SEP 2017 - Pine Mountain and Grove Repair

The July Trail Crew blog included a rare video of a large tree actually falling across the popular trail that leads up to Buzzards Roost and as Trail Crew veterans know trails don't magically maintain themselves, so there the tree stayed, waiting.  


For the September workday we decided to bring out our 27 pound, 42-inch, Husky chainsaw affectionately referred to as Big Bertha for what we were guessing was a 4-5 ft diameter Doug Fir. Big Bertha was a wedding gift from Howard King to his wife Maria. Although we had 11 Crew members and could have split into two groups, we decided to stay together until we had an idea of what it would take to clear the tree from the trail.

Janie with the Big Fir

Janie with the Big Fir

Fortunately it was only about a quarter mile along the trail from the Pine Mtn Fire Rd crossing midway up toward Buzzards Roost, so we didn't have far to carry Big Bertha from the vehicles. On arriving we quickly realized that it would be one of the largest trees the Crew has ever worked on and a challenge as it was laying angled across the trail with one end on an uphill slope and the other downhill.

Despite a history of being temperamental, Big Bertha started and ran well for what would be its longest workday since it was donated to us by the Sempervirens Fund. Chris Young took the first shift on the saw and the expectations were high that the initial difficult cuts would show progress and we could start rolling rounds off to the side. 

Unfortunately with big trees the initial cuts often lead to more work as they wedge against other parts of the tree rather than breaking free. It wasn't until after lunch that we started making significant progress as we took turns on the saw since it was tiring work.

With the tree work looking better, we decided during lunch that the second crew would break off and head over to handle the grove work we had promised the Sempervirens Fund we would complete.

After the trail was cleared we measured the tree diameter and it was a little wider than a McLeod, so about 52-inches across though it seemed a lot bigger when we were working on it!



After leaving the intrepid BIG TREE team we headed back to the shed to pick up a post hole digger and steel bar and headed up Sky Meadow Road to install the new grove sign for Amanda with Sempervirens Fund.


She had given us some very detailed pictures of just where the sign was to be installed so we had no problem locating the new sign.  Amanda even had two stakes, with pink tape, noting where each leg of the sign was to go (as long as we didn’t put the sign in backwards we were good to go!).  We cleared quite a bit of brush and downed material behind where the sign was to go so the view would be unobstructed.  Using a bit of elbow grease we were able to precisely place the aforementioned sign, with the bottom of the sign exactly 18” from the ground, and level vertically & horizontally.

The crew put in 80 hours with a YTD of 1036. Thanks to Norm Beeson, David Bryan, Peter Gelblum, Janie Leifhelm, Curt McLellan, Curt Patrick,  Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, Mike Rickels, Dale Stadelman and Chris Young, for coming out as we passed the 1,000 hour mark for the year with three months still left.

by Mike and Norm

photos by Peter, Norm, and Michael

editor Jeff


AUG 2017 - Firewood and Pine Mountain

The summer months is the time of year we brush (if we have to) and help out the park by filling the wood shed at HQ with a supply of wood for the next winter and for the campers campfires for the rest of the season.

After meeting in front of HQ we truck pooled up to the maintenance yard where we met Scott Martin the new maintenance supervisor and Lucas, one of his team.  We headed over to the shed to begin loading mostly oak and filled the one ton truck to capacity.  While we were in the loading mode, Lucas hauled out an old log splitter and after a bit got it fired up.  Working with mostly Doug Fir, David, John, Jordan, and Rhiannon were our splitting team.

Log spitting team

Log spitting team

While they were splitting away we followed Lucas down to the HQ compound where he dumped the whole load in front of the wood shed.  Dale P, Herman, Chris, John, & Norm again handled each piece of wood and pretty much filled the shed, leaving a v-shape opening in the center for the spilt Doug Fir. 

We had lunch at HQ and waited a while for the Doug Fir stuff to show up.   After lunch most of us went up to see if we could remove the Doug Fir blocking the Pine Mtn trail.  While we were up on the Pine Mtn trail, John volunteered to stay at HQ and deal with the Doug Fir wood when it got dropped.  By the time we got back it was done!

Filled to capacity

Filled to capacity

Rather than sitting around waiting for the Fir to be dropped off we finally decided to drive up Pine Mtn Rd with Chris & his 24” bar chainsaw to perhaps take a stab at the 4’ Doug Fir on the Pine Mtn trail but when we got there we calculated that it is pretty darn close to 5’ in diameter.  Rather than make the attempt with the 24" bar we agreed we should wait and do it in September hopefully with Big Bertha and its 48" bar.  As it was after 2pm we collectively decided to come back in September and the first thing in the morning deal with the humungous tree.  Norm said that the big saw was having some trouble running last he remembered and Chris thought he'd have it checked out by Scarborough's in Ben Lomond.

The crew put in 66 hours with YTD total of 956 hours.  Thanks to Herman A., Dale P, David B., Jordan M, Chris Y., John M., seasonal interpreter Rhiannon, Norm, and 1st timer Curtis M.

