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Removing handing branches

Greetings, everyone!

Cedar Canyon Trail -- Clearing Trail-Clogging Brush

Greetings, everyone! It was another perfect day for volunteering in the Angeles National Forest, clearing brush, tree limbs, and plants from Cedar Canyon Trail, located within the Crystal Lake Recreation Area. We had just the right number of volunteers for the amount of work that was needed, and we accomplished all of the tasks needed to re-open the trail.

This trail starts at a trailhead (where there is no sign and virtually no parking) and the trail follows along a canyon where there are a wider variety of tree species than practically anywhere else within the recreation area. Maple, cedar, pine, spruce, oak, and other varieties of trees are found along Cedar Canyon which also boasts a stream that runs all year around.

Cedar Canyon loops around and has its other trailhead along the main road leading to the Crystal Lake Visitor Center maintained by the U. S. Forest Service (and by volunteers) and since the trail follows water and has such great trees, it has always been one of the most loved trails.

Cedar Canyon also meets up with Soldier Creek Trail which then meets up with Pinyon Ridge Trail, affording hikers a set of extremely nice trails which go through a variety of micro environments, at times crossing flowing water.

Trail choked with downed trees

In short, this is an excellent trail! Pinyon Ridge, Soldier Creek, and Cedar Canyon have been getting maintenance and repair so that once the campgrounds finally do open, hikers will find reasonably safe passage that hopefully will not be blocked by fallen trees or choked with brush.

Eleven volunteers worked from the lower trailhead, working our way up toward the junction where Cedar Canyon meets up with Soldier Creek. Along the way were numerous choke points where the trail was either completely blocked else where the trail was blocked and animals I the area has walked around the blockage, basically re-routing the trail.

In addition to the tree limbs and choking brush, plants growing on the trail in the aftermath of the Cure Fire of 2002 were also uprooted and removed from the trail. In all, several miles of trail were cleared and re-opened for the day that hiking resumes once the campgrounds are re-opened.

On the way back down, further work was done with a lengthy pause at where the trail crosses the stream. A fallen oak tree had caused the trail to have to be re-routed by non-human animals who use the trail, and possibly by humans.

Brush gets cleared away

The oak tree itself would normally have been cut up and removed from the trail so that the original trail crossing the stream could be re-opened however the volunteers worked on the defacto crossing, lacking the chainsaws needed (which are banned at the moment) to cut up the downed oak tree and restore the original path.

And it was fun! In the areas of the trail which are exposed to sunlight there are numerous bushes holding Catalina Cherries, the near side of the bushes being almost completely denuded of cherries but the far sides away from the trail containing endless batches of bright or dark cherries.

Most of us plucked a few of them and sampled the fruit. The cherries are mostly seeds with only a very thin covering of actual fruit. The brighter fruits were a bit bitter however selecting just the dark red ones gave us sweet tastes -- and some badly needed vitamins, too! Bear scat along the trail showed that the denuded bushes were caused by bears who also like the fruit and eat them whole, seeds and all.

Two sections of the trail which were eventually going to slide off in to the canyon were dug up and rocks and boulders were moved in to keep the section of the trail in place. That looked like it was a lot of hard work but at least the sections will still be there 10 or 20 years from now.

Edge of trail gets rock work done

Some of the trail maintenance projects just seem to flow along perfectly, the work going smoothly without injury, without difficulty, and everything just kind of flows along while everyone has fun, gets exercise, and works the trail. Today's effort was like that, and I think today was due to the experience of the Boy Scouts and their adults who have come up and volunteered before, doing much the same work for the forest previously.

Some of us also had some time for tree climbing!

The only real hazard wasn't the usual suspects of Sun and the heat -- we had cloud cover off and on and the canyon is fairly cool thanks to the evaporation of the creek. The only hazard when working in October are hunters, many of whom are drunk, most of whom are the type of marginally sane kook who shouldn't be allowed to own firearms, in my opinion.

Since I had injured myself six weeks ago my ankle was still bothering me -- which was a shame because I had hoped to spend the night somewhere in the area, bicycling down in the morning and avoiding drunk hunters, if possible. Ah, well, it would have been embarrassing to have to call for help getting down the mountain if my stupid ankle gave out, so I came down with the rest of the volunteers.

