After the May turnout of nine it looked like the crew had settled into our slower summer season, but the June workday saw a great turnout of 18 including seven newcomers, which is always nice to see. The day got off to a slow start as we completed the paperwork for the first time folks and handed out Trail Crew 50th anniversary t-shirts to the regulars, but we finally got untracked and split into two crews. The first crew would make our annual visit to the Eagle Rock Trail above Little Basin while the other planned to clear a reported 2-ft Tan Oak on East Ridge Trail behind the Blooms Creek Campground and then hike Last Chance Trail.
Chris’ Crew work on the Eagle Rock Trail
We drove up to Eagle Rock trailhead to address 7 trees reported by Kurt Leal that were in various states of blocking the path. We left Dale S car at the bottom of Little Basin Road and then we all piled into two trucks with Dale P and new guy Mike S. driving to the trailhead. We got all the way to the gate at Eagle Rock when I realized I didn't have my key on me. Thank goodness Dale P did so disaster averted. We drove up to the trailhead and took a group photo at the top.
The first tree down was right at the trail head and D1 made pretty quick work of it with his trusty Homelite. John Martin volunteered to be the poison oak guy. Armed with a set of loppers and a bunch of Technu wipes he courageously cut back the abundance of poison oak that was encroaching onto the trail. Half of us went ahead to do chainsaw work while the other half nobly did brushing.
I cut up a small Knobcone Pine for my first job. Dale P leapfrogged past to deal with the 20" Doug Fir. Luckily the fir was very rotten which made for easy cutting. Dale P finished the cut but his pull cord broke off on engine start. He decided to hike back up to his truck and then drive down to Little Basin. He had tools in his truck for fixing his saw and we had the crews' 24" so he would just walk his way up and meet us later.
There was a small tan oak next that Carlos, Dale S, Dave and I took care of. Dale S did a little trail grooming with the McLeod and Pulaski he was carrying and Dave did some brushing. Carlos and I removed a log partially blocking the trail and then Carlos got the satisfaction of cutting a small tree in half with a hand saw. Perfect experience for his first time!
Below the bridge we found the main work for the trail, three tan oaks in a jumble blocking the way. We set to clearing and were joined by Dale P who had hiked his way up. When we had the trail clear we took out our lunches and waited for the rest of the team to work their way down from brushing.
They had stopped for lunch at the bridge so by the time they had arrived we were rested and fed and ready to move on. There were 3 smaller trees across the trail that Dale P reported coming across on the way up. Two right next to each other gave Aaron a good reason to swing a Pulaski a bit. The third D1 had done solo with a hand saw.
We hiked the last bit back to the, now 2, vehicles at the trail terminus. Dale P took half the group back to the tool shed directly. Dale S drove John, MIke, Rob and myself back to Eagle Rock to get Mike's truck. Dale S bid us a fond farewell from the top while the rest of us drove back to the tool shed to end the day. Great weather and a great turnout.
Mike’s Crew on East Ridge
Before heading out to East Ridge, we looked at the Murrelet noise restriction map and it appeared the tree was just within the high noise area, so we brought a chainsaw with us to speed the work, or so we thought. The Crew parked their vehicles in the small turnout at Hihn Hammond and Pine Mountain Fire Rd and made a 20 minute hike to where we found what we were looking for - not just a tree blocking the trail but a tangle of brush that completely covered any sign of the path.
After determining which way the trail actually went (and being thankful for the yellow crew shirts so we could see each) we started the task of removing and hiding all the debris so we could begin work on the trunk itself which blocked the trail.
It seems like often the first cut on any tree presents the most problems and in this case the saw became jammed when it was about 90 percent through the trunk. Being far into the cut, the bar had a lot of weight on it and was firmly wedged and no amount of twisting or pulling was going to free it. It took about an hour of chipping, cutting, and jumping on the trunk, but the saw finally came free; just minutes before a rescue chainsaw arrived.
The remainder of the work went smoothly as each cut round was rolled to an area near the trail and covered with leaves and when the last round was rolled into place we dropped an overhanging branch onto the hiding spot so it was virtually invisible. In the end what had been a frustrating work at times turned out to be one of our better all round efforts with the slash hidden well off trail, the rounds camouflaged so hikers would have no idea they were there, and the trail groomed afterwards. When all was finished it was difficult to image the trail was impassable just hours before.
Since the work took longer than expected and several crew members needing to leave early, we decided to save the Last Chance Trail work for another day and headed back at the tool shed.
The crew put in 140 hours and thanks to John Collins, Michele and Peter Gelblum, John Martin, Mike Peasland, Dale Petersen, David Philleo, Aaron Poulos, Michael Rickels, Dale Stadelman and Chris Young from the regular crew and newcomers Carlos Caceres, Michael Carilli, Sadie Collins, Daniel Kroeger, Rob Mann, Justin Rhode, and Michael Rodriguez, from both crews for coming out.
by Chris and Mike
photos by Chris and Mike