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)

FEB 2015 - 2 Crews: Timm's and Middleridge

It was much cooler at HQ than at my home just over the east ridge but it seemed that the warm more summer like weather would greet us as the sun continued to rise.  There were 11 crew members out so to keep everyone busy we split up into 2 crews.  Dale S. lead one to Middleridge Road and I lead one back to complete the work on the Sunset-Timm's-STS loop.

Dale Petersen's group of Norm Beeson, Bill Drulias, Jan Hill, and Mike Peasland, headed out to work another familiar area along Middle Ridge Fire Road.  The first stop was on Skyline-to-the-Sea between Middle Ridge and the connector with Sunset where we found a down tan oak suspended above the trail about forehead height. It was only about 12-inches in diameter, so it didn't take long to remove this hazard to inattentive hikers.  After we passed Jeff's group of vehicles parked at the fire road-Sunset trailhead, we continued up Middle Ridge north of Gazos Creek. About a quarter mile above Gazos we stopped as the road disappeared into a jumble of branches and foliage. As we got out of the vehicle we weren't even sure what we were looking at. Just a lot of branches blocking the road? Was there a tree in there somewhere? And what happened to the fire road??

We eventually discovered there was a 3.5-4 ft diameter redwood, 90 feet in length and laying parallel in the middle of the road, buried in the mess. Since we had a small crew and only Dale's 14-inch chainsaw we decided to limb the tree and clean up the area so everything would be ready for the State Crew that would have to come out and clear the road. It was still a big task and took about an hour to remove all the debris.
Since we couldn't get the vehicle past the down tree, we headed back to the park office after lunch to take a look another look at the big board for more trail problems. As we stared at the wall map, Susan Blake walked in with a hot off the press report of a tree down on Creeping Forest, so we headed out there. What we found was a 14-inch Doug Fir blocking the trail. It had obviously been dead for a long time as most of the bark was gone or peeling off and when we completed the cuts we discovered it was hollow inside. After a couple of quick cuts and rolling the rounds off the trail, we were done for the day!

As for my crew we were ready for another long day covering the Sunset-Timm's Creek-Skyline to the Sea loop.  We were hoping to be able to hike right out to blockage on Timm's Creek trail but in less than a 1/4 mile about half way to the Sunset-STS connector we found an 18" Fir.  So that's how the day began and as we found out would be how it would end.

The second more motley crew, unluckily decided to go with me back to the Sunset-Timms-STS loop to finish what we started last month.  We thought it would be an easy hike to Timm's Creek Trail but less than 1/4 mile and before the STS-Sunset Connector we ran into this 18" oak.
A little farther down the trail we found the 10" fir.  We looked at it and made our predictions but all it did was gently slide down the tree it was resting on.

Spring Sorrel Blooming

And another on Sunset taking us all morning to reach Timm's

Horn of Plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides)

Finally we reached the 30m long blockage of about 3 Oaks and a Redwood but not before  lunch.
Happy Valentine's Day
  The day crew being very satisfied with a job well done
After a total of 12 trees from 3" to 18" and when we thought we were done, we ran into this about 1/2 mile from the connector.  There was some grumbling but it only took about 10 minutes to clear.  I had a weird feeling with the remembrance of clearing an oak from the very spot a few years ago in an adventure like today.  Total 13 trees cleared.

It was a great work day and I think we all felt satisfied with the accomplishments.  Another great turn out and I would like to thank Dale S., Dale P., Janie, Bill, Jan, Bill, David, Shelly, Norm, Mike, and Michelle.  We put 97 hours and another great summer I mean winter day.  That's California.

See you on the trails

Jeff and Mike

Birds of the Day
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Pygmy Owl
9 Pacific Wren
4 Chestnut-backed Chickadee
1 Hutton's Vireo
1 Golden-Crowned Kinglet


JAN 2015 - Sunset and Middleridge

Happy New Year.  2015 started out with a great turn out of 13 members and that allowed for us to split up into 2 crews.  Dale P. took one to cover the fire roads and trails around HQ.  The first crew headed out to Middleridge clearing a couple of spots near the junction of Meteor Trail.  Dale headed back to North Escape Road were he met a few of the crew that checked out Meteor but they didn't find the tree that was supposed to be down.  Then over to the Sequoia Trail and they removed an 14” Tan Oak from the trail between the Blooms Campground link trail and the cutoff to the Bob Kirsch Bridge, and cleared a couple of Tan Oaks that were hanging across the Sequoia Trail.

