Photographs are provided at the bottom of this web page. A video of some of this is also provided.


A first look

Hanging trees across hiking trails constitute a safety hazard that eventually either have to be pulled down or eventually fall on their own -- hopefully without falling on someone! And even hanging trees that cross trails in areas that are closed to the public constitute some measure of hazard since such trails are still utilized by people: people who walk in on foot, and hunters, fairly often.

Yesterday (20/Oct/07) the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders organized the removal of a tree over hanging Cedar Canyon Trail within the Crystal Lake Recreation Area, a tree which probably would not have fallen on its own for many years to come but which was still a fallen tree that would need to be bucked up and removed eventually.

The work continues

This hiking trail is a very popular one since it follows a running stream and the trees are fairly dense, consisting of sugar pine, bristle cone pine, Douglas fir, oak, and an occasional maple tree. The woods are shaded and the trail is a fairly well built and well maintained one.

The area where the tree was removed is at a section of the trail where the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders had established a retaining wall which eventually buckled due to the moisture in the surrounding hillside against which the Trailbuilders established the trail.

This is somewhat amusing since when we dropped about three thousand pounds of Douglas fir on the trail, the retaining wall was pushed backwards by about another two inches or so, and eventually the crews of volunteers will be returning to dig out and fix that area of the trail once and for all using baskets which will hold up to the dynamic geologic forces a whole lot better.

The work continues

For this project we had Ben, Mike, Seth, Lou, and myself, and so far as trail work days went, this was a fairly easy volunteer day. I got to use a dull ax to remove limbs from the tree to be removed and any opportunity to swing an ax is a good one!

Mike did all of the actual sawing but the rest of us were able to widen and restore a section of the trail around the fallen tree. We also took a look further up the trail to examine another fallen tree that could some day be a hazard however that tree was well lodged and probably won't come down anytime within the next 100 years, any way.

There is actually some water distribution infrastructure in there along the creek, probably dating back some 50 years or so. An old and rusted four inch water pipe runs along the hiking trail and leads to a concrete box where rusty valves are located, and further up the creek there is a water pipe capped off standing straight up where there was probably a stream coming from the hillside many years ago.

The first cut is done

There is a white metal box embedded in along the stream that the Trailbuilders looked at for removal, possibly using a metal hook and a grip hoist to pull out of the ground so that the metal garbage can be packed out, hopefully in pieces.

It was an uneventful day for most of us. Last week end there were a great many poachers in the campgrounds however today we not only didn't see any but we didn't hear any of them shooting. Last week end the Department of Fish and Game and the Sheriff's Office repeatedly had to come up and flush poachers out of the area, but today we were able to work safely without having to worry about drunks with guns up there.

Unfortunately it wasn't an uneventful day for Bron and a crew of Boy Scouts who were in the area evaluating the rock slide area along Windy Gap Trail that the Trailbuilders had cleared about five weeks ago. (That rock slide area needs a retaining wall established to hold back the hillside so that Windy Gap remains safe.) Some car problems occured but Bron and the other volunteers were able to get their damaged vehicle to the Rincon Fire Station easilly enough.

And a good time was had by most!


* The volunteers collect the tools needed for the tree removal
* We parked at the base of the trailhead
* A first look at the hanging tree to be removed
* We examine the tree and discuss how we might remove it safely
* Surrounding brush and branches are cleared out to improve safety
* Limbs are removed from the fallen tree to also improve safety
* A section of the trail got some tread work
* Removing branches makes trees easier to roll and keeps them from hitting us
* Mike with the sharp ax. I used the dull ax more like a hammer
* We keep an eye out for hikers who might use the trail while we work
* While working, we constantly re-evaluate the project at every step
* More of the same
* Under bucking is done to start out with after clearing an escape path
* Ben stands ready to keep an eye on other tree limbs and other movements
* The lay of the downed tree is constantly re-examined during the cutting
* More of the same
* I take a look at another tree further up the hiking trail
* This tree is wedged solid between other trees and probably won't fall soon
* Back at the tree removal, Mike starts cutting from the top downward
* More of the same
* More of the same
* The first cut is just about completed
* More of the same
* The first cut has been completed and the end cleaned up. Looks great!
* A look at the project so far from the other side
* More of the same
* The rest of the fallen tree must be bucked up and removed from the trail
* The cut section gets examined and evaluated for further cutting
* This section also gets under bucked first before top cutting
* What the area looks like so far
* The second cut gets widened by wedges to see if it will crack apart
* Wedges didn't quite do the job so another bit of cutting was done
* The cut section below the trail but be seporated and pushed further
* We wtahc Ben and Mike ding the heavy lifting. Ha!
* One two three SHOVE! The newly cut section must be pushed off
* We need room under the trail so that we may rebuild the retaining wall
* And that section of the downed tree is pushed out of the way
* A look at the general trail area after we are finished for today
* Mike has lunch -- if you can call it that! Dead fish in pepper sauce
* In fact we all have lunch
* How Mike can eat rotting animal carcass is anybody's guess. Shudder!
* Let's take a look at the stream and the general Cedar Canyon area
* There is lots of good water that we're told we shouldn't drink straight
* And the dense trees in the area certainly enjoy the clear water
* Some day we may want to remove this hung up tree if it's a hazard
* I can't tell what we're looking at here
* A general look around the hiking area along Cedar Canyon Trail
* Soe of the trees are very old and very big -- Lou stands in front of one
* On the way down. I really dislike recreational killers, many are drunk
* We pause at Rincon Educational Center to examine our previous bridge work
* The bridge foundation looks really good
* We examine the lower bridge that the Trailbuilders are still putting in
* There are nature signs and I'm happy to see a sample of poison oak

If you wish to download a copy of the video that shows all of these photographs CLICK HERE and you may save it to your computer for later viewing.

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 by Fredric Rice. Please note that information on this web page may be inaccurate.

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