Sunday, March 11, 2007

Garbage Hike March 17th

[written March 11, 2007]

Today is Sunday, very bright and warm, registering 77 degrees in the shade, here at 4000'.

Sandhill Cranes make a great commotion during their migratory flights. Whether it's fall, and they seek the South, or spring, and they fly for the North, they constantly give loud calls to one another. Today the usual confused chorus announced the usual flock, of perhaps fifty of these very large birds. But then a second flock of fifty or a hundred approached in a broad 'V', and then, a third. All together they circled, around and around and around, a tornado of shouting birds, with one oddball raven circling above them, and making occasional feints as if to strike a crane. Pretending to the stature of a hawk?

Always, or most always, the flocks pause and circle above the sun-warmed, south-facing slopes flanking Green Valley. Strong updrafts rise from those rocky canyon walls. Having gained a few hundred feet, almost without effort, they continue on their way.


Friday last I met Ron Gould and we ventured down to Green Valley. A large tree had fallen lengthwise down the trail, and we wished to see if Ron's big chainsaw was really, truly needed, way way down there, to cut it out of the way. If not, then, celebrate! for much exertion has been avoided!

Two minds are better than one, and in this case, Ron's mind was much better than mine, for he hit upon the labor-saving idea of leaving almost all the trunk in place, and just cutting a narrow gap for hikers. For, the tree, the thing, twenty or thirty feet of it, was mostly parallel to, and just above, the trail itself. My idea had been to cut it up into maybe ten pieces and roll each heavy round away into the manzanita. But with Ron's idea, only two cuts were needed. So we fired up my little saw and took care of business, cutting from one side and then another. Problem solved.

Not far below the tree, we finished dealing with yet another tree across the trail, where I had run out of fuel in mid-cut a couple weeks back, and then we rigorously restored a switchback which had been lost to heavy-armed manzanita for decades on end.

The last significant wildfire along both the trail and in Green Valley itself happened about 1955 (I have this date from examination of growth rings and fire scars in rounds of firewood, and from personal communication with one of the firefighters). This fire cleared a lot of brush. But since then, the brush has made a tremendous comeback, and now threatens to engulf about every trail in that area.

The main Green Valley Trail, the East Trail, the High East and Low East trails, the West Trail, the High West and Low West trails, the High Ditch Trail from the west end of Green Valley to the east end, the Iron Point Trail, the Green Valley Blue Gravel Ditch Trail, from the east end of Green Valley, up to Euchre Bar, crossing the river midway, and still other trails, are all either badly crowded, or blocked outright, by brush and fallen trees.

It's the same story with most of our old trails.

Ron and I also worked on the good old High Ditch Trail, and eventually found our way down to the Meadow Cedar, where the High West and Low West trails join, and where Steve Hunter and company left a cache of garbage they had cleaned up from the river, a couple months back.

There are three five-gallon plastic buckets crammed with garbage, and three garbage bags of smallish to moderate size, stuffed with garbage, plus a broken shovel and some other odd things. It comprises around six moderate backpack loads.

Several people expressed interest in helping haul this garbage up and out. Let's take advantage of this good weather and take care of the garbage next Saturday, March 17, meeting at the parking island of the Tesoro gas station at the Dutch Flat exit of I-80 at, say, 10:00 a.m., from which point we will drive to the trailhead. This should put us on the trail by about 10:30 and at the river for lunch. There should be time for at least a little exploration before we lash the garbage onto our packs and start the slow slog up and out.

It is a very strenuous hike!

No pets, and beware of poison oak. Frame backpacks are needed, with light rope or twine to lash on the loads, and of course plenty of water, lunch, sunscreen, etc.; and loppers are never amiss. We should arrive up top by five or six p.m. It's fine to wear shorts, but you may get badly scratched.

Please call with any questions (number below).

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