FEB 2019: 3 Crews Worked on STS and Fire Roads to Sandy Point

The February workday included our first full trail scouting report of the winter from Kurt Leal, but the weather forecast called for rain in the afternoon so we decided to split into three crews in order to cover as many areas as possible. Dale P and David P drove out Johansen Fire Rd from Lane Trail Camp to the Sandy Point area to deal with many issues along the road, Chris, John C. and Janie, worked on clearing a large 48” Doug Fir on STS just beyond Creeping Forest, and the remainder handled problems further along STS and hopefully the upper Hollow Tree and Meteor Trails.

Chris’ Crew Work on STS

Nice and straightforward work day today.  John Collins, Janie and myself tackled the 48" Doug Fir that fell on Skyline to the Sea (STS) just north of the Creeping Forest intersection.  


We used the Maria King Saw, AKA Big Bertha (Howard King gave Maria the saw as a wedding gift) and liberal use of wedges and supports to avoid binding the saw, which I am pleased to report that we were successful.  The first cut was the trickiest as the weight of the downhill trunk pushed the cut end up while the uphill side wanted to drop, causing a shearing action that almost stuck the saw but some wedges and wiggling freed it quickly.  

Bertha behaved very well and ran smoothly throughout.  We cleared the trail by 1:30.

Howard King was instrumental in saving the Berry Creek falls area from development. He would also fit right with BBVTC.

After his retirement from Hewlett-Packard in 1971, King devoted his full attention to the forests. When a 1974 snowstorm blew down hundreds of trees in Big Basin, King -- then in his late 60s -- worked 10 hours a day, five days a week for four months clearing the park's trails (source Los Angles Times, July 09, 2003).


We then met back up with Mike's team that had finished clearing two more sites up the trail and were ready to head back to the shed.  The rain had held off but some drops were starting to fall.  We abandoned the idea of heading up to the top of Meteor and thought those could wait until next month.  

We did however clean up a tan oak that had fallen just passed the bridge near the Old Lodge at headquarters and that was a nice finish to a short but productive day.  

Mike’s Crew on STS

Mike's crew started the day by joining Chris, John and Janie, to survey the large Doug Fir on STS to see if it was something we could handle and although it looked bigger than it appeared in the scouting report it was agreed that since we had the Big Bertha chainsaw with us we could take care of it. 

After the big tree crew got started, Mike's crew moved further along STS to easily remove a tangle of small/medium tan oaks with the most difficult task being the usual hiding the debris.

After that, we hiked about the halfway point between the tool shed and Maddock's Cabin Site to remove what looked to be a 'big' 2-ft  Doug fir blocking the trail. The first couple of cuts went well, but then during an undercut the chainsaw became wedged in the tree. 

Tugging and pulling had little effect and the area was basically a mudhole so no one was excited about the idea of laying on the ground and using a handsaw to free the saw. Removing the head seemed like a good idea, but that only freed the bar while the chain remained wedged in the cut.

At this point a quick trip back to the car we got a new bar and chain so we were back in business. The remainder of the work went smoothly along with some fun rolling the rounds off to the side of the trail. 

As we ate a late lunch it began to drizzle and after checking with the big tree crew it was decided it was getting too wet to start another major project. We removed one more small tan oak near the tool shed and called it a day just as the rain began to increase.

Dale P’s Crew worked on Fire Road to Sandy Point

Dale P and David P drove up China Grade and out along Johansen to the Sandy Point area to clear numerous fire road issues that Kurt Leal found on his recent snow day hike out there. Thanks to Mr Leal we had great detailed report and map.   We cleared all 10 downfalls Kurt documented and 2 - 3 others we found along the way.

Dale used 3 tanks of gas with a fairly new chain, which came off once.  At tree 7 or 8 the chainsaw got pinched.  When we used the hand saw to free it the tree came down on the chainsaw driving it about 8 inches in to the mud.  We dug it out with a Pulaski and continued to use it to finish that tree and the ones that were still to come.  That is one tough little saw.  That little Homelite did very well.  I think our out and back on Johansen was 5 miles.  The temperature stayed at 40 degrees for most of the day!  Good working weather except for the cold fingers.  

Dale's truck almost got stuck on the turnaround and spun to a muddy stop on a steep hill, so Dale, had plan B: tire chains. As David mentioned, getting the truck out of the slick clay road was rather dicey.  We lost traction on one of the hills and came to a complete stop.  Fortunately I brought the tire chains and we made it the rest of the way with a lot of slipping and sliding and driving like a maniac.  A bicycle rider came by as we were putting the chains on and offered to notify the rangers we were stuck so they could come rescue us, which was a nice gesture.  Once the chains were on it was still dicey, but we made the steepest grades as Dale drove like a madman to keep up the momentum.  Quite the adventure!   

Also, there was a place where a tree had fallen across the road.  It had been cleared but the opening was very narrow.  My truck only cleared by about 4 inches on each side.  This needs to be widened.  The tree is about 2 feet in diameter.It was a consistent light rain after noon and dang, those wet Tan Oak logs are heavy! We worked until 2:30 by which time the rain was becoming pretty consistent.

The crews put in 75 hours and thanks to John Collins, Laurie King, Janie Liefhelm, Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, David Philleo, Aaron Poulos, Yagya Regmi, Chris Young, and newcomer Marcy Beard who heard of us through the SC Mtns Trail Assoc. website.

by: Chris, Mike, Dale P, David P, and Jeff

photos by: Chris, Arron, Laurie, David P, and Mike