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Photographs are provided at the bottom of this web page. Video will be posted on Monday afternoon so check back then for video. Also other people may send in additional photographs so check back later for them.

Before work begins

01/Dec/07 - Soldier Creek Retaining Wall, Cedar Creek Work

It was a cold and foggy morning for the volunteers from a Buddhist Youth Group, Boy Scout Troop 1210, and Boy Scout Troop 636 who came out today to work on Solder Creek Trail and Cedar Creek Trail in the Crystal Lake Recreation Area of the Angeles National Forest. Many members of the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders participated, providing the tools and materials which would be used today.

After gathering tools at Rincon Fire Station, we headed up to the Crystal Lake Visitor Center, climbing through heavy clouds and low visibility.

Breakfast and lunch was provided and since I was planning on staying over night somewhere very cold, I grabbed enough orange juice and bananas for dinner as well. (Since lunch was some kind of animal carcass on toast --ha!-- I brought some excellent corn chips, habenero chili salsa, and green Spanish olives for my own lunch! Joy!)

There were two deer watching us having lunch. They were a bit camera shy and, in any event, the hid in the fog.

Everything went very well. Ben and the Buddhist Youth Group took tools to go work on Cedar Canyon / Cedar Creek Trail, making the trail safer to hike along and, I expect, making sure that any hanging deadfall trees that might constitute a safety hazard got pulled down. I didn't get to see what that effort looked like since I stayed with the other group of volunteers.

Trail gets worked

The larger group of volunteers had breakfast and then headed down the road a short distance to the amphitheater parking lot where a huge sugar pine had fallen, killed probably by bark beetle infestation. It's a good thing no humans or cars where standing under that pine otherwise they would have been smashed flat.

Many of the volunteers started clearing up the parking area, moving dead limbs and bark and generally cleaning up around the fallen pine so that parking would be easier. While that was going on the tools were extracted from vehicles and assembled so that volunteers could grab a tool and head toward the second work site on Soldier Creek Nature Trail.

The words for today were "motion" and "commotion." A lot of activity took place with the trail being worked on above and below where the retaining wall was being put in. The section where the welded wire baskets were to be installed was dug flat, T-rails were pounded into the ground, and the wire and bars were wired in to place.

Rocks were carried up and down the trail to fill in the wire basket and then dirt was placed on top of the rocks. Toward the end of that part of the day's project, boulders were pulled down from the hillside to act as corner stones on both sides of the new retaining wall.

The retaining wall looks great! I didn't get to see what Ben and the other group -- mostly the Buddhists Youth Group -- had accomplished on the first work site, unfortunately, but maybe Ben or one of the other volunteers will send in photographs of that part of the project.

Two vehicles containing volunteers spent the night in the campgrounds, freezing a bit I would expect since I certainly froze last night! The laptop computer in my backpack froze so that the computer wouldn't turn on, not even when I set it out in sunlight.

T-Railed get pounded

In the morning I swung by a storage shed, picked up some supplies, and dropped them off at one of the old structures across from where the volunteers had spent the night, then I set my bicycle in the sun to warm things up, packed up my things, and headed down the mountain.

On there way down around marker 20 there's a water company facility and I observed two people in a huge white pickup truck behaving strangely. I see a lot of strange things up there (mostly at night) but I couldn't figure out what the man was doing until I squinted a bit.

People do a LOT of strange things in the canyons since many seem to think that the rules and laws which try to make people safer no longer apply once one starts climbing up into the mountains.

The man had carried a newspaper-wrapped bundle out of the cab of the pickup truck, carried it to the base of the water facility fence, and had laid the bundle there. He saw me watching him very closely, looked extremely guilty, then when I crossed the road to see what he was doing, he picked up the bundle, placed it back into his pickup truck, and he and the passenger climbed in and they sped away kicking up dirt.

When I examined what they were up to I found that they had been placing soiled newspaper on the ground, setting rocks on them so that they wouldn't blow away. "Soiled" as in they had a dog in the cabin of their pickup truck and they had been cleaned it out by dumping their shit on the side of the road, leaving it for Forest Service people to have to clean up later.

We are done

I was struck once again by the stark bifurcation: Buddhists and Boy Scouts working hard -- I mean really hard! -- making things safe and enjoyable for others who enjoy the wilderness, doing something good for the community and something great for the environment. On the other end are a few rotten people who come up and literally shit on our nation's wilderness, virtually slapping everyone else in the face.

Our national forests belong to us, the people -- I hear that refrain from the U. S. Forest Service employees all the time, reiterating their own love of the forest and their commitment to trying to ensure a safe and enjoyable recreation for everyone.

When I see kids and adults volunteering like this, it makes me very happy -- more so when it's dragging kids away from their televisions, game boxes, and the Internet, out where exercise and fresh air can be found, doing something meaningful for the good of the coming generation.

God gods, I love this job!

