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Working along Lower Bear Creek Trail

The best laid plans of mice, as the saying goes. Some days the plans of the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders are thwarted at every move, Nature Herself having the ultimate say-so in the affairs of... well, of Mice and Men.

The plan for the day was to meet with volunteers from Cal Poly Pomona to work on clearing and widening the Lower Bear Creek Trail. We met at the U. S. Forest Service Gateway Information Center and from there we left promptly at 8:00 and headed North up the mountain to the Rincon Fire Station where we collected our tools and equipment before climbing back in to our vehicles and heading to Bear Creek.

Upon reaching Bear Creek we had our daily safety meeting which covered the use of the tools and equipment brought along for the day's volunteer effort, covering the local flora and fauna that might be of concern to people who wanted to avoid being stung, bit, poked, or rubbed up against, then we collected our tools and set out for the trailhead.

We knew that the river would be raging due to reports of water levels covering some parts of the trail entirely. Checking the trailhead under the bridge we saw that it was clear so the volunteers took to the trail, working along the trail cutting back brush, removing tripping hazards and things up to the first river crossing.

Well, looking at the heavy water flow we decided that in order to get over 40 people safely across it would have taken about 90 minutes and because two people had drowned on the two days previous, we decided to work out way back to the trailhead, return to our vehicles and head to Heaton Flats instead.

The first part of Heaton Flats had seen Trailbuilder work previously up to the first saddle so we decided to break the volunteers in to roughly two groups, one which would head about 1.2 miles to the first Saddle and then work the trail up to and beyond the Sheep Mountain Designated Wilderness.

Sheep Mountain Designated Wilderness

Much of the work that was done today consisted of widening the trail, removing the berm from the edge of the trail so that water can drain off, uprooting plants growing along the trail, and cutting back brush.

Some sections of the trail got a great deal of work done on them with dedicated volunteers adopting the section and working on it to completion while much of the work done by volunteers was somewhat spotty, volunteers deciding to cover more distance to attack the more significant problems along the trail as they were encountered.

In all a great deal of work got accomplished in a fairly short period of time and the volunteers should be happy in their accomplishments since the entire trail from the trailhead all the way past the Wilderness boundary are cleared of all significant problems, the trail is now in a good condition.

This may be the last time this year that Heaton Flats gets attention from the Trailbuilders. Most of the work that still needs to be done from the first Saddle, up to the Wilderness and beyond consists of uprooting Yerba Santa.

And what fun it was, too! Not too hot, not too cold, and the water along the way made it possible to dip one's hard hat in to it and dump it over one's head, cooling off and taking a badly needed break from the day's fun.

* Cal Poly Pomona volunteers gather at the Rincon Fire Station
* Tools and equipment ar collected at the Fire Station
* Lower Bear Creek is flowing high and fast
* At Bear Creek we go through the daily safety meeting
* Ben covers the tools, the local flora and fauna and the Job Hazard Analysis
* Cal Poly students pay attention :)
* Parked along West Fork just shy of the the trailhead
* Clouds threaten to move in which means we keep an eye on possible rain
* Ben demonstrates tool usage, this one a McLeod
* We work along Lower Bear Creek Trail to the first river crossing
* At the Heaton Flats trailhead we collect our tools again
* Water along Heaton Flats Trail
* Far off in the distance we rise above Sutter Road
* We reach the first saddle and take a look at what needs to be done
* The Trailbuilder's most handsom volunteer member LOL!
* It's about time for a lunch break in the shade
* Looking off in to the distance toward the San Gabriel River
* Parts of the trail get worked and plants get removed
* BEFORE -- notice how the bayonet yucca caused the trail to move
* AFTER -- Removing the dead yucca and re-establishing the trail as it was
* We enter the Sheep Mountain Designated Wilderness
* Major amounts of brush was cut back using loppers
* This long section of trail was worked on by a single volunteer -- awesome!
* On the way back down at the end of the day's efforts

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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