Backcountry Trail Crew, July 5 - 13, 2003 (12:43 PM 1/14/2022)

California Outfitters, Volunteer Trail Crew

July 5 - 13, 2003, Nine day hike

This is a picture log of the California Outfitters July 2003 trail clean up hike. It consisted of a several day campout/hike sponsored by California Outfitters in Clover Meadow this year in July. Followed by an additional day trip of work out of Clover Meadow.

All three of us used digital cameras. These cameras put time/date information on each picture. It took me awhile to notice this. I got Karl's pictures last so I only included the date/time on his pictures.

The trip went somewhat like this..........

  1. Day 0, Saturday, July 5: Last night I got an e-mail asking if I would be able to go up and into the back country a day early. There would be three others with me and I said "yes". The four us were:

    1. Eric, me
    2. Marty, huge strong guy
    3. Pedro, youngish guy from the LA area
    4. Skip, worker on the Trail Crew computers

    Skip and Marty were to meet us in Clover Meadow and I was to get Pedro at the train station and take him on up to Clover Meadow. I was able to get Pedro, despite never having seen him before, successfully and we headed up to Clover Meadow. When we got to Clover Meadow the normal camping area for Trail Crew was taken by several other people, so I took a chance and went up to the Granite Creek campground where we found Skip and Marty.

    All four of us had a nice time around Betty's campfire and she offered room in her "visitor's" tent, which had two cots in it. Skip and Pedro took her up on the kind offer. While Marty and I slept in the open.

  2. Day 1, Sunday, July 6: On waking up, Marty cooked breakfast while we packed and then headed out for the Clover Meadow Corral, getting there at about 8 AM.

    While the horses and mules were being packed with the equipment that Skip and Marty had brought up on Saturday, I watched and took several pictures as I had never worked with pack stock.

    When all the pack animals were loaded, we got into Marty's truck and headed out for the Fernandez Trail Head. Getting there we were just in time to watch the pack animals pass through on their way to our Trail Camp.

    Following a brief JHA (Job Hazard Analysis), we headed on up the Fernandez Trail with a full set of tools for removing trees. We were carrying:

    1. Buck The Saw, this is a six foot cross cut buck saw that was heavy and sharp. (A similar two man crosscut saw.)
    2. A double bit axe. (A similar double bit axe.)
    3. Eric's four foot "little saw" which was "Dolly sharp". (A similar one man crosscut saw.)
    4. Eric's two foot saw which was also "Dolly sharp". (Couldn't find a similar one on the web.)
    5. A shovel. The yellow tape marks on the shovel are one foot apart.

    Before we left we had been told that there were two problem trees on the trail. One was about three feet in diameter and the other was about 14" in diameter. The three foot tree had broken into three pieces and John the Packer thought that we could just "roll it out of the way". The 14" tree was near by and we would only need one cut on it.

    The Fernandez Trail has lots of "up" in it and it took us quite a while before we got to the wilderness boundary. Talking with John the packer, he recommended that we not try to remove the trees and come directly into camp instead. We agreed.

    We found and walked around the three-foot tree and then about a half a mile further on we came to the 14" tree, which we stepped over.

    We finally met John as he was returning from the Trail Camp, just after we crossed Madera Creek. We talked to him for a bit and continued on to the Trail Camp which was about 100 yards down from the junction of Granite and Timber Creeks.

    The Trail Camp was on the other side of Granite Creek, and in crossing it I slipped and partially fell into the cold water. The other three of us had no real problems in crossing the creek at the ford.

    When we got to the Trail Camp, we decided that it was going to be OK, despite the fact that there was very little level ground in it. It was high enough above the water that there weren't too many mosquitoes. So we set up our tents and the kitchen and relaxed for a while.

    Marty cooked dinner and eventually we all went to bed for the night. There were many mosquitoes there, but the breeze usually kept them away.

  3. Day 2, Monday, July 7: According to schedule, John the Packer would be coming in with the rest of the equipment for our stay during the day and the other eight members of the team would show up shortly after. They were:

    1. Bayard, USFS volunteer
    2. Bill, a Corpsman
    3. John, USFS volunteer
    4. Karl, A Trail Crew veteran
    5. Lea, USFS volunteer
    6. Nate, USFS summer worker
    7. Norm, the cook
    8. Ted, with his German Shepard

    Marty cooked breakfast and we headed out for our first big tree. The 44" tree was about 150 yards away from us and it was across the creek. We decided that it wouldn't take too long. So we did not pack a lunch.

    When we got to the 44" tree I estimated that it would take about an hour to cut and Marty thought that it would take about two hours. (Six hours later we finished it!)

    This was the first time that Pedro had ever cut a large tree. I had him help me cut a 6" tree that was blocking the trail near camp earlier on, but this was totally different. As we starting using Buck The Saw we noticed that part of the wood was rotten and part was still sound. The sound part was in the middle of the tree where moisture hadn't been able to get to it. I was partially right in my estimate as to how long it would take to cut the tree, in that it took about 45 minuets to make the first of the two required cuts.

