Rock Patrol Ups Its Game

rock chiselAfter I became Maintenance Chair, I began considering new kinds of trail maintenance activities. Since Sonoma Overlook Trail is a particularly rocky trail, over the past year or so I pioneered what I dubbed “Rock Patrol“. As it was originally conceived, it consisted of hiking the trail with a shovel and a pry bar, levering out rocks and backfilling with soil to remove “trip rocks” and make a smoother tread.

Over time, I added an activity that I called “trail smoothing”, which I conceived of as a more systematic effort over a stretch of trail from 6-12 feet or more. In this activity, we would remove many rocks from the trail bed and fill with soil and gravel, packing it down to recreate a smooth tread. This was devised as an activity for our monthly group trail maintenance work days.

Now I’ve added another activity that I’m calling “rock reduction”. To do this, we’ve purchased a cordless rock chisel/hammer/drill (pictured; click the photo to see a video of it in action). As I say in the video, it is a complete game-changer. I really don’t think there is a rock on the trail that we can’t now either completely remove or reduce to trail level or below.

Given that fact, I’m now open for any trail hiker or runner’s nominations of rocks to remove or reduce. Take a photo of your most hated rock and/or ridge of bedrock that impinges on the trail and send it to me at roytennant@gmail.com along with a description of where to find it on the trail. Just do your best; I’m pretty sure I will recognize it. Having nominated it, I will let you know when it has been removed or reduced.

Check out the video. It’s less than 2 1/2 minutes long and I think it does a great job of illustrating how we can now take down even some of the hardest rocks on the trail (many are much softer than the one in the video, which I had originally attempted to take out using a large, heavy, iron pry bar).

Rock reduction is now officially part of our arsenal.

Rock Patrol to the Rescue

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The massive rock we had to remove.

The Sonoma Overlook Trail is coming up on its 20-year anniversary. In twenty years of heavy use, the trail bed can become quite eroded, thereby exposing rocks that can become tripping hazards. Recently the trail stewards in charge of trail maintenance have begun a concerted effort to transform particularly rocky sections of the trail into smooth paths by removing rocks and filling the resulting holes with packed aggregate and soil. We call this activity “Rock Patrol.”

The last two standing monthly work days were dedicated to performing this work on two sections of trail under the Upper Meadow. Today, the section we worked on included a rather massive boulder (see picture) that we dug out and rolled off the trail. Now, instead of that tripping hazard there is smooth trail.

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The final result (note the big rock on the left that we removed).

We recently set a goal to create 18-24″ of smooth path for the entire length of the trail, realizing that there may be some sections where this is not possible. Of course those of you who are familiar with the trail will understand the enormity of this undertaking, and therefore will likely also understand that this work will take years to accomplish. We won’t just do this work in group work days. Rock Patrol can also be a solitary activity, as sometimes all that is required to make a section of the trail safe is to remove a solitary “trip rock” from the middle of the trail. That can be accomplished by a single volunteer.

Sonoma Raceway Hike

The Sonoma Raceway Hike this past Saturday was a big success. Fifty hikers came to enjoy the beautiful vista view and companionship of other hikers.  $2,600 was raised for trail maintenance and rehab. (You may have noticed that the trail was recently repaired. It now has better footing and easier grades for all age groups.) A huge thank you to Sonoma Raceway for opening up the back acreage for hiking and morning coffee and refreshments. Also, thanks to the volunteers that came early in the morning to set up the hike and take registrations… and lead the hike. Mother Nature played along with a gorgeous day!

Sonoma Raceway
“Night Watchman” watching over the sheep
Bay view hike
Hikers enjoying the Bay view
Sonoma County Hills
Boxes of bees

Sonoma Raceway Hike is Back!

unnamed (1)After two years of cancellations due to COVID-19, we are thrilled to invite you once again to join us on this self-guided hike on the pristine 1,600-acre Sonoma Raceway property which is not usually accessible to the public. This special place offers gorgeous 360-degree views; come and see spectacular wildflowers!

Saturday, May 14, 2022 
9 am-12:00 noon

3 mile self-guided hike (approx. 1.5 hours)
5 mile self-guided hike (approx. 2.5 hours)

Cost: $50 Tax deductible, non-refundable donation

REGISTER HERE

8:00am – 8:20am: Arrival/Gates Open
8:20am – 9:00am: Refreshments (Donuts & Coffee) on the Redwood Deck overlooking the Raceway and Sonoma Valley. Sonoma Raceway hosts Chelsea Lazzari, Randall Brown, and Bobby O’Gorman will provide an introduction to the 1,600 acre Sonoma Raceway property before the hike begins.

After two years of cancellations due to Covid, we are thrilled to invite you once again to join us on this self-guided hike on the pristine 1,600-acre Sonoma Raceway property which is not usually accessible to the public. This special place offers gorgeous 360-degree views; come and see spectacular wildflowers!

 

Tick, tick, tick….

Last weekend’s refreshing rain storm is likely to have rejuvenated more than just our local waterways:

“…for someone hiking, ticks will have gone from practically zero a couple of weeks ago to being out…and their numbers will probably be increasing through January.”
https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/rain-is-about-to-set-off-the-tick-time-bomb-in-california/

A few tips from the American Hiking Society:

  • Determine risk: Spring and early summer are high-risk for ticks because ticks are in an earlier stage of their development, called “nymphs.” Nymphs often carry heavier loads of disease-causing pathogens, and are smaller and harder to spot. Tall grass and brush are higher-risk, too, because ticks can easily climb on to hikers.
  • Wear long and wear light! Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants of a light color. Lighter colors seem to attract fewer ticks and make the ones that do end up on you easier to spot. Lightweight nylon or polyester garments are almost as cool as shorts and protect from the sun as a bonus!
  • Seal the cracks. Tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks. Gaiters can add an additional level of protection and keep small rocks and dirt out of your shoes too.
  • Repel invaders! Consider treating your clothing with a persistent repellent chemical called permethrin. This substance, applied to clothing, repels ticks and biting insects for up to 2 weeks. Some clothing comes already coated with this deterrent. Apply an additional repellent to all exposed skin.
  • Wash your hiking clothes. As soon as you get off the trail, wash your hiking clothes and dry them in a hot dryer for an hour. The heat will kill any ticks.
  • Tick check. Showering within two hours of leaving the trail will help wash off any ticks which haven’t latched on. Using a hand-held or full length mirror, take this time to check yourself for ticks, especially checking armpits, hair, ears and behind the ears, belly button, behind the knees, and groin. Be sure to also thoroughly check your children and pets.
  • Remove any ticks. If you do happen to find a tick on yourself, do not use the old trick of poking the tick with a hot match head until it comes out. Do use tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull it out. If you can’t grab the head in the first go, make sure to pull it out before washing the bite with a disinfectant. View the CDC’s easy-to-follow tick removal instructions and pictures.
  • Stay vigilant. If you develop a fever, rash, muscle and/or joint aches, flu-like symptoms or become ill, be sure to mention to your doctor possible tick exposure. Lyme disease is very serious and can cause permanent damage in bones and the nervous system. Tick bites that develop a bulls-eye ring are infected and should be treated immediately.

Read more….

If you find that you have been bitten by a tick, save the insect after removal and submit it to Sonoma County Department of Public Health for Lyme testing:
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Public-Health/Laboratory/Lyme-Tick-Test/