TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration | High Sierra Topix  

TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

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TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby mschnaidt » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:55 pm

This Spring I was looking for opportunities to volunteer my time. I searched a bit hoping that I would be able to find something that would let me give back and let me do it in the mountains. I found and joined a non-profit volunteer organization that allowed me to do exactly that. One of my backpacking buds joined also. This TR details our first back country experience with the group.

Fri 8/5 - The group met at the Summit Wilderness Office which is behind the Summit Ranger Station in Pinecrest. We had a quick meeting with the FS Rangers and the Ranger Interns that would be joining us on our project. We then headed to Aspen Meadow Pack Station and dropped off our packs as we had packer support on the trip.

We then drove up to Gianelli Cabin trailhead and started our hike to Chewing Gum Lake. The hike went quickly without packs and we were soon at Chewing Gum Lake. The lake is only 4 miles or so from the TH and is used heavily. There were two groups of 14, a group of 11 and several groups of 2-3. Our group was 9. 5 volunteers, 2 FS Rangers and 2 Interns. There are lots of legal campsites at CGL and it was easy to find one for our group. The packer arrived shortly after us carrying our packs and the tools we would be using for the next few days.

After lunch we were introduced to the process of restoring illegal campsites (Those within 100 feet of the lake). CGL had plenty of them. The first thing we did was pull apart the fire rings, shovel out the ashes and disperse them and the rocks. Next to go was the "furniture", rock seats and logs. Then we addressed the tent sites with a technique known as iceberging. This is where we dug deep and large holes in the tenting areas and placed large (500 lb+) rocks within them leaving the top third of the rock above ground level. The rock was then braced with smaller rocks and the soil returned and leveled. We then took forest duff and spread it over the campsite. The result was pretty amazing.

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The group worked on multiple campsites both legal and illegal around the lake on Friday and Saturday. Legal campsites were left alone except for having the fire rings reduced in size and the ashes dispersed. Campsites that were occupied were left alone until they were vacated.

On Saturday I joined a work party that went over to Granite Lake. We hiked cross country from CGL to Y-Meadow Dam and then up to Granite. Granite was almost as busy as CGL. There were two large parties and 4-5 smaller ones there. We proceeded around the lake working on campsites. Most of the campers were in legal sites and we received many thank you's from the people we met. There were plenty of illegal sites though and we had a full day.

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We then hiked back to CGL via Y-Meadow Res on the main trail. Hiking cross country with a 19 lb steel rock-bar in your hands was a little tough even though we took turns with it, the pick, shovel and rock sling. At Y-Meadow there were plenty of tents with one setup within 30 ft of the lake. The Ranger that was with us was eager to have a conversation with them but they were not around.

It was very interesting to watch the Rangers interact with the groups we encountered. They were very friendly and professional. They gave tips and guidance to all, and were very patient and informative. I was impressed by their energy, stamina and dedication to their very demanding jobs. The worked hard and kept long hours. They were still working well after I was in my hammock after a swim and sipping on a strong rum drink :) .

On Sunday we changed it up a bit and worked on the trail from CGL to Crabtree. One of our Rangers had previous experience running a trail crew and taught us techniques for improving rough sections of trail. We worked within a half mile of CGL. We added steps, cleared brush and made the trail easier to see and hike on. We were unable to take on the real tough stuff (Bless the CCC!) as our volunteer group were all 40-50+. We did do some good work though and hopefully the trail will be easier to negotiate. We headed back to camp and restored another site that had been occupied. We quit for the day around 3:30 while our Rangers continued working.

Our nights were spent swimming, relaxing, getting to know each other and watching our Rangers make the most amazing fresh meals. As this was our first trip we were unaware of the possibility of bringing in an ice chest and all of the options it opens. Next time!

On Monday we hiked out. There was FS packer support for the tools, ice chest and packs but we carried ours out as it was a short hike and the packs were light.

