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Trail Reports: 2002-2003 Season

12/21 - 12/22/2002 Patrol Report

Everyone showed up early Saturday morning, after some careful driving through the chain control station at Twain Harte. We sent patrols out to Crabtree & Gooseberry not to mention Burnt Bowl and 'Rock & Roll'. Since the storm had come in very cold, fast and wet, the coverage was thick and fluffy but sticky in spots. Since every one of us took our turns trailblazing many hundreds of meters, we felt the burn! As Bill had promised, a training day for all.

On Sunday we took advantage of some local lessons from David Clay at Dodge Ridge. This was four hours of uninterrupted instruction in which everyone benefited immensely.

This was a great weekend to be at Pinecrest. Lots of fresh powder!!!

Saturday Attendance & areas patrolled: David Lawn, Bill Lowell, Pat Callery, Jeff Gurrola; Crabtree Trailhead and the trail up to the large turn going toward Aspen Meadow; Gooseberry trail from the Knob to Rock & Roll, Rock and Roll to Gooseberry trailhead� very nicely marked!!! Crabtree trail to Burnt Bowl.

Sunday Attendance and areas patrolled: Ed Lopes, Bill Lowell, Pat Callery, Jeff Gurrola; Aspen Meadows to Ridge Run, Sun Bowl to Crabtree Loop #1 (What a long hike that was!!!), Snow Play area 6 miles north of Strawberry.

--Submitted by: Jeff Gurrola

12/28 - 12/29/2002 Patrol Report

Snow, snow and more snow sums up this weekends patrol. If a picture is worth a thousand words check out the attached images from this weekend. John Kretchman, Steve Barr, Larry Crawford, Bill Lowell, and myself all patrolled on Saturday. The snow pack was deep and pretty heavy though not crusted. We finished assembling the bunk bed that Larry created and it looks solid and comfy. Thanks Larry. Bill Lowell patrolled the lower section of Crabtree and did general maintenance, cutting fallen trees from off the trails. He found a large tree completely broken at the base and hanging by branches at a 45 degree angle over the foot bridge near burnt bowl. He notified the sheriff and caution flagged the trail as it is a significant hazard to the public. They said they would blast the tree to fall it soon. The rest of us did an early run down gooseberry and rock and roll. We split for the afternoon sweeps with JK and Larry taking gooseberry again, and Steve and myself sweeping crabtree. On the Gooseberry side they found a young boarder (12 or so) who had lost his partners and was confused as to his location. They escourted him to the trailhead. NOTE: this is becoming a big concern... We need to be very conscious of this, especially late in the day on the gooseberry side. We found out on Sunday that he was reported missing and people were looking for him. It snowed all night and we woke sunday morning to a foot or so of new snow at the cabin and up to a foot and a half new at upper elevations. Bill again took lower Crabtree while JK and I decided to go out at the top of chair #3. We had some GREAT turns down into Aspen. We then slogged out the Bell Meadow road, up the ridge to the "terraced" area above burnt bowl. There we ate lunch and searched the 35-40 degree slope for our lines down into the burnt bowl area. the anticipation exceeded the event. Pointing downhill we managed only several turns before submarining to a deep snow plow position about chest deep. The strugle then became to find our skis again. Needless to say this little detour cost us more time than anticipated and we didn't get out to the Crabtree trailhead until 3:45 or so. As I write this I am massaging my sore thighs. All in all it was a terrific weekend. The base is very deep and with more storms comming the awaiting adventures are looking promising. Get on the calendar and get up!!

--Submitted by: David Lawn

01/25 - 01/26/2003 Patrol Report

A great and informative Ski With the Ranger program on Saturday, with about 10 attendees. We covered forest ecology, winter clothing, the ten essentials, and emergency shelters. There were some bare patches developing on upper Crabtree, but decent snow coverage otherwise and a beautiful, warm day. Several parties were headed out for overnights in Bell Meadow. We split into two groups to sweep Crabtree and Gooseberry in the afternoon, under somewhat icy snow conditions. Keith worked the day in the Dodge First Aid room.

On Sunday, Irene and I did a great loop around Crabtree on soft snow. We detoured through Burnt Bowl, where the snow was really nice, and then skied Sugar Pine and Redwood until we reconnected with Crabtree. There were a couple of fallen trees on Sugar Pine and Redwood. We then skied up to Dodge and did a final sweep of the Crabtree area. It was a quiet day, but a fair number of skiers and snow players given the Super Bowl.

We had a bad time making contact with Stanislaus this weekend, and on Sunday simply called in and out of Dispatch from the Cabin; the number is posted above the phone.