See you on the trails

Photos by Chris

Blog by Norm, Chris, and Jeff

JUL 2017 - Pine Mt, Eastridge, and Hihn Hammond Trails

On Saturday, July 8th, along with 6 CCC crew members, Jack Schultz, and his friend Natasha, and myself, headed up Pine Mountain Trail looking for a Doug Fir that had just fallen a few days before.

We only had a whip saw as only one chain saw showed up and it was sent to where we were told was a 42” Doug Fir was down on the East Ridge Trail (turns out it was already taken care of).   Senior Park Aide Patrick Rosso later shared with me a video (see here) of the very Fir we were looking for, as it fell!  It seems a group of visitors were hiking up to Buzzard’s Roost when they heard a crackling, crunchy sound.  One hiker pulled out his cell phone and caught this amazing image.  While we took a break at the site we heard quite a few crackling, crunchy noises so we didn’t spend much time there.  The tree is so big that maybe a notch could be cut to allow hikers to duck through.  Right now you can limbo or crouch to get through.

Oh, some good news!  The two Doug Firs, one of which had spiked into the pavement on N. Escape Rd., have been cleared!  You would hardly recognize they were there!  All the debris that we had pushed to the side of the road is gone and all that remains of the first Douglas Fir we had cleared a year or two ago is just the trunk going down into the creek area.  The trunk on the uphill side is gone!

There is still some stuff just up Hollow Tree Trail from Skyline to the Sea Trail so hopefully in August we can drive out to the last kiosk and take care of that.  Docent Peggy O’Shea reported too that there is stuff on the Hollow Tree connector trail up to Middle Ridge Rd.  I’ve asked her to let me know if she came back along Middle Ridge Rd. if there is any stuff on the road.  Last month we sent a crew up to Middle Ridge Road but the key they were given by the park aide did not open the gate from Gazos so they just walked up a bit and took care of several things.

Norm's crew comprised Chris, Dave P., Shyamal , Aaron (a new young guy who lives in San Jose, but grew up in SLV), Peter, and Michele.

We checked out 6-8 places where there were reports of trees down, all without success - all the work had been done.  We started on Eastridge, near the big entry sign to the Park and the house and parking lot there.  Among other trees, there was supposed to be a 42" diameter tree across the trail, but all we found was sawdust and some nicely hidden rounds.  We then drove on Hihn Hammond Road and up Middle Ridge, where there was supposed to be 2 or 3 trees on the road, but, again, nothing.  We then drove back to Pine Mountain Fire Road, where the other crew (with the CCCs) had gone to check on a couple more possibilities, but there was nothing.

Aaron said that 2 weeks ago he had seen two largish trees across the trail near Little Basin.  Having nothing else to do, we went up the road and onto Tan Bark Loop Trail.  Quite a ways up and then down, we found the two 10" diameter tan oaks. 

It was after 12 by then, so we had lunch and then attacked.  Chris's chain saw, loppers, and hand saws took care of the trees in short order, including two large impaled branches.  On the way back, Dave, Shyamal, and Aaron took Pig Ridge Cutoff Trail, while Chris, Peter, and Michele went back the way we had come, and both crews did some minor lopping and trimming.   We got back to the shed around 3:30.

The crew put in 126 hours and thanks to Chris, Dave P., Shyamal , Aaron (new member), Peter, Michele, Norm, Jack, Natasha and the CCC crew Owen, Jesse, Jaqueline, Angel R., Elijah, and Angel C.


JUN 2017 - Gazos and Dool Trail

Nine crew members showed up and at first it seemed we had just one chain saw so was trying to sort out were to best utilize it when Johnmentioned that he also had a saw.  We split up into two groups, one with Peter, Michele, Chris & David B, heading out Gazos Creek Road to Middle Ridge Road, the other off to parts of the Eastridge trail.

Chris, David B, Michele, and Peter drove out Gazos Creek Road to Middle Ridge, where there were reports and photos from Kurt Leal from January-April of trees down in several locations.  The key we were given at HQ didn't work on the lock on the gate at Middle Ridge, so we walked.  David volunteered to carry the 24" chain saw that Chris brought.  We all agreed.

We first came across an 8-10" tan oak across the road, which Chris made short work of with the chain saw.  (So quick that I didn't get any photos.)  Next, just a few yards up the road was another 8-10" tan oak, but with two trunks and a bunch of brush.  This one took a little longer, but it wasn't difficult.

Then, about 1/2 mile further along the road, yet another 8-10" tan oak.  Someone had done about half the work, leaving a lot of the trunk and brush in the road.  We finished the job. Photos coming from phone.  Another 1/2 mile or so, and we came across yet another tan oak, which had already been cut, but we needed to push and pull it to the side of the road.

The last two photos from Kurt were of trees on Dool and Meteor, near Middle Ridge, but between Chris having hiked there a week earlier and confirmation from hikers we met, we determined that those two had been done already.  We hiked back to the car and headed out.  On the way, we passed an old, rotted redwood that was not blocking the road, but looked unsightly, so we stopped and moved it completely off the road. 

