03 June 2017

Santa Cruz Trail work

Los Padres National Forest

Track on Alltrails.

National Trails Day is the first Saturday in June, which can be a touch on the hot side in the local backcountry. Still, there is a great enthusiasm for it and there are always a few events around. I decided to hop over the hill to see Santa Cruz again. I hiked it after the burn, but rain storms had come after to add further injury. We gather at First Crossing even though we were meant to gather at Lower Oso because the gate is mysteriously closed. Apparently the new management company has decided that this is where the day use areas get closed overnight and that overnight should be from 5 PM to 8 AM. The advantage of using the other gate being that there is a clear sign warning about the closure so that people do not get locked in. There is some grumbling from people who have already been locked in without any reason to think it would happen. When the Parks Management employee sees fit to open up the gate around 8 AM, we can finally get moving to and through the expected locked gate. The road to Upper Oso is closed because of damage to the campground and road surface. It looks like the high water was as far over the bridge as the bridge is above the creek bed. However, the road has been in decay for so long that I cannot see any damage that was not already there. Parking in the upper lot, all but a few of about 30 volunteers walk the last 0.7 miles up the road to the trailhead.

opening up the last gate to the OHV road
Pushing open the last gate to the OHV road to let through a lot of hikers and the truck of tools.

Buckhorn Road
The road has had plenty of bulldozer action to clean it out including many drains that were clogged before. No gravel seems to have arrived for the spring area.

The trail is still marked as closed by the parking lot (with no closure order attached) but people are using it, at least a little way, and even signing in at the register. We stop to get our tools and hard hats and safety talk. With the big group expected today, they have flagged out sections for a bunch of subgroups to work in. We are only working as far as Nineteen Oaks today. The work is almost entirely moving dirt to try to discover the tread beneath. There is one tree across the trail to cut away just a few feet short of the Nineteen Oaks junction and there are a couple gas brush trimmers, but otherwise we are entirely outfitted with a McLeod and a Pulaski or a trail Smith before heading out.

safety dance
Tools, hats, and instructions. Time to talk safety.

gloves on
Gloves on, it is time to begin work.

I set to finding the trail in the first section with a few others. Here, we have a few spots where debris is falling down making humps that slope outward steeply and one spot next to the rock edge that has gotten quite narrow along with a number of other narrowing spots. The rock even requires some chipping to help the trail.

wider tread
The mountain bikers felt it was safe enough to ride only after the narrow bits were widened. Still some tread to rediscover, though.

pulling down sides
How it got that way. Pulling a lot of dirt down off the side and getting a lot more dirt and rocks off the trail bed.

improved trail
Some more worked trail by burned and regrowing oaks.

next group along
A few orange spots up the creek are another group working on the next section.

creek thick with moss
The creek has been flowing for so long it is now thick with green.

hard spot along the trail
A nice hard spot along the trail only requires a little work, but sometimes needs a lot.

worked trail
Another little bit of worked trail.

moss covered in fine dirt
Not so green now after we have been moving the dirt off the trial.

Walking our section when we are just about done, there is a spot with a bit of berm to take off and still a hump that really needs to go down a foot. The berm goes fast but the hump is just a terror. It may be down an inch or two as it becomes time to pack up and return.

rejoining into a big group
Trying to find some shade from the sun or just doing some finishing touches.

We drop the borrowed tools and hats off at the truck and walk back to the cars. Oh, and there is plenty of food to be had at the finish.

grey ash spots
Ash still remains in some spots. One of the larger or small canyons to the northwest.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 16 Jun 2017

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