Trail Maintenance Issue

Section O status and trip report – July 6 – 10th

By: Tree Talker
August 5th, 2019

Three maintenance issues should be addressed along that section

1. It badly needs to be “bushwacked”, or brushed. In some areas – particularly north of Peavine Creek for about a mile on either side of the powerlines – there it is really bad – you often cannot see the trail at all, the bushes are so thick. You end up pushing your way through them, but are often unable to see if you are on the trail or not until you move the bushes aside with your poles. Tripping over rocks in the process. Sure slowed down progress and made poles useless except as “shields.” That area was the worst, but there were overgrown trees and bushes along much of the first two thirds of the whole section O, I would say. And even in places where the tread was clear, it often was not wide enough to use poles, because the vegetation was so dense and close in along the edge of the trail. Anyone worried about ticks would never have a chance to avoid them if they were there – you literally were pushing through hedges. Both of the two other northbound hikers who I spoke with periodically, mentioned this as well.

Anyway, that was the biggest issue.

2. North of Deer Creek, (I believe that’s where it was), the poison oak was quite bad. It was so thick along the trail on both sides, that it was hard to avoid. I am not really allergic to it, fortunately, but I still try to avoid it. Most of the time I did get through – kind of dancing my way through, but you couldn’t take your eyes off the trail, and had to be constantly scanning for what type of green leaf was where. Quite a few of the hikers that I met – lots of European southbounders who had flipped because of the snow in the Sierras – didn’t even know what poison oak looked like. I hope that they were either not allergic or else had so much dust and dirt on their legs that it protected them.

3. Steep canyons – not much to be done about this – as I am sure you know, the trail winds in and out of canyons for miles and miles, with very steep slopes below and above the tread. So steep that if you were to step off of the trail and go down, you would be hard pressed to self arrest, never mind to get back up onto the trail. So the result of that is you are very focused on looking at the tread, as opposed to looking around much; one time I happened to stop in some shade and looked out and there was a slot view of Shasta. I could have just as easily marched on, head down, focused on the trail, and never seen it. That is just a description, not a criticism. As you know, the tread itself is mainly a notch cut out of the steep slopes. However, in a few places the tread or the “notch” has disappeared – ie, has broken away and slipped down into the canyon, and there isn’t much (or anything) left to stand on. Even with poles, to go from semi-flat tread to a short stretch where you suddenly need to walk across a 45 degree angle of sandy volcanic soil was pretty un-nerving. Fortunately in the worse single case of that, there happened to be one rock that created a foothold, but I was happy to get across that gap. I talked to another northbounder who felt the same way. And it wasn’t the same as a snowbank where one could kick steps, if you know what I mean. If I had had a good shovel, I could have taken off my pack and done a little trail maintenance work, re-digging out the “L-shaped notch” in the slope that makes up most of the tread; that is what is needed there and a few other places where the “L” has mostly filled in, and you end up walking along with your feet on a 20 degree angle downhill, (with a drop-off just below you). There isn’t much maneuvering room – both above and below is pretty steep, and the tread is only about 12 inches wide in many places.

So those were my three main issues with Section O. A few other comments, most of which are noted in the Schaffer Trail guide and confirmed via either Half Mile or Guthook – there are not that many great campsites along the way, especially near some of the (relatively few) creeks and streams. Most nights, except for when I was next to the McCloud River (Ash Camp), I loaded up water and stayed at dry campsites.

General comments

Given the amount of snowfall that we had last winter, I was surprised at how dry things were already for the most part. Most of the small drainages back in the “creases” of the canyons were dry. I never had a problem having enough water, but then I was pretty cautious about it too, always carrying extra.

Not many down trees. There were a few big ones that took some work to get under or over, but there were not many of those, and given the heavy winter, I thought that overall the tread itself and the amount of “deadfall,” was pleasantly in pretty good shape.

The first part of the section (heading north from Burney Falls) was probably the greenest – and I have to say that the flowers were fabulous. Lots of varieties that I have never seen before, and just amazing groups of colors.

Bugs

Not great, but not terrible either. The flies are noted as being notoriously bad in Section O, and although they were definitely annoying, they weren’t that bad. Mosquitos could be a problem in some places. Even bees. One campsite on the crest above Moosehead Creek that I started to stay at because it had a nice breeze, had so many bees, flies, and ants, that despite the strong strong breeze (which one would think would keep them away), after a few minutes of trying to find a less insect loaded tent spot, I gave up and went on down another mile or so to a road junction which was almost insect free despite having no breeze. Go figure, right?

Snow was next to non-existent, except for one relatively huge snowbank fairly high above Moosehead Creek.

OVER GROWTH SOUTH OF BELDEN

By: Don Line -Section B
July 29th, 2019

WE JUST FINISHED HIKING FROM SIERRA CITY TO BELDON. FROM 4 MILES BEFORE BELDON TO 2 MILES BEFORE BELDON, THE TRAIL IS VERY, VERY OVERGROWN WITH BRUSH. WE LOST THE TRAIL TWICE (BRIEFLY) OFTEN YOU CAN’T SEE THE TREAD: NEARLY TWO MILES OF BUSHWHACKING. WE ONLY SAW TWO SMALL POISON OAK PLANTS, AND THEY WERE OFF THE TRAIL.

Large trees down south of Hwy 36

By: Larry Leigh
July 8th, 2019

There are currently a couple large trees (4’ diameter + ) across the trail approximately 6-8 miles south of Hwy 36, and several smaller trees as well. The large trees are significant impediments. Also, numerous small and mid-size trees across the trail between Sierra City and Jackson Meadows Res. In the area south of Belden there are trees down, and higher up, toward Three Lakes, brush has encroached on the trail and needs cutting back. I didn’t anticipate reporting these maintenance issues so I’m sorry for not having exact mile notes.

Blowdown in Grider Creek area

By: Stephanie
June 19th, 2019

For those behind me, I hope this might benefit them. There must have been a storm or a landslide in the tick-infested area just south of the road walk in Seiad Valley. There are more fallen logs than I have seen in 1,000 miles of trail, as well as huge overgrowth of bushes, where one cannot see the trail. The main bulk of the obstacles is between Grider Creek Campground and 4 miles south of the last Grider Creek bridge going up the mountain. I send this message in hopes that volunteer crews can help out before even more hikers struggle through.