Sunday, July 16, 2006

Big Granite Trail; Adventure at Home

Quite a number of people arrived at Yuba Gap Saturday morning to brave the wilds of Placer County and work up several sweats restoring the historic Big Granite Trail to passability.

It had been damaged by logging in 1991 and then again in 2004, by Sierra Pacific Industries. The trailhead is at 6600' atop the divide between Big Valley on the west and Little Granite Creek on the east, and is about a mile east and south of the popular Salmon Lake trailhead, and a couple of miles south of the Loch Leven Lakes. Hence a few miles south of Big Bend, on the South Yuba river.

The trail leads down to the North Fork American river over a distance of about six miles, dropping 3600'.

Ron Gould of the "North Fork American River Alliance" (NFARA) arranged for NFARA to "adopt" the Big Granite Trail under the Forest Service "Adopt-a-Trail" program, and so we had an air of legitimacy swirling about us, along with enough saws and shovels and mattocks and McLeods for an army. And we put them to work.

Quite a lot got done. For the first time since 1991 one can easily walk the original line of the trail down to Four Horse Flat. This is a minor miracle. So the day's efforts count as a complete success. A lot of dust was flying and some of us grew quite dark with amusing patterns of grime streaking our faces. Ron and NFARA did a great job putting this work party together.

I decided to write about this at 1:23 Sunday morning because I just had a most frightful accident here in the darkness of my cabin. I was innocently walking across the floor, in the total dark, and suddenly something seemed to be attached to my foot, something quite large, yet light; I stumbled, caught myself on the couch, and I noticed pain in one toe. I shook vigorously and the thing stayed attached. It looked to be about four feet long and for a moment I thought, "It must be my ice axe, which has somehow already impaled a stuff sack," for a nylon bag seemed to be involved with the thing.

What goes in must come out, so I reached down and tried pulling the thing one way and another to get it out of my toe. I failed. I was getting a cramp in my opposite thigh and wondered how I would ever reach the one light, a desk lamp tabled on the other side of my couch.

I carefully lifted up the end of the thing not attached to my toe, and realized it was the new backpack, actually an old Kelty frame pack, a wonderful thing, which my friend Alex had given me a few days ago. And I instantly knew what had pierced my toe and then held it in such a death grip: one of the little closed circles of spring steel which hold the nylon pack bag to the frame. If those little half-inch circles get tweaked, they open up slightly and stay open. My toe must have caught one just right, and it passed all the way through in a curving arc. Hence I could not shake it free.

So I tipped myself over onto the couch, trying to hold the pack attached to my toe steady, righted myself with all due agony, and planned an assault on the lamp, a mere three feet away.

At that moment it so happened that the geometry changed and like magic the hoop of spring steel slid back out the way it had come in. I was free.

There was amazingly little bleeding, although the hoop penetrated deeply into my toe. I was trying to force the skin to break and release me by kicking, but even vigorous kicking with a frame backpack flopping around, could not tear the skin. That's because it pierced the toe way below skin level.

So it was quite an adventure.

No comments: