Archive for the ‘Trail Hazards’ Category

Mountain Bike Action and SCOA support CORBA’s Volunteer Sawyer Program

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

2016-03 - P1 - Mountain Bike Action - Trails after the Wildfire by Steve MesserAs we reported last year, Over this past year, CORBA has stepped up our Volunteer Sawyer program within the CORBA Trail Crew. CORBA’s two B-Level Sawyers, Mike McGuire and Steve Messer have worked almost year-round cutting trees off trails around the Station Fire burn area of the Angeles National Forest. We’ve worked side-by-side with Hot Shots fire crews, with Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, with volunteers from other groups, with the Restoration Legacy Crew and others. We’ve cleared trees from more than a dozen trails in the past year, most recently 89 trees from Dawn Mine trail in February.

In the current March 2016 issue of Mountain Bike Action, CORBA President and trail crew leader Steve Messer was interviewed for a story on wildfire impacts to trails, something we’ve been dealing with since the Station Fire. The article is a five-page spread, and features several photos of a typical day of volunteer sawyer work, as we cut a very large tree off Strawberry Peak trail. The article is not yet available online on the Mountain Bike Action web site, but we hope it will be posted publicly in the coming months. Right now it is only available in the print magazine.

20151114006-MWBA Membership Drive Mt. Wilson Ride

This past week Chris from Southern California Outdoor Adventures generously donated a brand new Stihl 291 20″ chainsaw to CORBA. Chris understands the importance of what we’re doing and was happy to make sure we have the best, most efficient 20160211001-Silver Moccasin Chainsaw Trailworkequipment needed to get the job done. This helps his shuttle customers enjoy the trails without obstruction. Our current fleet of saws includes a Stihl 16″, the new 20″ and a 25″ saw. The donated 20″ is a great balance between the portability of the 16″ and the capability of the 25″, and will probably become our go-to saw for most jobs. We truly appreciate the support of Southern California Outdoor Adventures, one of the most respected shuttle operators here in Southern California.

The day we received the new saw, Thursday, February 11, we went out to check on trails in the Chilao area. Given the recent storms and high wind–now followed by a heat wave– we knew there was work to be done. We found a number of trees in the Charlton Flat area, along the closed Vetter Mountain trail, and along Silver Moccasin trail. We removed two large trees from Silver Moccasin, before weather conditions (wind and low humidity) forced us to end the day’s work. The new saw was a dream to run! Thanks SCOA!

New sawyer training is being scheduled sometime in March 2016. Candidate Sawyers must have an existing volunteer agreement with the Forest Service, have first aid and CPR certification. First you will be certified as A-level sawyers, allowing you to cut smaller trees under supervision of a B-level sawyer or higher. After a year at the A-level, sawyers can do the additional training and upgrade to a B-level after which they can cut unsupervised and deal with larger, more complex trail clearing operations. These certifications are restricted to bucking and limbing only, meaning we can clear fallen trees from trails, but we can’t fell standing dead trees. Nor do we need to. Let us know if you’d like to become a certified sawyer and help keep our trails clear.

20160211025-Silver Moccasin Chainsaw Trailwork

Six years after the station fire, the number of standing dead trees within striking distance of trails, roads, campgrounds and other facilities, is staggering. These trees will continue to fall every time there is a weather event. The Forest Service is actively working to remove hazard trees from around vital infrastructure such as campgrounds and roads, but it’s going to be up to volunteer groups like CORBA, Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, Boy Scouts of America, Angeles Crest 100, and San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders sawyer crews to keep our trails clear of downed trees as best we can.

If you find a new downed tree along a trail, or any potentially dangerous or environmentally damaging trail conditions, snap a photo with your phone, record the location and send a quick email to let us know. We’ll either take care of it, or get it to the people who can. It’s best to include a GPS waypoint or position (or simply turn on location tagging on your phone’s camera app).

 

Vetter Mountain Trail Restoration Progress

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Last January the Forest Service allowed some experienced trail maintenance volunteers, who had been previously certified to use chainsaws at the “A” level, to step up their training to a “B” level. Under current regulations, A level sawyers are restricted to 8 inch trees or smaller, and must be supervised. B-level Sawyers are allowed to work unsupervised, on trees up to 24″ in diameter, and can supervise and work with A-level sawyers.

