Trail Work, Playing Nice, and Other Topix

Uncle Hal WInton kicking it old-school, trail work.
Hanta ho, truthseekers!

 AC100 Trail Work

This past Saturday I ascended the Aulde Mt Wilson-Phillips trail, departing the Shire of Sierra Madre, wherein the Hobbits were busy for another fine breezy day of debt-stacking down at the Santa Anita Mall, and perhaps the Racetrack. I, of course, was a mendicant on my way to see the first trail work of the new year, led by the inestimable Hal Winton.

Uncle Hal, you may recall, is the co-RD of the AC100. In this capacity, he is the head of the AC100 Trail Volunteer Group. This entitles him to palaver, entreat, negotiate, commiserate, and cooperate with the local US Forest Service here in Southern California. On any given day he'd rather be blasting stumps, but these are the necessary steps to ensure that the Race has a place at the table when decisions are being made.

Some of the decisions involve who gets to go where when roads wash out, when forests are tinder-dry, and when little tiny frogs become very large in an environmental impact reports. Because the working relationship between the Angeles Crest 100 Race, CalTrans and the USFS has been consistently positive, the race has been able to carry on. When others have not.

A Different Planned Race Stillborn Due to Operator-Error.

 Which brings me to another juncture--the short-lived BackBone Trail 100k that was supposed to run this past weekend. On paper it looked like a swell idea. I looked at the map, and thought "my oh my, this is an interesting idea...but gee?...how are they gonna handle the Etz Molloy section which to my last recall was on, you guessed it, private property?"

I needn't have wasted time thinking about this. The National Park Service got wind of this fine event, and did the No-No Smack-Down on the witless RDs.

"Whuh-fo? Whyzzat??"

Because they didn't bother to get permits.

Talk about bone-headed, this was it. And, they figured they could traipse 30+ people across a private-property section without anybody noticing? This is America, and every ultra-dork in the race knows 3 people with a car, and they'll be swarming up and down those canyons...

So now these wanna-be RDs are 2 strikes down. One, with the NPS, and two, with the folks that had donated time, money and effort to this still-born frolic. Note to the lads: both communities are very small.

Back to the Main Event

So back to the AC100 people. There was a fine turnout on the Manzanita Ridge Bypass, where the new trail was surveyed almost 9 years ago, and hacked through all kinds of resistant greenery, the most predominant being manzanita and poison oak. The Bypass laid to rest a vertical, ridge-running sandy rutted nightmare that was just too much fun in the middle of the night. Aaaah... one of the more fun buckle-eating sections in the last 25 miles of AC. The trails were being trimmed back, water-bars realigned, some downed trees shoved over to the sides, mainly to prevent idiot mountain-bikers from getting the Final Air of their short, brutish existences and so on.

Of course Uncle Hal wasn't anywhere near the top. I had to chase him down into the Heart of Darkness itself, the Hoegees Junction 3 miles down back towards Chantry. There I found him in an extended meditation with Scott Sullivan and Danny Westergaard. Things were looking pretty good, all told, and we commenced the hike back up to Manzanita Ridge, amusing ourselves with vintage AC stories involving projectile vomiting, trail-time crying sessions, and so on. The merriment was contagious, and before we knew it Scott and Danny had hurled a downed tree over the side of a switchback.

A Happy Ending

Collecting the others on the way up, everyone gathered at the Dave Trinkle Bench on the ridge, ate some cracking-good brownies brought by Ms XY herself, juggled a pulaski or two, counted coup, and then called it a day. I returned down whence I came, having secured some photographic evidence of the good works and continuation of process by all involved.

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