The 2nd crew was talked into doing a death march, which is the inner loop of Sunset, Timm's Creek, and back STS.  This is about a 6 mile loop and it's difficult without the tools and chainsaw in tow.  We hiked down Sunset and came across fresh cuts after the Sunset STS Connector.  We had visions of an easy day with the trail having been cleared already.  We did run into some small hand saw work and then .  .  .
 That was easy

 A little more effort

 Another easy one

 Now we needed the saw with a 65" circumference Fir (ok 21" diameter)

Next step up was another 95" circumference Fir that took much more effort for the 24" Husky we had to work with.

 Then we ran into this.  A 122" circumference (39" diameter) Redwood took out 5 other smaller trees and with the saw not starting we thought that was sign that it was time for lunch.  After lunch the saw still wouldn't start so I opened up that fuel tanks to make sure it wasn't empty, which it wasn't, closed it up and it start right up: vacuum lock.  Half of my 8 crew wanted to push ahead as the rest worked on the Redwood.

  We took a guess on how long it would take to make the first cut and David was close: 7 minutes

It took 5 cuts and the hardest part was moving the last 2 sections off the trail.  The job took 95 minutes with the cutting and stopping for the numerous hikers we let pass.  Since it took so long we headed back to the trucks to lighten the load and search for the other half of the team.  We head back down Sunset to the connector and STS heading to the falls.  Since we didn't get any hikers remembering yellowed shirt trail crew recruiters but headed back to wait at the trucks.  At the intersection of the Sunset-Middleridge-Gazos we met some hikers who had one of their party injured and slowly making his way back.  We flagged down park personnel for help and they head back to HQ to get the rangers; however, the hiker showed up before the rangers returned.  Dale was driving the hiker back when the ranger showed up but continued on after checking with the rangers.  We got many thanks for our work from the rangers and shortly after the rest of the crew showed up.  They reported numerous less than 20" mostly branches down on the rest of the loop, which would be another days work.  Long day and  I'm still feeling it as I write this.

Thanks to Norm, Dale P., Dale S., Janie, Jan, Fran, David P., David B., Herman, Michelle, Janette, Chris, and new member Ryan.  We put in 128 hours, a good start for the year, in what did turn into a long day but not as much of a death march I was expecting.

See you on the trails


Birds of the Day
Varied Thrush
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker

DEC 2014 - Hollow Tree and STS

Last work day of the year we had 10 crew members out so we split up into 2 crews.  One crew worked on the Hollow Tree Trail and I took one to work on the STS and Creeping Forest.
10" Tan Oak on the STS just before Maddox Cabin site.
 3 small things to clear on Creeping Forest

 Redwood to the sky

 A little rain and the shrooms come out

 Small but messy

 Slugs on the run

 Another small but messy blockage

 At last water after 3 year drought

 We thought we were done but came across 3 small trees across Gazos Creek Road

 Some new member for the year added to the strength of the crew
Holiday dinner at the Boulder Creek Brewery

In 2014 we had 33 people help out in maintaining the trails and we put in 852 hours.  Each work day we had over 7 members and up to 13.  I would like to thank Francis, Dale S., Mike, Norm, Janie, David B., Peter, Michelle David P., and Janette for the time they put in on this work day.  Hope to see you in the New Year.

See you on the trails.


Birds of the Day
Acorn Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Pacific Wren
Hutton's Vireo
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Varied Thrush

NOV 2014 - STS and Creeping Forest

Growing up in the NE, when it's Fall you know it and it does start in early October.  Here we are in the second week of November and half way through fall with temperatures in the 70's it's sometime hard for me to tell the season.  However, what has been a sign for me is the emergence of mushrooms soon after the first rain.  A week before we got .6" of rain and sure enough the mushrooms have started to show up.

The crew started out in search of a couple of downed trees on STS near the Maddox's Cabin site.  We got to the site but no trees.  One of the crew scouted ahead and found a Fir and Oak just past the site.
Two down
Limbing for ease of clearing
Final roll and trail cleared
After clearing STS, we headed up the Creeping Forest trail and first came across a downed Tan Oak that caused a hiker reroute around the brush pile.

Clear and in contemplation of banana slugs

Another obstacle was a Madrone about chest high across the trail.
This was about 60 ft long
Slug making a break for safer grounds
One last toss and tail cleared
Old man Douglas Fir
Band-tail Pigeon hunter's victim

We finished off the day moving firewood for HQ and the cooler mornings coming.  It's great to have a large group to make a difficult one person job into an easy job (it took 17 minutes to unload and stack about 2 cords of wood).