    When we finished the second cut, the cut out section did not nicely roll out of the middle of the tree as we had expected. Instead of being helpful, it got stuck. We noticed that there was a large staub on the bottom side that we thought was holding it in place. Pedro dug the area near it out and the cut section still would not roll for us.

    We had to cut another small 9" tree that was across the trail nearby. After doing this we brought it back to use as a lever. Since we couldn't move the cut section as it was we decided to use a lever and fulcrum to force the cut section through the gap in the fallen tree.

    The cut section of the tree was still stuck when the other eight members of the crew arrived on the scene. John suggested that we take the lever that we had and try to move the cut section up-hill to get it out of the jammed position that it was in. With this new approach, or was it going from three workers to eleven, we got the stuck section free. We then turned the stuck section, which weighed about one to two tons, sideways and slid it down hill on a bed of small logs. (The small logs also functioned as rollers.) Once the cut section was down hill, we pushed it over and back UP hill so that it rested against the original tree, out of the way. We then stuck large rocks under it to keep it in place.

    Now Marty, Pedro and I could go on back to camp and have a late lunch.

    Norm cooked a nice dinner for us and we relaxed and went to bed later on.

  4. Day 3, Tuesday, July 8: As became usual, John was up first, closely followed by Norm. Breakfast was cooked, team assignments were made and we set off for the day's work.

    John's team:

    1. Eric
    2. Nate
    3. Pedro

    Karl's team:

    1. Bayard
    2. Bill
    3. Lea
    4. Marty
    5. Ted

    John's team went back the way that we came into camp and Karl's team went up the trail alongside Timber Creek.

    On John's team we got to the 36" tree on Fernandez Trail, cleared it and worked back to Madera Creek. Just past Madera Creek we saw a difficult large tree that John estimated would take a full team all day to get out of the way. We left The TREE and continued on up the trail, clearing much of the trail to Lillian Lake and then returning to clear some more of the trail back to our camp. We marked the last tree furthest from our camp and estimated that it would take about a half day to clear out the rest of "our" trees. We did this so that we would know that all further trees had been removed.

    Karl's team went up the trail and cleared many trees, some as close as 100 ft. apart and finally made it to the top of the "switchbacks" before returning to the Trail Camp.

    Norm cooked us dinner and had some fresh fish fried up for hors d'ourves.

  5. Day 4, Wednesday, July 9: After getting breakfast, we all went up the trail where Karl had been working the day before. We were in two saw teams that "leap frogged" each other all day long.

    Looking at some of the downed trees, it appeared as though some of them had been down for a very long time. There were some estimates that the last saw team to come through this area had been here 10 to 15 years ago. One of the trees that we worked on had sunk into the ground about 4" to 5" and we estimated that it had been there for at least 20 years.

    Just before quitting time, 2:30 pm, we came to another tree and decided that we did not have enough time to finish it. We had reports of only two more trees on the trail ahead of us, so we decided to leave the current tree and come back tomorrow and clear the trail all the way to the top.

    Back in camp, Norm cooked up some for fish for us and made dinner. During the day Norm fell down a rock and messed up his back, but being a good fisherman, never slowed down his fishing for such a minor problem.

  6. Day 5, Thursday, July 10: After finishing breakfast, we again broke up into two saw teams. Karl's team went to finish the trail above us and John's team went back to finish the trail into camp. (Nate joined Karl's team giving only three on John's team.)

    Marty and Lea left us and returned to Clover Meadow. Marty had a family thing to go to and Lea was training for a marathon. So both had to leave us on this last full day of work.

    John the Packer, was expected in to pack out everything that we didn't need. As the mules will only carry about 150 lbs. we had to make the loads the correct size and use a scale so that both side loads would be about even in weight. I don't think that we overloaded them, but the bulk of the containers that we used to pack in was significant.

    On John's team we used his block and tackle to move many trees that were on the trail. Many times using the block and tackle proved to be easier to do than cutting them up into pieces. We got all of the trail into camp cleared except for The TREE,

    Karl's team got all the rest of the trail cleared and continued on up to the top of the trail and was rewarded with a great view of the area.

    On the way back in for the day, one member of Karl's team got separated from the team. John and Nate went back to find him. After about 30 minuets of searching up the hill, the missing team member casually walked back into camp and said that he just wanted to return a different way. We called John on the radio that the missing one had been found. John returned and had a nice friendly discussion with the late arrival.

    We had the normal dinner which included more fresh fried fish.

  7. Day 6, Friday, July 11: After breakfast we packed up and got everything ready for John the Packer. We then left camp, most of us were carrying day packs, leaving the rest for the mules. (I love those mules!)

