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Measure Many Times

Greetings, Everyone! Yesterday was a busy day working on the new rock spillway along Pinyon Ridge Trail and also working to remove a downed tree inside of the stone culvert that runs along side the stairs leading down to Crystal Lake. Today was "part 2" of the fun!

Today we laid out the wood being used to build the Laurel Gulch bridge, making careful measurements over and over again to make sure that the two main support beams were as close to properly aligned as possible before the tread boards were drilled, screwed in to place, and numbered.

The idea is to assemble as much of the bridge as is reasonable there at the Rincon Fire Station, doing our measurements, drilling, and bolting the bridge together, staging it up on the apron concrete at Rincon where we have electrical power and all of our tools.

After we are sure that everything is right, we'll disassemble much of the bridge so that when we're finished we're left with a partially assembled bridge that weighs about what the helicopter can carry but is also strong enough to survive air transport without falling apart.

About half way through that project, Jeanette, Stephen and I got some tools and headed up to Crystal Lake so that we could get some better photographs of yesterday's rock spillway work. Since it was dark and raining yesterday we thought we would try to get better photographs and also take a look at the recently completed rock bridge that spans the gully at the Lake Trail trailhead.

Rock spillway

On the drive up we talked with police officers and with Fish and Game wardens who keep patrolling the campgrounds because poachers have been coming up every day.

Poachers will set fires, shoot around fortest volunteers, and do other insane things so I was really glad to see so many cops out collecting all the poachers, taking away their rifles, beating them up really, really badly, and then carting them off to jail. Happy!

Cleaning up the rock culvert that had been unclogged yesterday was another difficult effort. Upon reaching the stairway we found that the night's rain had gone a long way toward clearing out the culvert of leaves and shattered bark however there was an accumulation of mud and rocks that needed to be removed, and the bigger problem of the damaged metal sluice box needed to be worked on.

The tree that had fallen had mostly wound up resting inside of the stone culvert yet the upper end had broken off when it hit the ground, slamming in to the corrugated metal sluice box, pinching the entry way pretty much closed. That section -- weighing about four hundred pounds -- then came to rest right up against the sluice box.

Rock culvert

Branches, shattered wood, bark, leaves, and mud then accumulated along the culvert, along the metal sluice box, and on the side of the tree resting up against the sluice box, pretty much wedging everything in to place so that when the really big rains come, the drainage designed in to the system would have failed.

After the culvert was cleared out, the accumulated materials lying next to the tree trunk pressed against the metal box was cleared away after tree limbs and branches were dragged out of the way. That made room so that the heavy metal rock bar could be used to pry the tree truck off of the sluice box.

It's a shame that we had not thought to bring the chainsaw, otherwise we could have sliced that up and removed it completely. Since we had gotten the truck lifted up off the ground well enough we could have safely and cleanly bucked up the tree and removed it entirely if we had thought to bring the saw -- and the next time we're up there that's something we will need to do.

Next came the sledge hammers! After a lot of noise and exercise we found that the corrugated metal sluice box would either need someone with a bigger hammer else would need to be replaced. I think we maybe got the box opened up a half an inch but to really get the drainage channel working perfect we need to think of something better than pounding away with large hammers.

The Bridge

Still, the whole thing was left cleaned and working. Hopefully the next time we come up we will find the drain working and won't find two feet of mud covering the stairs and the resting benches at the landings.

Back at the Rincon Fire Station and the bridge building effort, we joined the drilling and bolting that was still going on. There are 26 heavy treads, each of which weigh a bit more than 62 pounds, bolted to two heavy beams about 26 feet long, each weighing over 600 pounds, lined by four heavy curbs, each 6 inches by 6 inches by around 12 or 13 feet long.

That structure will be placed on to two concrete footings and then the whole assembly will have uprights and redwood hand railings bolted in to place. Metal hardware and several pounds of wood sealant, and all in all it's quite an impressive and heavy bridge that will be going in to cross Laurel Gulch.

After the new bridge is installed there is still the approaches to the bridge that will need to be established, so the work won't end after the entire bridge is in place and fully assembled. Should be fun!

The Bridge again

Safety is a major aspect of any volunteer project, and I'm happy to have heard that our Trailbuilder volunteer who was injured today is doing well due in part to the training and experience that mandates the wearing of protective gloves when we're working, something I don't always remember to wear but will be doing religiously from now on.

It was interesting in a number of ways. The guy who was injured took the hit pretty stoically despite an injury that looked to me to be extremely painful and rather serious.

A crushed and broken finger and a lacerated thumb accompanied by assorted subdermal hemitobas is something that would have had me screaming on the ground, but our guy cussed it off and joked with the medical crews who came out of the Fire Station to tie the thumb, hand, wrist, and arm in place so that he could be taken to Foothill Presbyterian Hospital.

Tools and equipment was packed up and stored away and we left the mountain, some of us heading home, some of us to the hospital.

Next week end we will return, calculate how much of the bridge to disassemble, and make the bridge ready for helicopter transport. All of the incidental tools and equipment will be assembled and readied for the following week when the helicopter, horses, and mules come, backed up with as many human volunteers as we can get to ensure that the first installation phase is completed with a safe and usable bridge.

See you next week at Rincon!

* Upon arriving we take a look at where we left things off the last time
* Much of the wood in the drying stack is still wet from the rains yesterday
* The two main beams are seporated and carefully measured and positioned
* We used rock bars to move the long heavy beams around
* Measurements had to be perfect before anything got drilled and bolted
* Once the beams were positioned, the treads had to be extracted from the pile
* We do a lot of standing around looking at things and talking it out
* Treads are placed down but not yet bolted
* We place treads on both ends and work toward the middle
* Another, brighter look at the rock wall spillway on Pinyon Ridge
* A look at the trail that crosses the new rock spillway
* A more detailed look at the huge boulders that were moved for the wall
* Moving these boulders to form the wall was a lot of hard work!
* And one last look at the heavy project from yesterday
* This rock bridge crosses the gully at the Lake Trail trailhead
* A view across the rock bridge from the other side
* A look at the wonderful rock work on the drain side of the rock walkway
* A look at the rock work from the fill side of the walkway, taking measurements
* We return to the rock culvert to clean it out and make it work again
* Take a look at this drainage, the stairs, and the rock wall work. Wonderful!
* The mangled corrugated sluice box with a shoe for scale
* We clear the fill up against the tree truck pressed against the metal box
* Clearing out the mud and rocks from the rock culvert
* Since we forgot to bring shovels and buckets, we haul it out by hand
* A close up look at the coprrugated metal sluice box
* We have everything completely cleaned up -- looks great! That should work
* Back at Rincon most of the rest of the treads have been laid in place
* A view of the bridge from the side
* A view from the bridge from one end
* A close up vide of the bridge so far
* Medical assistance for a mangled hand -- yikes!
* Rincon Fire Station is well trained and well equipped
* The bridge with the curbs positioned in to place, one center tread missing
* A view of the bridge while standing on the trash dumpsters
* Collecting our tools and equipment and sorting through hardware
* A look back at the Rincon Fire Station and the hills that are fun to climb
* A look across the Elmer Pen and the hillsides in the distance
* Rain clouds blow in while we toss our gear in to vehicles and depart

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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