The Trail Crew had another very good turnout of 17 people on a very spring like February workday. We started the day remembering the Sempervirens Fund's Linda Yule who passed away in December with, what else, pie! Linda would often bring warm pies out for the Trail Crew to enjoy in exchange for help with grove preparation work and I like to think she would have enjoyed being remembered in this way.
It is great to see the old timers still coming out but more important are all the new members that joined the Crew over the last couple of years. We seem to be in the midst of another drought winter and there were not a lot of trail issues with only a single report from Kurt Leal of problems in the upper Basin Trail/Hollow Tree areas. With such a great turn out we split into 2 crews with Mike's crew heading to Eagle Rock and Dale S crew heading to Basin Trail.
There are of course two ways to tackle the Eagle Rock Trail and the 1,500 elevation gain - either make the uphill slog or drive around to the top and walk downhill. For whatever reason, the last several visits were the uphill climb so this time we opted to walk downhill.
After leaving a couple of cars at the Little Basin end of the trail for a car shuttle afterwards, we made the 20 minute drive to the top of Eagle Rock off Empire Grade Rd. It's always a breathtaking view from up there, though State Parks has stopped trying to secure the old fire lookout and unfortunately it's heavily tagged and vandalized.
After enjoying the views, we headed to the trailhead and immediately confronted a heavily overgrown trail and the reason NOT to wait so long between visits. We spread out and worked to widen the trail enough for a 4 lane highway so our work would last at least a year. Fortunately the worst stretch of trail was near the top with less brushing being needed as we dropped down and the oak woodland forest on the last third of the trail being wide open.
Brushing nicer in the winter compare to the summer on this sunny section (before right to after left)
We did run into a couple of trees across the trail, which was much more enjoyable clearing compared to all the brushing. The crew decided against bringing a chainsaw but I did bring my Fiskars chopping axe. The axe was good or Chris was good for the first two logs. When they came across the third they decided it could wait for another day.
And the one that got away.
After reaching the bottom, one part of the crew drove back to the tool shed to drop off the equipment while the others drove around to the top to retrieve the vehicles and the end of a very productive workday.
Dale S Crew
1) ‘Before’ photo featuring Peter; ‘after’ photo with Rebecca- the first tree (tan oak, as I recall).
2) Four before and after photos of site two.
3) No, this third tree was not cut with loppers, but with a Pulaski. Loppers are just for scale.
4) The view skyward during lunch.
The Basin Trail Crew started at Lane Camp off of China Grade and consisting of Aaron, Dave B., Dave P., Jan, Pete, Michelle, Dale S. and 1st timers, Rebecca and Tomas. After getting to Lane Camp, we gassed/oiled up a chain saw and headed off on Basin Trail. About .9 miles later we came to an 11” Knobcone pine that we quickly cleared off the trail. Fortunately there was no brushing for us on this trail.
With the trailed cleared, we headed back to Lane Camp, topped off the chain saw and headed out on Hollow Tree Trail, for two more reported trees. On the way to the first one, we found an extra credit 12" Tan Oak to clear. While Dave B., Dave P., Jan and Dale S. worked on this tree, the others headed on down the trail. Since we only had one Pulaski with us, and it went on down the trail, I stuck the tip of the saw bar on the first cut. Fortunately, we had a hand saw and freed my boo-boo. Two more cuts and the trail was clear.
Further down the trail the 1st reported tree had been chopped to clear the trail. Did I mention Sue got us a couple new, sharp, Pulaskis? Aaron and Peter went ahead and found the 8 inch tan oak. Peter got there first and used the brand new, sharp pulaski to hack off all the limbs. When Aaron got there, Peter said, I guess we'll wait for the chain saw, but Aaron wanted to hack away with his pulaski. It no time at all, he got through the 4-6" piece laying across the trail. Both of them then picked up the rest of the tree and muscled it off the trail, pivoting on the end that was still attached to the intact trunk. Peter was very happy to discover his brute-force soul mate.
They then moved on a couple hundred feet to the last tree on the list, a small tan oak with a lot of long branches across the trail. Once again, the pulaskis were all that was needed. David B. came by near the end and helped pull the last few branches off the trail.
We all met at the chopped tree for lunch. After lunch, it was back to the vehicles at Lane Camp and to the tool shed. It was about 2:30 when we got back to the tool shed and Dave P., Jan, Pete, and Michelle called it a day. We still had one more tree to clear on Hollow Tree Trail.
After regrouping and topping off the chain saw, Aaron, Dave B., Tomas, Rebecca and Dale S. headed up North Escape Rd. to where the road is closed at Sequoia Trail. From there we hiked to the kiosk at Skyline to the Sea Trail and out to Hollow Tree Trail to our last tree to clear.
It was about 4:00 when we got back to the tool shed.
The crew put in 158 hours and thanks to Norm Beeson, David Bryan, Michele Gelblum, Peter Gelblum, Jan Hill, Shyamal Kapadia, John Martin, Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, David Philleo, Aaron Poulos, Dale Stadelman, Mark Tiedens, Chris Young, and newcomers John Collins, Rebecca Robinson and Tomas Robinson, from both crews for being out on a spring like winter day.
By Mike, Dale S, and Jeff
Photos by Jan, Norm, Aaron, Dale S. and Mike