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Safety meeting at Heaton Flats

It's National Trails day! Today the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders teamed up with around 60 Boy Scouts, Cal Poly Honors College students and other volunteers to return to East Fork Trail along the San Gabriel River in the Angeles National Forest, working on the hiking trail that leads to the famous "Bridge To Nowhere."

What fun it was, too! We gathered at the Gateway Information Center down at the bottom of the mountain along Highway 39 (San Gabriel Canyon Road a.k.a. Azusa Blvd.) at mile post 17 and promptly at 8:00 we packed everyone in to cars and headed up the highway, took a right turn at East Fork Road and on to the Heaton Flats trailhead.

At Heaton Flats the volunteers unloaded the trail working tools and equipment that would be used today and then a safety rundown was given by Ben who covered the use of the tools and the plants and animals that one should attempt to stay away from in the region.

Southern Pacific rattlesnakes were out and about despite the low cloud cover and cool temperatures, as were scorpions, ticks, and plenty of lovely green and very healthy poison oak growing all through the canyons.

Usually when there are fairly large numbers of volunteers things start out slowly since there is a lot of things to do, sorting through the tools, packing all the backpacks, making sure that extra drinking water is carried in, all the usual stuff that shaves five minutes here, ten minutes there, but very quickly everything was organized and we were ready to go!

Working on the rock field

There were enough volunteers today to break up in to around 5 teams which would be spread out along the first half mile or so of the trail. The volunteers picked the tools they would like to start out with and then they hiked in to the work areas.

Most of the work done today consisted of removing boulders and large rocks from the trail, digging them out with rock bars, picks, and shovels and then reworking the trail with McLeods and buckets of sand and gravel carried in from the surrounding area.

The trail segment leading to the first river crossing got some excellent work done so that now there is a well-defined path through the rock field that leads to the "feet dry" point across the river -- two downed trees that can be used to stay mostly dry when crossing.

In addition to that work, three other teams attacked rock fields in three other areas, digging rocks up, moving boulders aside, and laying down a smooth path that eventually toward the end of the day were linked up pretty well and made a long section of reworked trail.

Another team of volunteers tackled a length of trail that climbed up and down a dirt-covered crop of granite that was strewn with rocks and boulders. That team hauled rocks and reworked boulders to form a set of stairs that lead up the rock face and form a bit of a spiral as it climbs -- really neat work!

Though it was a bit overcast and cool with rumbles of thunder off in the distance, eventually it was time to drop the tools and go swimming! Not much work gone done after that but it didn't matter, the trail sections we worked on today look great!

The hundreds of bunjee jumpers and the dozens of hikers and campers that take to this trail every week will be amazed at the way the start of the trail has been improved, and while it was a lot of hard work, it was great fun, too!

* We gather at the Gateway Information Center
* Waiting for 8:00 so that we can head up the mountain
* At Heaton Flats we unpack
* At Heaton Flats we unpack
* At Heaton Flats we unpack
* At Heaton Flats we unpack
* At Heaton Flats we unpack
* At Heaton Flats we unpack
* Still at Heaton Flats get5ting ready for the safety meeting
* Still at Heaton Flats get5ting ready for the safety meeting
* Still at Heaton Flats get5ting ready for the safety meeting
* Still at Heaton Flats get5ting ready for the safety meeting
* Still at Heaton Flats get5ting ready for the safety meeting
* Still at Heaton Flats get5ting ready for the safety meeting
* Looking over the tools that will be used today
* Tools continue to be unpacked
* Sign up sheet for the day's volunteer work
* It takes about 15 minutes just to sign the sheets!
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Sign-up sheets still being completed
* Here are some of the tools we will be using today
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Ben starts to get everyone together for the safety review
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Ben offers a safety review of the tools and the plants and animals in the area
* Volunteers listen to the safety review
* Volunteers listen to the safety review
* After the safety meeting, still at Heaton Flats
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Ben covers what we will be trying to accomplish today
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Ben discusses how we can break up in to teams
* Still at Heaton Flats
* Still at Heaton Flats
* We get our tools!
* We get our tools!
* We get our tools!
* We get our tools!
* We get our tools!
* We get our tools!
* We hit the trail. Bron covers what one of the teams will be working on today
* Bron covers another area that the team will work on
* Bron covers another area that the team will work on
* A look at the rock face that will be worked on
* A look at the rock face that will be worked on
* One team starts working on the rock face
* At the first river crossing the rock field gets examined
* Tools and packs are organized for the rock field work
* Working on the trail
* At Laurel Gulch, the new John Seales foot bridge looks great!
* The lower bridge footing and approach has been completed
* A look at the entire bridge
* The rock wall for the lower approach
* Working on the trail past the first river crossing
* Standing in the middle of the river
* We take a lunch break!
* Here is a section of reworked trail. It looks great!
* At the first rover crossing, the rock field has a new path!
* While swimming is going on, others are still hard at work
* This was a rock field and now it's mostly cleared up

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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