30 September 2017

Tunnel Trail work

Santa Barbara front country

Click for location.

It is National Public Lands Day and that means there are many volunteer opportunities all over the forests, parks, and even BLM areas. Oh, and probably a few conservancy areas as well as city and county parks. It is also a fee free day on federal lands and whoever else is participating in fee free days. The gas to get to anything charging a fee and participating in the fee free day that is seems a bit silly to try to enjoy just one particularly crowded day once there. So, I am out to join a volunteer effort. Our Wednesday night sojourns up Tunnel Trail have shown that the brush is getting quite tight, so I went for the closest one which would set about fixing that.

down the canyon
The typical Tunnel Trail view down the canyon and over the city. I can see the hill behind the house from here!

Today, city and county parks seem to be in charge. We do not have any advantages in getting parking today, but once at the gate, we do get to hop into vehicles and go on up to where the catway splits just short of where the trail starts up as a single track. It is nice to skip the paved mile at the bottom. After a safety talk, we grab tools and head on up. There are only about 20 today, so we split into 2 groups to tackle the brush and tread of this trail.

cutting brush and scraping tread
A couple volunteers tackle the brush while one takes on the tread. Gordon has been improving trail all week, but is still out here on his day off!

I have to admit that I tend to think the tread of these front country trails is a lost cause. There are places where you are walking up through a 4 foot deep ditch along these. Those spots are rather unimprovable, but above and below them there is often something that can be done. Jesusita Trail next door had some new drainage carved out just before the last rains and they seem to have worked wonders on it. Certainly we can try on Tunnel too.

spray marks on the trail in a semi-circle
Marked for deletion. Trail paint in a semi-circle marks a spot to add drainage to a bit of trail that is currently catching water. We do not want this to become another 4 foot deep trench.

trail side and grasses knocked out
Perhaps not so noticeable from this angle, but the grass and berm on the outside has been knocked away and a semi-circle dip carved out to gently encourage the water to flow off the trail instead of down it.

Even with the rather drastic needs for better drainage, we can not ignore the tight brush. We have a couple gas powered trimmers to go after the grasses and small brush around the trail, but mostly is is cut with loppers.

trimming grasses and dead sage
First cleaning out the little stuff with a gentle and noisy sweep. Somewhat a before picture for the next, but I forgot where exactly I had done the first.

trail clearned of side brush
A bit of trail that is basically done. The sumac was reaching into the tread and now it has a few feet clearance.

For my part, I get to take a few cuts at the trail. Mostly, I end up tossing huge piles of cut brush off the trail. Gordon has brought along a very nice geared lopper and can get through stuff I would need to get out the saw for, so it is just sensible to clear it out so he can cut more of that. It actually seems to be the majority of the stuff along the side.

paragliders drifting downward
Some paragliders to watch as the day turns to afternoon. We saw 4 (only 3 pictured), including this one that is drifting a bit close to the rocks.

Down at the finish, we do actually get a sort of payment. There are big sandwich, chips, cookies, and soda to be had.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 3 October 2017

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