Saturday Attendance & areas patrolled: Larry Crawford, Joanne Zeek, Nancy Krebs, Larry Crawford, Jeff Gurrola, Irene Patton, Keith Gale; Crabtree, Ridge, and Gooseberry.

Sunday Attendance and areas patrolled: Oren Eshel, Irene Patton; Crabtree, Burnt Bowl, Sugar Pine, and Redwood

--Submitted by: Oren Eshel

02/01 - 02/02/2003 Patrol Report

The weekend got off on a somber note as arriving patrollers Saturday morning brought news of the Columbia tragedy. After watching the news on TV, we headed to the trailhead for a Ski with the Ranger program with Joy from the Forest Service. Just when it seemed that nobody might show up, at precisely 10:00 am, a succession of cars pulled into the Crabtree parking lot, including a school group. We avoided upper Crabtree due to some bare patches and instead skied toward the groomed Dodge loop from the stop sign. In spite of the presence of 15 kids and the constant temptation of sledding, the group made it to the hot chocolate and cookie station, near the snow play area along the Dodge loop. After lunch, John and Larry lugged a chain saw out to Ridge and Crabtree to deal with some fallen trees noted the previous weekend. When the rest of us reached the top of chair 5, it began to snow! Joanne, Penny, David Kelly, and I had a great ski down Gooseberry and Zig Zag, with fresh snow on the ground and still coming down. We noted two bamboo sticks placed by Dodge to block Zig Zag near the junction of a road leading to Dodge (we took care of this on Sunday). When we reached Gooseberry, we encountered a woman who was tired after a long day of skiing up Gooseberry and had run out of food and water. We all snacked on cookies, gave her some water, and skied back to the trailhead together. Dana, David Lawn, Nancy, and Bart completed a sweep of Crabtree. In the meantime, the trees had finally exerted subtle revenge on JK. While hauling the chain saw and fuel back from Ridge and Crabtree, the fuel had leaked into JK's pack, coating everything. JK spent a good part of the evening spreading out and decontaminating his gear with air, water, and washing machine.

Sunday was a beautiful day, and most of us headed on a great ski tour to Burst Rock, while Jim and Del Krussow went to ski the Crabtree-area trails. We were all in awe of Geiger's ability to ride the lifts! (We received approval from Dodge in the morning.) No more than 1" had fallen in most areas, but 1-3" seemed to have fallen at the higher elevations. We'd gotten a bit of a late start, and had a late lunch at about 1:30. JK, David Kelly, Bart, and Joanne went on to Burst, another 30 minutes or so away. David Lawn, Dana, Penny, and I skied back and headed down Zig Zag to post two "Ski Area This Way" signs to replace the barrier we'd noted the day before. We had spoken to the Dodge patrol about this in the morning and they were very supportive. As we were attaching these signs, a slightly location-challenged snowboarder came along and asked us how to get back to the ski area! We should go back with a hammer and nails to secure them to the trees at some point. David Lawn and Dana, and Penny completed a sweep of Gooseberry, while I returned the bamboo poles to Dodge and skied with JK to Crabtree trailhead. Unfortunately, JK reinjured his knee/ankle coming down from Burst Rock. David Kelly, Bart, and Joanne completed a sweep of Crabtree.

We made two changes this weekend on the radio communication front which proved very successful. We used channel 3, bypassing the repeaters, which according to JK uses less battery power. This is consistent with the problems we've had being able to transmit. JK also brought one of his radios with him and left it in the cabin along with instructions. It has a rechargeable battery which should be charged on Friday and Saturday nights, but left out on Sunday night so that it will not be charging all week. This radio worked well even when left on the whole day. It is locked on channel 10, which is equivalent to channel 3 on the Forest Service radios. For the Forest Service radios, leaving them off for a good part of the day helped conserve enough battery power to remain useful. With these measures, we had good success with radio communication from most areas.

Saturday Attendance & areas patrolled: David Lawn, Oren Eshel, Joanne Zeek, Nancy Krebs, Larry Crawford, John Kretschman, Penny Hutchinson, David Kelly, Bart Teeuswisse, Dana Kirsch (and Geiger), Jim and Del Krussow, Lee Ann Mullen; Crabtree, Aspen Meadow, Ridge, Gooseberry, and Zig Zag.