We put in 66 hours on a beautiful day in the park.  I would like to thank Francis, Dale S., Janette, David B, Shelly, David P., and Jan.

See you on the trails.


Birds of the Day
1 Band-tailed Pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata
5 Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
1 Hairy Woodpecker, Picoides villosus
1 Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
1 Hutton's Vireo, Vireo huttoni
8 Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri
12 Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Poecile rufescens
2 Brown Creeper, Certhia americana
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet, Regulus satrapa
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula
1 Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
2 Varied Thrush, Ixoreus naevius

OCT 2014 - Sempervirens Falls and STS

Mike took over for me this month as I headed out to Nevada and Lake Tahoe. 

Although the plan was to work the Basin Trail and likely a lot of brushing, a couple of other things came up when we got to headquarters. Susan Blake mentioned she had come across a Madrone on the East Ridge Trail up off Lodge Rd that was blocking the trail, so Dale Petersen and Pete Gelblum headed out with a chainsaw to take care of it.

The main project for the day came up after several park staff mentioned that way too many visitors to Sempervirens Falls were climbing over the railings and trampling what little vegetation that was there to begin with. The goal was re-duff the area (bad choice of words on my part as the reaction from the crew was about the same as if I said let's spend eight hours brushing a trail!) so it looked more natural and to hopefully deter people from jumping the fence.

 Duff around the Falls

 We spent a couple of hours filling a wheel barrow with leaves and bringing them down to the falls along with dragging over any dead branches and trees we could find. By the end we were cutting up down Tan Oaks off the Sequoia Trail and dragging them down the hill, across Sky Meadow Rd and to the falls area. When finished the area looked a lot better and hopefully our work and the winter rains will encourage people to stay where they belong - on the viewing platform.

After eating lunch at the falls and admiring our work, we headed off to look for a tree that was reported down on the Skyline-to-Sea Trail between Creeping Forest and the Maddock Cabin Site. As we headed out, Ranger Emily mentioned there was an ultra marathon coming down from Castle Rock and we were likely to run into 'sweaty people'. As we walked along from the Gazos Creek picnic area we asked several runners if they saw any down trees and the responses ranged from 'Just a little ahead' to 'We didn't see anything'. 
As we got closer to the Maddock Cabin Site end we came across a small 2-4 inch Tan Oak laying across the trail that didn't seem large enough to even generate a tree down report. It was quickly cut up by hand and rolled off the trail even before the entire crew gathered.
A couple of minutes further along the trail we found what we were really looking for; an 8-10 inch Tan Oak. There had been a steady stream of runners as we had walked out, but we were lucky to catch a break and cut and remove the down tree without interfering with any of the runners.
The crew put in 44 hours and thanks to Norm Beeson, David Bryan, Peter Gelblum, Janie Liefhelm, Dale Petersen, Dale Stadelman and new comer Chris DeKonink, for coming out.

SEP 2014 - Last Chance Trail, Part 2

This was the second time we worked on Last Chance Trail this summer.  Ashley and Jason were the leads from the the state Resource Management Department and they were joined by 7 regular crew members and 2 new ones.

Over the past month, Francis completed refinishing the redwood round at HQ (sprouted 544 CE, 1392 yrs old when cut down)

The crew headed off to the the trail head on Hihn Hammond road and hiked down to where we were to put in steps.  A few of us went with Jason to put in a rock water bar farther down the trail. 
 Crew getting instructions

As the crew was setting up to start the work, I hiked down the trail and crossed over the creek to look for an American Dipper.  No luck on the Dipper but there were a couple of Ravens and blooming fuchsia.

Ravens calling from a Fir in blue sky

California fuchsia (Epilobium canum)

Laying the first step

California Sister (Adelpha bredowii eulalia) drinking at the rock spring

Coast Range Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii) watching the work

Rebar through the steps

The steps were placed and rock was collected and crushed to back fill behind the steps.  I had the Sam Cooke song "Chain Gang" going through my head as we crushed big rocks into little ones (That's the sound of the men working on the chain gang").


Boss Lady Ashley (not really she would fit right in with the crew)

Time to pack the tools out

Peeling Madrone

It was a light day but we picked up a few tricks.  The State crew has done a great job on not only clearing the trail but significantly improving the trail drainage.  We put in 68 hour bringing our total to 656 for the year.  I would like to thank Norm, Francis, Dale S., David B., Janette, Joan, new members Jan and Bill (a winemaker).  Special thanks to Ashley and Jason for asking us to help on the project and showing us a few new skills.

