A day working with the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders is always satisfying. It’s been a while since I’ve been out with them, so I figured it was time for some trail work. The project for the day was Windy Gap Trail. When I hiked the trail in July I counted 19 deadfalls, so I was eager to help clear them.
8:00 AM - Leave from the San Gabriel Canyon Gateway Center in Azusa and head up Hwy 39 to Rincon Fire Station to load the equipment. There are 10 of us today: Ben, Bron, Brian, Bob, Jeanette, Kimberly, Greg, Lou, Tom, and me. With equipment loaded, we continue the drive up to Chrystal Lake basin. Normally when the Trailbuilders work on Windy Gap Trail, we drive up the Hawkins truck trail to where Windy Gap Trail crosses it a second time. The first task of the day is to remove several large trees that have fallen on the road blocking vehicle accesses to the trail. While driving up the road we encounter a new deadfall blocking our route. We attack it with vigor and soon we are back in the vehicles on our way.
10:25 - Arrive at the work site. The jumble of large trees piled on the road is daunting. But we go work. The Crystal Lake basin was incinerated by the 2002 Curve Fire, destroying a mature forest, reducing it to dead sticks reaching into the deep blue sky. The Trailbuilders remove tons of trees from the trails every year, but more keep falling.
The weather is great today. In spit of the horrible destruction from the fire, there is still a beauty here. We are surrounded on three sides by soaring ridges 1,000 feet above with dramatic slopes falling into the basin. Wildflowers around us add a splash of color.
We finish clearing the first big tree and break for lunch. We sit in the shade. There’s always good conversation. Back to the deadfalls, everyone works hard and there’s a real camaraderie among the seasoned veterans and the newcomers alike.
We make excellent progress and nearly complete the task of clearing the road. We had hoped to have started on removing dead trees from Windy Gap Trail, but they will have to wait until next time. Wrap up at about 3:00 and head back down the mountain.
Epilog - It almost seems odd that arduous physical toil is enjoyable. But there is a sense of satisfaction in a job well done. And as a hiker I always value the opportunity to give back to the sport. If you would like to serve those who love the outdoors, come out and spend a day with the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders. It’s a great group forks and everyone is welcome. Workdays are on the first, third, and fifth Saturdays of each month. Visit the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders website to learn more.
See Windy Gap Trail hike description at Dan’s Hiking Pages