PO Box 28583 o Santa Ana, CA 92799

3N69/3N69A - Gold Mountain Trail Cleanup
July 19-21, 2002

John Hively, Greg Hoffman and I had done a pre run in the spring. The Gold Mountain Trails, 3N69 & 3N69A, were in fairly good condition. We were able to made a Schedule of Work that included a lot of "out of the ordinary" projects. We were talking of truck loads of rock, to shore up the water drainage areas that are showing erosion; a water buffalo (trailer with water tank and high pressure nozzle) to wash away dirt from bed rock areas and bring the Trail back to it's advertised rating of Most Difficult, make some improvements on the Rock Garden and the Rock Quarry areas of the trail, as well as the usual tree trimming, trash pick up, defining the edges of the trail, cutting down some dead trees that were to close to the trail and a few other miscellaneous things. We always pay special attention to protecting the Pebble Plain areas; this year would be no different.

The Forest Service budget for the rock fell through and I'm not sure what happened to the water buffalo but we did get the use of a small tractor and a military style trailer. This worked well because Greg was training for his certification on the tractor and with Steve (the Trainer); Greg was able to get several hours in the drivers seat. The other good thing about this is that Greg is recovering from knee surgery and is on light duty but still able to help out. Everything else was going to be manual labor, shovels, picks, rock bars and branch loppers, well we did get to use a chain saw for cutting the trees.
Friday consisted of a brief pre run to mark some areas of concern. We used some irrigation flags, so that our teams would have an easier time identifying spots that needed attention.

Saturday we had a brief meeting, going over work details. How to trim branches, watch out for snakes; drink lots of water, etc. We would basically have 4 teams, one teams working on the erosion control at the base of the hill, one team working the rock quarry area to add difficulty to the trail, one team felling trees on the back side and one team to do brush control, lots of areas of the trail are getting a bit narrower than they used to be.

Team leaders were assigned and off we went into our various areas to start working. Shortly after that we start hearing about an injury at the rock quarry, details were sketchy so we kept working. Then we hear that Bill Culver is bringing the injured person down to take to the hospital. In my area, none of us knew, who or how bad. Dr Fred is between them, and us and we hear that Fred doesn't think it is too bad. We feel a bit relieved. Bill is coming closer so we all move to the sides of the trail to clear a path, Bill comes driving by us, no time to chat, he must proceed down the hill to the hospital. We got the details that evening, seems that his son Seth got dizzy and fainted. From a standing position he fell over backwards and hit his head on some rocks, scary! It scared everybody that witnessed it. End result, a couple of stitches and a couple of staples, we could have done that on the trail! A blood test at the hospital told the story; Seth was dehydrated, which probably caused him to faint, lesson learned - drink more water.

We learned, that we need a better emergency plan. Most didn't know exactly where the hospital was and apparently the signs are a bit confusing in town. Bill had to ask strangers on the street to help him find it, he received bad directions, and then finally had a lady escort him to the hospital. I think we will be including a map to the hospital and some emergency numbers in a packet for the team leaders for future events.

The rest of the work was mostly uneventful. As many as 15 trees were cut down on the 3N16 side of the trail. Approximately 2 miles of trail was brushed (tree and bush trimming). Several trailer loads of rock were placed to slow erosion along the first few switchbacks. A fence post was pounded into place to protect the pebble plains. Several areas of the trail were defined with rocks and branches to keep vehicles on the trail. Several problem areas, where barbwire has been cut down in the past, had to have no work at all! It is always good to see that some of our work does not get repeated every year.

Trail ratings are always a good topic of discussion. The 4-wheelers are always looking for trails with challenge. Gold Mountain has a trail rating of Most Difficult; the same as Holcomb Creek or John Bull but it doesn't really have that much challenge to it. The Forest Service asked us if we could bring the trail back up its' Most Difficult rating. We looked at the trail and identified a couple of spots that could be "improved". We choose the Rock Quarry and a spot near the 3N16 end of the trail. Saturday, we had a crew moving rock, actually some pretty large boulders, onto the previously flat road through the rock quarry. We set up a pretty good 30-40 foot section. A little farther along we had some good base rock, so we removed a bunch of smaller rocks, creating holes around the larger rocks. Another good 30-40 foot section of technical rock crawling trail. We can't wait to get back there and put a few more days of labor into that area, it shows some real promise. This section is on the 3N69A portion, which is totally optional. If people don't want to run it, they don't have to.

After this work was done, we had a real world test. About 10 vehicles, mostly from Arizona, came up to our new Most Difficult section. They had just run the trail in the morning and were quite surprised to find trail conditions had worsened (or gotten better!) through the day. The vehicles ranged from slightly modified to some well-built vehicles. It took the ten of them around 2 hours to get through our rebuilt section of trail. They used spotting and rock stacking and strapping and winches to get through. I think we have accomplished our goal; a Most Difficult section of trail has been born, with more to come!!

Sunday brought a smaller work crew to a smaller area. We started at 3N16 and 3N69 and worked a small area that had some good bedrock showing. Again, we removed all of the smaller rocks and dirt material away from the bedrock areas to create some large imposing looking holes. Most 4-wheelers will negotiate this obstacle with no problem but I think they will at least slow down (maybe stop) and look it over before driving through as they used to. This was a flat section of trail until West Coast Four Wheel Drive got a hold of it.

While we were working on this section, Greg and his tractor were working on keeping 3N16 flat. Where 3N69 meets 3N16, there was a large pile of dirt and rocks that has been slowly creeping out onto 3N16. Greg used the tractor to move most of this material over the downhill side to keep 3N16 well graded, as it should be.


We look at this as a beginning. We hope to continue to add more Most Difficult sections to the Gold Mountain Trail in the San Bernardino Forest.
While putting the difficulty back into the trail we are also able to protect the endangered species habitats that co-exist with us on the Gold Mountain area. Our goal is to keep all of the OHV users on the trail, a trail that is sometimes hard to see. We follow the lead of the Forest Service and I think that they follow our lead as well. A good team effort.

Speaking of team effort, not only did we have 40 West Coast Members and guests but we also had support from both Orange County 4-Play, Gadzuks, San Bernardino National Forest Volunteers and the Forest Service. There were almost 50 workers on Gold Mountain through the weekend. Thanks to all.

Other users of the trail included the ten 4-wheel drive vehicles that tested our Most Difficult Section on Saturday and another three vehicles on Sunday.

Until next year . . .

Steve Gardiner

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