Thursday, April 23, 2015

365 True Things: 26/Work (VWA)

Today was a work party on the Terrace Creek and Pine Ridge trails in beautiful Big Sur, with my usual trail pal, Lynn (at the front in this picture), plus my trail boss, Steve, and his lovely wife, Beth (currently sporting a right forearm cast thanks to a fall in a creek on a previous work party—she's number two in the pic), and another volunteer wilderness ranger, Dave. We worked hard and accomplished a lot:
  • one wilderness toilet seat installed at Barlow Flat Camp (Dave)
  • three trees cut out of the Pine Ridge Trail (Lynn and Steve)
  • three hundred yards (by our feeble estimate—it might have been much more) of brush cleared from the Terrace Creek Trail (Beth and me)
The brush included ceanothus, tan oak, an extravagant wild pea (you pull and pull and pull, and it keeps on coming!), elderberry, poison oak—and more. We deal with these encroachments on the trail with loppers and handsaws. Plus it's a good upper-body workout, because you then have to toss the trimmings down the hill. The trees—attacked with cross-cut saw and come-along—included a madrone, which they expected to be troublesome but was not, and a tan oak. I'm not sure what the third tree was. Probably also a tan oak. They fall down a lot.

Most of this work was performed in anticipation of a USFS mule team coming next Thursday to bring three wilderness toilets in to problematic Sykes Camp (problematic because, with its well-known hot springs, it is very, very popular—but in a place, a narrow canyon without much river edge, that can't stand up to such popularity). In turn, the mule team will carry out the many hundreds of pounds of trash—most of it from Sykes Camp—that we wilderness rangers have been stashing over the last couple of years, just off the trail. We carry out what we can ourselves, but we're no match for the Sykes Camp hordes.

People don't realize how much work is required—and is done mostly by volunteers—on these trails in our national forests and wilderness areas. They walk (or stumble) after a long hike into a nice, well-kept campsite, and take it for granted. That's not to say that most backpackers aren't good Leave No Trace practitioners. But: so many people we see on the Pine Ridge Trail are ill equipped for what they seem to consider a stroll in the park—but it's a ten-mile stroll, up and down over steep eleva-tions. Their Coleman stove and cooler aren't appropriate, and all too often, we wilderness rangers end up carting out their abandoned gear.

And don't get me started on toilet paper.

But today: I was happily engaged in whacking weeds. And occasionally I'd stop to take a look around. And listen. We got the sheer pleasure of a foggy morning with "redwood rain" (fog drops dripping from the trees so hard it sounded like rain). Delicate gold-silk globe lilies, and native Douglas iris. The sweet sound of quail and the sharp laughter and knocking of acorn woodpeckers. That's the payoff for volunteering as a ranger. It works for me.

1 comment:

  1. beautiful with the signature sign off…. a familiarity. "It works for me". I'm really enjoying these entries.