Before work starts

Today we returned to Windy Gap Trail in the Crystal Lake Recreation Area of the Angeles National Forest, removing more rock slide from a section of the trail that we had worked on a month ago.

Since that section of the trail is going to be causing difficulties and safety issues for hikers, two weeks from now we will have Boy Scouts and Trailbuilders working to establish a rock wall to retain the slide so that over the next decades just regular trail maintenance can be done along the length of the trail and we won't have to put forth this level of effort again (well, maybe.)

Over the radio today we listened in on three separate motorcycle accidents and an endless series of callouts for people violating the forest closure, but we got to work and exercise far above it all in the sunshine with cool breezes -- heaven!

The last time we did this we sucked up and otherwise ate a LOT of blowing dirt as we worked, and it took some of us a week to work all that dirt out of our guts. This time we had goggles and masks which kept the dust and dirt down to a snack rather than a full meal.

Good progress

Jennette, Bron, Ben, Lou, Tom, Mike, and myself worked up the trail removing tree limbs and sections of downed trees as much as we could without saws then cleared the rock slide, doing some additional tree clearing at the trail head after we were finished for the day -- about six hours or so.

There is one hung-up tree on a hillside looming over the trail that constitutes a fairly difficult safety hazard that the Trailbuilders are going to have to remove. It seems likely that we will rope ourselves to points above the downed tree, use saws to remove the tree's limbs from above where it lays, and then we will nudge the tree to get it rolling down to where we can safely buck it up and remove it -- assuming the tree doesn't roll all the way down into the canyon below the trail.

That job will require some measure of risk but with proper precautions and with volunteers stationed at points above and below the work, we can keep any hikers (who shouldn't be there anyway) from walking into the danger zone. That should be fun. Maybe we'll remove that next week, a week before the Boy Scouts come up.

Rock we will use later

Back at Rincon Station we stuffed our tools away and picked through the metal trash pile that some times yields treasure! Today we got a very nice saw that can be cleaned up and added to our collection.

On a sad note, John S. (USFS) came by and informed us that he was planning on retiring from the Forest Service. I need to get video and photographs of him so that the Crystal Lake web site will have some of the history that he has brought to the area in his 30 years of forestry work.

There's something about John that I've always liked very much in all the years I've been pushing my bicycle up and down the highway. He's always had a smile on his face and a friendly wave leaning out of his Forest Service Jeep for me over the years and for me, any ways, he's always been a very welcome touchstone when I've been exhausted, cold and wet, or hot and sweating either working or vacationing in these canyons.

For the first time ever I noticed that there is narrow gauge railroad rail being used at Rincon in various places, artifacts from the time way back when there used to be a locomotive running up and down the canyon. From time to time I will come across old artifacts dating back 100 years or so, discarded trash found smack in the middle of absolutely nowhere; things too heavy or unusable to carry back out after miners and prospectors were done with them.

After taking a quick bath in the water hose outside of the fire station, we all packed up and headed back down the mountain.

Did I mention just how fun this all is? People at work ask me how I manage to stay in such good physical shape despite working in an office all day and often all night, and I suggest that they come join us up here in the mountains, doing some measure of good for others while doing good for ourselves.

This kind of volunteering isn't exactly easy but there's always enough things that should be done that constitute various degrees of difficulty so that people who aren't used to heavy lifting can volunteer and assist with efforts that don't require it.

And we are done!

Swamping out tree limbs after they've been cut, for example, is good exercise that's relatively easy, and hikes up to downed trees is good exercise. Working the trails with a hoe or a shovel can be either difficult or easy depending on how much effort one is capable or willing to do, and ALL such effort is beneficial -- not only to hikers who use these trails and to the trail crews who maintain them but these trails are also used by wildlife who may or may not appreciate our work. --smile--

If you've never done this kind of work before and thought you might like to try it -- even just once to see how it goes -- you can send email to this web site and I'll let you know when we'll be going out again and particulars about what we might be doing (if I know, anyway. Be sure to check out the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders web site for information as well.)

* This morning begins with clearing a parking space at the trailhead
* Downed trees along the way get cleared up as much as we can without saws
* Mike and Tom work a downed tree on the way up to the rock slide
* A look across the canyons and hills generally looking South West
* Another downed tree that will have to be bucked up and removed
* For now we can at least remove limbs and clean the trail up some
* We manage to get all of the tree removed from this section of the trail
* A tree that constitutes a fair amount of hazard that we'll remove some day
* A first look at the rock slide we will remove today
* A closer look at the rock slide before work starts
* A look across the mountains from the work site -- Curve Fire burn area, alas
* Safety gear and other equipment used while we work keep the dust out
* The other side of the retaining wall is filling up with stuff we shovel off
* We make good progress before noon
* A closer look at the area before we break for lunch
* We start digging further back into the hillside to lay foundation for a wall
* We will use large rocks that have been excavated and keep them in place
* The dirt and rock was actually moist since we've had minor rains
* McLouds, shovels, picks is enough for this job -- and a metal rock bar
* We are just about finished for the day
* A look from the other side of the slide area toward the end of the day
* Another look generally South West sice the lighting has changed a lot
* Roots burried a long, long time ago will have to be chopped up also
* Crystal Lake can be seen shimmering in the distance (difficult to see!)
* And we're finished for the day. Looks great!
* When the Boy Scouts come, they can use some of this rock for the wall
* A lot of useful rock is available for the new wall
* The whole cliff face along this section is very fragmented rock
* A look at a section of the trail when hiking back down the mountain
* On the West face there's not much growth due to steepness and lack of water
* But trees still manage to grow and survive in this pocket region
* Another look back at where we have come from today
* Pine trees and oak trees -- and in the distance maple and Douglas Fir
* There are rock lined gullies that channel rain water all along the trail
* Crows had a major die off in Southern California but they are coming back
* I watch crows down at the trailhead while we want for others to return
* When these crows died off green parots filled the skies of Southern California
* Most of the volunteer crew relaxing after another good day
* Elwood Blues -- my son gets dressed up for All Saints Eve

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map

This web site is not operated or maintained by the US Forest Service, and the USFS does not have any responsibility for the contents of any page provided on the http://CrystalLake.Name/ web site. Also this web site is not connected in any way with any of the volunteer organizations that are mentioned in various web pages, including the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders (SGMTBs) or the Angeles Volunteers Association (AVA.) This web site is privately owned and operated. Please note that information on this web page may be inaccurate.

E-Mail Crystal Lake Camp Ground