Archive for the ‘Santa Monica Mountains’ Category

What’s up with the new bridge in Point Mugu State Park?

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Recently a sturdy bridge was built across a short gully on the Sin Nombre Trail in Point Mugu State Park. This bridge bypasses a sharp corner that has been the location of many serious mountain biking accidents. Here’s the story of the corner and the bridge.

Climbing away from the corner. You can see the rocks on the edge that were placed to widen the trail, and how steep the drop is.

The corner in question is about 0.1 miles from the top of the trail at Ranch Center Road, where a small, usually dry stream crosses it. From Ranch Center Road, Sin Nombre Trail crosses the edge of a meadow and enters a grove of oak trees. It bends right and downhill for about 20′, rounds the corner in question to the left, turning over 90-degrees, then climbs out of the stream crossing and narrows.  On the left side of the trail is a steep drop into the rocky stream bed about 5′ below. The corner looks really easy to negotiate and that’s the deception that has caused so many crashes and injuries. The natural tendency is to brake to slow on the downhill side to negotiate the sharp corner. The climb out of the corner is unexpectedly steep, so riders who haven’t downshifted can stall and put their foot down. They always put their left foot down because they’re already leaning that way after going around the sharp left corner. Unfortunately the trail is very narrow on the climb out, so unless the bike is on the very inside edge of the trail, the foot goes off the edge of the trail, followed by rider and bike, ending in a pile on the rocks of the stream bed. The seriousness of the injury is dependent on how lucky the rider is on landing on the rocks several feet below. Some of the injuries have been very serious, resulting in broken bones and nerve damage. One rider was paralyzed and unable to feel anything below his neck. Fortunately he’d just sprained his neck, not broken it, and feelings and movement returned after about 10 minutes. In addition there have been lots of regular scrapes, gouges and sprains.

There are other ways to crash on that corner, but putting the left foot down off the edge of the trail is very common.

The new bridge on the Sin Nombre Trail in Point Mugu State Park.

CORBA with lots of help from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council worked to improve this section of the trail in 2012. Volunteers widened the hazardous section of the trail a few inches by embedding large flat rocks at the edge. Unfortunately the trail can’t be widened further by cutting into the inside edge because of oak trees and their roots at the edge of the trail.

Widening the trail be even a few inches certainly kept some people from tumbling down into the rocks below, but still people were having serious injuries there.

A few years ago, the father of a young Boy Scout fell and sustained very serious injuries. Many falls have resulted in broken bones, including at least one broken pelvis.

Now an Eagle Scout candidate, the young man embarked on a project after consulting with State Park officials to fix this issue once and for all. The result is the new bridge and the old hazardous section has been closed off.

Some people will probably be upset that the thrill of rounding this one corner has been removed from the trail, but I hope that when they understand why, they will happy to give up one turn to save less-experienced mountain bikers from falling on the rocks and seriously injuring themselves. So far as I know, nobody has been killed on this corner, but it was just a matter of time.

Many thanks to the young Eagle Scout who completed this project and the many scouts and friends who volunteered to help him!

June Skills Clinic photos posted June 4

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

This month we had a huge group of 32, possibly an all-time record, to make up for the 3 we had last month! Graham again filled in taking pictures for Steve who had a prior commitment to help celebrate National Trails Day.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our June photo gallery.

May Skills Clinic photos posted May 6

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

There was a very small group of only three at this month’s Skills Clinic, on a very gray day in May.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our May photo gallery.

Report on the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days, April 28-30, 2017

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

On Thursday, in preparation for the annual Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days held every year in Pt Mugu State Park, I drove my now very dusty car down the main Sycamore Canyon trail and parked at the bottom of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the Backbone Trail. I hiked up the trail and flagged 59 spots where drains were needed – mostly to clean out existing drains that had become clogged with silt from the winter rains, but also some new drains about 2/3 of the way up the trail.

Saturday, CORBA volunteers and few others install drains and repair ruts on the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the backbone trail.

Saturday morning, the State and National park services drove 17 of us, including 2 youngsters, and our work tools to the bottom of the trail. After grabbing our tools, we hiked 1.5 miles up to the work area, about 2/3 of the way to the top, and proceeded to work down. Altogether, we put installed or cleaned 26 drains.

