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BCHC Mid Valley Unit

Huckleberry Lake Work Party, August 17 - 21, 2008

This was a trail clearing project we did with the US Forest Service in the Huckleberry Lake area on August 17-21, 2008. All photos courtesy of Michael King, photo editing by Kathy Zumbrunn. You may jump to the newsletter article below the pictures.

Man on a mule
Saddle up and head out!


Huckleberry Lake
Huckleberry Lake from above; a rare gem of a lake, high in the Emmigrant Wilderness Area, Stanislaus National Forest.


Work crew
Dennis Serpa, Carl Perry, Tony Moules, Michael King, Adam Barnett and Joel Morken.


Six people looking at a fallen log which is blocking the trail
Planning the attack.


Two men using a cross-cut saw
Carl Perry, Joel Morken and Tony Moules.


Two men using a cross-cut saw
Adam Barnett, Dennis Serpa and Michael King


Three men moving a log with pry bars
Prying the log loose.


Work crew moving a log out of the way
Hard at work.


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Huckleberry Lake Trail Clearing Project

By Michael King

This August 17 through the 21, [2008] five Mid Valley Unit BCHC members joined U.S. Forest Service Emigrant Wilderness Supervisor Adam Barnett and intern Joel Morken in clearing the trail from the Pine Valley Horse Camp to Huckleberry Lake. Mid Valley members Dennis Serpa, Carl and Julie Perry, Tony Moules and myself worked with the USFS team to clear rocks, brush and downed trees.

Dennis, Tony and I spent the night of August 16 at Pine Valley Horse camp where we met Don Butler and Vicki Morales who were also staying at Pine Valley. Don and Vicki shared their fire and we had a nice visit that evening. Carl and Julie Perry came in the following morning with their stock, as well as Adam and Joel. After a bit of breakfast, the pack stock were loaded and we headed out. Adam and Joel being free of most of their gear set out on foot to meet the group at Cow Meadow where the base camp would be made, about 12 miles in by trail.

After a short stop at Louse Canyon for lunch, Rusty Perry (Carl and Julie's dog) met with a bit of bad luck at Wood Lake. As is his custom, Rusty was following close behind the mules. Apparently a hoof under traction slipped on a rock and clobbered him on the nose about mid way between his eye and his snoot. It knocked him out cold and opened a serious cut that involved an artery. Fortunately, Carl had a puffer bottle of blood stopper that proved to be invaluable in getting the flow of blood slowed to a small leak. Rusty spent the rest of the trip looking like cement mortar had been plastered on his face! A word to the wise: It looks to be a very good idea to carry a bottle of blood stopper in your emergency kit. It could be useful for you or your animals, as Rusty can attest.

At Cow Meadow camp was set up and the stock turned loose to graze. This led to another interesting event when Tony Moules went to catch up his stock for the evening. Apparently not ready to be caught, Skid- the mule, led Sonny- the horse, out into Cow Meadow Lake. Heading out to very deep water it appeared that they were swimming for the far shore. Eventually they turned around and came back to port! Skid looked like the Loch Ness Mule as he led Sonny on this escapade. Climbing out on to terra firma, Skid looked like the water was colder than was pleasant. Neither of them repeated this stunt again!

Tuesday morning after coffee and breakfast we started right out of camp clearing trees, brush and rocks on the back trail toward Wood Lake. This portion was completed by late morning, so we returned to camp for lunch. The afternoon was spent working out the trail from Cow Meadow to Letora Lake, where Tony managed to get a finger between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Yes, he clobbered his finger with a single jack sledge. He nursed it in his canteen of cold water for a while until he grew concerned that he might not be able to get his swelling digit out of the hole! (At last report, his finger is doing fine. No blood stopper was required).

The next section of trail meant heading down into Cherry Canyon and Huckleberry Lake. Being too late in the afternoon to do that, we returned to camp where Julie Perry prepared another feast for dinner. After camp cleanup, Julie played her guitar and sang songs making for a very special and pleasant evening!

Wednesday morning we packed up our tools and struck out for Huckleberry Lake. Other than clearing 9 downed trees and packing in a sign post for Dave Moser, it was a relatively uneventful day. Everyone came back with noses and fingers intact. The scenery was spectacular making you forget that you were "working".

Thursday was scheduled to be a working ride out. After packing up the gear, all but Carl and Julie headed out toward home. The Perry's wisely stayed behind an extra day to do a little fishing. Adam estimated there were a "couple of trees" to cut and remove on the way out. These couple of trees eventually grew into 11 of various sizes, with various effort required to remove them. Finally with the day growing short, it was on to the trailers. Adam and Joel appeared to be the most anxious to get back. They went ahead of the procession at Grouse Lake, and all that could be seen of them after that was dust!

All in all we cut and removed approximately 30 trees with a hand crosscut saw. Some of these downed logs had blocked the established trail for several years, and in some instances led to dangerous detours around them. We also removed several large rocks and a bunch of smaller ones. The net result was that we cleared about 20 miles of wilderness trail.

Our trail crew did not come out empty handed. After trail work was done each day, Adam and Joel ferreted out trash littering the landscape and from old camps sufficient to fill several large trash bags to over flow capacity. The mules hauled out this trash along with the gear.

Many people contributed a great deal to the success of this trip. Dennis Serpa, Carl Perry, Julie Perry and Tony Moules provided pack stock to haul in our personal gear as well as the tools, equipment and supplies needed to do the work. Dennis Serpa provided an extra riding horse for myself, and the hand tools and saws. Julie Perry deserves special thanks for meal planning, purchasing and preparation of food as well for the evening of musical and singing entertainment. Finally thanks to Don Butler and Vicki Morales who saved the day by being able to produce two rolls of TP. (Note to self: remember to double-check that next time!)

Mid Valley Unit of the Back Country Horsemen of California gave a generous monetary contribution that covered our meal expenses.

And finally a huge thanks to everyone for the muscle energy expended sawing logs and moving those logs and rocks! And thanks for the stories, kidding and laughter that made each day an absolute treat, even while working.

Like Tom Sawyer proved, even work can be made into fun.

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