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
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
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 . . .