Happy Earth Day in Stevens Canyon

24 April 2005

Back Country Weekend at Henry Coe, California Trail Days at New Almaden Quicksilver, Big Cats at Westwind Barn, and three Trailworkers.com work days in the Santa Cruz Mountains, just to start. This Earth Day weekend, volunteers had many choices for how to best spend the day with our Mother Earth, so it should come as no surprise that we had only two volunteers show up for trailwork in Stevens Canyon. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I mean, it was a light work day, but we missed everyone else anyway.

The inside of this switchback was getting wider, and starting to entrench between two roots
The inside of this switchback was getting wider and starting to entrench between two roots from too many people cutting it short. The hard areas where feet and wheels packed the soil down were broken up to encourage reseeding, and the whole area was painted with leaves and branches to allow trail users to better visualize themselves a little further outside in the turn.

Ceanothus, or California Blue Blossom, is the smell of spring in the coastal hills of California.
Ceanothus, or California Blue Blossom, is the smell of spring in the coastal hills of California. These early bloomers shoot out prodigious spikelets of icy blue flowers in those early season days when the trails are still damp from the waning winter storms and the air smells with the wet promise of spring.

Walking along, looking North. The soundtrack was California Thrasher, Black Headed Grosbeak, Spotted Towhee
Walking along, looking North. The soundtrack was California Thrasher, Black Headed Grosbeak, Spotted Towhee, my own breathing,
and boots hitting the trail.

Same trail, a little further down, looking South, and it goes on like this for miles.
Same trail, a little further down, looking South, and it goes on like this for miles.
We hiked about 4 miles down, then back.

Working in our favor was the fact that volunteers had done so much of the heavy work already earlier this year. The rains we have had recently left little evidence of their volume on the trail due to an effective drainage system at work, trees that came down in the Winter are now long gone, and Poison Oak and other vegetation has already been subject to pruning. So its with this preface that Jaime Villarreal and Charles Jalgunas arrived at the trail head and began a long hike occasionally interrupted by sightseeing, bird listening, swatting Poison Oak with our shovels, and digging silt out of a few of the fine drains mentioned earlier.

We did have two time consuming projects, draining a swamp left by a huge fallen Douglas Fir, and realigning a switchback that had been shortcutted by trail users eager to get to the bottom of things. Jaime did the majority of the drainage work, digging a trench that will work for the remainder of this seasons rains, until we can get in there to remove the remainder of the Fir tree, while Charles scarified the soil, dragged in branches and leaves, and pruned the outside of the switchback to encourage cyclists to stay in the wider part of the turn radius. Mostly, though, we walked, and it was a great day to be out.

This was our last volunteer work day in Stevens Canyon until late Fall. It will be just boots and tires on this tread from now until Thanksgiving or so, so to get your trail work fix, you should check the volunteer calendar for Wilder or Soquel.