Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Front Country Trail Assessment Volunteers Needed

The Task Force is looking for help in surveying our Front Country Trails. As part of the recommendations designed by the Task Force and approved by the City Council and Board of Supervisors, one of the first steps is to assess the trails using the UTAP method. Below is the official announcement from the agencies with dates of assessment. Please Contact Kathy Frye at(805) 897-1976 or email to help or find out more info.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yuppie 911- "We Would Have Never Attempted This Hike......"

From the NPS Morning Report, 10/21/09-

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Hikers Evacuated After Three SPOT Activations In Three Days

On the evening of September 23rd, rangers began a search for hikers who repeatedly activated their rented SPOT satellite tracking device. The GEOS Emergency Response Center in Houston reported that someone in the group of four hikers – two men and their two teenaged sons – had pressed the “help” button on their SPOT unit. The coordinates for the signal placed the group in a remote section of the park, most likely on the challenging Royal Arch loop. Due to darkness and the remoteness of the location, rangers were unable to reach them via helicopter until the following morning. When found, they’d moved about a mile and a half to a water source. They declined rescue, as they’d activated the device due to their lack of water. Later that same evening, the same SPOT device was again activated, this time using the “911” button. Coordinates placed them less than a quarter mile from the spot where searchers had found them that morning. Once again, nightfall prevented a response by park helicopter, so an Arizona DPS helicopter whose crew utilized night vision goggles was brought in. They found that the members of the group were concerned about possible dehydration because the water they’d found tasted salty, but no actual emergency existed. The helicopter crew declined their request for a night evacuation, but provided them with water before departing. On the following morning, another SPOT “help” activation came in from the group. This time they were flown out by park helicopter. All four refused medical assessment or treatment. The group’s leader had reportedly hiked once at the Grand Canyon; the other adult had no Grand Canyon and very little backpacking experience. When asked what they would have done without the SPOT device, the leader stated, “We would have never attempted this hike.” The group leader was issued a citation for creating a hazardous condition (36 CFR 2.34(a)(4)). [Submitted by Brandon Torres, Canyon District Shift Supervisor]

Associated Press Yuppie 911 Article

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Searching For The "New" Montrail Vitesse

Why do shoe companies discontinue popular shoes? I asked this question over and over with the Montrail Vitesse, a popular trail running shoe that had been in production for over a decade. I first started wearing the Vitesse when a company called One Sport produced them and shortly after became Montrail. Very little changed between the the first pair I owned and the pair I picked up just a few weeks ago after scouring the internet.

Had I known Vitesse was to be discontinued I would have stocked with as many that would have fit on my credit card. I became suspicious of a discontinuation attempt a little over a year ago when all the online retailers I usually purchase them from quit carrying them. I called Montrail several times to learn if they were to be discontinued or just out of stock. Montrail assured me they were not discontinued and to keep looking on the net. I found a pair or two but when they were all worn out I could not locate any more. I once again called Montrail to verify that they were not discontinued just really hard to find? This time Montrail gave me the bad news that they in fact had been discontinued and I was S.O.L.

Having not stocked up I found myself looking for a replacement to my favorite trail runners and hikers for almost the last 15 years. I read all the trail runner reviews and posts on the net to see what other runners were saying. A couple of possible replacement names came up and over the past six months I have gone through 4 different pairs of trail running shoes finally ending up back in a pair of Vitesses I was lucky to come across.

You really don't realize what you have till it's gone. I ran for the first time in the Vitesse again today about 6 miles and it was nice to be back. I am sure all the other shoes below are fine products but they are not Vitesses. There are several features I like about the Vitesse that sets them apart from other trail runners on the market. They have a super stiff out sole with rock protection that really makes them stable on the trail and gives them the ability to run over any pointed rock without feeling a thing. The tread is also super grippy which is perfect around here because a good part of the year the trails tend to be loose and rocky. The outrigger on the lateral side prevents the shoe from inverting and thus protects the ankle from spraining(which happens to me a lot). The toe and heel protection can just about take anything without hurting your foot and the roomy toe space is nice. There is also a nice built in "bootie" which keeps rocks and dirt from getting in and ruining your day. Really the perfect shoe for me which I day hiked Mt. Whitney at least a half dozen times and ran who knows how many thousands of miles in.