See you on the trails


Birds of the Day
1 Red-shouldered Hawk (California) Buteo lineatus elegans
1 Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata
2 Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
1 Nuttall's Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii
2 Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
3 Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
1 Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus
1 Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni
8 Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri
2 Common Raven Corvus corax
12 Chestnut-backed Chickadee Poecile rufescens
1 Townsend's Warbler Setophaga townsendi
4 Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group]

AUG 2014 - Eagle Rock

It was a typical summer day, a little foggy in the morning but then the sun came out and warmed us up.  We decided to head out and do the task we all love to do: brushing. While we were waiting at HQ, I was telling a story about how I changed where we were working one day to go to Ocean View to find a Dusky Flycatcher.  I did see the guy and it was a life bird for me.  There's more to that story but more on that later.  Well I was thinking that last year I saw a Black Swift at Eagle Rock so guess where we were headed.  I wanted to focus on a section right after the bridge, which seemed to be missed on the way up (must get to the top) and on the way down (after lunch nothing else to say) since it was in the middle.
Middle section being worked on
Cleared with about 3ft on each side
What's nice about the Eagle Rock Trail, in my opinion one of the toughest in the park, it has some great views into the San Lorenzo Valley to the NE, Monterey to the South, and the Pacific to the NW.
Looking toward NE towards Boulder Creek and my home
We made it to the top around noon and I got to the rock about 10 minutes before the rest and was pleasantly surprised by not only the Black Swift but 2 others the White-Throated and Vaux's Swifts.  They flew within less than a meter over our heads we could hear the wind over their wings.  Birder GEEK so cool.
White-throated Swift
Vaux's Swift
Swift in Sun Flare
Shortly before the rest of the crew arrived, a large group from Little Basin arrived.  I guess the crew struck up a conversation with the group and talked about what we did and before I knew it we were being offered melons as a token of their appreciation for our work.  Sometimes the smallest gestures are the most meaningful.

After lunch, we did some more brushing on the way down and came across a very rare Santa Cruz Cypress.
Santa Cruz Cypress (Cupressus abramsiana)
Rare in the wild, found in only five small localities in Santa Cruz County, California, and is listed as endangered.  It grows at 460-1200 m altitude.
Cone of the SC Cypress

It was another great day in the park and with a bonus of a very rare 3 Swift day, at least for me: FANTASTIC.  We put in 79 hours racking up a total of 580 hours for the year and I would like to thank Norm, Michele, Peter, Dale P., Dale S., Janette, Joan, Herman, David, and Shelly.

See you on the trails


Birds of the Day
1 California Quail Callipepla californica   
3 Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura   
4 Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata   
1 Black Swift Cypseloides niger   
3 Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi   
2 White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis   
1 Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna
2 Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus   
1 Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi   
1 Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni   
1 Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri   
1 Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) Aphelocoma californica [californica Group]   
2 Common Raven Corvus corax   
8 Chestnut-backed Chickadee Poecile rufescens   
6 Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus   
2 Brown Creeper Certhia americana
1 Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii   
2 Wrentit Chamaea fasciata   
1 Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus   
2 American Goldfinch Spinus tristis

JUL 2014 - Last Chance Trail

Now is the time of year for nice weather, not much to do, and mosquitoes.  Six crew members were out to help the Natural Resource Management team of Juan and Ashley on the Last Chance Trail.  As we know, this trail has been neglected over the years and we started working on it starting a couple of years ago.  I like this trail since there is a nesting pair of American Dippers further down the trail along the Waddell creek. 
As we hit the trail head at Hihn Hammond road we were greeted by a section that was burnt about 3 weeks earlier by alleged arsonist.  Lucky the CDF and local fire companies were able to contain the fire before much was burnt.   
Most of the day was brushing the trail in preparation for some major work on the drainage along the trail.
Temporary bar to divert a small spring to dry out the trail

 There are fish in the BB creeks.  Looks like a Speckled Trout

 Juan, Norm, and Janie getting instructions on limbing

In the drainage areas we cleared out about 10 feet on both sides of the trail into the drainage area and about 4 feet on both sides of the drainage.  The next step will be stone work to create permanent water bars for proper drainage and it will help with the trail erosion from water run off in the winter.

The day warmed up and I went through 1/2 gallon of fluids and drank another quart after we were done.  We put in 56 hours and broke 500 hours for the year so far.  I would like to thank Juan and Ashley for asking us to help them out.  Very nice people.  Also Norm, Janie, Dale S., Dave, and Joan for there work this month.

See you on the Trails

photos by Jeff and Dale S.

