Leaders: Alan Coles, Charlie Knapke
Our biggest group ever (9) met at our standard meeting time and location of 7:30 Saturday morning at Dripping Springs Campground on a clear mild day perfect for hiking. Along with our seasoned group of regulars (Gail Hanna, John Case, Tom Cowen, Debbie Westcott and the 2 leaders) were Leslie Wertz, Kirk Johnson and Bob Beach. Though the newcomers weren't familiar with the trail, they were all experienced trail builders which made this a formidable group.
We started our trip by installing a new trail register at the bottom of Cottonwood Canyon then backpacking in about 6 miles to a clearing just shy of the wilderness boundary. It was a tight fit but we managed to squeeze into the site which sits near the cold, clear stream. After lunch and setting up camp we proceeded to work on the section of trail that goes from the Cutca Truck Trail into the wilderness.
As usual, the forest rangers hadn't had an opportunity to scout the trail in advance but John Wentworth of the Oak Grove Ranger Station, who has been our contact for the project, gave me some direction as to where he wanted the trail routed. We complied as best we could under the circumstances but the rapid growth of brush in the area forced our route into the most easily defensible location.
Everyone did a superb job but some notable performances need to be acknowledged: Tom Cowen did a tremendous job removing stumps with a Polanski he packed in. Charlie and John did an exceptional job cutting logs with a 4' double person saw that John packed in. Bob Beach and Kirk Johnson showed their expertise with a McCloud. Gail, Debbie and Leslie diligently clipped brush and leveled the trail.
At the end of the day, the trail had been cleared all the way to the canyon mouth and slightly beyond the site of the first bridge. We were very tired and thoroughly enjoyed our community salad which had an unusually high percentage of mushrooms.
Sunday, John, Debbie, Bob and the 2 leaders went up to climb Eagle Crag (working along the way) while the others continued working on other sections of the trail. This was the first time we climbed the peak on any of our trail work trips and for John, who has been so close so many times, it was a well deserved opportunity. Many thanks to all participants.