Chainsaw Certification Class of 2015

B Level Chainsaw Certification Class of 2015

CORBA President Steve Messer, and volunteer Mike McGuire both received their B level certification, and have been putting them to use all year. MWBA volunteers Mitch Marich, Brad Benam and Erik Hillard also received their A level certification, along with several other individuals and volunteers from other organizations and areas outside Los Angeles.

Together the CORBA and MWBA sawyer team has been cutting trees from trails all year. We’ve cut trees from Brown Mountain, El Prieto, Sunset Ridge, Gabrielino, Strawberry Peak, Colby Canyon, Mount Lowe East, Sam Merrill and Silver Moccasin trails. Six years after the Station Fire, downed trees are becoming a major and constant problem.

Our biggest project has been Vetter Mountain trail. This was a favorite of local mountain bikers, as the first descent of the classic Chilao Loop (or, more accurately, the Chilao Figure-8). The area was one of the most heavily impacted areas of the forest by the Station Fire. Drought has slowed the area’s recovery, and there are still thousands of dead trees waiting to fall.

We began in early spring 2015, first clearing the Charlton Flats loop road of more than two dozen downed trees just to get to the bottom of the Vetter Mountain Trail and Silver Moccasin trail. We cleared all the deadfall from the lower section of Vetter through to the first road crossing. There were many trees beyond our chainsaw certification level, the largest being just over 50 inches in diameter. These were taken care of by Little Tujunga Hot Shots Captain Greg Stenmo, whose support we were grateful to have.

After the summer heat and when fire danger levels and wind conditions allowed, on October 3rd CORBA and USFS volunteers Mike and Robin McGuire returned to begin work on the next section of the trail. In a day’s work, they were only able to clear the first hundred feet of the trail, with the sheer number of trees stacked like Chinese pickup sticks.

image

We returned on October 8th. In the five days since Mike and Robin were up there, another four trees had fallen across the road. Finally getting to the trail, we began cutting downed trees, poodle dog bush and buckthorn from the overgrown tread. In places it was impossible to see any remnant of trail through the brush and deadfall, so having been familiar with the trail in its pre-fire glory was a must.  The time lapse below gives a pretty good indication of what’s been involved in clearing the trail. This is six hours of work compressed to nine minutes.

We returned on October 23, and November 5. On November 5 we started from the top of the trail, near the site of the old lookout and worked our way down. It was a glorious moment for us to finally have cut and cleared over 150 trees from Vetter Mountain trail, Charlton trail, and the Charlton Loop road. After finishing, we went back and inspected the trail from top to bottom, and found a dozen more trees fallen in areas we’d previously cleared.

Once again we returned on December 17, first clearing downed trees off the road, then several new trees that had fallen across Vetter and Charlton trails. Afterwards we joined the Chilao hotshots crew, who were clearing downed trees from Silver Moccasin trail after the particularly strong windstorms of December.  With our help, they were able to get the job finished in one day.

The trail remains closed to the public. There are still too many dead trees that have been rotting away for six years, waiting to fall every time the wind blows. More than once, when we finished our day’s chainsaw work as the afternoon winds started blowing, we heard more trees falling. Because of these dangers, we are not willing to take in volunteer crews to begin restoring the trail. Since winds have been blowing steadily this past month (over 70mph the week before Christmas), there are probably many more trees down again.

Currently the Forest Service, along with Fire Crews and us as Volunteer Sawyers, are developing a plan to clear remaining standing trees in the trail and road corridors, so that they don’t continue to fall across the trail every time the wind blows. Currently crews are doing that along the Santa Clara Divide Road so that it can be reopened to vehicles next year.

We hope to begin restoration work on the Vetter Mountain trail next year, after we finish the Ken Burton trail. Stay tuned for details.

