SMMTC Home | SMMTC Trail Maintenance | All Volunteer Events | Calendar | Backbone Trek |
Plant of the Month | Membership | History | About Us | Memorials | Links | Supporters

Trail Maintenance

September, 2006

Pacific Crest Trail

John Muir Wilderness, Sierra National Forest

SMMTC Crew Leaders Attend Traditional Trails Skills Training
Story and Photos by Jerry Mitcham

Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council (SMMTC) crew leaders Jerry Mitcham, Al Bandel, Virginia Grue and Tom Siebert attended a Traditional Trails Skills Training workshop in the month of September. The workshop, hosted by the Student Conservation Association (SCA), was conducted in two sessions on two consecutive weekends. Jerry and Al attended the session from August 31st to September 3rd; and Tom and Virginia attended the session from September 7th to the 10th. The workshop was held on the Pacific Crest Trail in the John Muir Wilderness in the Sierra National Forest.

SCA and National Forest Rangers staffed the workshop and provided all meals. The base camp was in a spectacular location on the Pacific Crest Trail near Pocket Meadow. To get to the base camp, the four participants had to drive 300 miles, ferry across Lake Edison, then backback 4.5 miles to the base camp.

The subject of the workshop was development of traditional trailbuilding skills using hand tools, natural materials and manual labor. Daily sessions provided instruction and hands-on application of the National Forest trail standards. Instruction addressed safety, selection of materials, proper use of handtools, cutting and shaping rock, and constructing trail features to the National Forest "standards". Application of the instruction consisted of applying the skills on the trail. Specific problem areas were identified on the trail, the site prepared, rocks selected near the worksite, rocks moved to the prepared site, installed and the trail tread groomed. Some very large rocks (up to several hundred pounds) were pushed, pulled, pried and levered into precise positions. It was not unusual to see as many as four workers straining with rockbars to nudge a rock into position.

While all participants agreed the work was hard, they also agreed they learned a lot.

See the San Francisco Chronicle, October 5th story on the workshop.

Left: The entire class and staff, on an overlook just above the Pacific Crest Trail worksite;
Right: A view of our base camp where we had meals and gathered around the campfire in the evenings.

Left: Al and Jerry working on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail; Right: The "after" picture on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail where the crew worked.