Leaders: Alan Coles, Charlie Knapke
Our April trip consisted of 5 seasoned Cutca Trail workers: Bert Ton, John Case, Tom Cowen (all from San Diego area) and the 2 leaders. We met 7:30 Saturday morning at Dripping Springs Campground where we got the tools and key to the gate from John, the camp host. The road up to the Cutca Trail was closed due to a slide further up beyond the trailhead, so we were allowed as Forest Service volunteers to pass through the gate.
This was a very fast and hard working group. On a nearly perfect clear and cool day we reached the wilderness boundary and the area where we stopped on our November trip in less than 3 hours. With over 50 inches of rain during the winter, nearly every ravine had a good stream running through it that necessitated several difficult stream crossings. The only tracks we saw besides millions of deer and other animals was that of a mountain bike which had reached our work site and wisely gave up when the trail abruptly ended in a wall of brush (bikes aren't allowed in wilderness areas).
We quickly got to work cutting a wide path through the thick ceanothus which was very dense in the canyon bottom. The long slender limbs necessitated an extraordinary trail width because wind and rain would bend them over the trail.
We reached a clearing and went quite a distance without the need for major brush clearing. During the afternoon we worked on the switchbacks that lead out of the canyon and up the ridge.
The 3 participants went to work down in the canyon again but the 2 leaders continued working up to the area where we had quit on our 1994 trip where we camped at the top and worked down. Finally by late afternoon we had the trail cleared enough to make the entire length passable to hikers. However there are many large trees that have fallen down which we were unable to cut and will have to be removed later.
We camped at a small clearing next to a mighty fallen oak which I called "The Mother of all Oaks". With a diameter of 6', it made a good tent for Bert. It was a pleasant night, cool but not cold.
On Sunday we continued more brush clearing. Tom and John cleared stumps with a mattock Tom carried in. We left around noon and were back to the cars just after 3. This was a group that not only ran up the 500' mountain at the end but seemed to savor it (except for the poor leader).