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Bridgework

Today was a general survey of a number of hiking trails within the Crystal Lake Recreation Area and its campgrounds. A section of Lake Trail, Lost Ridge Trail, Soldier Creek Trail, and Pinyon Ridge Trail were examined to determine how well the trails are holding up.

Next Saturday will be a scheduled volunteer day for the San Gabriel Mountain Trailbuilders and we are looking forward to having a group of Boy Scouts volunteering their efforts in the campgrounds clearing hiking trails and doing whatever needs to be done to maintain the trails. Though the campgrounds are currently closed to the public, maintenance is still needed to keep ahead of the growth of brush which can swamp a trail and make it unusable and that much more difficult to re-open later.

At the Caltrans / Forest Service gate located at the "Valley of the Moon" parking area near the Upper Bear Creek trail, my brother (Desertphile, by name) and I talked with a volunteer who was cautioning people against hiking the trail seeing as a lengthy section of the trail is missing and it's not legal to use the trail past a certain point. She told us that the campgrounds would open in the year 2011!

She was sweltering in the hot Sun and had been hoping that rescue would be coming shortly to relieve her, and might well have been hoping that my brother and I were her relief. Alas we lubricated the gate's locks and travel mechanism and then headed further North past the gate instead, leaving her behind to bake in the hot Sun.

The first trail that we examined was Lake Trail or some times called Lake Road Trail. It connects the main road that leads to the Visitor Center to Lake Road which travels along the base of the mountain and gives access to the lake.

Lake Trail starts out with a climb down into a washed out gully and then a climb back on to the trail. The trail itself is in fairly good shape and could be fully restore din a day or two, in my opinion, with some sections of the trail needing to be redefined and made more obvious by lining rocks along the way.

There were a few downed trees across the trail that can be removed with hand saws and some hard work. There are some dried brush clumps along the way that will also need to be chopped up and dragged off of the trail.

We next examined Lost Ridge Trail -- about one mile of it, any way. It was in better shape than I had expected with only a few small trees down across the trail and some brush that needs to be dragged off of the trail. Lost Ridge was worked heavily last year or so and it's still in good shape. Or at least the mile that was examined is in good shape.

After Lost Ridge Trail, Desertphile and I went to Soldier Creek Trail, removed every stitch of clothes, and scrubbed the dirt, grime, and heat of the day off of us under the cold water running through the creek (horribly disgusting photographs have been omitted!)

After a refreshing dunk in the creek we examined the first half of Soldier Creek Trail and found it to be much as we had known we would find it. The first section of the trail is in excellent shape since a lot of work had been done on it last year. We looked at the new basket that Boy Scouts and Trailbuilders put in and it's resting perfectly.

Soldier Creek Trail remains dangerous, in my opinion. The trail work that was done stopped about 100 feet from the first downed tree across the trail (which will require a chainsaw to remove) but there are rat's nests of overhung dead tree limbs all along the first half of Soldier Creek, a lot of which will be falling over the years and will constitute a hazard if it's not all pulled down.

Finally Pinyon Ridge Trail was hiked and surveyed for its general condition. There is a foot bridge of sorts across the stream that crosses Pinyon Ridge which water flows over because the accumulated dirt and rock under the bridge have built up. It's been that way for years and seems to me to only require an hour or so to clear.

Pinyon Ridge's tread is in great shape with not much work needing to be done. During National Trails Day back some years ago, the trail got worked on pretty well and the trail still looks great. There are two downed trees that need to be cut up and dragged off of the trail and there's a hanging tree that should be pulled down and get cut up some.

The old resting bench at the ridge of Pinyon Ridge is destroyed and all that's left is two supports and one five-foot long board, all of which should be removed so that a new bench can be installed. Replacing the bench is a project I'm going to adopt.

By the time the surveying was done we were pretty tired so we stopped off at Soldier Creek again and cooled off (though we're not supposed to drink the water up there, we filled up our water bottles from the creek and drank as much as we could hold) before hopping into Desertphile's old dying pickup truck and heading up to Deer Flats Group Campground.

The road up to Deer Flats was covered in rocks and sand along the way and on occasion rocks needed to be moved so that the old pickup could proceed. We did a quick survey of Deer Flats and I was kind of annoyed that with all of the reconstruction that Crystal Lake has received, Deer Flats was kind of run down.

Still, Deer Flats is a great place to camp since it's about the highest point in the area one can camp that has trees to pitch a tent under. One can hike further up to Mount Hawkins but there's no shade up there, not since the fire watch tower burned to the ground.