El Nino Watch: Trail Damage and Riding after it Rains

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

We are having a severe El Nino event this winter; as a result the weather forecast is for many heavy rainstorms in the early months of 2016. That will help our drought situation, but will have seriously bad impacts on our trails. As well as muddy conditions that interfere with their use, described  below, the rains could be severe enough to erode some trails into huge ruts, and even wash them away in some cases. There may be more mudslides in Pt Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) like we had last year. Furthermore, the rain will spur the chaparral to overgrow the trails, a condition we haven’t had to deal with much over the past couple of years because of the drought. The combination of waterlogged soil and high winds could blow trees over. We’re expecting to have special trailwork days to repair these damaged trails and hope many mountain bikers will want to help us get them back into shape!

Most trails in our local riding area don’t respond well to rain. They have a high content of clay that turns into sticky, slippery muck that binds to everything it touches. It builds up on the tires, like a snowball rolling downhill, until it jams on the frame and the wheels won’t budge. Some models of clipless pedals won’t let go when full of this mud, resulting in the bike and the attached rider lying sideways in a puddle, or worse.

Most wet trails don’t respond well to use until they’ve had time to dry out. Hikers and horses make holes and ridges in the trail that become as hard as concrete when the trail dries. These holes and ridges are good for twisting ankles.

As a rule of thumb, if your foot, tire or hoof makes an impression more than about 1/8 inch deep in the dirt, the trail is still too soft to use. Give it another day or two to dry out before using it!

On wet trails, bikes make grooves along the trail. The next time it rains, the water runs down these grooves and turns them into little ruts, then large ruts that destroy the trail.

The mud is particularly hard to remove. It sticks to the bike and shoes, no matter the efforts to remove it, rubbing off on the bike rack, car carpet and gas/brake pedals, making them slippery. Once home, it takes the careful use of a garden hose to remove the mud but not force water into the sensitive parts of the bike.

For these reasons, riders are well advised to stay off the trails after a rain until they have dried. How long to stay off? That depends on a number of factors including the particular trail, how much rain it received, how much sun it gets after the rain (is it in the shade or face south?), how warm and windy the weather is, and so on. After an isolated light rain you can probably ride the next day. After a heavy rain, you should wait several days. This is something where common sense and experience will help. Remember, tracks deeper than 1/8″ mean the trail is still too soft to use!

All is not lost when the trails are soaking! There are a few trails that hold up well when wet because they have more sand and rock that doesn’t hold the water. Here are a few you should know about:

Space Mountain (Los Robles Trail West) to the picnic table is almost always rideable, even right after a big storm. However, it can be pretty mucky from the picnic table to Potrero Road.
Rosewood Trail is pretty good, but not quite as resilient as Space Mountain.
Zuma Ridge Motorway from Encinal (the bottom in Malibu is muddy)
Dirt Mulholland around Topanga State Park.
-Brown Mountain Fireroad
-Most San Gabriel Mountains trails made up of decomposed granite
-Beaudry Fireroad
-Hostetter Fireroad
-Mt. Lukens

Trek to recall nearly 1 million bicycles after injury reports

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Catastrophic failure of 2000 – 2015 model bikes leads to quadriplegia

Source of this article: The Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2015

Trek Bicycle Corp. will recall nearly 1 million bikes in the United States and Canada to correct a brake-safety issue following reports of three injuries, including one that left a rider paralyzed, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.

The recall covers all models of Trek bicycles from model years 2000 through 2015 that have front disc brakes and a black or silver quick-release lever on the front wheel hub that opens far enough to contact the disc brake, the agency said.

There is a risk on the affected bikes that the lever could become caught in the front disc-brake assembly, causing the front wheel to separate or stop suddenly, the commission said.

The bikes’ owners are urged to “stop using the bicycles immediately and contact an authorized Trek retailer for free installation of a new quick-release on the front wheel,” the commission said.

The recall affects about 900,000 bikes in the United States and 98,000 in Canada that sold for between $480 and $1,650.

Trek reported three incidents of injured riders related to the problem, including one that resulted in quadriplegia, the commission said. The others involved facial and wrist injuries.

Trek is based in Waterloo, Wis., and the bicycles involved in the recall were made in Taiwan and China, the agency said.

“Your safety is very important to us,” Trek said in a recall notice on its website. “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you.”

