The latest issue of the Condor Call, the local Sierra Club newsletter, includes a short article about a service project fellow VWRs Kim Coakley and Bardley Smith and I led this past Spring in the Chumash Wilderness. (Read it here.)
So naturally, you must wonder who did the work. Perhaps you’re asking yourself: did they take trail-tested volunteers? Savvy backcountry sawyers? Perhaps even hardened CDF prison crews, to get this work done?
Mais non — we went to the shelf and dusted off the BIG guns.
Now, this trip had been in the works for a few months, and was designed to address some of the needs of the North Fork Lockwood route, a favorite of Clan Carey and one we hit at least once a year (see here for the trip enjoyed only weeks earlier to Lily Meadows).
And though the initial forecast had been for clear skies, it was a stormy-looking Lockwood Valley through which we drove to the trailhead. The 4WD route to the North Fork Lockwood waterfall was a slushy and mucky mess (and, for most of the boys, their first taste of 4WD driving … lots of smiles on that stretch).
Hiker Kim provided the boys and parents with the requisite safety and job hazard analysis briefing, and we broke the crew into three teams:
- The Rock Crew, who would help rebuild a section of trail where a flash flood had recently pushed out a length of cribwalling;
- The Tread Crew, who would clear slough from a few neglected lengths of trail; and
- The Swampers, who would pull brush lopped by the adults clipping the rose- and willow-choked crossings.
This was the first backpacking experience for six of the eight boys, and for most of the parents. The boys, at least, were super-stoked for this opportunity, and they really did us proud with how hard they worked. They spent much of the mid-day tending to their tasks, wielding their tools like seasoned pros.
Once their prescribed work was complete, the boys followed the ever-faithful true backwood navigator — the uber-hund — to our site along the banks of the North Fork of Lockwood Creek. There, she was immediately rewarded with her traditional repast, and the boys began setting up camp.
Bardlero Busts a Move
The boys consumed some pretty impressive calories that evening … high elevation, physical labor and the exertion that comes from one’s first backpacking trek can be demanding on an 8-year-old’s little bod. Everybody sacked out pretty quickly once the temperatures began to drop.
Forecasts had projected temps in the low 40s for the overnight, but upon my waking to the uber-hund’s cold nose on my forehead, the outdoor thermometer read a chilly 22F. At first I was skeptical of this reading, but the frost beneath my boots and the block of ice I kicked from the dog’s bowl checked my suspicions.
Wake Up, Peeps
The boys enjoyed a hearty breakfast around a blazing fire, and busied themselves collecting snow from the nearby slopes to later melt for water. Once the sun broke through the mist and cloud, we held a field ceremony to award some of the boys their newly-achieved ranks. (Not having our traditional paints, we made a quick slurry of snow and charcoal … with predictable results.)
The boys broke camp and it was an entertaining four miles back to Three Falls Boy Scout Camp — where the BSA had allowed us to stage our vehicles during the service project — with of course the requisite visit to the local rock art site, where we discussed the preservation of backcountry arch sites and forest resources.
Another great trip for these budding outdoorsmen, and another great weekend of service in our beloved Los Padres. Huge thanks to VWRs Hiker Kim and Bardlero for their leadership (and photos), to the US Forest Service (Mt Pinos RD), and to the parents who joined the project.
Get ’em out there!
(Specifics re: the hike to Lily Meadows and beyond is detailed in Route 71 of Hiking and Backpacking Santa Barbara & Ventura.)