Completing the skyline trails

by

Saturday, 27 September 2014

According to the open space district, El Corte de Madera Creek open space preserve has 35.9 miles of trails. Because of backtracking and looping, it took me 50 miles of hiking to do all of them, spread, as predicted, over three visits (each with 4000-5000 feet of vertical gain). Today was the northerly set of trails, my car parked at Skeggs point.

Today completes my quest to hike all of the MROSD trails along Skyline, a significant step in working toward the anvil award, which recognizes trail patrol volunteers who cover all of the trails in the whole open space district. Meaningless, of course, but it’s a challenge, gives me a focus.

Started just after 7 on a cool, cloudy day that remained cool and cloudy throughout, except for about ten minutes of filtered sun in early afternoon. Very nice, indeed. Found a madrone fallen across the trail, marked it with GPS and a photo to report to the district; someone will get out here with a chain saw one of these days. There was a lot of other fallen debris, as well, all day long, but I was able to clear it myself. Glad I remembered to stick my leather work gloves in my pack.

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There is a bridge under construction, El Corte de Madera creek, at the bottom of Methusaleh trail. I came this way last week with the hikers I was helping. There has been a noticeable amount of progress in a week; interesting to see all the miniature construction equipment, designed for back-country use.

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There is a nice monument to the passengers and crew of the Resolution, a DC-6 that flew into a hillside here on a foggy day in 1953.

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The other special attraction of this preserve is the tafoni formation, essentially sandstone with interesting erosions. I have to admit it’s worth a look.

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At a few points along the day’s trails, I found broom, an invasive plant that needs to be kept under control lest it take over the world. I cleaned out all of one stretch, and reported the second stretch on my trail log. Then, almost back to the car, I noticed a delta-shaped clearing where two trails merge, that was full of broom, much of it fairly good-sized.

Because I was near the car, it was easy to go get my weed wrench and return. I put in something like an hour and a half pulling broom by hand, using the weed wrench on a dozen or so of the larger specimens.

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I found a couple of these little caterpillars on the broom (so you can see what broom looks like, if you care). I was careful not to damage the insects when I unplugged their lunch, but I did unplug their lunch.

Because it’s on the outside of a blind curve, turns across traffic lanes are not allowed in or out of the Skeggs point parking area. Forced to go north, I thought I’d go home down Kings Mountain road, but when I got to the junction, I saw that there was a bicycle century rest stop there, with riders coming up Tunitas creek road from the coast, and going down Kings Mt road. The best way I knew to be bicycle friendly was to go on up Skyline and come down highway 92 instead.

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