The first month of Spring brought out 10 crew members, which shows the level of support we have been getting! . Four of our regular crew members unable to make the April workday so we had our smallest turnout since last summer.
During the usual morning gathering we received word of a large tree down on the Sunset Trail about a mile from the Sunset Trail Camp, so we decided to break into two groups with five people driving out Gazos Creek (that would be an adventure itself!) to the trail camp to deal with the new report while the remainder would continue the work from last month on the large tree laying length ways along North Escape Rd.
Mike and Dale's Crew: No Escape
Dale P, Dale S., Norm, John C., and Mike drove out towards China Grade on 236 and then back in about a mile on N. Escape Rd to find the tree just we left last month, sitting right in the middle of the road. The end of the tree had buried itself in the road pavement, so the concern was not to damage the saws by hitting asphalt.
After discussion of doing horizontal cuts and taking it out by slabs, it was determined the easiest approach was to make a series of vertical cuts until the saw started to bind and then literally chip the sections using pulaskis, axes, wedges and a peavey to pry the sections loose.
Needless to say the work was slow, but we made progress with the realization that we would not be able to clear the area enough for vehicles to pass, but would provide easier passage for hikers and bicyclists, many of whom passed as we worked.
The tree is in a redwood forest area and the Marbled Murrelet noise restrictions will be in effect for our next work day, so park staff will need to decide if they want to remove the remainder by hand or wait until fall when chainsaws can again be used.
Chris' Crew: Sunset Trail Camp
We learned of a Doug Fir blocking the Sunset trail between Berry Creek Falls trail and Timms Creek. The report, arriving the day before, did not give a diameter for the tree but it did state that it was very challenging to get around it. David P, Janette, Jonathan, new comer Ryan and myself headed out to take care of it. We drove up Gazos creek fire road. The state of the fire road was unknown at headquarters so we were prepared to hit some blockages. We didn't have long to wait with out first find was an impressive widow maker. We cleared that one pretty easily by sliding the pieces off the road.
The next one down the road included two tan oaks. One about 8 inches and the other 10. Time for chainsaws. About a half hour later the road was clear.
As we made our way to Sunset it seemed to take forever with another blockage.
Then we came upon this a larger fir that had fallen in the woods and caused six smaller trees for fall across the road. Back to work! This one took about an hour to clear but it cleaned up good!
By this time I was hoping we could get to the trail camp in time for lunch! I kept my fingers crossed that we would drive uninterrupted the rest of the way. No such luck. Oddly it looked liked someone had already done some chainsaw work but left big pieces in the road.
And then another fallen tree a Madrone. We cleared those bits up and finally had smooth sailing. We stopped for a minute to admire the tree house at the White House/Sandy Point Gate.
We drove threw a number of gates and I was glad that our key worked for them. We made it down to Sunset Trail Camp and at lunch a little after 1pm. We kept lunch short and hiked east along Sunset in search of the tree. We saw many hikers for what was a usual busy Saturday in the park. Seeing our tools in hand they told us the tree was ahead waiting for us. It turned to be about one mile in and it was a whopper a 48 inch diameter Doug Fir. I had the 24" saw with me and that bar lenght was just enough to do the job. Unfortunately we didn't get there until 2pm.
The saw was cutting well but the going was slow as I had to make lots of smaller cuts to avoid binding the saw. Around 4pm I had to concede that we would not finish that day.
Janette went brushing along Sunset up to Timms Creek and back. Dave took a McLeod and went to clean up some stairs at Golden Falls. Ryan, Jon and I worked on the tree. Ryan and Jon took turns breaking out pieces out of the trunk. I had brought my chopping axe but we really should have brought the Pulaski (which we left in the car at Sunset camp, oops!). Just past 5pm we called it quits since we had to hike back out and then drive back to HQ and here's how it looked at the end of the day
We hiked back and drove out without incident. We got back to the tool shed at 7pm. Long day but I wish we had another 2 hours! With the noise restrictions going into effect, dealing with what is left over will be that much harder. Still we left feeling good about what we had accomplished. First time Ryan even said he'd be back next month. He sounds like a keeper!
The crew put in 115 hours with the No. Escape Crew returning around 5 and the Sunset Crew finished around 7. Thanks to Norm Beeson, John Collins, John Martin, Janette Mello, Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, David Philleo, Dale Stadelman, Chris Young, and new comer Ryan Townsend and it’s great that Ryan is planning to come out again – if this month 11 hour day couldn’t scare him away I can’t imagine what would. Although one of the longest days there was a day working on the Schulz Bridge where we finished after dark, which was around 9pm.
By Mike, Chris, and Jeff
Photos by Mike and Chris