Rest Bench area

Today the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders and students from Mount San Antonio College joined with Eagle Scout candidate Samuel Sliger to do some heavy maintenance on Pinyon Ridge Trail and to complete an Eagle Project which replaces a destroyed rest bench along the ridge line overlooking the vast San Gabriel Valley to the South.

There were three things that needed to be done today. For a number of years I have been wanting to have the historic rest bench on Pinyon Ridge get replaced with something that would offer families a place to stop and rest along the trail. The old bench had been doing that for decades yet it was badly damaged and was getting worse year after year to the point where it could not be used. Today's Eagle Project would have the old bench footings dug up and carted out of the forest and a new bench with a back rest would be installed.

Another thing that needed to be done was basic brush cutting, plant removal along the trail, widening some sections, and further defining two areas where the trail kind of disappeared. Since Pinyon Ridge is a mile-long loop, the point where the trail splits and comes back to itself is in a riparian meadow which makes the Y in the trail difficult to locate if the trail is not maintained regularly.

One other part of today's effort was a fairly large number of dead trees and tree limbs down across the trail and a small number of tree limbs that were hung above the trail and needed to be brought down to improve general trail safety conditions. For that we would need two trained and certified sawyers today and a minimum of 4 older volunteer swampers who would also be required to suit-up fully with Kevlar safety chaps, hard hats, face shields, ear protection, long pants, long shirts, and gloves.

As always the Trailbuilders checked the Project Activity Level (PAL) before heading out to the Gateway Information Center (1960 North San Gabriel Canyon Road (Hwy 39), Azusa, CA) at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains above Azusa where we gathered for a while telling each other improbable lies. When 8:00 a.m. came we packed in to our vehicles and headed North on Highway 39 to the Rincon Fire Station.

The volunteers for the day

At the Fire Station we gathered our tools, materials, and equipment, made a head count and radioed our Angeles Dispatch Overlords to let them know where we would be working and then we headed further North and in to the Crystal Lake Recreation Area and to the Pinyon Ridge Trail parking area.

It was not too cold, it was not too hot, all in all the weather cooperated nicely, affording changing Sunlight and overcast which kept us at good operating temperatures all day. In fact everything went well, many of the Boy Scout volunteers were eager to work on the trails, and the San Antonio College students took to the effort with dedication and focus, getting all of the growth at the lower meadow areas removed from the trail, defining nicely the Y where the trail splits, and working the trail along the ridge line.

While that was going on the two chainsaw teams split at the Y and systematically, slowly, and carefully bucked up and removed all of the dead trees and tree limbs that were across the trail, along the trail, or had branches threatening the trail.

At the same time adult volunteers had brought up the parts for the replacement rest bench and had managed to excavate the footing for the historic bench, something I thought would take a long time since the compacted soil on the ridge line is usually dense and difficult and I expected the footing to go down several feet. The remains of the old bench was cut to make carrying out the remains easier since U. S. Forest Service policy requests that such materials be carried down to proper landfills unless the materials can be recycled.

Not too far below us while we worked there were a number of hikers strung out along Soldier Creek Trail, we could see, some of whom I think were waving at us and yelling hello. Just in case they were I waved and yelled back (I found out later that they were indeed waving at us, what fun!)

By around 13:00 all of the obstructions had been removed from the trail, and by around 3:00 or 3:30 pretty much everyone was ready to head back down the mountain. In all it was an uneventful day and everything got done, the trail is awesome from end to end. Joyness!

On the way back down the mountain along Highway 39 we slowed down to take a look at some tire skid marks that ramp right off the edge of the road and in to the canyon below, something that happened a little more than a week ago. It was another reminder that speed along the winding highway is definitely not a good idea.

Back at Rincon we inspected our tools, put them away, let our Angeles Dispatch Overlords know we were finished for the day, then we headed home to hot chocolate and other libations.

* Google Earth view of the trail and where the new rest bench will be placed
* Another closer view using Google Earth of the bench area
* The volunteers gather at the Rincon Fire Station
* Tools, materials, and equipment are collected and carried to the pickups
* Tools, materials, and equipment are collected and carried to the pickups
* The Eagle Candidate watches the tools get sorted out
* Trailbuilders also make sure everything that is needed gets taken up
* Closing the heavy container door is a difficult task some times
* One of the volunteers examines the tool collection process
* One of the other volunteers after the tools are collected and we're ready to go
* At the trailhead parking lot before the safety meeting
* The Eagle Candidate at the safety meeting
* The flora and faula to avoid in the area gets covered as does safe tool usage
* Trailbvuilder Jeanette tighens her work gloves for the day
* The morning safety meeting covered everything at least once :)
* All members of the chainsaw teams wear full PPE including equipment carriers
* Carrying up the medical kit and fire extinguisher for the saw crew
* There is patchy snow along Pinyon Ridge but none where the bench is going
* Some areas of snow were quite deep!
* Some areas of snow were quite deep!
* The old destroyed bench and footing is removed
* It is a good place for a view bench and a place to rest with some shade
* The junction where the loop meets after the trail has been worked
* Looking up the trail junction on the left leg
* Looking further along the trail in the moist meadow
* And even further along the moist area where the trail has been worked
* We pause for a moment wondering where our sawyer walked off to
* Another section of the trail that has been cleared of obstructions
* Back at the bench site the effort to assemble and plant the new bench continues
* The footing has been treated to resist plant and animal difficulties
* The general design of the new bench
* Trailbuilder Steve and volunteer Hunter

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.

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