The commission said customers could contact Trek at 800-373-4594 Monday through Friday or via the company’s website http://www.trekbikes.com/worldwide/.

Scouting the trails of newly re-opened Pt Mugu State Park

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Here is what I found when I rode all the multi-use trails a few days after Pt Mugu State Park re-opened on January 30th. The park had been closed since mid-December when heavy rains brought mudslides to the fire-denuded park. During the closure, heavy equipment was used to clear up the extensive damage on the fire roads, and small groups of volunteers were fixing some bad spots on singletrack trails, using hand tools. In fact, volunteer groups will be converging on the park throughout February to help fix the trails. You can help! Here’s the schedule: 2015-01-22 PMSP Trailwork Schedule.

My first impression was that there were a lot of people in the park for a Tuesday morning. No doubt they were as curious about its condition as I was. (There are a number of photos below that show a typical condition, and a much larger photo gallery to show more trail problems, large and small.) One pleasant surprise was that the wildflowers are coming out, in abundance in some places. I’ve included pictures of some of them in the photo gallery.

I entered the park from the north end, through Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa. There are signs posted at the entrance to Pt Mugu State Park (PMSP) indicating that you can’t get through to the coast, and that there is no water in the park.

On the main Sycamore Canyon Fireroad, there were numerous shallow mudslides that had come down the hill and crossed the road. Some were narrow and others were quite wide. All of them had been cleaned up. The whole road was smooth and quite broad. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the campground because the road was closed south of the point where Overlook Fireroad comes into it.

Piles of dirt that were removed from the main Sycamore Canyon Fireroad.

Sin Nombre and Two Foxes Trails had had lots of tiny mudflows across them, leaving small ridges perpendicular to the trail. They make for a bit of a bumpy ride. There were several ruts in the hillside above and below the trail where a small stream crossed, but did very little or no damage to the trail. There were a few spots where larger streams did damage the trail, leaving ruts and/or rocks and dirt.

A small stream crossed Sin Nombre but did little damage to the trail.

On the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the Backbone Trail, there were five notable kinds of features on the trail. Most noticeable was the lack of serviceable drainage dips. Of the 84 drains we installed after the Springs Fire in 2013, almost all were choked with debris, and many couldn’t even be distinguished from the rest of the trail. Large stretches of trail had mud and water flowing across it, leaving small ridges perpendicular to the trail. Other large stretches had water running down the trail, removing all the dirt and sand, leaving a very rocky surface. The clay stretch about 2/3 of the way up has become deeply trenched and rutted. Finally, some trailwork has already been done, and there the surface was generally smoother and outsloped, but slightly loose.

Water running down the Wood Canyon Vista Trail has removed most of the dirt, leaving a lot of exposed rocks.

Climbing the old ranch road section of Guadalasca, I saw a lot of damage. However, it was mostly easy to avoid because the trail there follows an old wide roadbed. The top 20% of the singletrack downhill, where we had worked after the Springs Fire, was in very good shape. However, it was a different story for the rest, where it had already been quite rutted. Most of it was only slightly worse, but the worst sections were much worse than they had been. You can avoid the ruts now by using the very edge of the trail, but that won’t be an option once the vegetation grows up again. In the two places where the trail crossed a small stream with a culvert under the trail, the culvert had become blocked and the upstream streambed was completely filled with silt, while below the trail, the streambed was scoured down to bare rocks. The trail crossing the stream had acted as a dam and held back the dirt and rocks that were washing downstream. Finally, the lower old ranch road section had also become much more rutted, and the culverts under the trail had become exposed.

A really bad section on Guadalasca

During the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Day in April 2014, a large group of volunteers essentially rebuilt the Sage Trail. After the December flooding, the trail remains mostly intact, but we were very lucky that it wasn’t annihilated. The trail runs near the outside edge of an old roadbed. For most of it’s length, water and mud streamed down between the trail and the hillside creating a wide trench, crossing the trail occasionally and flowing off the edge. Most of the armoring rock walls we built to protect previous washouts were intact, but the water flowed around them to enlarge the washouts, generally on the downhill side. Two of the armoring walls didn’t fare well at all.

The next heavy rain may obliterate sections of the Sage Trail if the rut gets much wider.