Birds of the Day
11 Pacific-slope Flycatchers (peewee)
8 Chestnut-backed Chickadee
1 Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
6 Brown Creeper
1 Peregrine Falcon
1 Raven

JUN 2014 - Shadowbrook and East Ridge

It took a little longer than usual (but not by much) to get going with 3 new people joining us with a new commute record by Florian traveling from Switzerland.  Ok he was on holiday and traveling in the area and decided to join us.  We broke up into 3 groups with Francis (group of 1) took on the huge project of staining the redwood round at HQ.  The rest of us headed out to take care of a 30" Madrone that we ran into last month across the fire road portion of Shadowbrook Tail near Sky Meadow.

First couple of cuts 
 Cleared the smaller 18" branch

Dale P. took a smaller team to check out East Ridge between Shadowbrook and Lodge Road.  They encountered 2 or 3 small trees and some brushing but more could be done.  In fact I've never been on that section.

The rest of us continued working on the Madrone and after a few more cuts we stopped for lunch thinking that one or 2 more cuts to fully open the road.
 This section took 6 people to move off the road.  It was heavy.
 Peter and Michelle
The saw started to leak fuel when we tried to start it after lunch and it was apparent that there was something wrong. This ended the day for this section.

Dale S. and I took apart the saw but couldn't find the leak and by the time we put it back together Dale P. and his group returned to Sky Meadow.

We put in 93 hours and I would like to thank Janie, Dale P., Dale S., Francis, Norm, David P., Joan, Peter, and Michelle.  Also thanks to new members Shelly, David B., and Florian from Switzerland.

See you on the trails.


Birds of the Day
1 Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
3 Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
1 Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
4 Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis
2 Warbling Vireo (Western) Vireo gilvus [swainsoni Group]
3 Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri
8 Chestnut-backed Chickadee Poecile rufescens
4 Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea
1 Brown Creeper Certhia americana
2 Pacific Wren Troglodytes pacificus
2 Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
1 Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
2 American Robin Turdus migratorius
3 Wilson's Warbler (Pacific Coast) Cardellina pusilla chryseola
2 Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus
2 Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group]

MAY 2014 - Pine Mt. and Shadowbrook

The day started a little cool but clear.  There were 3 regular crew members out and a family of 4 that were out to help and work on a project for their son's school project.  With the light crew, the work on the redwood round had to be postponed for another month.  The first report was on Pine Mountain Road just past the bridge across Bloom's Creek.  As I was telling the family when asked how far to the tree I said not far but we will see what is there when we get there.  Well it was very easy since it was already done but lucky it was only about 1/10 mile up the road.
Oak cut before we got there
Redwoods reaching for the sky on Shadowbrook

We are in the Marbled Murrelet breeding season so out came the Crosscut saw or Whip saw or just the Misery Whip.  Take your pick.  There was a 3" Tan and a 18" rottened Fir on the Shadowbrook Trail between Sempervirens Campground and East Ridge.  The Fir took 3 cuts and in about an 1-1/2 hours we had the trail cleared. 

This is where the Fir came from about 50 meters into the woods 

After Shadowbrook we head to Shadowbrook but the upper half.  We had lunch at Wastahi and then walked through Huckleberry campground and then along Union Creek.  We came across a large Madrone about 30".  We did one cut but we needed about 10 more to clear the trail but that is for a power saw.
Slug on the run
Semperviren's Falls
Tunnel view inside a burnt out redwood

We stopped by the Falls and stepped into a burnt out redwood on the full circle back to Wastahi.  It was a great bird day with 20 species and over 80 individuals.  We put in 51 hours and I would like to thank Mike and Norm and new members David, Louise, Claire, and Daniel.

See you on the trails


Birds of the Day

Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis)
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)
Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)
Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea)
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)
Pacific Wren (Troglodytes pacificus)
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata)
Black-throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens)
Wilson's Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)

APR 2014 - Meteor and Fence Part 2

Call to arms brought out 11 members and one new recruit.  With the little rain (4-5") we got, it was more like a November rain than an end of the season spring storm.  Everything came down.  We had planned to work on finishing the fence and you should have seen Cindy's face when someone suggested the entire crew work on the trails.  Well we honored the commitment and we split the and I took 4 others to start on Meteor Trail and Mike took the rest.

Last month we started work on the split rail fence project across from the parks stores, but because it had been many years since we did a fence and were digging the post holes by hand, we only completed about one-third.

We hoped to complete the remaining stretch this month and with the addition of a gas powered auger to drill the holes it seemed doable, although I thought it might require a long day.

