Humboldt Hitch One: Hittin’ the Trail


         After nearly a month of eager anticipation, the Humboldt Redwoods crew finally moved to Humboldt Redwoods State Park and began our trail work. Prior to the crew’s final trip south, we all enjoyed the 4th of July weekend near Arcata and saw fireworks, aerial gymnastics, mashed potatoes in a wafflecone and many happy people while in town. The crew’s first day in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park was easy-going and full of review and prep work for the many challenging days ahead. We met our project director, Yony Rivas, who has worked in the Roads, Trails and Resources department at HumRed SP for 19 years, and reviewed backcountry safety and tool use. We were surprised to learn that instead of using chainsaws, the crew will be using crosscut saws to fell trees and buck logs during our trail work due to a 9-month restriction on power tools for marbled murrelet and spotted owl nesting.

            We were beyond excited to begin our work the next day. The five of us and Yony loaded up wheel barrels with nearly all of the hand tools we would need for our next few weeks of work and trekked out to our worksite. Our crew will be constructing a reroute of the River Trail in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which was badly damaged during the 2003 Canoe Creek Fire that destroyed 11,000 acres of redwood forest. The mile and a half hike to the work site includes spectacular views of the Eel River and Canoe Creek and the shade of old-growth redwood trees. One tree in particular has a diameter of at least 10 feet; it is simply awe-inspiring to stand next to something so large and so ancient. After arriving at the work site and catching our breath, we surveyed our work locations and saw just how busy we will be this summer. Much of the trail has eroded to a steep hillside, has become overgrown or is blocked by fallen timber. Our first day of work included learning how to cut trail and make it level, simple but tiring work.

            The next 2 days were brutal! We hauled several hundred pounds of rigging equipment back to our worksite using wheel barrels in order to pull out stumps and relocate large logs to use in building retaining walls. Collectively, we pulled 1 stump and moved 9 logs, and built 2 solid retaining walls. Yony, the trails veteran, was quite impressed with the speed and quality with which us, the newbies, were working. We’re all tremendously excited to continue our work here in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and to see progress be made on our hiking trail as it comes to fruition. This Sunday, Yony invited us to his residence for a salmon grill-out and to watch the World Cup final match between Germany and Argentina (DEUTSCHLAND!!!). We’re already feeling at home and happy to keep up the good work.

Work Totals:  1/4 mile (1,320 ft.) of trail built, including 2 retaining walls.