I usually don’t bother with trail maintenance. I my opinion our trails are fine as they are. I made an exception after the Jesusita fire because I was told the fire had damaged them. But generally when someone asks me to do maintenance I will say “That trail doesn’t need work; Arroyo Burro needs work, but none of the others does.” And for years that has been appropriate — but today they wanted to work on Arroyo Burro. Which does need work. So I felt I had to go.
We gathered at the top of Ontare Rd. at 8 o’clock. And we continued to gather there until about 8:45 when we finally got into city/county vehicles and carpooled through the locked gates and up to the powerlines near the 420 rock. At that point we waited again (one of the vehicles couldn’t climb the last hills and the people in that car had to be shuttled up to us). Then we had a little talk on safety. Picks are dangerous, and even the hoes we used are sharp — so we should space ourselves out on the trail and make sure people working knew when someone was passing. Then a discussion of what we were to do.
I think a trail needs to be about a foot wide, and not overgrown. If it is then I’m happy. These people want the trail to be 4 feet wide with at least a foot of cleared space (two feet even better) on either side. This is probably why I disagree about the need for maintenance — there’s almost always a foot-wide trail, but rarely a 6 foot trail…
Then we divided into groups, 5 groups of 6 people spaced along maybe half a mile of trail (the trail goes up for perhaps 4 miles beyond the 420 rock — we weren’t going to get it all). Then we started hiking. Once we got to our spot we had another lecture on what to do.
I started using my hoe after 9:30.
The trail is steep and overgrown. By their definition it has been washed out. Our job was to clear away the brush — uprooting shrubs, and pulling out dead vines (and then piling them on the downslope side of the trail) — and digging into the hillside above the washouts to fill in the trail below.
Before: Brush has been partially cleared in the foreground, but the trail dips into a washout where the guy is standing.
After More brush cleared, and trail bed more nearly level (it should have a slight camber so rain will run off the edge)
No one had worked on this trail since the Jesusita fire (probably much longer than that), and there was a lot of ravel. Also there was a lot of ash and charcoal lightly buried. The fire was more than four years ago… Strange to see that ash again…
It was a hot day, but there was a breeze. It could have been worse.
We took a break after an hour. After two hours we completed a section and our group leader decided that was enough for today. No one argued. We started back, but ran into the group below us who were going to work until noon, no matter what, so we found a little more we could do. And we did it.
I was a bit dismayed by how little we had accomplished. Not that we hadn’t worked hard, we had, but there is so much more to do. We (all 5 groups) might have worked on a quarter of the trail. So now about half a mile? or three quarters of a mile? of Arroyo Burro looks nice (a bit wider than I think is needed, but they pointed out that no one will work on it for maybe another ten years so the wider the better) but the next three miles need work.
We didn’t get to the section which I think is overgrown.
So I can still use Arroyo Burro as an excuse not to work on the other trails, and that is a relief.