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Drainage culvert cleaned out

Today was a volunteer day not normally scheduled but there's always something that needs to be done that can't wait. Today the stone and concrete drainage culvert along the stairs that lead down to the lake needed to be cleared in case the rain, sleet, hail, and snow coming down proved to be a significant amount in which case the stairs could get inundated with mud.

In the past we have seen that if the culvert fills up with tree trunks, rocks, dirt, pine cones and such, when the rains come everything backs up and the stairs and landings fill up with mud, so much so in fact that anywhere from 6 to 8 inches of mud accumulates which almost buries the rest benches along the way.

You can imagine the amount of work needed to shovel all of that off, sweep it down, and bring in water to hose it all down if the rains are done for the year. It's so much easier to get a jump on things and proactively clear something up before it becomes a real problem.

Three volunteers with the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders brought up shovels and got it cleared out in quick order and while doing so people hiking through informed us that they were seeing smoke weaving through the pines and could not locate where it was coming. We needed to find it so we could call for fire crews to put it out or at minimum call it in if it was just a BBQ meal cooking on an approved metal ring somewhere to make sure fire crews weren't dispatched without good reason.

By finding a tendril of the smoke and noting the direction of the wind, we found that the fire was below us and a bit West, down in the lake shore which, in retrospect, should have been our first guess. Two fishermen had set a ground fire after putting together a ring of rocks which, you might guess, is totally dangerous even with the fog, rain, sleet, and light snow.

Despite moisture and humidity, if you look at the slopes of the basin around the lake you find that the ground and the combustibles among the pines and oaks are dry, so much so that literally all that's needed is one stray spark wafted on the breeze means a significant chance of a wildfire.

The two fishermen were very nice and allowed us to use our fire shovels to assist them in putting out the fire. We busted up the rock ring and took care of others we found in the immediate area, and managed to hand out a volunteer business card since one of the fishermen wanted to see about helping to extract some of the moss and algae from the lake.

And wouldn't you know it, we forgot to bring spray paint removal chemicals. Someone had shit on the signs at the lake and we didn't have anything to clean it off yet once again. Yeesh.

Fog, ice, sleet, snow

With the culvert clean, fire out before the fixed-wing aircraft could spot and call it in, we packed up and headed toward Sunset Ridge within the Deer Flats Group Campground. Sunset Ridge was an area that burned a bit during the Visitor Center parking lot to examine the roofing of the Visitor Center. During the high winds that we had down in the cities below some months back some of the rooting shingles were destroyed and some were removed entirely, leaving a small patch on the roof that needed to be repaired.

As it turned out Adam at the cafe had some roofing tiles that were an exact match for what was needed so we got some from him and stored them inside the Visitor Center so that the West Fork Conservancy volunteers could come up tomorrow and install them. This is great! Adam comes through again!

From there we went to the Open Air Amphitheater to see whether it was still free of spray paint since it seems people crap on it every other week or so. We found the place clean. The high pressure spray washer used to clean the place was repaired by the Trailbuilders some months back (new fuel hoses and some minor cleaning) so the place was clean!

Then we were done for the day. With the ice falling from the sky mixed in with occasional flow flakes, spending the night sleeping under picnic tables trying to stay warm in our sleeping bags did not seem like much fun but Adam came to the rescue again by letting us sleep in a shed with the cats. Joyness! We even shared the cat's dinners which was nice.

In the morning we had things to do yet had to wait around for a Boy Scout who was very late for his scheduled appointment. While we waited we found a fire ring made of rocks behind the Visitor Center. Someone had actually set a ground fire right behind the Visitor Center yesterday. Yeesh!!! Nobody noticed at the time because we were so busy and it's probably a good thing I hadn't otherwise staying polite and professional would have been difficult.

When the Boy Scout finally showed up we surveyed Pinyon Ridge Trail to determine the condition of the trail, count the number of obstructions, and to examine the site where a new rest bench is to be installed on the coming Saturday, a bench that overlooks the San Gabriel Valley far off in the shimmering distance.

Once the trail was walked from end to end we were done for the weekend. Time to cuddle up to the fire and down some hot coffee and savory chili beans at Adam's place!

* The drainage culvert is almost clear
* The drainage culvert is completly shoveled and mostly swept out
* The signs at the lake have spray paint on them once again
* Fire at the lake
* Fire at the lake is being put out with water one cup at a time
* The fog, sleet, ice, and snow start coming down
* The fog, sleet, ice, and snow start coming down
* The fog, sleet, ice, and snow start coming down
* The fog, sleet, ice, and snow start coming down
* The fog, sleet, ice, and snow start coming down
* Surveying Sunset Ridge we find a number of obstructions
* Surveying Sunset Ridge we find a number of obstructions
* Surveying Sunset Ridge we find a number of obstructions
* Surveying Sunset Ridge we find a number of obstructions
* Pinyon Ridge covered in ice looking from the dance studio
* Pinyon Ridge covered in ice looking from the dance studio
* Mountain Kitty!
* Someone built a fire beyhind the Visitor Center! Good grief
* The sky clears up for a bit
* Pinyon Ridge survey, 2 parts of the trail are difficult to locate
* Boy Scout surveys Pinyon Ridge Trail
* The remains of the destroyed rest bench to be replaced
* One of the many obstructions across the trail
* The brush behind the rest bench

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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