Finally, here’s what you can see in one spot at the side of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail.

California Poppies at the side of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail

Don’t forget, you can help restore the trails! Here’s the schedule for volunteer work days: 2015-01-22 PMSP Trailwork Schedule.

Pt. Mugu SP Closure Update

Monday, January 12th, 2015

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAs reported earlier this month, Point Mugu State Park has been closed to the public while the damage to the trails is being assessed and repaired. Heavy equipment has been working to reestablish Sycamore Canyon and the public is still being asked to stay out of the park until such time as it is safe. Trucks will be bringing in dirt from the slides that covered Pacific Coast Highway to aid in repair. State Parks’ Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap stated that the closure will extend until February 1, but that all attempts will be made to lift the closure sooner if possible.

Click here to see additional photos by Craig Sap of the mud slides effecting PCH and Point Mugu State Park.

Below is current trail damage assessment of the condition of the trails in Point Mugu State Park:

Blue Canyon Trail: Fair

Chumash Trail: Good

Chamberlain Trail: Excellent

Coastal Trail: Gone

Coyote Trail: Lower portion covered with debris

Fire Line Trail: Unknown

Fossil Trail: Poor condition

Great Dune View Trail: Good

Guadalasca Trail: Fair

Hidden Pond Connector Trail: Good

Hidden Pond Trail: 25% of repairs Complete

La Jolla Canyon Trail: Devastated

La Jolla Valley Loop Trail:  75% of repairs complete

La Jolla Valley Connector Trail: Fair

La Jolla Pond Trail: Cleared

Mugu Peak Loop Trail: Debris across trail needs to be smoothed out

Mugu Peak Spur Trail: Good

Old Boney Trail: Fair from Sycamore to Blue Canyon

Old Cabin Trail: Poor

Ray Miller Trail: 25% of repairs complete

 Sage Trail: Excellent

Scenic Trail: Fair

Serrano Canyon Trail: Good

Serrano Valley Loop Trail: Minor erosion

Serrano Valley Trail: Old Roadbed from gate has several large washouts, all stream crossings need rebuilding

Sin Nombre Trail: Fair

Sycamore Creek Trail: Heavy Damage to Stairs and Gabions                                 

Tri Peaks Trail: Unknown

Two Foxes Trail: Debris flows across the trail at the drainage crossings

Upper Sycamore Trail: Devastated

 Waterfall Trail: Good

Wood Canyon Vista Trail: Good

 

Opening of Pt Mugu State Park Delayed

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
Mud has buried the main Sycamore Canyon Trail. Photo by Dave Edwards.

Mud and rocks have buried the main Sycamore Canyon Trail. Photo by Dave Edwards.

When we first posted this blog in mid-December, State Parks anticipated that they would have Pt Mugu State Park open around January 12th. However, Caltrans has determined that it will take at least until the end of January before the Pacific Coast Highway can be re-opened, so the park closure will be extended.

We’ll update this information when we have more to share.

The original article follows…

The rainstorm that swept through the area late last week resulted in several large mudslides in Point Mugu State Park (AKA Sycamore Canyon). As a result, the park has been closed at least until January 12th, 2015. During this time, State Parks staff will be assessing the damage, cleaning up the mess and coordinating volunteers to help with the cleanup.

The mudslides are the direct result of the hillsides being denuded by the Springs Fire in 2013 and over 3″ of rain that fell in one night.

More photos of the damage can be seen in this photo gallery.

You can find the status of the park at the Pt Mugu State Park website home page.

Please stay out of the park until it reopens, for your safety, to prevent further damage to the trails, and to enable a more speedy cleanup.

Sullivan Canyon Closure Update August 11

Monday, August 11th, 2014

From SoCal Gas:

Sullivan Canyon will be closed to visitors Tuesday August 12th for a Hydro-Static Pressure test of the natural gas transmission pipelines. Please schedule your visit accordingly.

This closure if for safety reasons so please do not access the canyon from any of the side trails. The canyon will be open again on Wednesday provided there are no problems with the test. Please use caution as you pass construction equipment, and we recommend keeping dogs on a leash so they are not harmed by equipment as well.

