The March Maintenance Day

IMG-1235Every first Monday of the month we have a standing trail maintenance day. This month it was postponed a week to the second Monday. Today six stewards came out to take on several jobs: Elizabeth Garsonnin, Priscilla Miles, Dan Noreen, Kurt Teuber, the SOT Chair, and myself.

We started with a project to reinforce the railroad tie steps not far in from the Kiosk and parking area at the main trailhead. We used our recently acquired wagon to haul 30 cement pavers in to stack under the railroad ties. We had shims and a rubber mallet to drive them in. That didn’t take very long, so we went on to the next job.

We weeded and swept the steps at the kiosk (see picture). With six people, again the job didn’t take very long and then we were off to the last jobs we had lined up for the day.

IMG-1236Two of us were sent off to the set of upper steps not far below the upper meadow to weed and sweep them. Getting the loose rock off the steps prolongs their life, as it prevents hikers from grinding the rock into the steps and wearing them down faster.

The remaining four of us took on a “Rock Patrol” assignment. There was a particular rock we had in mind that not only was a hazard to hikers, but would also likely cause problems for the trail crew coming out soon to do some major trail work (see “before” picture).

IMG-1239Dan easily levered out the boulder, which came out surprisingly easy, and then we worked to fill the hole with soil collected nearby (see “after” picture).  Since we were so quickly successful, I looked around and discovered a number of other rocks right in the trail that we could remove to create a smoother tread. All told, we probably removed about a dozen nuisance rocks from the trail, filling in the holes.

We accomplished quite a bit in just under two hours of work.

Rock Patrol

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The crew, minus Greg Taylor, who had to leave early to open his shop. From left to right: Roy Tennant, Michael Studebaker, Priscilla Miles, Dan Noreen, and SOT Chair “Secret Ranger.”

Today six volunteer stewards gathered at the Sonoma Overlook Trail kiosk/trailhead to do the very first group “Rock Patrol.” Rock Patrol as it has been developed consists of the following:

  1. Filling in holes with dirt for rocks that have already come out of the trail;
  2. Removing loose rocks;
  3. Removing particularly problematic rocks (rocks likely to trip hikers and runners);
  4. Backfilling all of those spaces with soil, following this protocol:
    • Wet the hole with a watering can (preferred) or a spray bottle;
    • Lay down a thin layer of soil and compact it by stomping on it; and,
    • Spray lightly again, lay down another thin layer of soil, compact it, and repeat until the hole is completely flush, or even slightly higher than, the trail.

P1030369This first time out we were able to complete the beginning section of the trail from the kiosk to the junction with the Rattlesnake Cutoff Trail. Next time (Our Chair proposed doing this once a month for a while), we will tackle the section of Rattlesnake Cutoff from Norrbom Road past the junction with the Overlook Trail.

We were quite pleased with the many nuisance rocks (or worse) that we were able to remove (see picture of three large rocks and the smooth spot where they had been removed — it’s darker since it’s wet).

So if you happen to see a group out there with shovels, buckets, watering cans, spray bottles, and an assortment of other tools, that’s Rock Patrol. If any of the three readers of this blog want to participate, just shoot me an email.