The morning work

Today the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders continued to work on the approaches to the new foot bridge going in behind the Environmental Education Center across the street from the Rincon Fire Station. And what fun it was, too!

The Trailbuilders met at the market parking lot down below the San Gabriel Mountains in the city of Azusa and then climbed in to a few motorized vehicles to drive up some 12 miles into the Angeles National Forest where the EEC is located. Collecting tools at the fire station, we hiked across the highway to the Center and got to work before the heat of the day really started to climb.

NOTE to self: Let's start an hour early on those days that are more than 100 degrees, shall we?

Upon getting to the Center, we found the place hopping with activity with a lot of Forestry people, about 20 regular volunteers, and about 30 young volunteers getting ready to donate their time and effort to help with the watershed restoration and reclamation up in these canyons.

The Los Angeles Conservation Corps were there! (See http://www.lacorps.org/ for some background in to the wonderful work that they do.) The LACorps volunteers transplanted over 100 pine saplings in the on-going effort to assist the retention and purification of the drinking water that flows out of these mountain canyons and through our kitchen faucets, an effort that not helps us humans but helps the plants and animals that live in these canyons.

More rock work

The support post for the hand railing that the USFS intern and I had put in had to be removed since one of our engineers noticed that it was in the wrong place, but other than that the work site was ready for further development.

Janette, Ben, Lou, Wayne, Tom, and myself worked on the approaches to the bridge for about two hours, hauling boulders, rocks, gravel, and sand, creating rock walls to hold the fill material for the West approach. Because most of the large boulders have been collected in the area previously, we had to go further and further afield to collect suitable boulders.

Janette also worked on cutting back some of the brush and other growth that always seems to encroach upon this nature trail -- while trying to avoid the poison oak, probably. We noticed that someone had come through the trail and had orange flagged the clumps of poison oak, probably so that the school kids that talk the hike can either avoid it or play in it, whatever they desire.

Lou walked into a board I had propped up, whacking himself in the head but not doing any more damage than had already been done over the previous years of working hard in the blazing Sun. In fact the heat was kind of slowing things down a bit, but for two hours we made excellent progress.

The finished approach

About a half hour or so before we were going to take a pause for lunch (and for me, a cold bath in the creek further up the ravine) several members of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps came over to lend a hand.

The LACC split in to two groups, collecting rocks and gravel in buckets. dumping them on the East approach to fill in the dogbone matrix we had built during the past year, and also collecting sand and gravel in buckets to dump in to the West approach which, thanks to their help, we finished!

The West approach looks great, with only the hand railing needing to be established. There are some constraints about where we may place the railing because there is a nature sign kind of in the way of the approach, and we don't want to dig it up and move it (you can see the sign's position in the photograph named eec7002.jpg, and the completed approach in eec7011.jpg.)

Having the LACC join us was a welcome boost to the day's project since it added that last surge before the heat got too high which enabled us to complete the approach to the new bridge without any of us older volunteers having heatstroke or something.

During lunch I took my pack and walked up to the upper bridge which the Trailbuilders had also built years ago, checking to see how much water was still available since when we put in the rail posts, we will want some water for that for when we pack the gravel back in to the post holes.

There was enough water for me to swap out my sweaty clothes for shorts and scrub down with some cold water. Though I didn't see any rattlesnakes this time, there were plenty of bees, and I had hummingbirds diving at the yellow marking on the shirt I had laid out to dry -- as well as diving at my face to try to figure out what kind of freakish creature I was (most of the critters up here rarely, if ever, see humans.)

After lunch we had basically an engineering discussion about the other approach as well as further discussion about the placement of boulders on the West end of the bridge which will be used to slow down the water and keep the heavy surges of water we some times get from impacting directly on to the dogbone matrix.

Finished for the day

The East side of the bridge footing is covered in large boulders, placed largely by Boy Scout volunteers. Just standing alone without such infrastructure, the footings themselves weight about 12,000 pounds, and they are tightly pinned and bolted together with the weight of the actual bridge also contributing to the solid footing.

Packing huge boulders around the footings is another added step that makes the work that the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders do so highly regarded among the Forest Service and other volunteer organizations. Things get done right, and if they're not right the first time, we have engineers -- usually Tom! -- who demands perfection so it gets pulled apart, dug up, moved aside, and then rebuilt so that it's perfect.

If you look at this bridge -- more so if you look at eec7011.jpg -- you can get a sense for just how much effort went in to building this bridge. This was all done by hand with the only machines being used being hand saws.

All of the young volunteers -- Boy Scouts, church groups, High School groups, and the LACC -- all of the volunteers who assisted with this effort will be able to come back and say, Here is something I did, something useful that I helped to build. If they have children and if they visit, they can stand on the bridge and tell their kids that they helped to build this -- and this bridge will be there for the next 50 years, most likely, considering the way the bridge was engineered and built.

And of course it's fun.

* eec7000.jpg -- The Environmental Education Center is pretty busy this morning
* eec7001.jpg -- Regular forest volunteers tool-up for the coming week end
* eec7002.jpg -- The bridge effort so far while we discuss the day's effort
* eec7003.jpg -- Lou builds the rock retaining wall for the West approach
* eec7004.jpg -- A wider look at the effort so far
* eec7005.jpg -- The dogbones still need to be filled and the rock walls built
* eec7006.jpg -- Wayne and half of the LACC collect more gravel in buckets
* eec7007.jpg -- The rock walls have been built and the gravel flows in
* eec7008.jpg -- A break for lunch and I check out the upper bridge
* eec7009.jpg -- Poison oak has been flagged along the nature trail
* eec7010.jpg -- A new feature on the nature trail -- rock-lined camping?
* eec7011.jpg -- One approach has the path completed, now needs railing
* eec7012.jpg -- Much of the gravel we will use later will come from here
* eec7013.jpg -- It took me a half hour to dig out this boulder. Arrgh!
* eec7014.jpg -- We are finished for the day, a final look at the project

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