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 split 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.

As we began discussing the work plan for the day, the mere mention of brushing and the Basin Trail, brought groans, eye rolls and 'Is there anything else' please. Fortunately for those people, there was by joining Peter and Dale P. to the Toll Road Connector Trail near Waterman Gap.  The majority of the crew drove out to upper China Grade Rd and the Basin Trail.

Peter and Dale P. Crew: Waterman's Gap

Chris, Dale P., Jeanette, Michele, and Peter drove out 236 towards a spot on the connector between STS and the Old Toll Road where five (5) "large" redwoods were reported to be down on a trail used by horses.

40" Redwood the largest of 5 trees down near Waterman Gap

40" Redwood the largest of 5 trees down near Waterman Gap

We got a late start, because, Peter, Michele, and Jeanette lost track of Dale's truck and turned off onto Waterman Gap, because we had heard that the trailhead was near Waterman Gap.  Well, it wasn't, but we got a nice tour of Waterman Loop.  Right after we got back on 236, Dale and Chris passed us going the other direction looking for the accident that must have been the cause of our delay.  So, now joined up, we got to work.

We walked about 3/4 mile downhill and sure enough there were 5 trees down, with lots of brush.  One was a 40" diameter redwood that crossed the trail twice, and the rest were smaller redwoods.  We had two chain saws - Dale's amazing 14", almost 40-year-old wonder, and the 24" saw that Jeff B. just donated to the crew, which Chris was using.  We made pretty short work of the four smaller trees and brush, as well as a 10" Madrone that a hiker told us was laying across the trail about 0.1 mile further along.  Dale also took care of another tree that was hanging over the trail.  When asked what kind of tree it was, he said, "a tree."  Jeanette also cleaned the spaces between the slats of a small wooden bridge to the point that it looks like a new bridge.

Chris tackles the 40" Redwood with the 24" Husky

Chris tackles the 40" Redwood with the 24" Husky

Where the 40" redwood crossed the trail, the trail turned downhill, so the tree was about 3-4' above the trail at one end, and then about 8-9' above the trail on the other end.  Because this was a path used by horses, we decided we needed to get rid of the tree on both ends so that a horse and rider could get through.   Chris started cutting off pieces of the large redwood.  Jeff's saw was working great on the very dry wood - like butter, but then the chain was damaged so we were left with a 40" redwood with about 20' of it across the trail and a saw with a 14" chain. 

Fortunately, the redwood had split across the trunk in two places.  Using a Pulaski and wedges, we managed to pry off about a third of the trunk at a time, horizontally along the entire 20' length.  Dale was then able to cut through the thirds with his saw, we did a lot of heavy pushing to get the chunks off the trail, and managed to clear the entire trail.  We were all very satisfied with the day's work.

Mike's Crew: Basin Trail

Basin trail really needed brushing.

Basin trail really needed brushing.

The Basin crew left two vehicles at the Skyline-to-Sea crossing on China Grade and then piled into the cab and bed of David's truck for the drive up to the Lane Trail Camp area where we picked up the Basin Trail. There wasn't much overgrowth as we headed downhill, but as we entered the chaparral section the trail became narrower and our progress slowed. 

Typically we work this area in solitude as it doesn't get many visitors, but several groups of hikers came through as we worked so we knew we were doing something useful. We didn't get the entire three mile stretch completed, but we put a good size dent in the work and enjoyed the several overlooks with views stretching across Big Basin.

The wildflowers were in full bloom including the Bush Poppies and Yerba Santana.

The day crew put in 126 hours and thanks to Norm Beeson, David Bryan, Peter and Michele Gelblum, Janie Liefhelm, Jordan McDaniel, Janette Mello, Curt Patrick, Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, Kamal Purandare and Chris Young, along with new comers Glenn Joy and Michael Rickels for their work with both crews.

Total 2017 hours 701.  See you on the trails.

By Peter and Mike

Photos by: Peter, Chris, Mike, and Jordan

Editor: Jeff