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May 22

May YiW Stewardship outing with Ponderosa High School

Looking east from the Cone Peak road

Looking east from the Cone Peak road

 a true and selfless love of the land is the source of the undaunted spirit. - G. Snyder

Students and staff of Ponderosa High School pose with Trail Crew leader Mike Heard (left) with Cone Peak in the background

Students and staff of Ponderosa High School pose with Trail Crew leader Mike Heard (left) at Plaskett Creek Campground, with Cone Peak in the background

On a recent hot and sunny spring weekend, 6 hardy students and two teachers from Ponderosa High School and Career Training Center joined VWA Trail Crew leader (and recent recipient of the USFS National Volunteer of the Year award) Mike Heard and myself on a Stewardship Outing to the Cone Peak area trail network. Due to the small camp sizes at Trail Spring and Goat we had to limit the total number of our crew to 10. Our mission was clear: to saw fallen trees on the Gamboa and Stone Ridge trails that had been identified as well as fix some tread and perform some light brushing- -  all part of the regular maintenance of the recently restored Cone Peak area trail network.
Heard checks his notes before hitting the trail

Heard checks his notes before hitting the trail

Ponderosa High School is a new partner for the VWA's Youth in Wilderness program and we were excited for our inaugural outing with them.  As an alternative high school of Santa Cruz county and a Career Training center, students get exposed to all kinds of vocations (as part of their regular curriculum, students restore old sail boats in the woodshop on campus and have a garden program)- - some of their students actually helped build the newly established Emma McCrary multi-use trail in the Pogonop of Santa Cruz.  We had a feeling the kids would be ready for the challenges presented by the Cone Peak area, one of the most rugged trail systems in the Ventana.  Despite the rather warm temperatures and the bugs- face flies, biting flies, horse flies and mosquitos were quite active an added another layer of challenge to the outing- -students handled themselves in a good way and without much complaint.  With the last bits of green still hanging around the meadow-slopes, and flowers galore in bloom, our spirits were high.
Students do some adjustments before the hike

Students do some adjustments before the hike

Teacher Brian of Ponderosa volunteered to carry the 6' crosscut for the first stint of the hike

Teacher Brian of Ponderosa volunteered to carry the 6' crosscut for the first stint of the hike

species?

Cycladenia humilis, waxy dogbane in the mid-day sun

Setting out on the Gamboa trail under the nearing mid-day sun, we were sweating soon into the voyage, with Trail Spring camp as our goal for camp that night but work to do before arrival.  About a mile and half into the hike we stopped to saw our first set of deadfall, and unsheathed Heard's 6 foot crosscut.  While some students sawed, others took loppers to encroaching brush.

Heard carefully assembles the handles onto the saw as a student looks on

Students work the saw as Heard looks on

Students work the saw as Heard looks on

Ponderosa teacher Desiree works the saw

Ponderosa teacher Desiree pulls the saw

Ponderosa student Judah mugs for the camera

Ponderosa student Judah mugs for the camera

Sawing

Sawing through

Heard and a student perform an undercut.

Heard and Brady perform an undercut.

Students help Heard re-sheath the 6' crosscut

Brian helps Heard re-sheath the 6' crosscut

The group poses with the view before making the descent to Goat camp

The group poses with the view at the saddle before making the descent to Goat camp

Antirrhinum multiforum (many-flowered snapdragon) seen at the Ojito saddle

Antirrhinum multiforum (many-flowered snapdragon) seen at the Ojito saddle

Desiree poses with Heard holding a token of appreciation for his guru guidance of the trail work

Desiree poses with Heard holding a token of appreciation for his guru guidance of the trail work

This outing was a great success with a total of 7 trees removed along the Gamboa and Stone Ridge trails, a 6 foot stump repair completed and light brushing performed.  Heard was very pleased and thankful for the work and the students were in awe to work with such a knowledgeable and dedicated wilderness volunteer.  Just being around someone like him can be a huge inspiration. (Heard ended up staying two more nights and sawed a few more trees solo).  I too had a great experience and am ever grateful to collaborate with such wonderful partners.  We look forward to more collaborations in the future!  Thanks for reading.
The boys relax by the spring at Goat camp

The boys relax by the spring at Goat camp

                     

1 comment

  1. Rich

    What a wonderful adventure! You can’t really tell from the photos but I bet it was HOT and buggy. All involved are tough hombres. Thank you for the excellent trail work. And thanks for sharing photos of the wildflowers in addition to pics of the brave students and teachers of Ponderosa High School. Its a trip they will remember forever … and hopefully inspire them to the protection and preservation of our public wildlands.

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