VWA-San Antonio Trailwork

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December 4, 2004

Animated crosscut sequence

Outline and Background

This was a volunteer trailwork trip organized under the auspices of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance with the support of the US Forest Service. Trip leader was Dave Knapp. Trip Leader's Report. Map(s) of perambulations below.

Planning and Route Description

"The crew will spend Saturday working their way down the trail from Cone Peak Road, cutting brush and sprucing up the trail tread as they go. Saturday night will be spent at delightful Fresno Camp on the banks of the San Antonio River, including a potluck hors d'oeuvre and happy hour. On Sunday there will be more brushwork and treading on the way back up to the trailhead. Rain Cancels."

Hike Description

We met at the Vicente Flat trailhead on the Cone Peak Road (parking area for the San Antonio trail which starts slightly up the road) and organized our tools. We were joined by Will (Forest Service) who brought a crosscut saw (and the official expertise to use it) to log the (we thought) last large down tree. I (Robert) tagged along with Will on the theory that I'd be "volunteered" to work the other end of the two-man saw, which I duly was. Our log was most of the way down to Fresno Camp, past the series of logs a Forest Service crew had removed earlier in the week. Very brushy on the way down...almost continuously pushing through encroaching brush, and this after previous lopping to get the trail open. Cutting the logs went surprisingly quickly, and it was enormously satisfying to roll the cut piece off the trail and watch it thrash its way down into the ravine.

A quick excursion down to the camp showed that there were a series of further downed trees, which Will thought could be cleared by a paid crew, so we went back up and joined the rest brushing and treading the most overgrown upper part of the trail (near the almost lost first switchback). Lunch was taken at Fresno Camp, with overnighters setting up camp then, followed by working our way back down. Several people left us, rather than brave the predicted foul weather (or had other obligations).

Clouds started piling up in the late afternoon, and it looked more or less threatening as we relaxed in the camp, however the predicted precipitation never appears (likely snow, given the temperatures) and it cleared up in the early evening. By the time we retired, it was again partly cloudy, and when we woke up it was overcast, and rather warmer than the previous day.

We started the day with a clarification of the crossing of the San Antonio River adjacent to the camp, leaving the continuation of the San Antonio Trail (in bad condition) for another day. Following that, we worked our way up the trail, brushing and treading bad spots on our way out. I tail-end-charlied, rebuilding a slump, and cutting into a fill-in, then catching up to the others and mattocking my way through a couple clumps of brush that were diverting the tread.

We got to the cars on schedule about 12 noon, and after discussion and refreshment, headed out.

Trail Issues, Present and Future

Overall, the trail down to Fresno Camp is clear. The exposed upper section (old jeep road) before the saddle has encroaching low shrubbery and a couple spots of tread degradation. The old jeep road continues a short distance further, and has minor brush and debris problems. From there to the first switchback, the trail is clear, although the brush is close to the trail and the tread is somewhat filled in in places. From the switchback down, the brush is cleared well back from the trail, and there are only isolated places where the tread could use some work. As of 12/5/04, there remain some substantial deadfalls that require diversion 20' uphill to pass but with any luck a crew will take those out soon.

Presumably, over the winter the brush will bend into the trail, but a fairly casual lopper pass should clear that up. Deadfalls will continue to be a problem until everything has rotted and fallen. Occasional treadwork should be sufficient to keep the trail in decent condtion.

Weather and Conditions

The weather forecast was for cold conditions with precipitation predicted for Saturday night (70%). It was near freezing all day Saturday (the ground stayed frozen and frost never melted in the gullies. Clear and beautiful all day, and as described above, it never did drop anything on us. Yay for inaccurate weather forecasts. Sunday was partially overcast and warmer.


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Map of hike location and route detail maps

Map with route
Area Map (90K)

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VWA-San Antonio Trailwork / Robert Parks / rparks@lvhot.org / revised July '05