* We gather at the market down in Azusa
* We gather at the market down in Azusa
* Tools are collected at Rincon Fire Station
* Tools are collected at Rincon Fire Station
* A helicopter travels overhead monitoring for fires
* Soe of the Boy Scout volunteers at Rincon Fire Station
* The Buddhist Youth Group have arived!
* Tools are loaded in to the back of pickups for the trip to the mountain
* Many of the volunteers waiting for everything to get going!
* The skies are dark and we will be getting fog
* We start to climb in to the fog
* Breakfast up at the Visitor Center at the Recreation Area
* The kitchen up there (closed) has some snow on the roof
* We gather in the fog for breakfast
* We gather in the fog for breakfast
* We gather in the fog for breakfast
* A fallen sugar pine gets cleared off of the parking area a bit
* A fallen sugar pine gets cleared off of the parking area a bit
* We assemble our tools down at the lower parking lot
* A first look at the area we will be installing a retaining wall
* The hillside that we will be working on
* Tools and equipment is placed a little away from the actual work site
* Work starts to get done!
* An area is flattened where the wired baskets will be laid down
* Bernie working in the cold and the fog
* Trail work gets done above and below the retaining wall
* Trail work gets done above and below the retaining wall
* A rope is used to get a fairly straight wall put in
* Metal T-rails are pounded in on the down slope of the retaining wall
* Trail work gets done below the retaining wall
* Trail work gets done below the retaining wall
* Lots of activity up and down the trail
* Much of the area has been burned in the Curve Fire along Soldier Creek
* T-rails get pounded in and then get cut off at the proper level
* T-rails get pounded in and then get cut off at the proper level
* My old canvas backpack gets used one more time
* A wide look at the trail work that has been accomplished so far
* The first of the welded wire baskets gets laid down
* The fog starts to lift a bit and we get some Sunlight
* Further up the mountains the fog is still heavy
* The wood bridge at Soldier Creek and Pinyon Ridge trails
* Fine wire mesh gets installed on top of the heavier welded wire
* Everything gets wired in t place with pliers
* More fine wire mesh gets laid down and wired in to place
* I have lunch at the first fallen tree further down the trail
* After lunch we take a look at how the retaining wall is coming along
* I find a place to sit above it all while I relax
* The Boy Scout in charge strikes a pose for the camera! Ha!
* One of the adult volunteers gets caught no camera moving rocks
* We form a line up and down the trail to move rocks to the baskets
* The baskets are filled up with rocks
* The baskets are filled up with rocks
* We form a line up and down the trail to move rocks to the baskets
* Dirt is raked on top of the rocks on top of the wire
* Two young volunteers
* Two young volunteers
* Bron, Lou and others watch as Mike levers down an end boulder
* You can see the finished retaining wall really well here
* This project is nearly completed
* Trail work up and down the trail starts to come to an end
* Back up at the parking lot
* The project is completed so we'll be collecting our tools
* I get some photographs of volunteers waiting to pack it in and go home
* I get some photographs of volunteers waiting to pack it in and go home
* Bernie, Ben, and Mike. Ben holds T-rails that we didn't need to use
* Tom steps through the picture and Lou can be seen
* A better look at the sugar pine that fell in to the parking lot
* More discussions about the project as tools are re-assembled
* More discussions about the project as tools are re-assembled
* The scout in charge talks with another volunteer
* Two more volunteers coe out of the wilderness
* Saturday night I spend the night and watch as the fog comes back in
* We'll get some additional snow this night though not very much
* The fog rolls in a takes the rest of the light
* Saturday morning I take another look at the retaining wall
* Saturday morning I take another look at the retaining wall
* Computer's battery froze so I set it in the Sun to warm up
* And one last look at the retaining wall before I head down
* My bicycle is covered in ice so I'll set that out in the Sun as well
* I pack up my backpack and get ready to head down
* The Sun has come out but it's still 35 degrees
* One last look at the Crystal Lake Recreation Area Visitor Center
* The San Gabriel River is almost completely dried up

High resolution photographs: 207 megabytes worth!