The area of greatest concern was at the start of our work area where the trail passes through a grassy area and is solid clay. Most of the rest of the trail is very rocky. This clay section is pliable, quickly becomes depressed in the middle where a rut erodes when it rains. This section of the trail was completely restored during trailwork in February 2015, yet it was as rutted as ever after just two years. A narrow but deep rut had developed in the middle of the trail, just wide enough for a mountain bike tire to slip in and get jammed.

We learned that leveling the trail doesn’t last here, so instead we cut a drain in about every 50 feet. That involved cutting through the berm (the dirt that builds up on the outside edge of the trail and keeps the water from running off), the first few inches was as hard as concrete, despite having been rain-soaked a few weeks earlier. The drains were 3 to 5 feet wide. We used the dirt we dug out of the drains to fill in the rut on the trail. Now we have a section with frequent drains to keep the water from running all the way down the trail, and the rut is filled with dirt. Hopefully this restoration will last longer than two years!

Overall, we dug out 26 drains over 2100′ of trail and filled in about 500′ of rut! Well done, everyone!

Saturday restoration on the Upper Sycamore Trail.

While the CORBA crew was working on the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, the other volunteers (about 60 of them) worked to restore the Upper Sycamore Trail where Sycamore Creek crosses it a number of times. By all accounts, this trail was decimated by the stream. This is a very shaded trail in a deep canyon and popular with hikers, but it’s in the Wilderness Area and so closed to mountain biking.

Everyone was back to the staging area by about 2:30 so we spent the afternoon relaxing and chatting with friends until the barbecue dinner. As usual, we had chicken, hot dogs, veggie burgers, baked beans (regular and veggie), salad and garlic toast. It was up to us to bring our own beverages. As dinner was winding down, the prize give-away started. There were so many prizes that everyone must have gotten one.

Saturday barbecue dinner.

The work continued on Sunday morning with a much smaller force of about 30 total. We all shuttled up to Upper Sycamore Trail, then split into two crews. One hiked up to the top of the trail to work on tread issues while the other worked on clearing overgrowing brush from the bottom. Sunday is always a smaller and shorter event; we were back to the staging area by noon to enjoy left-overs from Saturday’s barbecue.

CORBA would like to thank all the volunteers who came out to help fix up our trails in Pt Mugu State Park. Everyone did a great job! And a special thanks goes to the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council that organizes this event every year.

You can see all the photos from this weekend in CORBA’s photo gallery, or photos from Steve Messer and Xander Tenai . Take a look to see what we accomplished.

 

Report on Earth Day trail building in Malibu Creek State Park April 22, 2017

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

A few dozen volunteers gathered at Malibu Creek State Park on Saturday Morning, Earth Day, to help spruce it up. There were three main projects: to pick litter out of the creek, to paint over graffiti, and to build an extension to the Grasslands Trail. CORBA and other mountain bikers worked on the new trail.

A number of years ago, a steep fall-line trail that connected the Grasslands Trail to High Road was closed because it was not sustainable. At the time, it was planned that a new, contour trail would replace it. After many delays caused by, among other things, fires and floods in other parks, the first phase of the new trail was completed this past Saturday!

This trail is going to have a great view!

The trail had been roughed in by a SWECO trail bulldozer in the past couple of weeks, so the job of the volunteers was to put on the finishing touches – removing rocks, smoothing out bumps, ensuring an even outslope so next winter’s rainwater will run off the edge rather than down the middle, and completing the uphill edge.

There were enough volunteers that we got the work completed well before the expected time of noon, meaning that we had a bit of a wait until the Subway sandwiches were delivered for lunch. That gave us more time to sit and chat.

The second phase will be to build a 16′ bridge across an intermittent stream. Once that’s done, the remainder of the trail can be built to finish the connection to the High Road trail that leads to Crags Road, Century Lake and the MASH site.

Thanks to all the volunteers who dedicated their Saturday morning to help with one of their local parks!

You can see some of the activities in our photo gallery of the Grasslands Trail extension.

April Skills Clinic photos posted April 1

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

There was a baker’s dozen at this month’s Skills Clinic, an appropriate number for April Fools Day.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our April photo gallery.

March Skills Clinic photos posted March 5

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

There was a large group of 18 at March’s Skills Clinic, most of whom were new MBU recruits. With such a large group, there wasn’t time to ride down to the stream crossing so we skipped that.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our March photo gallery.