Montrail Vitesse atop a mountain of trail runners

The best trail runners ever!?

My first attempt at replacement- Patagonia Release
The Release was a new product that Patagonia had just come out with. I thought this might be a decent replacement for the Vitesse but I was wrong. At 14.5 oz it is 1.5 oz heavier than the Vitesse but surprisingly I found it to be much wimpier. Two problems I found with this shoe was that I could feel rocks through the out sole and the lack of support allowed my foot to move to much. The tread was comparable to the Vitesse but what it lacked forced me to bench this one in just under a month. *Side note- the toe of this shoe is angled up and my friends teased me I was wearing "elf" shoes.

Attempt #2- Montrail Hardrock '09
Since it was from the same company I thought it might have similar features. It was similar in stiffness and a little lighter at 11.8oz(just over 1 oz each) but the tread did not work for me with our trail conditions. I found the lack of bite in the tread caused me to slip quite a bit and forced me to bench these shoes in just over a month.
Attempt #3- La Sportiva Wildcat

I read on the internet other runners speaking of the similarities between the Vitesse and the Wildcat. I didn't find too much in similar as I found the cushioning to feel too spongy and the mesh outer to allow too much foot movement. The tread was grippy enough to be comparable and the thick cushioning softened the blow of rocky trails similar to the Vitesse. The weight was 12oz each, just under an ounce lighter than the Vitesse.

Attempt #4- Inov8 Rocklite 315
Of all the shoes, I probably feel this is the closest to the Vitesse. It's weight almost makes you forget that they are on your feet at 10 oz each. The grip is crazy and almost feels like you are running in cleats. I enjoyed these shoes but maybe because I am bigger for a neutral runner at 185 lbs and 5'11" they weren't enough for me. I could feel rocks on the bottom of my feet somewhat and the lightweight construction allowed my feet to move around a little more than I would have liked in the shoes. The low profile design allowed for what I like to describe as good contact with the ground though.
Verdict- As much as I would like to say there is a replacement for diehards looking for the next Vitesse, I haven't found it yet. All the features the Vitesse has makes a perfect trail runner and hiker for me. I am going to wear my new pair until the stitching falls out and maybe by that point Montrail will see the error in their ways and BRING THE VITESSE BACK! Dave

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Race Across The Sky- Thursday At The Arlington

On October 22nd, experience a One Night Event in movie theatres nationwide featuring the debut of “Race Across the Sky” – a documentary covering the 2009 Leadville Trail 100 bike race, one of the most intense endurance races of all time - and candid conversations with Lance Armstrong, Dave Wiens, and other elite and amateur cyclists who overcame extreme challenges to participate in this grueling race.

Race Across the Sky – Leadville Trail 100, featuring Lance Armstrong, Dave Wiens and other elite and amateur cyclists on October 22nd at 8:00pm ET/ 7:00pm CT/ 6:00pm MT/ with tape delay to 8:00pm PT.

This one night event will feature a panel discussion with Lance Armstrong, Dave Wiens (6x Leadville 100 winner), Ken Chlouber (Leadville Trail 100 Founder), Travis Brown (Olympian and professional mountain biker), and others before and after the debut of the documentary “Race Across the Sky”.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tunnel Trail Winter Preparation, Saturday 10/17/09

The nearly 20 people who volunteered for the winter preparation of Tunnel Trail Saturday were all guaranteed two things, soreness throughout their bodies the next day and a feeling of accomplishment. That is what I took away from it as I helped prepare the trails for winter rains with USFS engineer Garrett Villanueva. Garrett has been hired by local agencies with emergency funding to come and help prevent erosion on trails affected by the Jesusita Fire. Our main objective Saturday was improving the trails outdated water drainage features. The WDF's that currently exist on the trails cannot hold up to the amount of water and sediment that will run down the trails when the rains come. New and improved WDF's will last for a long long time giving our trails protection years after the hillsides have grown back.

