Leaders: Alan Coles, Martin Feather
We had the same meeting time and place for our May trip with a new crew. Assisting was Martin Feather this time with Gail Hanna, Cristy Bird, Stace Beaulieu and John Case. Barbara Reber showed up but wisely decided not to go due to the inch of rain that had fallen the previous night (the poor leader was unaware of this fact because none had fallen at his home in Long Beach). Believing that the weather was going to clear soon, he persuaded everyone else to continue on with the trip.
Once again it was necessary to get the key to the gate. The road was slippery in places but the 2 Ford Explorers had no trouble reaching the trailhead.
Conditions were wet along the trail and the leader was soaked from the grass. Clouds came and went with an occasional drizzle. The sun came out making everyone optimistic. After 4 miles, however, a dark cloud suddenly descended and it began to rain. We put on rain gear and marched on as the rain began to turn to snow! After a short discussion, we agreed to push on to Cutca Valley and hold out there until the weather cleared.
We reached the valley around noon with the sun shining brightly. This was the site where we had camped in November next to a perennial stream which was very full. We decided to camp there and dry out our equipment. Just as we finished lunch, another cloud came over and it began to rain again.
We stayed in our tents for about 40 minutes and emerged when the rain slowed to a drizzle. There wasn't much time to work in the canyon so we worked on the brushy part of the road that leads into the valley. I was planning a one day trip in November to work on this section but it is the most overgrown part of the entire trail. It felt nice to be working and things started to warm up a bit. We quit around 5 and returned to camp and had our community salad. It was cold and no one really wanted to stay up very long. We were all in our tents by 7:30.
The next day we awoke to cloudy skies but no rain. We got up early and started on the trail up the canyon clearing more brush and cutting newly fallen trees. As we worked further up, the slight drizzle got heavier. Still, we managed to get a lot done clearing several switchbacks and cutting fallen branches.
We returned to camp just after noon. The hike out was cloudy, cool but no rain. We reached our cars around 4 (Cristy and Stace were the 2 tigers who ran up the hill at the end).
Many thanks to all participants who have worked extraordinary hard to clear this trail. We are proud to have accomplished so much under the circumstances and hikers can now enjoy this wonderful trail once again. For Martin and Cristy who had previously been in the area when it looked like "the moon", it was an incredible transformation. In only a few years the area has recovered so well that the lush, green canyon has few traces of the fire.