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trail help how do I volunteer?

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Re: trail help how do I volunteer?

Postby Ken M » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:46 pm

toyotaguy wrote:Wow, lots of info!! You guys are ridiculously helpful! I'd like to stay between, Yosemite and kings canyon if possible. Sorry if I can't get more specific, I'm fairly new to this. Been fishing for years but never paid attention to names.



Welcome to the world of trail work!

There are a lot of fine organizations that do this work, but you may find High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew most to your liking, as they are based out of Clovis, and a large part of their work is where you are talking about.

I'm a crew leader for them, but have worked with most of the organizations, and they are all fun to work with.

Their website is at www.trailcrew.org

They've got something like 20 trips planned for this year, some are day trips local to Fresno.

Look forward to seeing you on the trail,

Ken Murray



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Re: trail help how do I volunteer?

Postby Ken M » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:57 pm

KathyW wrote:I have to say there's good and bad trail maintenance. Most of the time I think the trail folks deserve a pat on the back for their hard work, but I wish they'd stop building those awful steps, filling the trails with rubble, and overly engineering the trails with tons of switchbacks.

The other day I was out on a section of the PCT in Southern California and a 1.5 mile long section had been cleared of vegetation 5 feet on either side of the trail - I have never seen so much damage to the vegetation in the name of trail maintenance.



Kathy, I feel your pain.

I think there are some things worth knowing about. The standard clearing margin for the PCT is 8 ft wide, and 10 feet tall. This is for a loaded equestrian with panniers.

Generally, the hard part is to get crews to clear to those margins.

What many don't understand, is that there has to be thought given to when someone will be back. Usually, it will be several years. I've worked several segments the last few years where it has been more than 10 years. They were terrible, often taking a crew a day to go 100 feet. I usually think in terms of 3-5 years.

If the brush is in a sunny location, it can grow a foot a year, from each side. So in 4 years, the trail is GONE.

There are skillful ways to disguise, to some degree, by leaving low-growing plants----but there is a limit to that.
Last edited by Ken M on Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: trail help how do I volunteer?

Postby Ken M » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:06 am

KathyW wrote:Yes, building steps looks like difficult work.

I don't mean to carry on, but when a trail is overly engineered it takes away from the wilderness experience for me. It's one of my pet peeves - we all have them. To me, it looks like sometimes those steps and excessive switchbacks do more damage than good because many people just cut the switchbacks and steps when they can.



Kathy, these are good issues to discuss.

The switchback issue comes primarily from the federal regulations that prohibit a slope of greater than 10 degrees (I think). This often results in somewhat odd trail configurations.

As for steps, (and I HATE steps. I hate building them, and I hate walking over them), they have a lot to do with what is found. Frequently, the issue is erosion, and the purpose of the step is to create a "check dam", which will retain material instead of allowing the water to blast down the trail creating deep ruts. I'm sure you've seen those, and this erosion is virtually always the cause of eventual destruction of the trail.

Perhaps more impressive, is that like icebergs, about 3/4 of the rock making up the step is buried underground, as it has to be able to withstand 2,000 lb stock kicking and stepping on them.

What SHOULD happen, is like the pictures I posted yesterday in the "Be a Ranger" thread. But if the trail is quite steep, the steps have to be bigger, or closer together. However, there is a limit as to how close they can be, so they end up being bigger steps.

I hate 'em!
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Re: trail help how do I volunteer?

Postby Tom_H » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:03 pm

Last fall we hiked Sky Trail in Point Reyes. I'm pretty sure they had taken a compact utility tractor with a heavy duty (hammer blades vs knife blades) flail mower down the trail not too long before that. In places, the bush to the side of the trail was almost impenetrable. We also discovered that there were quite a few ticks. We had to constantly check for them and located several before they had a chance to bite. I could see that there probably was no other way of maintaining the trail that would be nearly as efficient. I don't think this particular trail could be kept passable without such aggressive measures.

Regarding trail steepness, I have hiked Nevada Point Trail (near Georgetown) down to the Rubicon River a couple of times this spring with a friend so he could fish. There are sections that I'm guessing are a bit over 30 degrees. Rocks and steps aren't the problem, leaves from Interior Live Oak or Blue Oak trees are. A number of times I found myself almost glissading down an inch thick layer of them. It was worse than anything I have seen in the Coast Ranges or the Appalachians. The image crossed my mind of leaf raking as a form of trail maintenance, yet when I looked at the soil below, I think the leaves were better left in place because erosion would be pretty bad without the cover. There were a couple of downed trees blocking the trail, so it looked like a maintenance crew had not been there recently. We "volunteered" and broke off as many branches, limbs, and other debris as possible so others could go under the downed trees.
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