Mar 2015 - Sunset, HQ area, and Shadowbrook

Another nice morning with the temperature expected to reach into the mid 70s.  Another good turn out with 11 crew members turning out are 2 new members.  Again with this size of a crew we split up where I took one crew back out to Sunset starting at the Trail Camp and Mike took the rest (Norm, Janie, Michele, Janette, Kurt and Mike) focused on the main park area to start.

The first stop was right next to the headquarters building where a large redwood had fallen earlier in the winter and while the staff had removed the section blocking the road, there was a lot of debris remaining. The first effort was to clean up the small clearing just up from HQ towards the Sequoia Group Camp where the interpretive staff holds Jr. Ranger programs. 

 With the road coming into the park on one side and the HQ building on the other, there weren't a lot of good places to hide the debris, but we were able to get everything tucked behind a couple of redwoods so it wasn't too visible There was too much debris to be removed from the remaining areas next to the Sequoia Group Camp Trail, so we worked on cutting up the larger pieces so it looked more natural rather than just a large dumping area.

After taking a lunch break we had a choice of making the steep hike up Meteor Trail to look for a reported down tree or going out to the  Shadowbrook Trail  to look for a misplaced sign that staff said was confusing hikers. The trail sign work was the easy winner, especially since this was the second month in a row that staff had mentioned it was a problem.

We parked at Huckleberry and made the short walk to the Shadowbrook Trail where we found the misplaced sign. It had been incorrectly placed at the small spur trail in to the campground rather than down where the   Shadowbrook and East Ridge Trails intersect. It didn't take long to remove the sign, but there was a lot of discussion at the new location on exactly where to place the sign and its proper orientation so it read correctly for passing hikers. Since we were there, we also replanted a trail marker that had rotted out at ground level. It was a little shorter after we finished, but it looked good and we headed back to HQ to end the day.

My crew headed out Gazos Creek road for Sunset Trail Camp.  This ride takes about an hour but usually there are things to take care of on the way and this time was no different.  First there was a Tan Oak and next there was a Madrone.   Although our trucks could pass, we took it out because the taller fire trucks probably would not.
 Madrone about 15" diameter

This Fir took about 10 cuts to clear just because of how it landed on the bank and road.  The bank was about 5 meters high and to get the tree on the ground we had to cut from the top.  Of course it didn't just fall after the first cut but after about 5-6 cuts later it finally was on the ground.
The 8 mile ride out to Sunset Camp took about 2 hours with the amount of clearing we had to do.  It was a little after noon so we had lunch at the Sunset trail head and then we headed out to clear a "Big Tree" down on Sunset before Timms Creek Trail.  Right after we got onto Sunset we heard a very unmistakeable sound of a rattle and this guy was just off the trail under a small manzanita less than 1 meter from the trail.  He wasn't too happen about us passing through her territory.  So after a few photos I got the oh so clear message and we moved on leaving the girl in peace.
Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) 

Along the way we asked the numerous hikers if they had seen anything blocking the trails and one hiker reported a tree down before Timm's Creek coming from HQ.  This contradicted the report we had but after doing this for nearly 20 years little surprises me.  After hiking about a mile, we finally came across the "Big Tree" on Sunset and as you can see big is a relative term.  This was about a 12" Tan Oak that didn't take long to clear and then that was it for the day.
Surprisingly, we got back before the other about 10 minutes before the other crew but I had left just before they got back.  The 2 crews put in 85 hours and I would like to thank Norm, Dale S., Janie, Michele, David B., David P., Janette, Mike, and new members Kurt and Shyamal.

See you on the trails

Jeff and Mike
Photos by: Jeff and Kurt

Birds of the Day
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
Hutton's Vireo (Vireo huttoni)
Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)   
Pacific Wren (Troglodytes pacificus)
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata)
Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)