The Vicente Flat Trail is one of the medium usage trails within the Ventana Wilderness (Los Padres National Forest - Monterey Ranger District). It is also one of the Focus Trails on the District. Over the past several years, a large number of trees, ranging from a few inches to more than four feet in diameter have fallen on the trail, causing damage to the trail, hazard to hikers, and utterly blocking pack stock from all but a couple miles near the coast. In addition, on that lower section, substantial sections of the trail have been pushed as much as 20 feet below the original alignment, mostly through growth of vegetation pushing the tread downhill. Robert Parks' personal commentary
(Update - May 16, 2005 - Survey) Mike Heard and I (Robert Parks), surveyed the trail from the Cone Peak Road down to Highway 1. We collected data which is tabulated in the Survey Document linked on the webpage. GPS info is available in Garmin (.gdb) and MapTech (.txf/.mxf) formats by request. While our main goal was to document the logs down on the trail, we did also note other issues such as brush, slumped tread and storm damage. Some minor brushing and clearing of small logs (<6") was accomplished on this trip. Survey in .rtf format The survey is a Rich Text Format (.rtf). It can be viewed on a large monitor, or printed out in landscape orientation on legal size paper. Updated to include 7/25/05 work. Final reference survey document for future work.
(Update - June 11-12, 2005 - Logging) The first logging trip was the weekend of June 11 and 12, 2005. Base camp was Espinosa Camp, ~3 miles in from the coast. All logs between the coast and Espinosa Camp were removed, and substantial work between Espinosa Camp and Vicente Flat Camp was accomplished. A short stop motion video of cutting log50 (3' redwood) is included in that webpage.
(Update - June 25-27, 2005 - Logging) The second logging trip was the weekend of June 25 through 27, 2005. Base camp was Vicente Flat Camp, ~5 miles in from the coast. All logs between Espinosa Camp and Vicente Flat Camp were removed, and substantial work above Vicente Flat Camp was accomplished.
(Update - July 9-10, 2005 - Logging) The third logging trip was the weekend of July 9 and 10, 2005. Base camp was Vicente Flat Camp, ~2 miles in from the Cone Peak Road. All logs that created substantial obstacles for backpackers above Vicente Flat were removed.
(Update - July 15, 2005 - Survey) The second survey was on July 15th, 2005 as a downhill dayhike the length of the trail. Minor brushing and long-handled pruner snipping of poison oak was undertaken, mostly above Hare Creek. New deadfall was pruned back. No change in general trail conditions
(Update - July 24-25, 2005 - Logging) The fourth logging trip was July 24 and 25 (Sunday & Monday), 2005. Base camp was on the flat near Log #17 (dubbed "Log Camp" for the section of Log #17 we rolled down to the camp location) (slightly more than a mile from the Cone Peak Road). All logs that don't require additional equipment or personnel have been cleared from the trail. The entire length of the Vicente Flat Trail is now passable for trained stock.
The entire length of the Vicente Flat Trail has been logged to pack standards. However, there remain serious, if not complete barriers to the use of the trail, mostly on the coast side where the tread is badly deteriorated. Fixing the tread problems are more labor intensive than logging, especially given the relatively small crew size on this project. In fact, even on a logging only project, more effort is spent preparing and finishing work, rather than on the actual sawing. This project was a good test of the ability of volunteer sawyers to clear a trail of very serious barriers, given good tools and training. Before and after images of all logs
Each log (obstacle) may contain several boles or other work. Approximately 40 obstacles are encountered on the trail (that require sawing/removal) with a total of about 1050 diameter-inches of cutting. As of July 24, 2005, approximately 150 diameter-inches of optional cutting remains that requires additional equipment. Full project total: 1200 diameter-inches. Note that diameter-inches disregards all variations in difficulty based on size, wood, conditions, preparation and difficulty, however, a full day's work for a three person crew appears to be about 150 diameter-inches.
On these trips, it has become very clear that a crosscut saw, alone, is pretty useless. It requires a suite of tools to be useful and not stuck in a log. A large pruning saw, wedges and an axe are critical, also important are hand pruners, a small (folding) pruning saw and a tread tool for swamping out the worksite. The axe is necessary both for cut preparation and driving wedges, without wedges the saw will become stuck in a log in very short order, the pruning saw allows cutting (and underbucking) in restricted spaces and allows finishing cuts safely and without risk to the crosscut saw. If a large two-person crosscut is being used, it is also very useful to have a smaller (thin-kerf if available) one-person crosscut for finish work or underbucking or for cutting smaller logs.
For a three-person crew, we used: a 6' crosscut saw, a 3.5' one-person crosscut saw, a 21" pruning saw, a max-ax (single bit with pick and hoe attachments), large axe, camp axe, shovel, macleod, and clippers and small folding saws. Some tools were cached on the trail.
Before and after images of all logs. Also, there are collections of images linked from the trip leader's reports and individual trip webpages.
Map with track and waypoints (click on the map for a medium size map). Detailed maps of work areas are included with each trip webpage as well as on the survey webpage.
Vicente Flat Trail Logging Project / Robert Parks /
email@example.com / revised November '05
Large Image - 785 x 1327 (223K)