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The first set of downed trees

07/Jun/08 -- Lots of Work Done on Pinyon Ridge Trail

Greetings, Internets!

And a nice week end it was in the Crystal Lake Recreation Area working on trail restoration along the Pinyon Ridge Nature Trail. Since we had a number of Boy Scouts with us, we were able to split in to two teams and a whole lot of work was accomplished.

The team I was on was the chainsaw / handsaw team which consisted of Tom, one Boy Scout, Lou, and myself. I think there were 8 trees down across the trail and there was about the same number of branches that needed to be removed since they blocked the trail (or hikers had to crash through them.) Tom and the Scout did all of the cutting with the chainsaw while the whole team worked to pull trees and tree limbs off of the trail.

Freddie (USFS) and the USFS intern worked with the San Gabriel Mountain Trailbuilder volunteers Janette, Ben, and Wayne, and the rest of the Scout troop, working on the trail from the head of the trail (at the foot bridge) and working their way up the Eastern side of the loop (which forms the circular trail) cutting growth from off of the trail and widening the path in areas that had become difficult to determine exactly where the trail was.

The work continues

[I just read that sentence back and good grief, I don't speak English very well. Difficult sentence structure but then I ain't a poet.]

Pinyon Ridge is one of the neater trails in the Crystal Lake basin since some parts of the year it crosses three streams, at least one of which has enough water for intrepid and unafraid (of contracting a dreaded disease; the USFS warns people not to drink from the streams because they want us all to live) hikers to drink from.

The trail crosses a number of "micro environments" which range from heavy shade to exposed escarpments of San Gabriel granite.

The trail passes close by "Goliath," a 400-year-old oak tree (shown in a photograph linked to below.) There is also an overlook that gives a great view generally South toward the San Gabriel Valley and the Pacific Ocean. (The resting bench there has fallen apart and will be replaced some time this year.)

After lunch the chainsaw team broke up, the Scout joining the larger team, Lou and Tom working to clear the mud and rock out from under one of the wood bridges that cross a stream that runs all year around, and myself who worked at the "Y" where the circular trail splits (I was later joined by Jennette working to clear growth from the trail near the "Y.")

The work continues

That foot bridge, by the way, has long been a concern by the Trailbuilders since many times of the year the water flows over the bridge, flooding out the surrounding trail and hillside. Hikers often must slog through the mud before they cross the bridge during some parts of the year. Fortunately, Lou and Tom managed to dig out the rock and mud from under the bridge and, while it still needs some work, the water is now flowing under the bridge, not over it.

A whole lot of work got done though there were only 14 of us. Actually the regular trailbuilders commented about how much work was accomplished. Since the weather wasn't hot, we were all able to work on the trail steadily and with not much discomfort -- aside from a number of cuts and scratches which is expected for this kind of work.

On the way back to the trailhead, the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders stopped by to look at Goliath and see how the tree was doing. A whole lot of history has come and gone in the time span that the tree has lived on that hill. There are a fairly large number of ancient oak trees in the Crystal Lake basin and they're something that visitors to the area should stop by and see.

* Tom puts the chainsaw on backwards, finds out it doesn't cut very well
* The first set of trees to be removed -- three of them in a row
* We carry chainsaw tools into the field always to effect repairs
* The first tree is removed to craete a safety zone for the next tree cuts
* The leaning tree is more hazardous to cut so an escape path is made first
* The first cut is made on the hanging tree
* Tom covers the safety basics on this particular chainsaw
* The first set of trees are down in a fairly denuded region of the trail
* The Scout makes the cut on the downed tree
* We always have full safety gear when doing any cutting with the chainsaw
* Lou clears branches and then waits for the rest of the tree cuts to be made
* The section the Scout cut was clean and straight, Lou carts off a section
* With an escape path cleared away, Tom makes an underbuck cut on leaning tree
* Since the trail is clear, the rest of the leaning tree is left where it is
* The section of the trail after it was cleared
* This section of Pinyon Ridge Trail climbs up the hillside to the ridge
* Lou workes on clearing brush and limbs on the way up the trail
* Yucca blooms around the region by the tens of thousands. Good to eat!
* Near where the resting bench is, there are a lot of downed tree limbs
* The Southern approach to the second work site for the chainsaw
* We move downed tree limbs to block a trail being used to cut the real trail
* Lou and the Scout work on pulling off cut tree limbs
* A look generally South back down the trail
* After Tom has cut most of the tree limbs, we take a look at the area
* Trees that are going to fall some time soon are proactively dropped
* Here is where the old bench is which will be replaced by a new one this year
* Since a new bench is going in, Tom removes branches blocking the view
* Way off in the distance lower left is the other team of volunteers
* Another set of trees down across the trail are evaluated
* Tom makes most of the cuts on the next series of downed trees
* I used the bow saw to cut up and remove this smaller tree
* Not far from the last downed tree we come to another, larger tree
* Some of the limbs are removed to make bucking a bit more safe
* The bucked section rolls easilly out of the way and down the hillside
* The next set of downed trees before they are removed
* And then there is another downed tree beyond that one
* Tom clears out an escape route while the Scout gets ready to cut
* Evaluating where to cut and how many times to cut
* The second, more difficult cut is done by the Scout
* A section of the trail where there is some fairly fresh bear shit
* Much of Pinyon Ridge Trail is in good shape. We're done removing trees
* Here is the wood bridge where water runs over it. Tom and Lou cleared it out
* The lower sections of the trail are cut through lush, green growth
* Occasionally a series of rocks are used to divert water off of the trail
* Looking at one of the sections of the trail. Lots of yucca bloom
* Lunch time and I meet up with the main Boy Scout team
* Some times my old camera takes a photograph without being asked to
* A closer look after we join the main work team
* Another look at the lunch time break
* Shade and sunlight make Pinyon Ridge Trail a very good hike
* Walking up the ravine where I take a quick couple hatfuls of water
* Yikes, look at that ruggedly handsom face!
* A quick check to see how the last tree planting is coming along
* So far all of the saplings that I checked were still alive
* Goliath, seven feet across, some 400 years old

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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