Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hodgepodge 173/365 - Trail Work

Mt. Manuel Trail, looking west
(toward the Pacific)
I spent a glorious day pulling and lopping weeds! And tossing them down a steep hillside! I sawed a couple of small trees as well, which was a nice break from the tugging and lopping. All to make a tiny dent with three fellow wilderness rangers on an overgrown trail (Mount Manuel) in Big Sur—overgrown because of last summer's Soberanes Fire coupled with copious rains this spring, and also because the forest has been closed since the fire started, so no hiking-booted feet have been keeping the vegetation at bay.

Midafternoon I dropped my tools and took a walk upward to scope things out: the trail is still obvious—nowhere is it not passable—but man, the work that needs to be done to get it back to "clear" status, never mind "wilderness highway." It was, I confess, a tad discouraging. Spiny thistles, encroaching ceanothus, and in places five-foot-tall wild oats. Not to mention dips and drop-offs in the tread.

But a dent we made, and once the forest opens and booted feet resume, hopefully the trail will show itself again and the weeds—I mean, healthy native vegetation—will be convinced to quiet down.

I now am redolent of sage, because some of the time I was sitting in the middle of sage bushes lopping away: So many stems! So lush! It could have been worse . . .

I did not have a camera with me, not even my phone, but a few highlights of the day were (stealing from others' photos):

A California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) flew right over us,
checking us out
(photo by Mark K. Daly)
This photo is from San Luis Obispo, but the top of Mt. Manuel
looked very much like the top of that mountain: covered with poppies
(photo by Kurtis Wurster)
Globe lilies, aka fairy lanterns (Calochortus albus), were out in force,
along with so many other flowers, making a gorgeous
bouquet of whites, pinks, lavenders, oranges, scarlets, blues
I love these little (and they are little—11–16 inches long,
the thickness of a pencil) coral-bellied ring-necked snakes
(Diadophis punctatus pulchellus),
and one rippled out
to bid us farewell as we walked back to our car
(photo by Gary Nafis)

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