February 2011: Sequoia & STS

Feb 2011: Tale of 2 Crews

There were 11 crew members out in a beautiful unseasonable spring day in February. With the good turnout we decided to spilt up. Dale lead one group with Michael, Roger, Mike, and Josh. They started out with the tan oak that Susan Blake asked us to remove from the trail near the office. The tree wasn't that big but there were a lot of limbs and the big task was finding a place to put everything. On one side of the work area there was the road coming in from Waterman Gap, the trail to Sequoia Group Camp ran through the middle, and on the other side was the back of the headquarters building. We decided that spreading things around in several small piles was probably the best solution.

Afterwards the crew hiked the STS to Maddock Cabin Site to remove a couple of small/medium tan oaks that had been reported. After eating lunch at the cabin site, the group decided they would rather have a short work day and we got back to the vehicles about 1.

The 2nd crew was made up by Michelle, Peter, Janette, Gene, Herman and was lead by Jeff. We headed up to the Sequoia trail and about midway between Hwy 236 and No. Escape there was a 4 foot diameter redwood that up rooted and fell across the trail twice before landing right on the trail. The top half required a lot of brushing then after a few cuts the top section was off the trail. The second half was a little harder.

After dropping one end of the redwood onto the trail, it was only after about a 3” cut that without any warning the tree pinched the saw. With my saw stuck, I walked back to the truck with Peter to get more tools and a sledge to get the saw free. When we got back, the saw was free, which quit was a surprise.

One more cut and the 5 foot long round section rolled away and then a 30 foot section slid along a small tan oak and followed the round down the side of the trail. A small Pacific Wren (renamed last year from the Winter wren, which is now exclusively referred to the eastern cousin) was very happy with the work since she had a new area to explore.

At the same time a few of the crew worked the lower section of the trail at the root ball with huge burls. We had to fill in a section to prevent someone falling to holes.

The work to reroute the trail around the root ball required cutting the trail wide enough and ensuring a level footing.

We finished up, had lunch, and then drove to the tree across Middle Ridge reported by Marti. Dale caught up to us and followed along. The tree had been cleared so we took in the view from Ocean View lookout and then return via Gazos. Opening Sequoia was definitely the highlight of the day.

Since Mike had taken the day off work and he didn't want to go home to be mugged by the dog and screamed at by the cats, He decided to check out the Last Chance Road/Trail that Susan said she would like cleared for an upcoming hike.

Although the park map refers to this as a road, that is from the long ago past. At this point it's an overgrown, abandoned looking but scenic (lots of water in the creek with several cascades), single track trail. There is sufficient parking for 4-5 vehicles at the trailhead just up the Hihn Hammond road from the water treatment plant so we can get in easily.

Mike hiked in for a little over a half hour and while there is a little chain saw work, the primary work will be cutting back the grasses and small trees/brush that are encroaching and in some areas blocking the trail. The primary work tools that we will need will be McLeods (we might want to sharpen them while we're waiting at HQ), lots of loppers and perhaps some garden shears to just cut back the grass growing along the trail. There is definitely enough work to keep us busy for a full day.

About 20 minutes in there is a moderate stream crossing that requires boulder hoping to get across to the remainder of the trail. Someone had left an old ski pole at the crossing which definitely makes it easier crossing for the balance challenged like me. The crossing may be difficult for some of the older Trail Crew people, so we may want to split into groups and work different sides of the stream or just make sure we spot each other when crossing.

The other concern is the trail is a MAJOR tick area. Since I was just hiking through and brushed against much vegetation I pulled off three ticks when I got back and found two more still wandering around inside my t-shirt. The best approach may be to cut our way down the trail, but this eliminates the idea of sending half the crew ahead to the other side of the creek. Also, it was obvious that parts of the trail are under water at times, so our ability to work some areas may be limited if there have been recent heavy rains. We will keep you posted but Susan would accommodate us by having the hike in late April if March is wet.

Many thanks to Michele Estrin-Gelblum, Peter Gelblum, Michael Ishaq, Janette Mello, Roger Miller, Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, Herman Aster, Gene Nelson, Josh Rile, and Jeff Bleam.

Jeff and Mike