I was wrong about the long day - the auger made things MUCH easier. We quickly split into teams and while some used the auger to quickly drill all the holes, others dug out the loose soil and made sure the holes were the correct dimensions and others did the prep work on the posts and rails.

After an hour of work we were already installing the posts and rails and by the time we broke for lunch we had about two thirds of the posts and rails installed. After lunch we completed the fence work and even had time to take care of finishing touches like rounding off edges on the posts and using a draw knife to smooth down the tops rails.

All in all a very productive day and a nice looking fence in the end.
 Fence Crew with Maintenance Lead Cindy on the left

I took the other crew on what was reported as a 4ft tree down on Meteor Trail about 15 minutes from the top at Middleridge Road.  We headed up Gazos and then took the roller coast called Middlefield Road.  We gathered all the gear and it dawned on me that it only takes about a 1/2 hour to hike the trail especially from the top.  Wonder where the tree really was located.

Many Newts and Banana Slugs were on the upper part of the trail.
What the . . . Yes this huge root ball was right in the middle of the trail and what are we going to do with it?

A couple of us worked on clearing the route up and around the root ball and the rest started on a 11" Tan Oak on the other side.
After the Tan Oak and around the corner we came across the report.  Not 4ft but close at 36" Fir. 
  Dale cutting slices

Peter cutting out the slices

Out comes a round and some fun and wonderful log time

Cleared of trip hazards it was easier to get around the root ball and after clearing another 7" Tan the trail was cleared.  Janie earlier walked the rest of the trail and it turned out we were about 2 minutes from No. Escape.  Boy that would have been too easy parking there.  We decided to lug all the gear back up.
On the way down we passed this and since we ran out of monkeys we broke out the gorilla

With the rain the mushrooms final emerged as well as wild flowers
Redwood Violet

Good days work and we're done for the day.
So both crews were successful and we put in 100 hours.  Thanks to Janie, Dale P., Dale S., Norm, Mike, Peter, Michelle, Francis, Steve, Janette, and new member David.
See you on the trails
Jeff and Mike
Birds of the Day
Pacific Wren
Acorn Woodpecker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Purple Finch
Hairy Woodpecker
Nuttal's Woodpecker
Warbling Vireo
Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon  

MAR 2014 - No. Escape and Fence Building

The day's plan changed partly in that the fence work was on but there was the top of a Douglas Fir blocking the No. Escape past the first gate.  I took 5 crew members to open the road and Mike took the rest to work on building a fence across from the store.

 Fir Blocking No. Escape
 This Pacific Wren was not too happy with us rearranging his new home
 Half way by lunch
 200 years old
 One of the limbs on the Fir
 The dropping of the tree went better than I thought.  It slowly dropped to the ground in a very under whelming manor: quite nicely though.
 The bottom part of the fir
 Open by 1 pm and just in time: the park was full
 The tan oak wasn't large about 6" but it was enough to make it difficult to get around.  The other crew was busy building a new fence at the entrance of the parking area across from the store.
Nice looking fence and the two crews put in 79 hours and I would like to thank Janie, Mike, Peter, Michelle, Herman, Janette, Norm, Francis, and 2 new members Tim and Tyler.

See you on the trails.


Birds of the Day
Pacific Wren
Hermit Thrush
Acorn Woodpecker
Chestnut-backed Chicadee
Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon
Pygmy Nuthatch

FEB 2014 - Sequoia and N. Escape Colverts

Rain was in the forecast and that's what we got.  Now you would figure that on a rainy day most people would stay indoors.  Well we had 8 members show up and we had our first tree to clear off a trail in about 6 months.  There was a 2ft Madrone down on the trail off of the Sequoia Group Campground.

New interactive station and Norm is pointing to a section about the Trail Crew

2ft Madrone

First cut and the lower half slid about 5 meters down the hill
Another cut and time for log rolling

Log rolling 101

What's next: Colverts
Playing in water
Pup supervising the work
Lunch by the fire.
Most of us were ready for the rain and were dry.  Others (Norm) was a bit more wet.  Well we were out rain or shine and although a short day it was rewarding.  Fran brought cookies and the store flagged Mike down and gave us Snicker bar treats (see the perks of the crew).  I would like to thank Dale P., Mike, Janie, Bill, Francis, Norm, and Fran who put in 46 hours on a much needed rainy day.

