The Father’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving!

15 June 2003

On Sunday, June 15, (also known as Father’s Day) Chris Foster, a board member of the Advocates for Nisene Marks, organized and headed an interim “back country” workday. These workdays cover more distance than a usual workday, which, many times, will be focused on a particular section of trail. Back country workdays usually are located in the upper reaches of the Park and will focus on the entire distance of a trail. Hence a lot of time is spent in transit (by car to the trailhead and then by foot).

Everyone admires the improvement in the trail with tree #1 out of the way.
Everyone admires the improvement
in the trail with tree #1 out of the way.

This huge root ball is the only evidence the trail was ever blocked.
This huge root ball is the only evidence
the trail was ever blocked.

Carol and John monitor Chris's progress trimming away the top of the tree.
Carol and John monitor Chris’s progress
trimming away the top of the tree.

Lots more headroom now!
Lots more headroom now!

Chris just recently attended the State Park sponsored chain saw certification class. So he was prepared (mentally and physically) to address the mess of downed trees on the Bridge Creek - Hoffman loop. Logistically a workday of this nature is a challenge. Tools and gas for the saw can become very heavy when carried for long distances which in this case was approximately 4 miles.

Ok, enough about the “what”. Now let's talk about the “who”. Our crew size was “perfect” (i.e. just what Chris had requested). There were 8 of us and consisted of regulars (except for one poor court referral who probably wished he was collecting trash instead). The volunteers consisted of: Carol Cuminale, Chris Foster, Linda Moore, Richard Andrews, Jeff Hicks, Margaret Hicks, John Pasco and State Park employee, Karith. We met unusually early (at least by Advocates standards). At 8 am everyone was mobilized at the kiosk and ready to go (no tea and crumpets on a Chris Foster workday!). We had ground to cover!! There were four trees that needed to be dealt with and trail to be refurbished so there was no time to lose if we were to finish at the 2 pm projected cutoff.

Everyone was in great spirits. The weather was absolutely stunning. The area we were heading to follows Bridge Creek and is one of the most beautiful in the Park. Because this was trail we can’t maintain on a regular basis, there was a lot of brush to be cleared back. Margaret Hicks (the “compulsive cutter”) volunteered to lag behind and address this aspect of the workday. Thimbleberry, ferns, redwood branches and poison oak were trying to take over Bridge Creek trail. But because of her recent experience clearing the Buggy Trail for the Women’s Five Miler race, she was in good practice. Even brought her own pruning shears for the job.

Chris Foster’s first obstacle was the most difficult of the day. The tree was still connected to the root ball (which had up-ended) blocking the trail. As seen in this picture, the best we could do was to cut out the root ball and re-align the trail. Because of the tree’s close proximity to the creek, all the dirt moved from the area had to be hand carried away from the stream bed so there was no chance of creating silt in Bridge Creek.

The next behemoth was another 1/2 mile along the trail. This was another tree that must have become top heavy and just fallen over in the damp earth. The second picture shows the problem and solution very clearly. It’s hopeless to attempt to cut through or move. The best we could do was trim the root ball with enough clearance for a path sufficient for pedestrians.

The last tree didn’t go easily. It was on a downhill slope, which added to the complexity of the situation. Well, Chris’s recent training prepared him for this scenario and he methodically went about working his way down the tree to release the tension on the area crossing the trail. As shown in the third picture there was lots of tree to address.

The last picture shows Chris’s handy work with a tree that wasn’t necessarily blocking the trail but was no less a problem. The limbs that were hanging down created a curtain that wasn’t just a nuisance but a potential safety hazard. A poked eye could put a damper on the enjoyment of a hike. As you can see, Chris trimmed away the limbs hanging over the trail and now hikers can walk under it easily.

With approximately 3 miles to hike back, everyone felt very satisfied that we were able to accomplish all we set out to do. With chain saw work there is always the potential of running out of gas, mechanical problems or (the worst) having the chain saw bind up forcing, not only the cessation of the workday, but returning with another saw to free it. (Although I’ll bet Chris probably had a contingency for that too!)

Well, none of that happened and we had nothing but praise from all the park users encountered that day. We really do make a difference.