Tom and I over the side

Today the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders returned to Upper Bear Creek and the section of the trail that is missing to determine whether the trail needed to be routed around the failed section or whether the existing section can be restored. I got to climb ropes! Joy. And only nearly fell to my death once or twice.

During the previous survey we encountered metal rebar in the trail along the way so today we brought tools with us to remove the old rebar which constituted a tripping hazard. It took a lot of effort to get all of the metal rods removed but eventually the rods were added to the team's spare parts bin. We'll use that metal for other projects.

The missing section was once again examined in some detail and sections of the rock face were chipped apart with a pick ax to test the possibility of using explosives or expansion materials to remove enough of the rock to re-establish the trail.

Additionally crew volunteers climbed up the cliff face to the East of the mission section to examine the possibility of using placing safety equipment for volunteers to crack apart and remove a large part of the rock face.

Over the side

Eventually we got down to actually tackling the shelf of jutting friable granite rock at the base of the bulge on the rock face, working to see how much of it we could remove with just the tools we had brought with us. Not surprisingly we managed to remove enough that a REASONABLY safe passage was made.

What we found was that people had been crossing the missing section any way (we found their foot prints on the far side of the gap) despite the fact that we had placed a barricade and a rope across the trail. In fact some stupid shit STOLE our rope since when we got there it was missing.

The issue is always one of safety. People were crossing the gap despite the danger and despite the fact that a note at the trailhead indicated that the trail was out just past the 2 mile mark. We made the trail much safer to cross the gap however doing so still means that hikers must use their hands to cling to the rock face while crossing the gap.

While we were working there were four hikers that came through, two of which cross the gap prior to our efforts to make the crossing safer despite my recommending that they don't attempt it. The other two hikers climbed down into the ravine below, crossed, and then climbed up the far side -- which was also rather dangerous.

The final rock

We came up with something like five good ideas on how we might get the trail safe and usable once again, and all suggested methods will be presented to the U. S. Forest Service and hopefully a decision will be made. If the USFS blasts, the Trailbuilders will come up and clean the results up and rebuild the trail. I HOPE that they blast and allow me to video tape it since explosions makes good theature.

But as it stands, the trail can be used by experienced and careful hikers, it seems to me in my opinion, but the missing section of the trail should probably not be crossed by young kids or adults who don't have a lot of practice rock climbing. Hikers should consider the trail to still be out and I wouldn't recommend that anyone cross the gap.

In all it was another great day to be out and getting exercise. We didn't do nearly as much actual work as we normally like to do but at least we got some things accomplished.

* At Rincon Fire Station we assemble and collect our tools
* Removing the first of the metal rebar tripping hazards
* Removing the rebar wasn't exactly easy
* I had hoped that we would get a lot of freezing rain
* Tom on the trail
* The last bar of rebar was the hardest to remove
* Lou heads up the trail while we work on removing the rebar
* Here is what the trail section looked like before work on the area
* The section isn't useable, not with any degree of safety
* Tom gets out his climbing harness and ropes
* Tom and I go over the edge to examine possibly using baskets below
* Lou and another volunteer send down a pick ax
* I'm on the white rope while Tom picks at the fractured rock below me
* I worked my way further West while Tom examines the rock below
* On the West side of the gap
* I go searching for drinkable water
* This section of the trail burned during the Curve Fire
* There is very little snow still around at 4100 feet
* There is very little snow still around at 4100 feet
* Rain clouds came and went but didnt' driop anything near us, alas
* You can see a section of the trail off in the distance
* More clouds coming in but no rain. I wanted rain
* Just beyond the gap there is a tree that must be cut up and removed
* The tree further up the slope. Need safety gear to remove this
* Here is the West side of the gap. We'll remove most of that rock
* Some snow along the trail to the West of us
* Several volunteers climb up to examine possible new routes for the trail
* Lunch time! Lou takes a break
* A look at the general area from a distance
* I filled my water container from this stream
* Lots of water was coming down and forming pools.
* If we need to work in this area, we might use this water
* Lots of water falls along this ravine. Water meets up later with others
* We do some work on the West side of the rock
* We do some work on the West side of the rock
* Here's the final gap after we do a lot of work on it
* Here's me!
* On the way down we look at possible routes for a new bypass trail
* That ravine would be difficult to work with
* Tom build this rock wall about 10 years ag
* Off in the distance to the East there is a lot of snow
* A long section of Bear Creek Trail can be seen here
* Ben walking down the trail
* Back at Rincon and the tool bin. Tom build the tool racks

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map

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