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Fall colors, trail work and birding; weather closes Lassen Peak Trail

10/15/10

Delaine Fragnoli

Managing Editor

My family, including my 10-year-old, headed up to Bucks Lake for trail work with the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship late last month. The turnout was good — about three-dozen locals — and we accomplished a lot. We built two turnpikes (elevated sections of trail through muddy areas) on a rerouted section of the mountain bike loop. My daughter and I made a formidable culvert-digging, wheelbarrow-pushing team. We were well rewarded with ample food and beverage throughout the day for our efforts. It’s amazing what a kid will do in exchange for an enormous chocolate muffin.

The loop, which runs from Bucks Summit to Whitehorse Campground and back, has always been a bit funky. One leg of it was hard to follow, and it deposited you on the highway to finish.

The trail gurus at SBTS have rerouted that leg so riders and hikers have a genuine loop. Next time you’re in the area, check it out.

The re-route should also make the trail easier to follow for snowshoers and skiers. I know I have definitely thrashed about in the past on the loop.

***

Next up, SBTS heads way down to Hartman Bar for a clean-up party Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 – 24, along the Middle Fork of the Feather River

Volunteers will meet at the South Hartman Bar Trailhead, 31 miles from Feather Falls, at 9 a.m. and will depart for trail maintenance projects from there.      Due to the remote location of the trail maintenance, volunteers should expect to hike up to 9 miles roundtrip over moderate to difficult terrain. For those who want a hardy day of hiking, a river clean-up will take place at the end of the trail at Hartman Bar. The Hartman Bar Trail starts at an elevation of 4,833 feet and ends at the Feather River at 2,310 feet.

SBTS will provide all of the food, tools and an after-work party Saturday. The after-work barbecue and party will be held at the Southside Trailhead on Hartman Ridge.

Volunteers should bring their own work gloves, daypack, sun protection and plenty of water.

Please sign up in advance for this event by e-mailing emily@sierratrails.org or calling 836-4333, or go online at sierratrails.org

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This just in: Lassen Volcanic National Park has closed the Lassen Peak Trail for the season due to weather. This past week saw sustained 50 mph winds and the beginning of winter weather. Snowdrifts on the peak trail have accumulated up to four feet in depth.

“The snow caused us to completely shut down trail rehabilitation operations.  We will resume trail work as the snow melts in the spring,” said Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz.

The Lassen Volcanic National Park trail crew and California Conservation Corps began work this summer on the five-year Reach the Peak Trail Rehabilitation Project. Milestones for the project include the successful completion of the largest helicopter transport operation in the park’s history, reconstructing retaining walls, and building a series of steps above the Grandview area.

Trails work leader Joe Pettegrew said, “This project is complex, and hands down, this was the best trail crew I have ever worked with.”

Trail accessibility information is available on the park website at nps.gov/lavo/parkmgmt/current-lassen-peak-trail-status.htm.

For additional park information, visit the park website at nps.gov/lavo or call 595- 4480.

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Fall color should be peaking this week or next — a perfect time for some hikes with the Eagle Lake Ranger District on the Lassen National Forest. Two tour opportunities await you: Fall Colors Walks are planned for Sunday, Oct. 17, and Friday, Oct. 22. Visitors will meet at 10 a.m. both days at Goumaz Campground.

Although some degree of luck is involved in timing, hopes are high that these weekend walks will provide hikers with all that autumn has to offer. In addition to the colors, visitors will be treated to some local history. Hikers are encouraged to bring their cameras and GPS equipment if they have them.

Participants should be prepared for an easy two-hour hike on the Bizz Johnson Trail. Children are welcome on this walk through the forest. Weather conditions are always changing in the forest, so hikers should dress in layers.  Please pack a lunch, extra water and a first aid kit.

While participants may choose to simply show up at Goumaz Campground, the Eagle Lake Ranger District Office would appreciate a call at 257-4188.

If you’re traveling this fall in California you can call the regional hotline at (800) 354-4595, where weekly recorded messages with updates of foliage peaks will be available.  As colors change in Lassen County, look for local information and photos on the forest’s website at fs.usda.gov/lassen.

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Also out Lassen way, the Lassen Land and Trails Trust will host a birding outing Saturday, Oct. 23, at Eagle Lake. Meet at 9 a.m. at Mariners Resort at Stones Landing.

The group will view birds at Stones Landing, Spalding and the south end of Eagle Lake. This will be a half-day to full-day trip, depending on bird viewing and interest. Walking will be easy and less than a half mile. Bring water and lunch.

Dr. Lew Oring, a retired professor of ornithology from University of Nevada – Reno, will lead the trip.


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