See you on the trails


Birds of the Day

JAN 2014 - Meteor and other stuff

It was another great morning at the park and per our usual protocol we met at HQ and by 9:30 or so we were off the take care of a tree on Meteor Trail.  We did find it but it was something we cleared in November but decided to leave since it was passable and the hill side was so steep the if we started to cut it it would most likely slide down the hill if not then then during the next storm, which seems to be coming some time in 2015.  We did lower the trail to make it easier to get under.
Jeff and Orion working on lowering the trail.

The next report was on Shaowbrook Trail where it was reported that 6-7" Madrone was on the trail.  Well we came to a 4" Tan Oak and as I scouted ahead to make sure we didn't miss the Madrone I found nothing and when I got back the tree was gone and done with hand saws.  Susan asked us to move some firewood from maintenance and since fires in HQ has saved us more than once we said sure.  With so many people it didn't take long to load up and move the wood to HQ.  Janie was also able to use her truck in the move.
I would like to thank Janie, Bill, Michele, Peter, Norm, Dale P., Mike, Francis, and new members from Camp Hammer Orion and Jeff.  We put in 74 hours on a rare light winter day.

See you on the trails.


Birds of the Day:
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)
Chestnut-back Chickadee
Steller's Jay
Acron Woodpecker
Hermit Thrush
Pacific Wren
American Robin

December 2013 - Tails and the Feast

Well Mike took lead on the trails and Jeannine and I were in the kitchen.  While we cooked the rest of the crew took on a couple of scouting trips.

Oak take out out house

Bob Kirsch tree
The One
Schultz Bridge
The there was the feast and the food was just about the best.

where's mine?

Mango Salsa Salmon
I want this pot
Roast Beast
Smoked Turkey

All have a great new year

We ended  below our last 3 year 1000+ hours but it still was a good one at 950 hours.  Thanks to you all and our weird group seem to grow.  Hope to see you on the trails in 2014.


November 9, 2013 - Creeping-Middle-Meteor

It was a beautiful morning with a bright blue ski so common but not missed in the Santa Cruz side of the hill.  There was a report of an 18" tree across Meteor trail.  We parked just passed the Gazos bridge and headed up Creeping Forest trail to Dool.
At Dool we decided to have lunch at Ocean View and we arrived as the prescribed burn started.  We spent the next hour watching as the fire grew and trees went up in flames.
 We finally made it to Meteor trail and did come across a small 6" tan oak across the trail and that took about 5 minutes to clear.
However, there was an 18" fir on the trail making a very narrow path.  With a couple of cuts and more time being spent on the saw the trail was widened.
 On the way back we came across slugs and Elk Clover along the North Escape Fire road.
 We put in 82 hours thanks to Dale S., Janie, Bill, Norm, Joan, Janette, Mike, Peter, and Michelle.  We are at 860 hours for the year so a great turn out in December may get us over 1000 hours for the fourth year in a row.  See you next month.

See you on the trails


Birds of the Day
Acorn Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Hermit Thrush
Steller's Jay
Common Raven
Purple Finch
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hutton's Vireo
Red-tailed Hawk
Band-tailed Pigeon

August 10, 2013 - Eagle Rock

There were 10 members out on a clear morning.  It has been foggy on this side of the hill for about 5 weeks now so it was nice to see the blue sky so early in the morning.  There wasn't anything pressing on the Big Board so we decided to head up to the Eagle Rock Bridge to take another look for repairs we will be making in the next couple of months.
Eagle Rock trail from EveryTrail mapping

We encountered a small tree that took all of 5 minutes to clear and then another that was cleared with one cut.
We made it to the bridge around 11 am and after looking it over most decided to return to get ready for various activities but Janette, Dale S., and I continued to Eagle Rock doing light brushing along the way.  On the way down from the Rock, at the head of the short trail to the bench looking toward the west I saw a strange oak, at least for this area.  We looked at a couple of books and it appears to be a Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii). The habitat was right but it was a first for me in the park.
 Black Oak
 Pacfic-slope Flycatcher, immature
This was also a Trail Crew outing that night to UCSC theater to take in the Taming of the Shrew.  Although it was a very good time with good food and drink the acting was very good but the play is about 400 years out of date (that's my opinion).
We put in 72 hours on a typical late summer work day.  We spent an hour taking in the view of the swifts and of the San Lorenzo Valley on top of the world (and finally saw my home).  I would like to thank Dale S., Janie, Bill, Joan, Norm, Janette, Michelle, Peter, and new member Steve.

See you on the trails.