Looking back on the trip, we've both decided that although it was hard work we're going to stay in the organization. The first day was a bit of an eye opener but once we figured a few things out it became easier. We're both proud of the work we did and feel like we accomplished something good in the wilderness that has given us so much. We truly enjoyed the wonderful people in the group and can't say enough about the Rangers and Interns that we got to know.

I've included a link below to a Forest Service press release regarding the group and the work we do.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/stanislau ... EPRD511952
Last edited by mschnaidt on Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:04 pm

Thank you for sharing you experience and especially the work you and the group put in to make things better for all of us who enjoy the wilderness experience. :thumbsup:
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby Jason » Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:18 pm

Thanks for the report and your efforts out there making it better for everyone. The "Iceberging" things is such a simple way to make a campsite undesirable, yet it wouldn't have occurred to me.
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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby mschnaidt » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:24 pm

Thanks guys. Although iceberging is hard work it's gratifying. The day after we iceberged an illegal site at Chewing Gum I heard a party come into the site and say "Oh, what a nice site but we can't camp here. There are too many rocks". That put a smile on my face...
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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby justm » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:02 pm

Thank you and your group !!! This is fantastic , and very much needed. Cheers !!!
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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby kpeter » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:47 pm

Thank you for the much needed work! We all should find ways to contribute in the way you have. I used to carry a pulaski on a fire crew, and it isn't fun to hike with heavy tools. Congratulations on your very good deeds.

When I hear you talk about the size of the groups you encountered, it makes me wonder if Emigrant needs to start doing trail quotas. I have seen huge groups out of Crabtree, but to learn they are also coming out of Gianelli and even beating down a cross country lake....ugh. On the other hand, I have used Emigrant precisely because I can always go there with minimal advance planning, so I would be sad to see that privilege gone. But groups of 15 are just too big for the wilderness, particularly if there are a few such groups at the same place.
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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby justm » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:19 pm

I agree with Kpeter, it might be time to start quotas in Emigrant. I've never seen so many people out there. Yes, groups of 15 people are way to much impact on an area. Bear lake in particular is suffering. I did some clean up there last fall, You could barely find a twig to burn, much less legal fire wood.
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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby mcgenes » Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:27 am

Thanks for your work!


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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby balzaccom » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:04 am

Great report --and thanks for the work you did!

We do a ton of hiking in the Emigrant Wilderness...and while we share the concerns about large groups and large numbers of people, we also know that if you get ten miles in you see very few people.

And we're going to look into doing trail work ourselves. We use them enough. It would be nice to give back.
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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby mschnaidt » Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:06 am

Hi Balzaccom,

I sent you a PM with some info if you are interested in the group.

Best,

M
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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:01 pm

Thanks for your hard work. It surely will contribute to a better wilderness experience for future visitors.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR - 8/5-8/8 Chewing Gum Lake - Cleanup/Restoration

Postby jbhawley1 » Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:55 pm

The description of the trip by Michael was excellent and typifies the work we do in association with the US Forest Service. The Stanislaus Wilderness Volunteers has been in existence since 1997, incorporating in 2003. In our near 20 years of service, we have donated thousands of hours to wilderness restoration, trail clearing, wilderness visitor education including teaching Leave No Trace ethics and practices and serving as stewards of the wilderness. We work in the Emigrant, Carson-Iceberg wildernesses as well as on the Calaveras/Highway 4 side. We welcome new members or folks who want to come out with us and "try it out" - seeing if this kind of volunteerism is for them. We seek new members as well as sponsors to assist in providing equipment or funds for the causes of the wilderness. No one is paid in the organization and we rely on member dues (nominal) and grant funding. We have raised funds to provide interns to the Forest Service that Michael so eloquently praised for their hard work and dedication. If giving back is something you're considering - please visit us at www.swv1.org or google "Stanislaus Wilderness Volunteers". Thanks -- Jeff Hawley, President, Stanislaus Wilderness Volunteers.
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