The Trail Crew had a record breaking year in 2017 in terms of hours worked with 1,312 and the new year got off to an equally good start with 16 people out in January including three first timers. We broke into three groups covering the Sunset-STS Connector Trail area, the Shadowbrook-Sempervirens Loop starting from the Kirsch Trail, and finishing the Eastridge Trail tree left over from last month.
Chris' Crew on Sunset
Dale S., Jan Hill, Janie, Dave P., Forrest, Alyssa, and myself (Chris) drove up the Middle Ridge and Gazos Creek fire road intersection to deal with two Doug Firs reported down on the Sunset and Sunset Connector trails. Park staffer Patrick, asked that the crew handle these trees as they were in a high usage area of the park.
We brought two 24" bar chain saws to try to ensure we'd get the work done. We came across the elevated tree first and decided to move down to the next one as it was possible to duck under it.
I was working on the mistaken belief that there might actually be third tree (in fact there was just 2 pictures of one tree). So when we came to the second Doug Fir, I set off down the trail with Forest to try and find the third. Forrest and I hiked down to Skyline to the Sea and followed that until the first switchback. By then I was fairly sure there wasn't a third tree so we headed back to deal with the first one we discovered.
Dale, Jan, David, Forest and Alyssa worked on the second tree while Janie and I went back up to clear the first. Forest came up and helped Janie and I as well in a little bit. The second down tree had a lot of slash to clear around it as well as a smaller Madrone that had been knocked down as well. The elevated Doug Fir was only tricky in that it was elevated and needed to be brought down to the forest floor.
We made a lovely bench with two end tables with the rounds of that elevated log and enjoyed our lunch sitting on it. After lunch one more cut was all that was required to clear the path.
It was a typically busy Saturday for hikers and we received many 'Thank You's from folks going by. We hiked back out to the fire roads and were back at the tool shed a little after one o'clock. Janie, Dale and I then headed over to East Ridge near Blooms Creek campground to see if we could help Mike's crew.
Mike's Crew on Eastridge
After getting the necessary paperwork straightened out, we decided to break into three groups with one group heading to the Sunset-STS Connector area to check on a new report of trees on the trail, one group following up on a Kurt Leal report for the Shadowbrook Trail between the Kirsch Trail and Sky Meadow, and the third group heading back to the Eastridge Trail near Blooms Creek Campground to finish the tree removal that was started on the December workday.
I brought Big Bertha out thinking it might be needed for the Sunset Trail trees, but Chris said it would be better used on Eastridge so off we headed. The tree was a 3-ft Doug fir and as the December crew found out the challenge was it had partially buried itself in a dirt and gravel fire road when it fell.
The initial work involved a lot of digging a space under the tree to allow use of Big Bertha without sending the chain into the dirt and gravel (easier said than done). And of course getting the first round separated from the rest of the tree can be a task when everything binds even when the cut is completed. It took over an hour of cutting and recutting, along with some whacks from a pulaski, but we finally rolled the first section of the tree free and off to the side of the trail.
Additional cuts were easier, but it still took a lot of digging under the tree for each cut to be completed. And with Big Bertha's large 42-inch bar there were a couple of times the chain hit ground even with the digging beforehand.
We were working on rolling the final section of tree off to the side of the trail when the Sunset crew showed up to check on things, so they helped with that and then Chris made a final cut with his saw on the remaining section at the trail edge.
As for what's next for Big Bertha? She's headed into the shop for a new chain since last September's long day removing the big tree on the trail to Buzzards Roost and this month's experience with the dirt and gravel road have taken their toll.
Dale's P Crew on Shaddowbrook
I did not keep track of the number of trees we cleared. I think it was about 6 or 7. You can check Aaron's photos to be sure. They will be a better indicator of what we did.
We started from the Kirsch bridge and went up the Shadow Brook trail. About 3-4 trees between the bridge and Sky Meadow. We broke for lunch at the Ramada in Sky Meadow.
There were two blockages between the parking lot and the Ramada. We cleared the worst one. The other was an Oak laying on the ground and easy to step over. It was about 18 inches in diameter and we should probably go back to get it when things slow down. Two more blockages on the Sequoia trail on our way back down. The day went well and I think the new people will probably be back.
The crew put in 117 hours and thanks to Norm Beeson, David Bryan, Peter Gelblum, Alyssa Haefele, Jan Hill, Janie Liefhelm, John Martin, Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, David Philleo, Aaron Poulos, Dale Stadelman and Chris Young, and first timers Alyssa Barnes, Kate Plossl and Forrest Scharmer for helping get 2018 off to a good start!
By: Mike, Dale P, Chris, and Jeff
Photos by: Aaron, Jan, Peter