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Cutting brush on Lower Bear Creek Trail

Today about 27 volunteers started trail restoration and clean up along the Lower Bear Creek Trail whose trailhead begins at mile marker 1 along West Fork Road. And what fun it was, too! Warm out in the Sun and nicely cool in the shade. And since we worked in a canyon the weather was perfect!

We met at the Ranch Market on the corner of 9th and Azusa Blvd. and once everyone was ready to go we headed up to the Rincon Fire Station to collect our tools and get a safety rundown on the tool use and some of the local flora and fauna that like to sting, bite, or irritate young volunteers. LOL!

Much of the start of the trail was pretty deep in dead leaves, rocks tumbled on to the trail, tripping hazards of branches and tree limbs, all of which was fairly easy to remove using McLouds, picks, and shovels. Debris was removed from the trail and rocks were stacked up along the trail and eventually the whole starting section of the trail was completely cleaned up.

Many of the volunteers set out with loppers and hand saws to cut back the encroaching brush, cutting things back and tossing the removed growth generally off the trail toward the creek.

The trail itself seems to be used mostly by people on foot however rugged bicycles and horses can be used on the trail so some effort was made to proactively work the trail to accommodate bikes and horses.

Widening the trail and removing low hanging branches

Since I'm old and stupid with little use for brains I climbed up the hill side and worked my way across a friable granite outcrop to reach a tree whose limbs were drooping down in to the trail, carting up a bow saw to where I could sit on the tree trunk and saw at the limbs. Once those dropped on to the trail I got to sit there resting and wondering if I was stuck.

It was a nice view from up there since I could see a large section of the trail and could see a lot of volunteers strung out on both sides. One of these days I should get a modern camera instead of the cheap lightweight first generation thing I've been carrying around for ten years now.

Ah well. I worked my way carefully back down to the trail and carried the chainsaw stuff to the first large downed tree across the trail. People had been going around the dead tree which looked to me to be safe enough but wasn't really good for anyone on bicycle so the tree got sectioned up and removed.

That whole section where the downed tree had been removed from got a considerable amount of attention to restore the path. The trail was filled in with fill from the hillside and smoothed over so that come the next rain the whole section will look like the downed tree had never blocked passage.

A view from above while sitting in a tree

Much hand sawing and loppering took place from that point on to the next downed tree limb which also got sectioned up. Freddie raked up the debris and that section of the trail was done!

It was really nice having a hot lunch provided by the Buddhist Youth Group though I was very suspicious of what was in it since I don't eat animals. I was assured that nobody I knew was in the vegetable soup so I took the bowl and enjoyed it very much! Tasty sweet corn, well cooked noodles, it was really good stuff!

In all we didn't work very many hours but a fairly long section of trail was reworked and a lot of work got done. The next series of volunteer efforts along the trail will resume past the point where hikers must cross the heavily flowing creek. Most of that will be doing much the same as we did today.

Also there were a number of hikers that passed us while we worked, something that always makes me happy to see, more so when kids use the hiking and nature trails since so few kids ever seem willing or able to get out of the cities, get away from the television, game boxes, and this Internet, and get exercise in the healthy outdoors.

When we were finished the trail looks great!

On the way down the mountain, Ben, myself, and Huwhy (spelling?) stopped to examine how much water was being held behind the two dams. We drink that water and some of the volunteer work that people do in these canyons is aimed at improving the quality of the water that we drink down in the cities. Neither of the two basins had much water in them and I hope that we get some rains to fill them up, otherwise we may have water rationing this coming Summer.

Next volunteer day is probably going to be January 10th and hopefully we will be able to resume work on this trail. It's a really good trail to work on since it's so easily accessed by hikers and the canyon makes the hike -- and the volunteer work -- very cool.

* We gather at Rincon Fire Station
* There were over 20 volunteers from the Buddhist Youth Group
* Ben gives a brief safety rundown on the tool use, flora, and fauna
* The trailhead for Lower Bear Creek Trail starts at mile number 1
* The trailhead begins under the bridge near the two metal signs
* Our tools and unpacked and everybody stages up to start working
* Golly, who is that handsom character? Nice hat, too
* Most of the volunteers have left West Fork Road and taken to the trail
* Work begins on the trail immediately, clearing brush, tree limbs, leaves
* I climb up the hill to cut tree branches then pause to take photographs
* Some of the downed tree limbs are shown here in clumps
* It doesn't take very long before a lot of progress is made
* The first set of downed trees across the trail. Note how people go around
* While oiling up the chainsaw, volunteers work up and down the trail
* The second tree limb down across the trail. People step over this one
* A look further up the trail
* Another look at the tree that's blocking the trail at this point
* The tree has been cut and removed, Freddie raked the debris and we're done!
* Back at the first tree that was removed, volunteers have rebuilt the trail!
* A closer look at the trail that was rebuilt at the first downed tree
* Tree limbs that droop to where horses and bicycle riders get hit are removed
* Thede two limbs are drooping so I dangerously and stupidly climb up and cut
* While I'm resting in the tree from up above I take photographs of volunteers
* Still in my tree. You can see the trail really looks great!
* I pause at the creek to wash some blood off. My new pack is rugged!
* Volunteers spread out along the creek
* Rocks and debris continue to get removed and repositioned along the trail
* Much of the trail is wide open and really looks good
* Some of the trail still needs to have brush removed along the trail
* We are back at the first spot where the tree was removed, heading home
* My camera goes off soe times without being asked to. I hang equipment on
* The chainsaw is packed up, everyone is carting off two or three tools
* Some of the start of the trail still needs to be smoothed out some
* Since there's room in the camera I photograph the creek a bit
* Jeanette and I make sure no tools are left behind
* The start of the trail really looks good
* Some spray paint will need to be removed. Freddie has removed a lot so far
* Another look at the creek before we leave for the day
* Back on the West Fork Road
* Back on the West Fork Road
* There is that handsome fellow with the cool hat once again
* The Buddhist Youth Group has a hot vegetarian lunch! Good stuff!
* On the way down we pause to take a look at the water begind San Gabriel Dam
* There isn't much water behind the San Gabriel Dam, unfortunately
* Hopefully we will get more rain and fill these basins up!
* Ben and Huwhy (spelling?) looking at the water
* We also take a look at Morris Dam to see if water is being released
* A look along the river past Morris Dam

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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