    We passed The TREE on the way out and I thought "How nice I'll never see it again.". We got into Clover Meadow and I thought how nice it would be to have a nice cold beer that I was sure my wife would have obviously sent up for me. (She didn't, but I got three warm ones from Norm. It might have helped if I'd mentioned that I would like a cold beer to her before she left us in Granite Creek!)

    We got into Clover Meadow a little after lunch time, but Carol and Susan immediately "found" lots of food for us to eat. (I didn't eat the two peanut and jelly sandwiches, our "standard" trail lunch, that I had made for lunch.)

    We spent the rest of the day relaxing and generally goofing off. We were able to use showers in one of the USFSes trailers. We had a little sign on the door that said if the shower was in use or not. (This was a really nice thing after several days camping out. The only thing that would have made it better is if I had clean clothes to get into!)

  8. Day 7, Saturday, July 12: After breakfast we broke up into work teams and I ended up on John's team again. The team consisted of:

    1. Barbara
    2. Eric
    3. John
    4. Pedro
    5. Scott

    We took my "little" saw, a Pulaski, a shovel and Buck the Saw with us to attack The TREE.

    Barbara drove us to the Fernandez Trail Head and we went up Walton Trail, crossed over Madera Creek on a log jam and went up to The TREE. As the tree was large, difficult and dangerous we had to:

    1. Have no injuries. (Working on it was not "safe" as it originally lay.)
    2. Remove as many small pieces as we could.
    3. Get it off the large boulder that it rested on.
    4. Cut a section out of it to clear the trail.
    5. Move the cut section off the trail so that the trail could be fully used.

    The first thing we did was look the tree over. When it fell it partially broke into three sections. Using the block and tackle, we tore the upper 30 foot section off and got it out of the way. We then used the block and tackle and a lever to the next (thicker) 20 foot section off the boulder and out of the way. Now we could apply ourselves to getting the main 50 foot section of the tree off the boulder so that it would be safe to cut off its base. Again we used the block and tackle and a lever to get it off the top of the boulder.

    We had lunch and started to cut the tree at its base. After the first cut we made a second cut. While we were cutting the tree, we (mostly Pedro) collected a bunch of small logs to use to slide the cut section around on. With some serious pushing and pulling the cut section rolled/slid on the wood pieces and was out of the way by about 3:30 pm.

    We then congratulated ourselves and headed back to the main base camp at Clover Meadow, knowing that we had done a good job with The TREE.

  9. Day 8, Sunday, July 13: Last day. Many of us stayed behind to help with packing up. Others, having to drive as far as San Diego, left for home.

All in all it was a good trip with, as Shane promised us, "Lots of sawing to do."

This is a combined set of Pedro, Eric's and Karl's trip pictures. All of us used digital cameras to record the trip. The pictures are arraigned four ways:

In addition to the still pictures there are a small number of Movies that I took with my still camera. (In addition to this, these are the first time that I attempted to use the "movie" mode of the camera. Some of the resulting Movies show this skill level.) These are limited to 16 seconds in length and there is no sound recorded with them. Pointers to all of them follow this paragraph. They are also inserted in their proper places in the full log.


  1. John and ? cutting the old tree. (P7060001.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  2. Karl using a Pulaski to remove limbs from a leaner before it gets cut. (This is one of my first "Movies", note that I didn't know it was still going at the end.) (P7060004.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  3. John under cutting the leaner with his Oregon saw. (P7060005.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  4. Karl and John finishing off the leaner. (P7060006.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  5. Most of the crew removing a log from the trail. (P7060007.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  6. Cleaning up after removing the log. (P7060008.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  7. If you look carefully, there is fish here at the ford on Granite Creek. (P7060014.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  8. Bayard sitting down. Usually it isn't this graceful (P7060017.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  9. John, Pedro and Buck the Saw (P7070027.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  10. John and Pedro, note the quantity of saw dust that Buck the Saw makes from a little 10" tree on each cut. (P7070028.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  11. John and Pedro trying to pull a cut tree section out of the way. Since I wasn't helping them they were not successful. So I stopped taking pictures for a bit. (P7070031.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  12. This is when John said I should stop taking pictures and help them more. (P7070032.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  13. Pedro and John with another section of stuck tree. (P7070033.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  14. More block and tackle work for Pedro and John. (P7070034.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  15. Going up the switch backs after crossing Madera Creek on the Walton Trail. Note how close the "switching" gets. (P7080054.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  16. Going down the Walton Trail. (Whoops I didn't know that I shouldn't try for vertical motion pictures!) (P7080069.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  17. Barbara, Scott and John getting ready to move the top section of The TREE with block and tackle. (P7090084.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  18. Getting the second section. I had to stop taking pictures for awhile here too. (P7090085.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  19. John and moving the bottom section of the TREE (P7090089.MOV, movie by Eric.)
  20. Scott and Barbara getting the TREE ready for its final move. (P7090090.MOV, movie by Eric.)