Thursday, July 16, 2009

First Look- West Fork Cold Springs Trail

This was the first run I have taken on the West Fork in about 3 months. Just a little different than I last remembered it to be. Still the same was the poison oak just past the Tangerine Falls cutoff trail. Unfortunately the fire did not clean up the large section of poison oak that seems to always be encroaching on the trail in that area.

Once you get near the CS Water Tunnel it is almost 100% brush free until you reach Gibralter Rd. From there the trail itself is in pretty good shape, sure a little dustier than normal, and definitely much looser than before, but still lots of fun. Maybe the biggest difference from before is that you can really see the trail winding ahead up the canyon. The trail to Tangerine Falls seems to be intact but the trail leading to the top of the waterfall was pretty severely burnt.

Interesting things get uncovered when the vegetation is all gone. Former trails which have long been hidden are clearly visible again. Some of these trails were "illegal" trails created secretly and others were old sections of trail that have long been bypassed. Trails created by recent fire fighting hand crews are also very visible about the hillsides. A sure way to identify if a fire crew made the trail is when the trail goes nearly straight up the hillside and brush is cut to make a wide path. All the garbage including- cans, bottles, cars, appliances and other assorted junk is also now uncovered along the trail.

There are definitely areas of West Fork that will not do very well come Winter rains. Steep hillsides funnel down onto trail sections with little or no vegetation for protection. Just looking at it I could see big problems if the rains are anything but light this year. The same could probably be said for most any of the other trails damaged by the Jesusita Fire. Hope for the best but expect the worst.

Big thanks to all those that got out and help clear the West Fork of debris. It is evident that lots of work was put in to bring it into the condition it is in. Dave

The New Trail Head Signage
The Cold Springs Water Tunnel
The Water Tunnel Was Marked As A Fire Shelter For Fire Fighters
This Is What Happens When Fiberglass Handled Tools Are Left In The Fire
Newly Created Fire Line On The Steep Hillsides
The Trail
New Growth
The Switchbacks Which Are Now Visible
Once Hidden Tea Garden Cut-Off Trail
The "Dump" Area Near Gibralter Rd.
West Fork Canyon View

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