Carson Pass trail crew

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1920
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Carson Pass trail crew

Post by balzaccom » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:36 am

I joined Ranger Chip Morrill and a Youth Conversation Crew from Generation Green to do trail work in the El Dorado National Forest around Silver Lake this last week. It was a good workout, we saw some terrific scenery, and got a ton of work done--much of it thanks to the six young people with loppers, shovels, and McCleods.

Day One we cleared the trail to Lake Margaret, using every one of those tools at one point or another on the 2.5 mile trail to the lake. The good news is that on the way back, all the work was done, and so we could enjoy the scenery of the hike a bit more.

Day Two focused on tree work around the Martin Meadows dispersed camping area, and then the lower two miles of the Horse Canyon Trail. This trail is part of a larger system around Silver Lake that we got to know much better on Day Three.

Day Three was epic--an eight mile loop through the lakes south of Silver Lake, including Hidden Lake and the Granite Lake group. We worked our way through deep banks of snow, huge deadfalls across the trail, lopping overgrown bushes, and improving trail drainage. And some of those trees were huge. The one at left was quite an effort.

It was fun to meet hikers on these trails, as they were so deeply appreciative of the work we were doing. That really made the kids' day/

On Day Four Chip and I worked through the two-mile Castle Point trail, clearing up some deadfalls, then joined the crew as they lopped their way to Shealor Lake. In the afternoon, the youth crew headed into the office, and I headed home.

The final score was a total of thirteen miles of trails cleared, which was a tribute to the work ethic of this crew. And I returned home with only minor scrapes, two bug bites, and a few sore muscles. And given the fun we had and the scenery we saw, it was all well worth it!

Photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/i4LmPTAMfZw54aSW8


Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;






User avatar
FilthyPhill
Topix Newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:26 pm
Experience: Level 2 Backpacker

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by FilthyPhill » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:19 pm

Looks like a good time. Thanks for sharing.

User avatar
rightstar76
Topix Expert
Posts: 718
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by rightstar76 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:46 pm

Paul, you and the crew did wonders last week. Everyone hiking the rest of the season will never know what work went into those trails being cleared. Thank you so much for your efforts. :)

User avatar
tlsharb
Topix Regular
Posts: 138
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:05 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by tlsharb » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:20 am

Great report. I spent 8 years working as a firefighter in California and Alaska. But most of us on the hot shot and helitack crews really wanted to be on the trail crews. Those guys worked 10 on/4 off. We would see them loading up the mules with explosives and all kinds of cool tools...and then head up to the high country. Really tough crew to get on, and sure looked more fun than the grunt work we did between fires. I haven't heard the word McCleod in years....no pulaskis?

User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1920
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by balzaccom » Sat Jul 20, 2019 7:01 am

Ha! We did have a Pulaski, but rarely used it, since most of the trail work was focused on overgrowth or deadfalls. There were a few spots where drainage needed improvement, but no tread work at all. Shovels & McCleods did the trick, mainly removing bark and detritus from the trails.

And this was a Generation Green group--no explosives!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1920
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by balzaccom » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:19 am

I enjoyed my trail crew trip to Carson Pass last week so much that we went back this week to see more of the area. And while we ran into huge crowds at Carson pass itself, our hikes into Thornburg Canyon and Castle Point were blissfully lonely. We only saw a few people on the former, and all but two of them were within 500 yards of the trailhead. And we didn't see another soul on the Castle Point Trail. This despite the fact that the trail has the quickest payoff of any trail we've hiked: within about 300 yards you get a stunning view of the whole Caples Creek Valley, often including the Crystal Range west of Tahoe in the background. And from there, you wander along the crest of the ridge, looking down over precipitous cliffs, passing by an amazing collection of ancient junipers, and finding terrific views of Thunder Mountain on the other side. That's great value in the first mile.


Thornburg Canyon started with a waltz through a cornucopia of flowers for the first half mile, then great views from the top of the ridge. That's the view in the panorama above. And once we went over the ridge, we were alone. We camped on a bluff above the creek, in the breeze and above most of the mosquitoes. And we reveled in the sounds of nature--and nary another soul to see. Or hear.


We topped off the trip with a hike to Granite Lake along the Minkalo Trail--one that I had not seen before. It includes a lovely 40-foot waterfall, two delicious creeks, a few isolated glacial tarns, and Granite Lake itself. All this in a mile and a half from the trailhead. In fact, the most complicated part of this hike was finding the trailhead, which is unsigned for much of the route on the narrow roads behind the Kit Carson Lodge. There were a few hikers at the lake, but there was also plenty of room for us all.


Meanwhile, back at Carson Pass, there were hundreds of hikers on their way to Winnemucca and Round Top Lakes, in what must have been a very different kind of hiking experience. The parking lots were so full that cars were idling, waiting for a spot. And the USFS information office had a full staff of volunteers manning both the inside office and the table outside. Quite a contrast to what we saw on the trails a bit further afield.


Photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/iYvhvnva8P7tGbcV6
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
paula53
Topix Regular
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue May 01, 2007 2:31 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: carson city nv

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by paula53 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:55 pm

Your work on the trail crews is much appreciated. Hiking to Granite and Hidden Lake sounds like a good weekend get a way. Is a permit needed for that area?

User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1920
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by balzaccom » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:42 pm

Nope. It is in the national forest, but does not reach into a designation Wilderness area.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
wildhiker
Topix Expert
Posts: 573
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:44 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by wildhiker » Tue Jul 30, 2019 11:34 pm

Hi Balzaccom,

Your hikes sound intriguing! Did you hike into Thornburg Canyon from the Blue Lakes road, or from the bottom on the east side? Also, where is Castle Point? I can't find it on the topo. Thanks.
-Phil

User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1920
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Carson Pass trail crew

Post by balzaccom » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:15 am

We hiked in from Blue Lakes road.

Castle Point trail runs from Martin Meadow to the Thunder Mountain Trailhead on the north side of highway 88 between Silver Lake and Kirkwood. It's about two miles long, and we hiked from the upper end...
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests