F O R E S T P A T H W A Y S
High Cascade Forest Volunteers
The mission of the High Cascade Forest Volunteers is to help maintain, restore, and preserve the public lands and resources administered by the National Forest Service for present and future generations
The High Cascade Volunteers once again did an outstanding job helping to make the forest a better place for visitors to enjoy. The total number of hours you have worked for 2010 were 21,229. That is amazing! Willamette, 11,500, Deschutes, 8835, Siuslaw, 772, Umpqua, 108 and Mt. Hood, 14.
The Forest Service told me they are extremely grateful for all of your help. You cleared and maintained many miles of trails both winter and summer, worked in the seed research center in Cottage Grove, seed collection for future prescribed burns, tagged and mapped seed orchard trees, identified/surveyed for noxious weeds, adopted lakes for campsite clean up, structure construction and maintenance, sign construction and maintenance, stock packing with equipment for trail crews, computer work, attended meetings, training weekends, surveyed trails for trail crews, liter pick up, beach clean up, x-cut sharpening (volunteer learning to sharpen x-cut saws), organized and cooked meals for training programs, organized/ instructed classes for the training weekends, plus so much more than was reported to us through the work report. I am extremely proud of everything we have done this year.
Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.
Lowder Mountain/Wallace Creek Trail, June 23, 2010
Interesting day. After telling Wayne Chevalier that we would be going up on that trail, was a bit confused about how the trail ran. After wrestling with it a bit ended up using two maps and finally figuring it out. Because of the length of the trail and the number of folks going we decided to split with one crew going down from the top, Judy with the other coming up from the bottom. We'd stay in communication using FS radio's.
Was a little anxious about going down from the top as the Wallace Creek Trail starts at the top of Lowder Mt. and the trail across the top of the mountain to the trail head is very faint and hard to find. But after talking to Wayne who happened by at the trail head thought was in pretty good shape for finding it. Four of us took off down the trail knowing we had a long haul, sign said 9 miles to the bottom at Cougar Reservoir.
Somewhere before we hit the junction of the Yankee Mt trail two guys leapfrogging got in the lead. Two following made the turn at the junction, about 2 miles down from the trail head, and headed up the mountain. We did hit a couple of trees across the trail and wondered why the others didn't take them out, so we did and kept going. Hit the top and SNOW. No indication until we hit the crest and the entire mountaintop is covered in snow. Deep snow. We hunted around for a while trying to find the trail, but didn't have any luck. Also could not see any tracks from the other two. So we sat down and had lunch. After lunch circled around again, no tracks, no trail. Decided to go back down to the trail junction. All this time we're trying to call Judy on the channel we had agreed to use. No luck.
Got back to the junction and no sign of the other guys. We off-loaded our packs and went down the trail to see if we could find any sign of their getting on that trail. A couple of hundred yards down the trail there are springs coming across the trail with mud and fresh FOOTPRINTS. So went back to the junction. By this time it's about 12:45 PM. Decided to wait there for a while and maybe they would back-track. Wasn't unduly concerned even if they went all the way down the trail they would come back into the trail and meet Judy and the rest of the crew at the bottom trail head.
About 2:00 PM after still trying to call Judy with no success decided to go back up to the top of the mountain and see if we could reach her from there. We did that with no success. So then decided to head back to the trail head and wait there. We left a note in the trail at the junction telling the guys where we were at in case they came back out.
We got back to the trail head at 3:30 PM and the only thing there were the cars and the dogs who disappeared about the same time we all got separated. We were as glad to see the dogs and they were to see us.
We finally got hold of Judy about 4:00 PM on another channel and told her what had happened. (She had been trying to call us all day as well.) Sometime about 4:30 PM or so Wayne got on the radio and was tuned in. Just before 5:00 PM McKenzie Ranger Station came on and said that they had heard from the other guys using a cell phone. They had called about 3:00 PM and said they were on the wrong trail on the top of Tipsoo Butte and would come on down, take about and hour and a half.
Loaded up and drove on down to the lower trail head getting there about 5:45 PM and Judy's crew was just starting to come out. We messed around for a while and about 6:30 PM the guys showed up. They were tired.
Lesson learned, MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS ON THE SAME PAGE WITH TRAIL DIRECTIONS, ETC. Spend time at the tailgate session talking about the trail, its nuances as known and supply each member with a well marked map.
Also learned not to use the "project" channels on the radio. There can be absolutely NO obstructions between the radio's. It is line of sight communication.
Like I said "interesting day."
Many trails were falling apart from years of neglect and lack of maintenance. There were gaps in the diamonds along the trails, crumbling diamonds, too many diamonds or not enough diamonds, along with confusing routes due to a lack of signs at trailheads and junctions. With adoption of trails by volunteers, blue diamonds have been added, replaced and raised along with the installation of new signs. Limbs and branches have been removed to make signs and diamonds visible.
The Rosary Lakes Trail leaves from Willamette Pass ski area along the PCT with blue diamonds marking the route for skiers and snowshoers. Remember to “share the trail” – skiers making one track and snowshoers putting in a separate track whenever feasible. This contributes to the enjoyment of both sports without intruding on the other person’s tracks.
Above the Rosaries the trail continues to the junction for Maiden Lake. The Maiden Lake Trail has been improved over the last two years. With work done during the summer and winter months, many blue diamonds have been added. There is still work to be finished on this particular trail but we hope to complete it this year where diamonds need to be added, raised or removed. This is an enjoyable but long ski if snow is deep and you have broken trail from the Rosary TH, so be sure to allow for plenty of time. Don’t forget your essentials including headlamp, GPS, map and compass.
The route to the Maiden Peak Shelter from the saddle skirts through the woods along the PCT with a new Ski Shelter sign showing the turnoff to the shelter. Without the new sign, some skiers and snowshoers have, in the past, been unable to locate the shelter. The ski shelter is a popular day use or overnight winter destination and is maintained and stocked with fire wood by volunteers. A new woodshed started in 2009 was completed at this year’s annual work party. Please use the wood stove conservatively because once the wood runs out, that’s it for the season. What you pack in, please pack out! Help keep the shelter clean.
Accessing the Maiden Peak Shelter via Gold Lake road routes you by the connecting Skyline trail mentioned earlier. Once you reach the PCT junction, just prior to arriving at the shelter, there is a ski trail to the top of Maiden Peak. Only a short section near the top needs more diamonds added. Diamonds also mark another route leaving from the Maiden Peak Shelter that connects to this same trail.
From the shelter there are diamonds that mark a 9.6 mile Maiden Peak Loop trail. The ski loop eventually connects to the Maiden Lake Trail and continues to the PCT junction which returns to the cabin via the saddle above the Rosaries.
After two years of work, winter volunteers have completed signage for the Westview and Bechtel Shelter trail systems. Both trail systems begin at the Gold Lake Sno-Park. There are a variety of difficulty levels for snowshoers and skiers. The shelters offer a great destination for lunch as does the Eagle Rock Overlook above Odell Lake. These are 3 sided shelters with wood stove and sleeping loft.
The Westview Trails crisscross the hillside taking off from the left side (east) of the snow covered road at the south end of the Gold Lake Sno Park. The Westview Trail, the Westview Lps, CJ Way, Diamond View Lp. and the Odell Overlook Trail are all part of the Westview Loops system. There are also connector trails from the Willamette Pass overflow parking lot that lead to the Gold Lake Sno Park and the Eagle Rock Odell Overlook with many trails branching off along the way. Signage and diamonds have all been improved to make intersections more clear. Because of the many intersections it is advised to have the current winter recreation map. During weekends and holidays there are also one sheet map handouts available at the Gold Lake Sno Park warming cabin.
The Bechtel Trails are located on the right side (west) of the road leaving the Gold Lake Sno Park at the first Y intersection. A more difficult trail to the shelter is via Bechtel Creek Trail where you stay to the right at the second Y intersection. Maryanne’s Way runs up hill off of Bechtel Creek Trail just prior to arriving at the shelter. Either way you go, you can continue on toward Deer Creek or to Midnight Lake and other lakes along the PCT. A more challenging route to Midnight Lake is via Pengra Pass. Use caution, however; the trails leading to Midnight Lake and beyond are in the Diamond Peak Wilderness and are unmarked.
While on the Fuji Mt. Trail you will pass Birthday Lake and come to the junction for Joanne and Lorin Lakes Trail. You can continue past these lakes on a loop going to Upper Island Lakes then back to the Fuji Mt. trail where you have an option to follow diamonds to the top of Fuji Mt. or to the Fuji Shelter. You can also continue back to Waldo Rd via Verde Lake and Birthday Lake. Another way of reaching this trail system and the Fuji Shelter is via the Fuji Mt. Rd. off of HWY 58 across from the Salt Creek Sno Park. The signage marking the Fuji shelter is much improved and more visible. Even though the signs have been improved it is advised to plan on reaching Fuji Shelter before dark.
The new bridge over Salt Creek has been completed and Diamond Creek Falls loop is now marked and ready for use although diamonds still need to be raised and signs installed. Parking for the Fuji Mt. Rd Trail and the Diamond Creek Trails is at the sno park just after the tunnel on Hwy 58. Be sure to have your sno park permit.
Warner Mt. Lookout Trail up Hills Creek has many wonderful improvements to diamonds and signage. You will no longer lose your way. Speaking of losing your way, we are happy to announce that a new water proof Willamette Pass Winter Recreation Map is now being worked on and we hope to have it ready by the 2012 winter season.
The Forest Service periodically burns some meadows to mimic wildfires, in limiting new tree growth with in the meadow. For faster restoration, grass and flower seeds are collected, and then distributed to meadows that have been burned. In August 2010, the Forest Service and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation put together a grass seed collection project for Grasshopper Meadows, in the Willamette National Forest. Volunteers for the HCFV were on hand to help out. If you are interested in helping with next years grass seed collecting, contact the Middle Fork Ranger Station.
In the spring of 2010, several days worth of trail maintenance were done on the North Fork Trail over the course of several months. The trail starts in Westfir, and follows the North Fork of the Willamette for about 12 miles.
A gentle trail, with many beautiful views of the river, it is used by hikers and mountain bikers.
The HCFV removed several downed trees, resolved many water issues, removed trail slough, repaired a bridge, and even packed out a washing machine and various other garbage
It took awhile to locate the trash nestled neatly in a hole between some rather large boulders. Rocks were placed on top of the trash to keep it from blowing away, or to hide it! After pulling the very old trash out of the rocks we discovered a very large piece of heavy black plastic. It was very apparent that the llama was not going to be able to carry all of the trash and the 40 lb piece of plastic. We had scales to help weigh the trash so knew what could be taken out safely. The plastic was tied up and left close to the trail in readiness for another pick up from Jim Suiter, who came back on a later date with stock to pick up the roll of plastic.
Another fine job completed to help make the Forest a cleaner safer place for the critters that make it their home.
In 2008, PCTA in Mid-Oregon initiated a program of trail work projects offering volunteers the opportunity to join PCT work crews. These crews, lead by paid PCTA and FS employees, take on challenging tread and drainage projects along the PCT and its primary feeder trails. The projects involved 4-day backpack trips into a work site, tackling the trail situation while learning advanced trail maintenance techniques, and having a great time getting to know each other and other trail users. The program was expanded in 2010 to include packer-supported 5-day trips that could go deeper into the back country to work on larger scale projects.
Each project this summer had its own bragging rights. One group worked through the fires in Jefferson Wilderness, reporting one small fire themselves. Another group hiked into Linton Meadows in 97 degree weather and hiked out four days later through six inches of snow. A highlight for many of the crews was the opportunity for foot powered and horse powered volunteers to camp and work together. One group moved 3 tons of fill into an especially eroded section of trail!
The program was such a success this year that the hope is to expand it next year. Stay tuned for more information early in 2011.
In the last few years many volunteers have achieved cross cut saw certification. Due to scheduling requirements, however, their training has been limited to working in a set wood pile where one pretends “a trail” exists. A universal comment on evaluations has been “we want to cut on real trails!” At the same time, FS crew leaders have been concerned that volunteers aren’t getting the range of experience needed to grow their skills base.
In response, Kit organized several weekend log outs on long neglected sections of trail on both the east and west sides of the Cascades.
At Corral Swamp, 310 lodge pole beetle-killed pines were cleared from a 3-mile section of the Met-Win trail. At Red Meadows, 269 mostly lodge pole pines were cleared from 3.5 miles of the Green Lakes trail, thus having the “Round the Three Sisters” trail completely cleared for the first time since the 2007 “wind event.” On the west side, 97 mostly large hemlock were cleared from the access route from Foley Ridge trail to Substitute Point.
This fall two more clearing projects were started: there are just 40 out of almost 180 trees remaining on the Summit Trail between Santiam Pass and Jack Lake trail head and 80 trees out of over 200 left on the Met-Win between Many Lakes and Deer Lake trail heads. The heavy rains and early snows put a cramp on the work schedule – but the hope is to knock out these projects next spring – snow and mosquitoes allowing.
A volunteer from the Portland area was astounded at the shear number of trees to be cut, while another who works primarily on the eastside was impressed at the size of the west-side hemlocks, and still a third, from the west side, amazed at the seemingly endless jack-strawed piles of east side forest trails. Not only did they come away from the projects with increased experience in cutting and removing trees, but also with greater respect for the work taken on by fellow volunteers in diverse sections of the Cascades. This was definitely a win-win situation. The volunteers got lots of good experience and the FS could finally remove significant sections of trail from their “to do” lists.
Next year Kit is planning more significant log-out projects. There is a section of trail in the Opal Creek Wilderness with approximately 20 C-class (over 30 inches) hemlocks to be cut and removed – and there are similar work sites on all the ranger districts. Her intention is to start these projects early in the season at the lower elevation work sites to help High Cascade volunteers get in shape to hit their mountain trails when the snow melts.
Erik Muller, HCFV Volunteer
Have you ever walked in the morning and had a spider web break across your face? Or been the first to cross unmarked snow? Being the earliest or the first is exhilarating.
For some, entering wilderness has the same uplift. After filling out a permit and reviewing the kiosk’s advisories, you enter an unusual place: untrammeled nature without wheels and machines, often without other people. At Lillian Falls Trailhead at the end of the Black Creek Road, the growth in a clearcut quickly leads into wilderness old growth. The line could not be clearer, the experience more gratifying.
There is always another line to cross in the refinement of our thinking, the deepening of our experience. For me, one of the most exhilarating lines that I have crossed was from being a trail user, like many of you, to a trail steward, again like many of you.
Even before Judy Mitchell’s brainchild had been given the name, High Cascades Forest Volunteers, the 2006 Westfir training motivated me to take the next step in my education as a hiker. While my wife and I had enjoyed walking on public lands, the trails underfoot were not our main focus—the scenery around us was, the fresh air, the great sense of traveling the world at three miles per hour (or two!).
Trainings at Westfir have helped me develop what John Schubert calls “trail eyes,” an alertness to and appreciation of what has been built and what might need some work. On a practical level, this involves the number, size, and location of downed trees, as well as the condition of tread and water bars, the need for brushing. Classes offered at Westfir have instructed us on how to help maintain trail. I enjoy the skills, the tools, and the people I work with in a cadre led by Ron Robinson and his Oakridge cohort Mike Kinyon. We call ourselves Scorpions, logging hours together in all seasons, from Drift Creek’s dense coastal forest to burned acres north of Waldo.
We often work so intently we do not see or hear everything we might if we were hiking and pausing to catch the view or birdsong. But we are the 21st Century stewards of trails that are cultural artifacts as valuable and often as historic as an old courthouse or covered bridge. We are literally walking in the footsteps of people who hiked to forest lookouts, frontier military outposts, and fall berrying grounds.
In crossing this line, our satisfaction is not in being earliest or first, but in being in good company, extending the work done before us and for us, receiving this heritage, conserving it, and passing it along.
This year’s trainings are planned for:
Cascade Locks April 15-17 / Westfir May 13-15 / Allingham June 3-5 Registration for classes on those weekends will be out in early February, 2011.
This year we will be putting together some invasive weed projects. The Forest Service Botanists would really like surveys done as to where the invasive weeds are, and how much there are. We will try to incorporate this with folks doing trail surveys and trail work, but we will also have projects dedicated just to surveying, and removal of invasive weeds.
The projects we hope to do this next summer include:
Selected trails in the Santiam Wilderness for false brome and blackberry. Erma Bell Lakes, for Phlaris and false brome Foley Ridge and Separation Creek Trails, for false brome Mink Lake basin trails, for spotted knapweed
Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, five back country thistle locations need removal
As the snow conditions are known next spring/summer, we will provide dates as to these projects. Check the HCFV website later on, or contact Mike Kinyon, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, and to get on the email list for these projects.
For more information about the High Cascade Forest Volunteers, visit our website at: www.highcascadesvolunteers.com, you can also find volunteering information at the following Forest Service websites:
Scorpions Crew: Lesson Learned
The Economy Is Still Down, But Diamonds Are Up……
Blue Diamonds On The Ski Trails That Is! During the last several years, much needed work has been completed by High Cascade Forest Volunteers to the diamond marked ski trails around the Willamette Pass area. This work is part of the Middle Fork Ranger District winter recreation plan.
Trail Work – North Fork Trail
PCTA Windigo-Skyline Projects.
To enlarge picture, dourble click on picture
Continuing along the trail past the Maiden Lake junction takes the skier to a brand new sign at the Maiden Peak Saddle. This new ski sign shows directions for a choice of Taits Trail, Skyline Trail and Maiden Peak Shelter. The Skyline Trail connects down to the Maiden Peak Trail where another new sign marks your arrival at the T-junction of the Maiden Peak trail via Gold Lake Road. The Taits Trail loops above the Rosaries with a choice of returning the way you came or taking a connecting ski trail back down to the Rosaries to return to the trailhead. Taits trail is another route that had fallen in to disarray with many confusing, unmarked junctions. Numerous diamonds have been added along with new signage.
The Waldo Road area offers numerous marked trails, all of which have been improved with diamonds and signage. From the end of the Gold Lake Rd. past the Gold Lake shelter, you can pick up the Gold Lake Trail which parallels Waldo Rd. The trail crosses the junction to the Fuji Mt. Trail, the Mt. Ray/ Upper Island Loop Trail and the Betty Lake / South Waldo Shelter Trail. If you do not like skiing up Waldo Road to these trailheads, the Gold Lake Trail is now a great alternative. The Twin Peaks Trail is marked with diamonds and can be reached by starting at the summer trailhead off of Waldo Road, one mile past the Betty Lake TH.
Larry Baurer, a PCT/HCFV volunteer, reported a stash of old trash he found in a rock pile near a pretty little lake off the pct trail in the Diamond Peak wilderness. Because of the quantity of the trash Larry could not bring it down while he was up working on the trail. A few weeks later, with gps coordinates supplied by Larry, Steve Beaty and Judy Mitchell, along with Chief (llama) and Monte (dog) went up to search for the trash. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day. Temps in the 60’s, sun out and bugs gone. What more could you ask for when working in the wilderness.
The 2010 response to both programs has been gratifying. The projects were wide ranging, covering every district on both the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests, from Breitenbush Trail in the north to Summit Lake in the south. Approximately 70 volunteers participated on the ten Windigo and four Skyline projects donating 2,178 hours, hiking over 120 miles of trail, providing 32 miles of tread maintenance and 11,965 feet of trail reconstruction. The response to our call for volunteer packers was so great that we were not only able to support the Skyline crews but also an SCA crew working in the Mt. Washington Wilderness and several of the Windigo crews as well.
To call the High Cascades Forest Volunteers “a work in progress” would be an understatement. While Judy’s vision has been consistent, the methods for attaining her overarching goals have grown seemingly exponentially. In 2008 Kit Dickey joined her crack team, producing a second training on the east side of the High Cascades at Allingham Guard station focusing on recruiting, training and managing volunteers heading into the mountains from the north and east along Deschutes National Forest trails.
Invasive plants are species that aggressively compete with and displace native plant communities. Non-native invasive plants impact ecosystems in every state in the U.S. The result can be loss and destruction of forage and habitat for wildlife, lost forest productivity, reduced groundwater levels, soil degradation, increased risk of devastating wildfires, and diminished recreational enjoyment. This photo shows a complete understory of false brome.
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.
To enlarge picture, dourble click on picture
To enlarge picture, dourble click on picture