* We gater in the parking lot down the bountain in Azusa
* The Boy Scout in charge of the project gives a safety meeting
* Waiting for everyone who is going to show up
* Almost everyone is ready, we wait until 8:00 a.m. before leaving
* At the Rincon Fire Station we gather the wire basket materials
* The basket is cut in to measured sections at Rincon
* As you can see, we have a lot of basket material to chose from!
* Another look at the basket cutting preliminary work
* Another look at the basket cutting preliminary work
* The Crystal Lake Visitor Center in the fog
* The Crystal Lake snack bar and grill
* As is usual, we stand around and waste time before we get going. }:-}
* Bron covers some of the project requirements, deer hidden in the background
* Pausing for photographs on the rock bridge in the fog
* A falen tree in the parking lot needs to be cleaned up before we can park
* Collecting some of the tools to be used
* Starting down Soldier Creek trail
* Close up of the trailhead signs
* A quick look at the wood bridge that leads to Pinyon Ridge
* Walking down Soldier Creek. This section of the trail will be worked
* T-Rails will be used to hold the basket in place while rocks are filled in
* The start of the basket section gets cleared of dirt, and rocks get collected
* Bron points to where he thinks the basket should be placed
* We get to work. I set my back pack down (the far left of the photographs)
* It's not exactly an etirely safe trail section before we begin
* The trail is made generally level so that we can work safely
* Working on the trail
* The Boy Scout Eagle candidate keeps watch of the project
* The Boy Scout Eagle candidate keeps watch of the project
* Meanwhile further up the trail near the wood bridge, work gets done
* Most volunteers are bundled up due to the cold weather
* Working on the trail near the wood bridge
* Working on the trail near the wood bridge
* Working on the trail near the wood bridge
* Working on the trail near the wood bridge
* The Eagle candidate watches all work being done on the project from end to end
* Boulders and rocks that can be used are saved away and moved later
* Rocks being collected up along the hillside
* The first T-rails are set in to place and line to used to mark the edge
* Trail work continues on either side of the basket going in
* Rocks to be used to fill the basket are collected and piled up
* Rocks are brought to the site from all along the trail and the hillside
* Fog coes and goes so some photographs look a little foggy
* Tom (San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders) gives a T-Rail a pounding
* Tom gives a T-Rail another pounding
* Tom gives a T-Rail another pounding
* Another volunteer takes up pounding in the T-Rails
* Another volunteer takes up pounding in the T-Rails
* Volunteers use saws to trim T-Rails to a specific height
* Cutting T-Rails was actually hard work since the saws weren't quite right
* Close up of the T-Rail cutting with saws
* Taking a pause to look at the forest in the fog
* Soe large boulders are brought down the hillside to be used for ends
* Hillside boulders are gently dropped on to the trail to be used later
* Soe boulders are too large to move without a grip hoist
* This boulder is eventually abandoned
* The Eagle candidate looks at the effort to excavate the boulder
* A wider loko at the basket part of the trail effort so far
* A closer look at the basket work
* A closer look at the basket work
* A closer look at the basket work
* A closer look at the basket work
* Another look at the fog-wrapped Pinyon Ridge in the distance
* Another look at the fog-wrapped Pinyon Ridge in the distance
* Another look at the fog-wrapped Pinyon Ridge in the distance
* We pause for lunch
* We pause for lunch
* We pause for lunch
* We pause for lunch
* We pause for lunch
* Back at work, the first wire basket gets bent in to shape and wired in place
* A lot of wire is used to secure the basket to the T-Rails
* An angle rail is used along the top of the basket and wired in to place
* Rocks get placed to hold the basket down
* Many rocks are used to fill the entire backet and then sand is filled in
* A closer look at the rock filling part of the project
* Stepping back a couple of feet to take a look
* A side view of the basket and the rock fillig operation
* One part gets rocks, the rest continue to be wired down in to place
* A whole lot of rock is needed to fill that much volune
* Another look on the side of the basket
* Bron watches boulders being brought down from the hillside above
* Rocks get placed along the foot of the basket first
* The dirt heaped up against the hillside gets raked on to of the rocks
* Boulders for end points start to get put in to place
* Lou (San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders) looks at one end point
* Still work to be done. I watch (yellow hard hat) the boulder moves for safety
* A line of volunteers are used to move rocks along the trail to the basket
* Soe times soeone drops out of the line and rocks stop moving
* The other end of the basket is almost completely filled in
* The rock line continue to move rocks in to the basket fairly quickly
* Pretty much the same as the previous photograph
* I worry about the boulder up on the hill being excavated since it's not safe
* But then again, I do look rather rugged and handsom leaning on a McLoud }:-}
* A boulder gets placed on one end of the basket to cap the end off
* Just adding the end pieces is a difficult job in itself
* Another boulder is moved in to place for the end cap
* Rock bars can be used to move boulders but it's at times easier by hand
* The boulder I was worried about gets slowly moved down the hillside
* That boulder was hard work
* We don't want to crush anyone down below with the boulder
* Bron joins me in keeping volunters out fron under the boulder being moved
* You can see what rocks and boulders are available on the hillside
* I think it took something like 2 hours to get that boulder down
* Most of the work has been accomplished
* Here is what the trail looks like before the last end cap is placed
* We start packing up our tools and equipment, I put on my backpack with rope
* A side look at the basket before we head back to the parking lot
* Sun glare kind of fades this photograph out
* Most of the volunteers have started back to the parking lot
* Bron, Lou, and older volunteers clown around a bit for the camera
* The Eagle candidate and Bron
* The Eagle candidate and Bron
* The Eagle candidate and Bron
* The Eagle candidate and his parents, I think
* The Eagle candidate and his parents, I think
* Some final looks at the finished basket
* Some final looks at the finished basket
* Some final looks at the finished basket -- Looks great!
* Back at the parking lot before heading back down to Rincon Fire Station
* Good gods! Who is that amazingly handsom, rugged individual?! Me.
* And one more photograph before we're finished for the day
* I catch someone dumping dog shit and newspapers on the side of the road

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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