After several months of project work with the State Trail Crew, it was back to a more normal summer-fall workday which means a little of this and a little of that. With 12 crew members out, we split into 2 crews with one heading out to clear a tree on the Skyline-to-Sea Trail near the Joe Metty Bypass and what would be a 5+ mile day while the other crew followed up on several miscellaneous things that had been pending for a couple of months.
Jan, Aaron and I headed out to Skyline to Sea with a report of a tan oak fallen across the trail near the Joe Metty Bypass. We drove up to Middle Ridge Fire Road and hiked in, following the Sunset Connector, past the wreckage of the slide that has kept STTS closed from Middle Ridge for almost 2 years now. We carried a pair of loppers did some light brushing along our way. Aaron toted the chainsaw and a Pulaski and we made good time to the work site, arriving just after 10 AM. Jan and Aaron started limbing up the tree while Chris got the chainsaw warmed up.
As Chris dropped sections out of the trunk the weight of the tree up slope caused it to slide downward. It was like working on a self feeding bucking machine. Each time Chris sawed and then kicked-out a section of tan oak, the uphill portion of the log powered down the embankment like a tree in an 1800’s flume. Several seconds later, the leading edge of the log hit a bigger log downhill and abruptly stopped, presenting Chris with another section to cut.
After the third section repeated the pattern, we wondered if Chris were in Trail Crew purgatory, doomed to stand in one spot as this assembly line tree endlessly slid into place.
Happily, we did not redefine infinity today and Chris was finally able to move on to two other trees and a lovely lunch spot on Timm’s Creek. A few cuts and then Aaron and I pushed the tail of the trunk down and over the side. We then spent another 90 minutes cutting up the slash and dragging it down the slope and out of view, finishing right around noon.
We decided to do a loop and inspect the Timm's Creek trail even though it is closed due to a bridge failure. Happily, we did not redefine infinity today and Chris was finally able to move on to two other trees and a lovely lunch spot that Aaron found along Timm’s Creek. We watched a couple Steelhead hunting for water skimmers while we ate and chat.
We did some brushing as the trail is starting to get a bit overgrown in spots from disuse. We also did cut one fallen log, since we were there and had the saw with us.
Arriving back at the top of Sunset Trail we headed back towards Middle Ridge. We did find one small tan oak that had fallen across the trail. We opted to deal with that one without firing up the chainsaw. Jan cut off the top half with her hand saw and then Aaron dragged the lower half out of the way.
We returned to the tool shed and found a note that the rest of the crew had already head home. A fine work day indeed.
After a brief stop at the tool shed, Chris, Jan and Aaron, headed to the STS Trail while the remainder set off for the Sky Meadow maintenance area for what is a fall ritual - moving firewood down to headquarters for those cold winter mornings when a fire is more than welcome. Susan Blake borrowed a dump bed truck, which made unloading the wood easier, but it still took most of the morning to move the wood down and put everything away.
And in another sign that summer is over, after finishing with the firewood we took the campfire center video screen down and stowed it for the winter. The work would require standing at the top of a large step ladder, undoing the clasp that held the screen in place, quickly grabbing it so it didn't crash to the ground, and doing this while not losing balance and falling to the ground ourselves. After standing at the top of the ladders and realizing it was a really big, heavy, screen and it was a long way to the ground, D1 suggested we use a rope to secure the screen so it could be lowered safely rather than having the person on the ladder having to unhook, grab and balance all at the same time. It worked perfectly and the screen was quickly removed and put away until spring.
After lunch at the campfire center, we headed for the trails to look for a tan oak that was blocking the Blooms Creek Trail near Pine Mtn Fire Road. It wasn't hard to find as the trail was pretty much impassable, but after limbing and chainsaw work it was open and clear again.
We checked one additional trail near the intersection of 236 and Sky Meadow Rd where we found a large (5-ft dia?) redwood. It was beyond our scope and hikers could easily pass underneath it by slightly ducking, so we called it a day.
The crew put in 99 hours surpassing the 1000 hour mark reaching 1034 hour and thanks to Herman Aster, Norm Beeson, Michele Gelblum, Peter Gelblum, Jan Hill, Janie Liefhelm, Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, David Philleo, Aaron Poulos, Dale Stadelman and Chris Young, for their help in the park and John Collins who was at a cross-cut saw maintenance training.
by Chris, Jan, Mike, and Jeff
photos by Chris, Jan, Mike, and Aaron