I woke up early in the morning, having prepared the coffee to be ready to brew by the press of a button. I’m far from a morning person and tend to somehow forget a step when I need caffeine the most. There weren’t many scheduled to attend the meetup, but this one involved a long day of hard work, so that was to be expected.
Thankfully, GPS is a thing, because I really had no idea where I was going beyond that it was somewhere to the North East of my house. After a short drive on the freeway and a longer drive along a series of roads into the mountains, my phone shouted at me to turn onto a dirt road that was poorly marked.
There was a group of others who had signed up with WTA already setting up, but nobody from the Meetup group. The leader covered some safety guidelines and other tips for hiking and working in this terrain, most of it being common sense stuff that I’m sure needed to be said for legal reasons. We all grabbed a tool and our helmets and set of to the area we’d be working in.
I volunteered to carry a large pry bar, which was the heaviest of tools. We had to hike in for maybe a half hour, and I have no idea what the distance was, but the weight tired my arm numerous times so, rather than carry it with both, I kept switching back and forth to give the arm not in use a rest.
We came to a place where we had to cross a stream using a log spread across the gap. No, nobody fell and no incident came of the situation, but I felt luck to have a bar which I could use to aid in balance instead of having a bucket full of some smaller tools that would pull me to one side.
A little further down, there was a spot where the leader had us stop and pass one person at a time. There was a tree that had snapped in a previous storm that looked to be ready to fall over at any moment. Once again, we all passed without incident.
We came to the end of the hike at the bottom of a hill that, aside from some signs of erosion, wasn’t particularly notable. The erosion was what we were there to fix, and we weren’t the first to do any maintenance in the area. Someone else had been there before and done some work that had temporarily made the area more easily passable, but the fix would end up doing more harm than good with the rain that would inevitably come in the winter.
We started by setting up a pulley system that we would use to yank giant boulders from off the trail to form a solid base that wouldn’t wash away so easily. We were given very strong warnings about the tension that could build in the line and were forbidden to step between the cables.
Despite having the benefit of leverage granted by the tools we were using, progress was slow. It must have taken more than a dozen cranks of the handle to move a boulder just a single inch but, regardless of how long it took, we eventually placed that rock where we wanted it.
After a brief lunch break that included some horror stories of accidents in trail maintenance, we were put back to work. This time, I was put in a group scavenging for smaller rocks to build a wall to support the trail where it ran adjacent to a creek that was currently dry. Although my previous task had involved much greater weight, this time everything was done manually and involved greater distances.
A few hours later we were packing up and preparing to haul out what we had brought in. As you should expect, the hike out was pretty much the same as the trip in only in reverse. Also, we were all pretty worn out now. We passed first by that scary tree that was about to fall on top of us and then across the tree stump to cross the stream, finally arriving back at the place we had all parked.
There were some snacks and drinks passed to to all the volunteers, as well as a day pass to use on a future adventure in a park or wherever.