Safety meeting

Friday night I snuck out of my work place early, leaving a photograph of myself on my chair at work as a decoy (so nobody would notice I was missing) and I headed West toward the San Gabriel Mountain River Ranger District of the Angeles National Forest.

The newly built "Gateway" Visitor Center was closed so I parked my bicycle and backpack out in the front, grabbed my book out of my pack ("The Island" by Heather Graham) and leaned up against the building in the shade to read until the Boy Scouts arrived.

It's amazing the number of interruptions one can get just when one's in the most interesting parts of a book. About every six or seven minutes for the first hour or so I was asked all kinds of questions by people driving through the Center's parking lot.

In Graham's book, the hero Keith Henson was smiling his way through yet another lie while he explained how he never once tried to hide the severed head of the unsightly remains that were discovered on the island (remains that have now gone missing) while Beth Anderson stood there fondling a can of pepper spray, and another car drove up.

"Excuse me, hello? Do you know why the off road vehicle area is closed?" I set my book down on the Visitor Center's air conditioning unit.

"Yes, the off road vehicle area is flooded."

"Flooded? Why is it flooded?"

Downed tree

"The San Gabriel Dam is holding back its designed capacity of water so we'll have something to drink this Summer, and maybe the next." I get some blank, uncomprehending stares from everyone inside the SUV so I tried again. "The water authority is holding the rain water that we got a month ago so we can drink it this Summer."

That helped explain it, but I got asked, "But why do they have to store their water in the off road vehicle area?" I glanced longingly at my neglected book, wondering if Beth had maced the guy yet, fleetingly longing for a can of mace myself.

"No where else to put it," I explain -- which fortunately satisfied the passengers of the vehicle and they drove off.

I got back to my book and eventually another car drove up, this time one of the Boy Scout volunteer crew I was waiting for. I continued to read my book, getting to the point where Beth is grabbed from behind, someone's armed wrapped around her mouth to keep her from screaming as she's dragged backward into the jungle, and another car drove up.

The driver got out of her car and walked up to me so I politely set my book down again. "Excuse me, please, can you tell me what this is, please?" She handed over a piece of paper which I looked over. It was parking citation, a slip of paper requesting that she retroactively mail in $5 to cover the parking fee she had forgotten to pay before spending the day parked somewhere in the canyons.

"I have no idea," I lied. "I don't have a clue," I lied again. And just to ensure a good seat in Hell I added, "I've never seen anything like this before." See, I do trail maintenance volunteer work, I clear brush for fire mitigation, make things safer for hikers and campers and stuff, but I don't do parking fee enforcement or anything else that doesn't involve safety or environmental health in some way.

Downed tree

"Oh. Can you tell me what time this place opens?" I didn't know so I walked back to the main entrance of the building and read off the time posted there on the door, walked back to where she was standing and told her.

"Okay, what time does the place close?" I didn't know so I walked back to the main entrance of the building one more time and read off the closing time that was posted, walked back and told her.

"Are they open on Monday," she asked this time. I didn't know that either so I walked back to the main entrance of the building, hoping that Beth was okay because I really was starting to like her and hoped she wouldn't be murdered before I got back, read that sign posted on the door once again, then returned and informed the woman that the place was not open on Monday.

One homeless guy, two violently angry horses, and several minutes later, all of the Scouts had arrived and we tossed my pack and bicycle into the back of a pickup truck and we were finally on our way up into the mountains.

Driving up along the San Gabriel River from Azusa, California up into the mountains is a breeze. I can never get used to the way it feels being carried up with so little effort. On bicycle it takes me anywhere from 3 to 4 exhausting hours to make it to the Rincon Fire Station (Engine 22) and another 3 or 4 gruesome hours to make it up to the Crystal Lake Recreation Area if that's where we're working the following morning. By motorized vehicle it takes maybe 40 minutes or so, and doesn't take a bit of effort -- only about $10 in gasoline.

We waited at the Valley of the Moon for the late individual, asking Angeles Dispatch over the radio if she could help us locate the last vehicle with Boy Scouts, but eventually we got through the locked gate and headed up before it got dark.

Friday night was noisy (as it always is when Boy Scout volunteers are in the area) so I picked out a parking slot a good distance away but close enough so that I could hear the screams of boys in the night being shredded and eaten by bears, just in case.