Birds of the Day
3 Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
2 Band-tailed Pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata
2 Black Swift, Cypseloides niger
2 Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna
2 Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
3 Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
2 Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Empidonax difficilis
2 Hutton's Vireo, Vireo huttoni
3 Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri
4 Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal), Aphelocoma californica [californica Group]
1 Common Raven, Corvus corax
16 Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Poecile rufescens
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta canadensis
3 Brown Creeper, Certhia americana
1 Bewick's Wren, Thryomanes bewickii
4 Wrentit, Chamaea fasciata

July 13, 2013 - Redwood Loop, STS, and Basin Trails

It was a very pleasant morning as the crew starting to arrive at our 9am call of duty time.  We had 3 new people out with a total of 13.   As we were collecting a not so common Vaux's Shift flew around HQ for about 1/2 hour. First of the year for me. We moved around today starting in the Redwood Loop then over to STS south of Maddox's Cabin, and finally STS west and Basin Trail north.
We started at the Redwood loop to lay duff down under the Mother and Father of the Forest.  Years of people climbing over the fence to get near to the large trees has compacted the ground around the trees.  The duff will help hold in the moisture that drops as the redwoods collect the fog.

Of course the signs we put up to "do not climb the fence" didn't keep the crew out nor the visitors.  Within minutes people climbed over the fence.  Oh well. Next was a report of a blockage on STS south of Maddox's cabin.  It was about a 1/2 mile hike and a tan oak snapped about 20 feet off the grown.
 Crosscut Sawing
It was a little tricky since I had to detach the tree.  When it did detach and the far end fell down my end went up and me too.  Luckily I remembered to let go.
It didn't take long to clear the trail and then we were off to China Grade to search for reported redwood down on STS west of China Grade and something on Basin Trail about 1 to 1.5 miles toward Lane Camp.  The day had gotten very warm and after hiking about a mile down STS we were not near any redwoods so we turned back to find the blockage on Basin trail.  After about a 1/2 mile Dimitriy and Sarah scouted ahead and after running about 10 minutes they returned and reported that they found nothing so that was the end of the day.
Madrone Peeling
It turned out to be a long day and we racked up 106 hours putting the year's total at 600 hours with a good chance of breaking 1000 hours for the 4th year in a row.  Keep turning out and help keep our park's trail on of the best in the state and may be the country (I don't really know if this is a true statement but I can still believe it).  I would like to thank Norm, Joan, Kathy, Janie, Bill, Dimitriy, Sarah, Michelle, Jeanette, and new members Yana, Cathy, and Susanna.

See you on the trails


Birds of the Day
1  Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
4  Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Empidonax difficilis
4  Hutton's Vireo, Vireo huttoni
3  Warbling Vireo, Vireo gilvus
2  Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal), Aphelocoma californica [californica Group]
21 Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Poecile rufescens
3  Wrentit, Chamaea fasciata
1  American Robin, Turdus migratorius
1  Black-throated Gray Warbler, Setophaga nigrescens
1  Common Raven, Corvus corax Delete
2  Brown Creeper, Certhia americana
4  Pacific Wren, Troglodytes pacificus
3  Golden-crowned Kinglet, Regulus satrapa
1  Band-tailed Pigeon, Patagioenas fasciata
1  Vaux's Swift, Chaetura vauxi
2  Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
2  Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri
1  Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
3  Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon), Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group]

June 8, 2013 - Lodge Road

Another nice morning and the forecast was for a warm day.  At HQ Linda arrived with pie and coffee.  Some of the pie was used to decorate our shirts.
Our job was to help out Linda from the Sempervirens Fund in the upper Lodge Road area to clear trip hazards for the dedication of the Redwoods.

Most of what we did was moving piles of limbs so they were out of sight and then we spread out piles of duff.

It was a hot day and that made for a harder day but at the end there was cold watermelon waiting for us and up on Lodge Road we were treated to a cool sea breeze too.

I would like to thank Dale P., Linda, Tim, Richard, Kathy, Bill, Janie, Michelle, Peter, Janette, and new members Joan, Jules, Sarah, and Dimitriy for the 99.5 volunteer hours for the day.

See you on the trails


Birds of the Day
2 Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
3 Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Empidonax difficilis
1 Hutton's Vireo, Vireo huttoni
2 Warbling Vireo, Vireo gilvus
1 Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri
10 Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Poecile rufescens
1 Brown Creeper, Certhia americana
1 Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
1 Black-throated Gray Warbler, Setophaga nigrescens
2 Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon), Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group]

Totally off topic but cuter than a button was my 3 sisters.  I was in a meeting at work this week and I had to get a photo of 3 recently fledged Black Phoebes.  Mom and Dad were catching flies for them.