13 March 2017

Franklin Trail - phase III

Los Padres National Forest

I have gotten on various mailing lists for trail work volunteers and today it means hitting "phase III" of the Franklin Trail without having to walk up to or along the various utility roads first. Our entry point was surprising to me, but the final parking is exactly as expected. With a safety briefing, we take off in two groups to do some trail work. I am with Mike who is cutting away the brush to bring the trail up to specifications for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian users. The last requires quite a bit of clearance. We head up a little over a mile to where we are starting work. The trail looks a lot different from when I was here before.

tread work
There has been a lot of tread work on the trail now. When it was just a "p-line", it was just clear enough to let the odd archaeologist or biologist through.

sea of fog lapping at the hills
There is very little city below because the ocean is topped with a sea of fog.

Santa Cruz in the fog
Down the valley to Carpinteria and Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands.

Happily, we are in a somewhat north facing area to work in at first. It is hard to take down the manzanita and some of it inspires debate that really seems to be looking for an excuse to leave this one or that one. It is also difficult because an 8 inch diameter log of still moist hard wood is quite heavy to shift. We try to get the cuttings out of sight down the hill and fail all too often.

caterpillar eating a leaf
We are not the only ones working at the vegetation.

This is my first time doing trail work outside of a wilderness area and next to power tools. Today we get to use a chain saw, or rather Mike does. It is his chain saw. It is decidedly loud and ear plugs seem rather ineffective and particularly uncomfortable. There is a most dreadful stink to go with the noise. There is a bit of down time at random moments to fiddle with the tools to get a thing far more complicated than a pair of loppers or a folding saw going. However, it does zip right through whatever it is put to while it is running.

some easterly views from a saddle
Getting a little less foggy below. The easterly view from a saddle still shows some mainland looking like more islands in the fog.

remnant of the original trail
The old tread is still here in places.

As we hit a saddle in the sun, we settle in for more work in the sun. As cool as it must be down on the foggy coast, we are dealing with high 80s up here. There is very little shade left. It does tend to lead to smaller plants as well, so there is not quite so much work. We keep on going to just short of the rock ledge I called "the best seat in the house" on the previous trip up here. One last jump of the chain saw chain puts an end to work since it is just about time to head down.

looking down the ridge and trail
Down along ridge and trail to Carpinteria below.

We head up to the striking rock ledge perch to look over this trail and canyon. Below us, there is a glitter of water in the steep canyon. It crosses the trail just a little way up, but when I got to look, there is no water there. It has been dry for a while and a mass of moss is dying above the trail. Still, below clearly has some water. We could hear a lot more flowing in lower spots. We head back down.

white flowers
Not a lot of flowers out yet. Just a few blue dicks in the grass, bush poppies in the brush, and a couple spurts of prickly phlox on a rocky hillside. The ceanothus is going wild, though.

trail below
This trail is getting almost as easy to pick out as the utility roads below.

We pause in the shade a bit as we come down. It is that hot. It is 4:30 PM as we leave, so already cooling, and the temperature reads 86°F but the trail is that little bit closer to being ready.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 14 March 2017

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