That's me

It was cold outside of my sleeping bag but inside was warm enough. The only thing I could have used was a pillow since I usually use my backpack but since we were camped at Deer Flats, I had hauled my backpack up a tree with some rope since it had food in it.

In the morning the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders and the Boy Scout volunteers met at the Crystal Lake Visitor Center about a mile or so from Deer Flats and we gathered our tools, had a safety run down on how to safely use the tools, then we hiked to the trailhead of Lake Trail, one of the trails I had surveyed the week before.

I think the younger volunteers enjoyed the work day; it looked to me like the adults certainly did. The whole length of the first segment of the trail -- from the main road to Lake Road -- was reworked and cleared of brush, tree limbs, pine cones, rocks, and the usual stuff. The one downed tree across the trail took a fairly long time to remove but was eventually cut and dropped along side of the trail.

Lunch was had and then I don't know what else was done since I and a couple of others started to head down the mountain, me on bicycle, the others in cars. I stopped in at the abandoned fire station located in the Recreation Area to examine the work that previous Boy Scouts and other volunteers have done in restoring the pine tree nursery there.

After work survey

While I was biking down, I stopped to take a photograph of Coldbrook Campgrounds from far above, found that my digital camera was full, and was picked up by Ben in his pickup truck who was heading back down to Rincon.

In all it was a very successful day. A lot of work got done well, and it got done quickly -- what I saw of it in the morning, any way. When the Crystal Lake campgrounds eventually re-open, assuming they ever do, they will have one more trail to safely hike thanks to these Scouts and the Trailbuilders.

* Saturday morning gathering the the Visitor Center parking lot
* Mornings usually begind by waiting around, for some inexplicable reason
* The Crystal Lake Snack Bar and Trading Post, climbing while we wait around
* And since we're standing around doing nothing, may as well throw a football!
* Ben tries to get everyone to come over so we can get started
* Some of the Trailbuilders
* Two volunteers who have also brought their bicycles for the day
* Ben gives the quick safety meeting
* Ben covers each of the trail working tools that Scouts will be using today
* The only tree that needs cutting. I wanted Boy Scouts to remove this
* Working the trail with LcLouds, shovels rock bars
* Brush and stuff is picked up and moved off of the trail
* The fallen tree takes a fairly long time to remove
* A view generally North from Lake Trail
* Boy Scouts saw away at the downed tree while Trailbuilders watch for safety
* We didn't bring the crosscut saw so it takes a while to saw through
* A section of the trail that's being worked on
* Another section of the trail
* A water drainage trench is installed along this section of the trail
* Tree limbs that encroach along the trail are cut back just a bit
* A section of the trail looking generally North West
* A Trailbuilder volunteer
* One of the Boy Scout adult volunteers taht I snuck up on and photographed
* Toward the end of the first section of Lake Trail
* A Boy Scout pauses for a rest. Toward the end of the first section of trail
* Tom, one of the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders and our engineer
* Waiting at the end of the first section of Lake Trail -- 1
* Waiting at the end of the first section of Lake Trail -- 2
* Waiting at the end of the first section of Lake Trail -- 3
* Um, you're not supposed to do that -- LOL!
* One of the other trail workers with trail working tool
* We're standing around waiting once again. Some days we do that a lot
* We're all waiting to gather together to cross Lake Road
* Golly, who is that handsom, rugged trail working volunteer?
* My camera some times takes photographs without being asked to
* Much of the trail is lined with rocks to help define the trail
* Some sections of the trail were a bitmore difficult to define
* After the Scouts wet through, I walked back to examine how things went
* Jeanette from the Trailbuilders group continues to work in the distance
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 1
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 2
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 3
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 4
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 5
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 6
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 7
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 8
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 9
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 10
* Surveying the trail after it was reworked -- 11
* The washed-out trailhead that will be fixed this September with a bridge
* The trailhead sign needs to be set straight since it's leaning a bit
* The washed-out trailhead from the road side
* The "welcome all bears" sign at the Visitor Center
* Some of the pine saplings growing at the newly rebuild nursery
* Boy Scout volunteers have rebuilt the watering system at the nursery
* Lots of empty pots await more volunteers to fill them

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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