June 21, 2011
by Sabrina Lawrence-Gomez
Today we continued scouting and flagging the Deer Valley trail using the principles of sustainable trail building outlined by Chris. We also had Ellen Kelley, Wrigley’s Naturalist, join us in scouting. We flagged the trail up until our first control point which was a grove of Toyon (a California native tree). The Toyon grow in a ring like shape and provide a canopy of shade, making a prime location to stop and relax along the hike. We continued to scout around the area in search of our next control point. For our control points we wanted a mixture of overlooks into Big Fisherman’s Cove, geologic features, and interesting plant life. We finally stumbled upon our next control point, which is one of the coolest spots on the trail. As you approach the drainage, there is rock wall teeming with plant life. The best part is during the rainy season the rock will funnel the water down forming a waterfall! It is a breathtaking spot and has 3 of the 6 Catalina island endemic species: the Catalina Live Forever, St. Catherine’s Lace, and the Catalina Bedstraw.
Unfortunately, to have the trail enable hikers to get a closer look at this magnificent feature meant creating high impact in some areas. We spent a lot of time trying to circumnavigate high grades and still reach the same point, but we were not successful. We decided to keep the route we had chosen but we would have to take extra steps in order to maintain a low impact trail such as full-bench construction and rock steps. Full-bench means the the full width of the tread (the actual travel surface of the trail) is cut into the hillside, which requires more excavation into the soil and leaves a larger backslope, with an outsloped grade of 5% to sheet water off the tread surface. Full-bench construction along steep hillsides would help prevent erosion in the long run and make the trailbed more durable and require less maintenance. Steps along areas of very steep grade greater than 20% would help reinforce the ground, prevent the trail from eroding, and provide a comfortable passage upward along the trail. In order to incorporate these elements into the trail we will need expert rock workers and trail builders to construct the tread. Chris Baker suggested we recruit an ACE crew to do the rock work and cut the tread. We are now working to have an ACE crew come out and hopefully help us complete the trail by the end of the summer!
For the remainder of the day, we continued flagging to our next control points, a viewshed of Bird Rock and Ship Rock, a bison wallow, a large oak canopy, and a grove of scrub oaks we named the Picnic Oak. As we found control points Charlie and I used an ArcPad to map the points as shape files, using a GPS. We are hoping to including mapping the flora of the area and our trail into our project. Afterwards we traveled bit by bit along the trail, connecting the points and using the clinometer to ensure a slope of 15-20% and that the cross slope that the tread followed was one half of the hill slope (the Rule of Halves). We finished the day with about half of the trail marked which is a great milestone! I can’t wait to finish up the trail tomorrow.
For more information on Sustainable Trail Construction and Maintenance visit:
For more photos visit: Day 10 Scouting the trail