For information, contact:

Mike Harriel

Public Affairs Manager

Regional Public Affairs

555 W. 5th St.

Los Angeles, Ca. 90013

Office: 213 244-4633

Sullivan Canyon Work Update, July 3

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

The latest news from Mike Harriel of So Cal Gas regarding construction as they move closer to the mandated test on its pipelines in Sullivan Canyon.

Beginning July 8th

·         We will conduct a bird survey to determine if any nesting birds are in the area of our work. If there are, the project will be delayed.

·         If all is well with the nesting birds, we will work with a certified arborist to trim trees that could sustain damaged by construction equipment. The trimming will occur at the direction of the arborist and only the minimum necessary.

·         An active beehive will have to be removed for the safety of our employees and users of the canyon.

 Beginning July 14th

·         Construction mobilization will occur. You will notice the moving in of water tanks and other construction equipment. Tanks and equipment will be staged away from the trail. All soil will be returned to the excavation it is removed from.

·         A fire prevention plan is in effect to protect the canyon.

 As mentioned previously, the canyon trail will remain open. Signs will provide advance notice when the canyon is closed for hydro testing, which will occur over the course of one day. Signs will also be posted at the drop-in trails. For safety reasons, we don’t want any members of the public dropping in to the canyon during the test, so please abide by the posted closing.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Mike Harriel

Public Affairs Manager

Office: 213 244-4633

More Work Scheduled for Sullivan Canyon in June

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Since 1960, Southern California Gas Company (“SoCaIGas”) has owned much of the land that comprises Sullivan Canyon (more than 4 miles in length).  This property is used as a corridor for two transmission pipelines that provide Los Angeles residents with a safe and reliable supply of natural gas.  Periodically, SoCalGas must perform maintenance on these pipelines. The purpose of this letter is to provide information on pipeline maintenance and repair work that will occur in the coming weeks.

SoCalGas will conduct a hydrostatic pressure test on a segment of one of our natural gas transmission pipelines in Sullivan Canyon.  Hydrostatic pressure testing is a process that uses water to exert pressure on a pipeline at levels greater than its usual operating pressure to assess its soundness, often referred to as its integrity.

This test involves digging around the underground pipeline and safely venting natural gas from the pipeline. We will then fill the pipeline with water, and increase the pressure to a level that is higher than the pipeline’s normal operating pressure.  If the pipe holds the pressure without any leaks, it will be put back in service. If the pipeline leaks during the test, SoCalGas will repair the pipeline and retest it, or replace it with new, pre-tested pipeline.

What to expect

The construction work will take place at several locations starting west of the Sullivan Canyon trailhead at the end of Queensferry Road and about a quarter-mile northwest of the trailhead.  Work will begin in June 2014, and last about four to six weeks, although weather and other factors affecting safe working conditions could change the schedule. Normal work days will be Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., however, some activities may extend the hours.

Test Start Location:

At Sullivan Canyon Trailhead at Queensferry Road, a test-start location will be staged just west of the trail with an excavation site, water tanks, and other equipment. This area will be closed to the public.

Test End Location:

About a quarter-mile northwest of the trailhead, a test-end location with excavation site and support equipment will be staged alongside the trail.  This area will also be closed to the public.

Hikers, bikers, and others traversing the trail should use caution while passing by both test site locations. For safety reasons, Sullivan Canyon Trail will not be accessible by the public on the actual test day for the duration of the test. Check local signage with updates on construction activity.

The local community may notice truck traffic bringing test equipment and water tanks to the test sites and then removing them. Nearby residents may hear some work-related noise.

Your gas service should continue without interruption. If that changes, a SoCalGas representative will contact you.

The odor of natural gas

At times, you may smell the odor of natural gas and hear a loud, steady noise as we vent natural gas from the pipeline using safe and common techniques. Although this is normal when crews are working, we encourage anyone who has concerns about the smell of gas to call us from a safe location at 1-800-427-2200. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We apologize for any inconvenience while we’re performing this test and appreciate your patience and cooperation.

Mike Harriel

Public Affairs Manager – Southern California Gas Company

Tel: (213) 244-4633