Sometimes the impact of our work is immediately apparent as when a tree blocking a trail is removed or passersby say thank you, but other times it is less obvious. The April workday was one of our longest in several years. The crew that headed out to the Sunset Trail Camp had to stop and clear numerous blockages on Gazos Creek Fire Rd. The impact of this routine work was apparent during the May workday when park staff received a report of a smoldering illegal campfire at the trail camp with rangers and CDF units raced out to check on things. If not for the work of the April crew in clearing the road the response time to the fire would have been much longer!
As for this month's work, we had nine people out and were able to split into two crews and cover issues on the Eagle Rock, Basin, Eastridge and Dool Trails, along with stripping the bark from four redwood bollards that will be used in campground parking areas.
Jan's Work at McCrary Ridge
I worked on two trees on McCrary Ridge Trail during the first week of May. I was able to remove one completely (5 foot width) although aesthetically it should be cut back farther. It was about a mile up the trail from Skyline to the Sea junction. It is in the lower photo.
The other fallen tan oak is still on the trail but I’m not sure if it is worth anyone hiking that far with a chain saw. Now a horse can easily step over it. It is an 11 inch diameter tree, which I was only able to limb and cut at one end. I’m not sure if I ran out of time or arm strength! It was about a third of a mile higher up the trail. (Maybe 1.4 miles from Skyline to the Sea intersection with McCrary Ridge Trail).
Mike's Crew on Eastridge
After the Eagle Rock folks headed out for the drive to the top of the trail, the remainder of the crew (Herman, Norm, John M, Mike, Aaron and Ryan) stayed back at park headquarters to work on the redwood bollards. It took about 90 minutes to complete all four using draw knives and at the end they were all ready for installation.
After completing the bollard work, we headed over to the Dool Trail to check on an illegal hillside cut and a tree blocking the nearby Middle Ridge Fire Rd. The tree had been removed by the time we got there, but the hillside cut on Dool just above Gazos Creek was there. It was a fairly steep, 30ft section that perhaps saved 20 seconds if hikers had stayed on the trail.
It was pretty well defined, so had been there a while. We initially pulled duff over the path, then dispersed several large branches/logs over the stretch and then added tan oak and huckleberry cuttings so it no longer looked like a trail.
After lunch we stopped at the tool shed, but the Eagle Rock crew had returned and left a note saying they would take care of the Basin Trail issues, so we headed up to Eastridge Trail off Lodge Road to remove two small trees by hand before getting back to the tool shed at 3:30.
Chris' Crew at Eagle Rock
Dale S., John C. and myself headed out to the top of Eagle trail Saturday to remove the tree that we left behind in February, this time with chainsaw in hand.
The fire lookout at the top of Eagle Rock had been vandalized the week before, damaging the electrical box to the radio repeater. As such the park staff had been running a generator up there to keep the radio functioning until maintenance could get up there to make a repair. Susan asked us to top off the gas for the generator since we'd be up there which we were happy to do. Unfortunately, when we got there we found that our gate key would not unlock the door to the equipment house. Either we had the wrong key or the vandalism to the door had jammed the lock. Park staff were on their own for that one.
We headed down the trail. Even though we had brushed it in February the warm weather had caused a growth spurt of poison oak. We trimmed back some but a more thorough brushing is necessary to keep it away from hikers. Before too long we came to the log and with three cuts the trail was clear.
John spotted a dead tree broken off leaning onto the trail so we took a few minutes to remove it.
We hiked further down, thinking there was another tree that needed clearing. However, we got to the bridge with nothing in sight. At that point we decided that Dale and John would continue down to Little Basin with the gear and packs while I went back up to get the car and meet them at the bottom. I rendezvoused with them just after noon and we had lunch together. Dale and John reported the rest of the trail had been clear.
We drove back to headquarters and arrived back at the tool shed at 1pm. Janie, absent last Saturday, had reported some trees down on the Basin trail. We left a note for Mike and Norm's team that we were going to handle it and then drove up 236 to China grade to look for the three downed trees. We parked at the Skyline to the Sea trail intersection and hiked up the Basin trail. About a mile up we found the first tree and again three cuts with the chainsaw we were on our way.
The report indicated that two more trees should be within a mile of the first we found. We hiked pretty far up towards Lane Camp and were thinking we missed it when we found some cut rounds and a bunch of sawdust. Somebody had beat us to it. A bit of a mystery who it might have been.
We were a stone's throw from China grade so we climbed up to the road and hiked down to the car on the blacktop for easy walking. We were back to the tool shed a little after 3pm.
The crew put in 77 hours and a big thanks to Herman Aster, Norm Beeson, John Collins, John Martin, Mike Peasland, Aaron Poulos, Dale Stadelman, Ryan Townsend and Chris Young on a nice spring day.
by Jan, Mike, Chris, and Jeff
photos by Jan Mike, Norm, Chris