, as I was coming down the final steps to the parking lot and my car, I also took a nice shot of the lupines that proliferate on the hillsides in June and July.

Self-portrait with bow saw. I use the bow saw frequently to cut through blowdowns and larger branches.

Is it a brook or a trail? As usual, parts of the trail were extremely wet.

Self-portrait with axe. Although I brought my new axe with me for cutting larger blowdowns, I didn't run into any on this trip that my saw wasn't able to do better.

Large boulders. This group of boulders, which are about 10 to 12 feet tall and have several nooks and crannies, would make a good emergency shelter in a storm.

Mt Eisenhower. Although it was a little hazy, the views to Mt Eisenhower and beyond were inviting. I could have continued hiking up the Crawford Path if I'd had more time.

Closeup of Mt Eisenhower. Mt Washington is barely visible in the distance through the haze.

Three-toothed cinquefoil and mountain cranberry. The white flowers with the clover-like leaves are cinquefoil while the tiny evergreen leaves belong to the cranberry.

Labrador tea blooming amidst a collection of other mountain plants.

Bunchberries. This common White Mountain wildflower grows both at treeline and at lower elevations.

Lupines and daisies at the Highland Center. In June and July, many hillsides at lower elevations are covered with purple to pink Lupine blooms.

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