From Steve Messer’s report with minor edits:
On a cool and mostly clear Saturday, we joined CORBA to work on the Gabrielino trail. The Gabrielino between Switzers and Red Box was opened to the public back in May 2011, though the trail has had little attention and was in very poor shape. Through many sections the old trail is simply non-existent. Starting at Switzer’s Day Use area, the volunteers worked their way up the trail.
At the outset, two large trees were removed from the trail. These had toppled in the ferocious wind storm of November 30, 2011, and were not present when the trail was surveyed for work a week earlier. A third tree remains and is too massive to move with hand tools. The yellow warning signs greeting trail users on trails that pass through burn zones have a clear message: Trees, weakened by the fire, pose a considerable hazard and may fall at any time. Especially now, more than two years after Station Fire, dead trees are beginning to rot and weaken. Falling trees will continue to be a danger for years to come.
The volunteer trail crews, led by Mitch Marich of the MWBA, and Hans Kiefer and Steve Messer from CORBA, rebuilt two severely damaged drainages that required extensive rock retaining walls and rock armoring. In addition, tread was outsloped and widened along many narrowed sections and the brush was cut back. The crews worked on approximately 1.3 miles of trail, from Switzers to the second stream crossing and switchbacks. Afterwards, they feasted on pizza brought up by Mike and Robin McGuire.
Some sections of the trail now run along the alluvial wash at the base of the canyon. This was created by the tremendous water and debris flows of the past two winters. However, all of the trail worked on by the crew is now easily negotiable for trail users (with the exception of the one large downed tree that remains). With another day’s work in January, we hope to have the entire trail clear of significant obstacles and seeing regular use once again.