As is always the case, night up in the Crystal Lake Recreation Area is indescribable. Desertphile and I did not cook any food and didn't store any food out in the open. I made certain to not have food in my tent since the last time I had nuts in my backpack in my tent, a bear had shredded both and wanted to shred me (and two Scout Masters) a bit as well. I mention it because neither of us were awakened in the night by bears.

Desertphile got some video footage of some deer that were watching us and some nights when I've been volunteering in brush removal to reduce fire hazards, I've been plagued by deer kicking and walking on my tent while I've tried to sleep.

In the morning we surveyed Sunset Ridge which is East of Deer Flats; a good trail for families camping at Deer Flats who want to walk a short, quarter mile loop. Sunset Ridge's tread is in great shape having been reconditioned by the Trailbuilders about three years ago. Sunset Ridge doesn't need any further work done to it aside from pulling some branches off of the trail.

Note to the Trailbuilders: We should take wood sealant up to the bench up there and paint the wood bench with sealant to reduce the splintering some.

On the way down the mountain we stopped in Coldbrook Campground just North of the gate closure where we busted up the illegal rock dam across the stream that is always there every time I pass through there. Daming the stream causes a number of problems since it raises the water temperature, causes sand bars to form, widens the stream's flow, and makes it difficult to fish to travel down stream.

It took us about an hour to bust up the rock dam since huge boulders and large logs had been used. A large group of people must have spent a lot of time putting the rock dam together.

At the gate we lubricated the locks and the rotating rotunda once again, made sure the sliding parts were cleaned of rush and re-lubricated, and I stupidly left by old brown day pack sitting on the ground after we were done. (A police officer picked it up and returned it to the Fire Station where I picked it up later that day.)

Further down the mountain we stopped in at the Environmental Education Cen ter to take a look at the bridge that the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders are putting in. It looks great! The bridge itself looks to be completed with only the two approaches to the bridge still needing to be established.

On the way down we took photographs of the amount of water being held behind the two dams. San Gabriel Dam is holding back as much water as I have ever seen it hold -- it's a lot of water! Morris Dam is holding back about half of its capacity, it seems to me, but it's still a whole lot of water. It made me wonder how much water Glenn Dam is holding but of course that's 8 miles West along West Fork Road and we didn't go look.

East Fork Road's bridge has water under it again so that gives some indication on how much water is being stored up there right now.

* General tread on Lost Ridge Trail
* Hiking up Lost Ridge Trail
* Soe brush and tree limbs down across Lost Ridge Trail
* Some parts of Lost Ridge are difficult to follow
* Additional tree across Lost Ridge Trail
* Various pockets of densh brush across Lost Ridge
* Most of Lost Ridge Trail is in good shape, however
* Another clump of dense brush that must be removed from Lost Ridge
* Some tree limbs can be removed with hand saws
* Some tree limbs can just be pulled off of the trail
* Another clump of dense brush that must be removed from Lost Ridge
* Some more tree limbs can be pulled off of the trail
* Some more tree limbs can be pulled off of the trail
* The low level of the water at Soldier Creek
* Desertphile gets reay for his annual bath
* Large volune of water still flowing in Soldier Creek
* I climb the ridge above the creek
* Taking a look around Soldier Creek Trail
* Another creek runs behind the first stream that we cool down in
* There is moss growing in the creek, something I haven't seen before
* There is water flowing at the bottom of this ravine
* We inspect the basket that the Boy Scouts and Trailbuilders installed
* Pinyon Ridge has this foot bridge that should be cleaned out
* Trees down across Pinyon Ridge needs a chainsaw
* Soe tree limbs can be pulled off of Pinyon Ridge
* Lake Trail needs to have this broken tree removed for safety
* Most of Lake Trail is in good shape with the trail well marked
* Rocks line most of Lake Trail
* Some sections of Lake Trail need to be redefined with rocks
* Previous work done to clear downed trees across Lake Trail
* At times Lake Trail gets difficult to decide where the trail is
* Most of Lake Trail is in good shape, however
* Tree along Lake Road will need to be cut up and removed
* Another section of Lake Trail
* Looking foen on Coldbrook Campground
* Another look at Coldbrook Campgroun more to the South
* The illegal rock dam at Coldbrook Campground
* We have removed the rock dam
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 1
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 2
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 3, East Fork Bridge
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 4, East Fork Bridge
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 5
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 6
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 7
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 8
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 9
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 10
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 11
* The water being held by San Gabriel Dam -- 12

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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