Amusingly, passing through Caltran's gate which closes the highway, there were ten hunters parked at the gate and waiting by their huge pickup trucks festooned with Bush/Cheney and McCain/Palin bumper stickers, standing around waiting for someone to come open the gate so that they could drive up.

Clogged section has been re-opened

Two broke off and approached one of our volunteers and asked about driving past the closure and when they were informed that Caltrans permits official workers only past the gate, one of the two complained loudly enough for me and others to hear about how annoying it was to have to actually have to walk up and do their hunting.

It was a wonderful volunteer day, lots of great exercise and lots of really good work was accomplished. I think we were all in a good mood and for myself, I had to smile at these hunters who had wanted to drive up, virtually drive up to Bambi's face, put a gun to her head, and put a bullet through it -- all with no effort, all the work done by Chrysler, Toyota, and Ford. So I had to smile at the mindset of "sport" hunters, all of whom were extremely fat.

There is still a lot of tread work that needs to be done along Soldier Creek, and parts of Cedar Canyon will need to be surveyed to see whether the downfalls recorded from a year ago have gotten any worse. It shouldn't take much effort -- perhaps two days worth -- to completely re-open Cedar Canyon from end to end, and the last survey at least showed that the trail was passable.

That leaves Lost Ridge Trail which has one trailhead along Lake Road and the other trailhead up at Deer Flats. Lost Ridge was last worked something like 2 years ago and since the upper part was burned in the Curve Fire, it's likely that there is still work that needs to be done. Parts of Lost Ridge are probably completely over grown with grass, I would expect.

There is always the Mount Islip and Little Jimmy trails which need to be worked on, come to think of it, since it has been reported that trees are down along many sections of those trails. Windy Gap also needs one 15-foot section fixed, and the rock slide that buried our tools this year probably needs some more work up there.

So there is still plenty of work to do, as I think of it. Volunteers are always welcome to join us for these efforts. Email me for when and where to come join us! It's fun!

* Tools and equipment are retrieved from the shed at Rincon
* We start fairly early and try to get rolling before it gets too hot
* The tool shed is in great condition! Well organized and clean
* Another of the previous photograph for some reason
* We part at the trailhead of Cedar Canyon
* Creek running heavilly on the right of the trail at this point
* One of the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders stays to lower the lower trail
* Over hanging tree limbs are removed
* Tree limbs and brush being removed by Boy Scouts
* This section of the trail has been re-opened after an hour of hard work
* Saws are used to make downed tree limbs movable
* This section of the trail is completely blocked
* Working to unblock this section of the trail
* Living bushes along the trail are also cut back with loppers
* A volunteer pauses for a photograph on one of the restored trail sections
* Lots of dead trees, many of which will eventually fall on to the trail
* Bear scat along the trail containing California Cherrie seeds
* Narrow section of the trail gets looked at to see f it can be widened
* The three Boy Scout volunteers standing in the shade for a few minutes
* A rock edge is installed where the trail is sliding off in to the canyon
* Wayne is joined by the Boy Scouts, Tom, and another volunteer on the rock edge
* A large boulder weighing as much as the Boy Scout gets moved in to position
* Rolling the larger boulders is hard work and takes time
* Catalina Cherries on the bush. Eat the dark ones first!
* The rock edge of the trail requires rocks to be rounded up and moved
* Another photograph of the rock edge effort
* Taking a look up the trail we find that it's in pretty good shape
* A look down the trail. Much of this trail was worked previously last month
* Dense dead trees
* Soe killed by the Curve Fire and much killed by bark beetle
* Back at the rock edge, that effort is almost completed. Looks good!
* A little time is set aside for tree climbing
* Walking back down, this section of the trail has been completed reworked
* This section of the trail was also completely reworked. Looks great!
* A close up of what the trail looks like. All plants have been removed
* This section was entirely choked with tree limbs and brush, now it's open
* I follow Lou down to the next area to work on
* This whole section of the trail is completely reworked
* The tread is also pretty flat along much of the reworked trail
* Where Soldier Creek meets up with Cedar Canyon Trail
* A lot of time is spent reworking the creek crossing
* The far trail gets cleared up and redefined
* Young volunteer saws away at a stubborn tripping hazard
* Work continues on the far side of the trail
* Wayne steps in to camera view after collecting tools left on my side of creek
* We pack up the tools and head to the trailhead at the end of the day
* Back at Rincon Fire Station we pack away the tools. Tool shed looks great!

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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