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Southern Pacific Rattler

Greetings, everyone, and welcome to another exciting adventure in trail building and maintenance, this time at the lower bridge going in behind the Environmental Education Center at Rincon in the Angeles National Forest.

And a wonderfully perfect day it was volunteering in the forest, too. Not too hot, water up the creek (so-to-speak) in the morning, one unobtrusive rattle snake, poison oak (my favorite) and a lot of good, steady work got done on the bridge supports and its approaches.

But first, if you haven't seen the insides of the EEC lately, there are some photographs offered in the links below which you might be interested in. Cabinets and wall coverings have been applied to the building and it really looks great! Additional electric exhaust fans have been added to assist the reptile and other critter's comfort during the Summer months, and volunteers have really refurbished the EEC to where it all literally looks like new.

Over any given year a fairly large number of people come to the Center, either for brief periods of education about the flora and fauna of the forest, or to gather and get organized for other volunteer projects taking place within the canyons. In fact the EEC is host to a lot of different projects and lectures and everything else one might imagine.

Behind the Center is the nature hike along which the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders have established, um, er, well one and a half bridges. Or maybe one and three quarters bridges. The upper bridge still has water flowing under it today (shown in a photograph offered below) and the lower bridge which is completed but still needs its approaches constructed does not have water flowing above ground under it this time of year.

Southern Pacific Rattler

Today the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders had a USFS intern working with then. Myself, Lou, Janette, Ben, and the intern dug three 30-inch-deep holes for the posts that we cut and planted which will support the approach railing, and while Ben and the intern worked on cutting and drilling dogbone concrete blocks, and while Janette worked on sanding and wood-epoxy filling-in rough spots on the bridge, Lou and I worked on building a retaining wall for the Eastern approach.

The work that Janette did on the woodwork of the bridge really looks good. Rough edges were smoothed out, cracks and holes were patched up and then sanded, and splintering was mended. Eventually the wood will be sealed one more time before the bridge is pressed in to service. Lou tightened up the bolts a bit too, first thing.

Digging the third post hole was a real chore since it required excavating a hole larger than we had wanted because it always seems that there's always a big boulder down there where we want to put a hole through. But we had worked a section of the ground to be flat to accommodate the rock retaining wall for the Eastern approach in that spot so it wasn't really any wasted effort.

Bringing the big boulders down from above was difficult only because they were covered with huge man-eating ants. When you lift the edge of the boulder out of the ground and roll it over, billions and billions of huge ants waving swords and screaming for human flesh come boiling out of the ground.

Southern Pacific Rattler

It's funny. None of the other trailbuilders even bothered to look up when I started running around and stomping my feet, slapping my arms screaming, "Get 'em offa me! Get 'em offa me!" up there on the ridge overlooking the bridge effort. Their lack of desire to save my life showed great dedication in the volunteer work that they do.

The posts for the railing that will be going in were planted with alternating bouts of water, dirt, rocks, and gravel with hard tamping of the mix alternating to compact the footing -- while a bubble level was used to try to keep the posts mostly straight upright. I was getting the water for that from a pool not too far up the creek (photograph offered below) but that pool dried up and the creek's flow of water dropped considerably as noon time approached.

Walking up to the upper bridge to pour some cold water over my head and to scrub and relieve the stinging ant bites, I stepped right over a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake that I didn't notice until I heard a "snick snick" and looked down. The thing looked like it was dead because two spots on its head looked like eyes so I thought it was belly up -- and it wasn't shaking its ass end. After nudging it with a stick it started to shake -- a three-knob rattle, it looked like, which I think means it's 1 or 2 years old (shown in photographs below.)

We try not to molest the wildlife any more than we need to when working in the forest so we kept an eye on each other while I filled my old leather hat with water and dumped it over my head a number of times.

While packing up the tools and things, Janette worked the trail below the new bridge so that the little tikes that take the nature trail from now on will have a safe path around the bridge across the creek. From the photographs you can see that the new bridge is coming along very well. When it's completed the temporary foot path will be removed and reworked so that it looks natural.

* Some of the grounds around the Environmental Education Center
* A virtual duplicate of the previous photograph for some reason
* Today there were a lot of volunteers and visitors at the EEC
* Inside the center the reptile cages and the new wood work
* The office inside the EEC with wood paneling
* New cabinets installed in the main room at the EEC
* The front of the room has been reworked as well with new cabinets
* The room where the reptile cages are stored
* Inside the back room where the reptile cages are stored
* A wider look at the education center's main room
* Outside the Center before 9:00 a.m., volunteeers and Forestry people
* Someone had marked spots of poison oak along the trail with flags
* Overlooking the bridge prior to work beginning for the day
* After I cut the first posts, the intern cut the second post
* The pool of water where we got water for the post footings
* Lou and Ben drilling pin holes for the dogbone concrete blocks
* The intern presses down on the tamping board to compact the footing
* Janette works with the electric sanders and other electric tools
* Along look from above the effort
* Wood putty was used to fill in cracks and holes, then got sanded flat
* A saw is used to cut through the tough dogbone concrete-and-rebar blocks
* Rattle snake
* Rattle snake after being nudged gently with a stick }:-}
* Water still flowing through the upper bridge. Great concrete work, huh?
* It's about time for lunch and we have two posts installed and a rock wall
* It's lunch time!
* Lou holds the third post and tamps it down while I shovel dirt and get water
* You can see how the third post will look like when the railing gets in
* We have packed up our tools and have stopped working for the day
* Back down at the Rincon Fire Station, a look at the green hills
* Sorting through the tools and putting them away

Site map is at: Crystal Lake site map
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