Help with the Grasslands Trail Reroute in Malibu Creek State Park April 22

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

To help celebrate Earth Day (April 22, 2017), there will be a major trail building and restoration event in Malibu Creek State Park. CORBA and a number of other groups are combining their efforts to, among other things, build a new trail to replace the segment of the Grasslands Trail that was closed several years ago, shown in the photo below.

The new trail will replace the closed, ecologically damaging fall-line trail with a longer one that descends more gently to the bottom of the hill.

The work will mostly involve finishing the roughed-in trail that will have been plowed out by a SWECO trail bulldozer.

All tools will be provided, as well as instructions on how to use them safely and effectively, by experienced trail crew leaders. No experience needed – everyone works at a rate they’re comfortable with and takes lots of breaks. Bring a snack to eat on the trail; lunch will be provided.

Wear sturdy hiking boots with good lugs, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, sunblock and a hat, and bring water, snacks. Bring work gloves if you have them. We have a few pairs we can loan to people without.

This is a combined project between the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, CORBA and others.

Help us prepare for the event by registering online at https://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/237532161/ Full details are available on the registration page.

 

Trail Days 2017: We Need Your Help to Restore Sycamore Canyon Trails April 29, 30!

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Once a year we have an opportunity to work on the trails and then BBQ and camp at Danielson Ranch in Pt Mugu State Park. It is opened annually for the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days! This is a unique opportunity to work on the trails that we enjoy so much in Sycamore Canyon, and the Saturday workday is followed by a BBQ dinner and prizes, with free camping available on Friday and/or Saturday night. This is hands down the best day to get in some trail maintenance work! Camping is optional; you may leave with the escort after the BBQ. There will be trailwork projects on both Saturday and Sunday. Sign up for one or both!

Some of the trails were severely damaged by the winter rains so we’ll need lots of help to repair them this year.

Pre-registration is requested by April 25th so we’ll know how many people to prepare for.

Schedule at a glance

Friday night April 28 – arrive for overnight camping (optional). Bagels and hot beverages supplied Saturday morning for campers.

Saturday April 29Trailwork, barbecue dinner, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch. Optional overnight camping. Bagels and hot beverages supplied Sunday morning for campers.

Sunday April 30Trailwork, prize give-away. Bring your own lunch.

You can volunteer to help out on Saturday, Sunday, or both.

BRING: LUNCHES, BEVERAGES, SNACKS AND WATER. Tools and instruction on using them are provided.

WEAR: Gloves, hat, long pants, protective clothing, and work boots or sturdy shoes.

REGISTRATION: Advance registration is required for the activities shown below, and appreciated by April 18th!

Saturday Registration: https://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/238094221/
Sunday Registration: https://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/238094287/

TRAILWORK: Saturday and/or Sunday. Help out with one or both! There are also opportunities to help out in the camp instead of trailwork.

CAMPING: Free camping Friday and/or Saturday nights for volunteers at the Danielson Multi-use Area located under the sycamores and oaks in the heart of Point Mugu State Park. Bring your own gear.

DINNER: Sat. Night Barbecue Free FOR VOLUNTEERS. Bring appetizers and beverages.

PRIZES: Thank-you prize give-aways will be held Saturday after dinner and Sunday after trailwork.

VEHICLE ACCESS: You will be able to caravan into and out of the park by vehicle only at these few designated times:

ARRIVE: Friday – 5 pm and 7 pm. Saturday – 7:30 am and 4:30 pm Sunday – 7:30 am

DEPART: Saturday – 4 pm and about 9 pm. Sunday – 8 am and 2:30 pm

Full details and camping/dining details are also provided on the registration pages.

February Skills Clinic photos posted February 5

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

There was a surprisingly large group at February’s Skills Clinic considering that it was raining in Newbury Park when I left to take photos of the event. However, it was clearing and dry when I arrived at the Basic Skills Clinic at Malibu Creek State Park. 17 people took part, including about a half dozen new MBU recruits. The sun came and went, but we didn’t have any more rain. Nevertheless, the trails were too muddy to ride so we skipped the ride across the creek, even though it would have been thrilling with water in the stream after so many years of just dry rocks.

The clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month. You can see the photos in our February photo gallery.