We started of right at the base of Tunnel Trail where Garrett had marked the deeply rutted trail for improvement. Garrett then explained and demonstrated all the steps in building a WDF- excavating, rock locating, excavating, rock placement, more excavating, then covering it all up. A typical old fashioned "water bar" we are used to seeing on our trails is about a foot or two in width. These new WDF's are about 25 feet in width but when built correctly they are hardly noticeable by trail users. The key to WDF's also known as "rolling grade dips" or "knicks" is the wide catch area to pull water and sediment from the trail thus preventing erosion damage further down the trail.

What goes into building these WDF's is a ton of work and engineering. No machine or device can help either, this is work that needs to be done by hand and a rough guess of the amount of dirt and rock we moved Saturday had to be several tons of each. The 5 WDF's we completed in about the same number of hours only covered 1/4 mile of trail, there are miles and miles left that need to be done. For the next several weeks Garrett will train and lead the California Conservation Corps out on the trails affected by the Jesusita Fire to try and finish where we left off. Big thanks to to everyone who helped out including: Joani, Sonia, Liz, Deanna, Kristi, Chris, Paul, Rick, Richard, Ken, Greg, James, Jim, Ranger Kerry Kellogg, and of course Garrett Villanueva. Dave

Tunnel Trail and the hydromulched hillsides
Garrett gives a pep talk
Measuring the distance of the WDF
Step two, excavating
Step three, placement of large rock
Finished product

Another WDF-before

A small WDF before

The women of the trail- Liz, Sonia, and Deanna building the WDF


The WDF of the day was this monster
Same "monster" back in April of 09

Excavating the monster

A well placed layer of huge rocks is key to WDF success

How to we found some of the huge rocks
Garrett taming the monster
The "steps" are starting to take shape
The crew removing the large burm on the side of the trail
Proud volunteers on the tamed monster

The monster from above

From below, quite a difference

Trail scorpion

It's a dirty job!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tunnel Trail Survey and Winter Prep

Still sprinkling a little, myself and USFS trail engineer Garrett Villanueva headed out onto Tunnel Trail to begin Garrett's survey and trail data logging. Villanueva, an engineer from the Lake Tahoe area has been hired by the local agencies to help prepare the trails affected by the Jesusita fire for upcoming winter weather. Wednesday's task was deciding what water features to work on and then come back and log it into a database. Several volunteers this week will be accompaning Garrett and help him with the process.

Overall Garrett said, "the trail is not that bad." Clearly there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order for the trails to still be here when Spring comes around. Garrett pointed out dozens of "water bars" and other water features that needed to be improved in order to prevent massive erosion this winter. There are three major risks to trails following a fire Garrett pointed out to local agencies: increased waterflow on the trail, slope failures, and rockslides. All three risks were found today as we hiked Tunnel Trail.

The good news is the three major risks can be minimized if preventative measures are taken. Garrett will be teaching local trail "Crew Leaders" and other interested trail users these techniques this Saturday followed by a work session on Tunnel Trail to put that learning into action. Garrett will also be teaching and leading the CCC these same things over the next few weeks on our trails. He said that with the amount of work that needs to be done, it will be a difficult task to get all the work done in the time and resources allotted. Dave

If interested in helping out this Saturday, contact Ranger Kerry Kellogg for more info:

The paved part of Tunnel Trail with rockslides (and trespassers)

Some of the Cal Trans/County damage prevention on Tunnel Trail
New fencing near the bridge
Hydromulch up close- look no garbage! A hydromulched section of the trail with hillsides still intact but showing signs of water runoff damage.
Garrett flagging a section for improvement
Rutting of the trail thanks to slide material and poor water control
This waterbar is still working
A large rockslide covering the entire trail
Tunnel Trail Toad- must have come from the creek(actual size 1 quarter)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Playground and Brickyard Re-open Today

Having been closed since hydromulching began after the Gap Fire, the Playground and Brickyard are open again. Press Release