Chris then remembered from his recent hike with a group of kids that there was a large oak with brush across the trail on Dool, a little way off of Gazos Creek.  We decided to check it out and, sure enough, a large part of the trunk of a large oak had cracked and was leaning over the trail, with the end of it touching the trail and a lot of brush hanging down.  This proved to be the biggest job of the day. We cleared all the brush and cut as much of the trunk as we could reach with hand saws, getting it well clear of the road.  While Chris, David, and Peter were doing that, Michele worked with a hand saw on a 4 foot long, 4-6" log that had been lodged in the trail long enough for hikers to wear a path around it.  She managed to clear it, with a final assist from Chris.

2nd Crew

The Eastridge crew headed out on the Pine Mtn trail where we encountered a couple of items that were on Kurt's list.  Heading toward Skyline to the Sea on the Hihn Hammond connector trail the first two items on our list had already been taken care of.  Heading up the Pine Mtn trail we encountered a messy, aren’t they all, 10” tan oak.  John’s saw made quick work but the clearing of all the foliage took a bit longer.  Further up the trail we came across item #4, several tan oaks that had completely blocked the Pine Mtn trail to Buzzards Roost.  After a little confusion as to where the trail actually went we cleared just the portion where the trail ran.  There was far too much debris to hide.  We headed back down to Blooms Creek campground for lunch.  After lunch, Curt & John braved Pine Mtn Rd in Curt’s little Smart Car and took care of a couple more Kurt items.  Jan, David P. and I drove to the other end of Blooms Creek campground and headed up the other side of the Eastridge trail looking for a 20” tan oak.  We never found the tan oak but with Jan wielding the loppers, did substantial brushing of mostly huckleberry bushes that were taking over the trail.  Headed back to the clubhouse and finished up around 3pm.

The crew put in 63 hours and thanks to Norm, Chris, David B, Michele, Peter, Jan, John, David P., Chris, and Curt.

MAY 2017 - Waterman's Gap and Basin Trail

MAY 2017 - Waterman's Gap and Basin Trail

It was a cool morning and with 14 crew members showing up at HQ it was a great opportunity to spit up.  Peter and Dale P. took one crew to Waterman Gap Area and Mike taking one to Basin Trail.

Brushing is never one of the Trail Crew's favorite jobs and brushing the Basin Trail even less so as it can get warm quickly on the exposed ridge line, but Saturday was cool and clear so we decided to go for it!  Dale P. had a crew out there in March clearing trees that were blocking the trail and reported it needed work, so the only challenge was convincing others it was a good idea.

APR 2017 - Redwood Loop and Shadowbrook

The calendar says we were well into spring, which start in February in Santa Cruz.  This has been one of the wettest winters on record and it doesn't want to release it's grip yet. The morning drive began under partly cloudy skies but gave way to steady rain and some hail at Big Basin.  All that said 10 members showed up for our work day.

After huddling in the Sempervirens Room at headquarters and hoping the rain would let up, we finally decided to venture out on the Redwood Loop Trail to take care of a down tree while still close enough to shelter in case things really turned nasty. 

Kurt Leal reported that a Tan Oak had fallen and was partially blocking the trail and we found it just where Kurt said it would be not too far from the campfire center. It didn't take long to clear the tree and debris from the trail area itself, but Norm then mentioned the clearing on the inside area of the fence line where the remainder of the tree still laid was used for an interpretive program each Halloween and asked if we could cut it back even further. Some more cutting and hiding of the debris and we were done.

Drainage work on the Redwood Loop

Drainage work on the Redwood Loop

Jelly Ear Fungus on Redwood Loop (Auricularia auricula)

Jelly Ear Fungus on Redwood Loop (Auricularia auricula)

As Kurt's tree was being removed, others were dealing with drainage issues on the Redwood Loop Trail and we also saw a tree that was dropping widow makers so we took care of that as well before before breaking for lunch. 

The rain had stopped by the time we finished eating, so part of the crew returned to the Redwood Loop Trail to continue the drainage work while the others headed up to check on problems on the Shadowbrook Trail between the Schultz Bridge and Huckleberry Campground.

Just after passing a slide area that we couldn't do much about, we came to a large Tan Oak that had fallen length ways along the trail and stretched for about 20 yards. It took a while to clear the small debris before D2 and David B. began the big cutting, but we eventually got the area cleared just in time for a family with small children to give our work it's first test.

Afterwards, we continued the hike up to the Huckleberry Connector Trail and then over to the Sequoia Trail finding a couple of small things before calling it a day.  

Sempervirens Creek

Sempervirens Creek

The crew put in 93 hrs and a big thanks to Herman Aster, Norm Beeson, David Bryan, Michele and Peter Gelblum, Janie Liefhelm, Janette Mello, Mike Peasland, David Philleo and Dale Stadelman, for their work on a slightly soggy spring day.

See you on the trails

by Mike

Photos by Mike and Kurt

Editor Jeff Bleam

MAR 2017 - STS and Sunset

MAR 2017 - STS and Sunset

The storms in late February and early March really did a number on the trails.  The Park brought in the CCC to help opening Skyline to the Sea (STS) trail, but there was plenty for the crew to take care of.  Not only did the storms being the rain and wind they also brought out the crew with 20 members including some first timers showing up.  The crew was split up into 3 crews with Chris Young, Dale Stadelman leading crews.