Sunday Attendance and areas patrolled: David Lawn, Oren Eshel, Joanne Zeek, John Kretschman, Penny Hutchinson, David Kelly, Bart Teeuswisse, Dana Kirsch (and Geiger), Jim and Del Krussow; Crabtree, Aspen, Gooseberry, Burst Rock, Zig Zag

--Submitted by: Oren Eshel

02/08 - 02/09/2003 Patrol Report

The snow is melting...Not much coverage on the upper section of the lower Crabtree loop. Aspen Meadow trail is very very icy. Lower Rock & Roll is dirt. Most South facing slopes are thin or dirt. The snow this weekend will help. We conducted our "What you need to know for the backcountry" seminar at the old Dodge Ridge lodge. 8 attendees. We went over the 10 essentials, expanded essentials, clothing, terrain, and recommended trails. It seemed to be well received. Dave ? (not Alley) of the Dodge pro patrol attended. While we knew the top 15, narrowing it down to the top ten was difficult. I would recommend a lesson plan or script to follow so that we are providing a consistent message. Otherwise it went well. Ed Lopez was filmed doing his narration of the top ten. I have attached several top tens... Items of concern: 1) large tree across the Aspen Meadow train about 3000 feet down from the intersection of the Ridge Run trail. Larry & Geoff cut off some branches. As the snow melts be aware of additional hazards it brings. 2) The batteries are still a huge problem. The batteries work fine for reception. With new batteries and no transmissions my radio could not transmit after 3 hours. The batteries supplied by the USFS are "heavy duty" and not alkaline. They perform very poorly in cold weather. In fact the box recommends a temperature of 70F. This is further compounded using vests that hold the radio external of the body. When I heated the batteries (defroster, body) they transmitted fine. Highly recommend using a different AA cell. 3) Many snow players on the Gooseberry trail. Repeat ON the trail . I asked them to avoid the trail and enjoy the wonderful hillsides nearby. That's all folks. Jeff

--Submitted by: Jeff Bowser

03/08 - 03/09/2003 Patrol Report

Saturday - Matt Coleman, David Lawn, Jeff Gurrola, John Kretchman, and Mark Miller

Skies clear and sunny; temps in the fifties; snow dirty, crusty turning, to slushy, but with coverage (barely) to Gooseberry TH.

After finding no participants for the ski with the ranger program, we called in service ca. 10:00. David and John patrolled lower Crabtree and up through Burnt Bowl, while the others took a run from chair 7 to Aspen Meadow, dropping into Dodge atop chair 1, then one from from chair 7 down Zig-Zag to Gooseberry. Both parties them met to have a look at snow conditions at Harrington Creek (only small patches), then at the snowplay at road's closure (same). Jeff and Mark did a sweep of Gooseberry, calling out of service at 16:46. No emergencies, few contacts.

Sunday - Matt Coleman, Steve Barr, Jeff Gurrola, and Mark Miller

Skies clear and sunny, turning to slight, high cloud cover in afternoon; temps in the fifties; snow beautiful.

All four patrollers called in at 09:05 and skied chair 7 to Burst Rock on beautiful, clean, ridge-top snow, arriving 12:10. After pleasant lunch in warm, clear, windless conditions, we sought - at John Kretchman's excellent suggestion - good skiing north of the Knob-Burst Rock ridge. West from Burst we contoured ~8650' until due N of the 8809' mid-ridge high-point, and dropped into the bowl to its immediate NW, increasingly favoring westerly lines as we lost elevation (esp. below ~7800'?), and following a hodgepodge of old tracks and Steve Barr's routefinding to the base of chair 8 (7050') at 15:15. From atop 8 Mark and Matt skied Dodge to the lodge while Steve and Jeff swept Gooseberry, calling out of service at 16:06. No emergencies, few contacts.

Notes: John Kretchman's ankle tweaked again while patrolling ca. Burnt Bowl. Mark Miller's binding sheared en route to Burst Rock. Much thanks to my fellow patrollers for their patience with my slow pace. Jeff Gurrola's radio showed significant improvement with a new antenna.

Specific notes on the Knob-Burst Rock ridge: The route outlined above seemed the obvious choice to avoid dense foliage, steep slopes, and accidental descent below chair 8. It served these purposes admirably, and in addition it put us in a position of making fresh tracks, even as late in the season as it was, as well as giving us a clear scope of the chair 8 line from a good distance. Below ~8000' coverage began to falter and bare rocks were prevalent, not troublesome and only slightly annoying. We recommend this return route most highly. Looking south, up along the ridge there appeared many other fine lines to the west of ours, though foliage was often denser, slopes steeper, and cliff bands more numerous (though from our limited observation the various cliff bands seldom are without a moderate escape route).

--Submitted by: Mark Miller

03/15 - 03/16/2003 Patrol Report

Saturday morning it was raining and/or snowing with poor visibility. Clearing late morning and sunny/warm in the afternoon. About 1' of new snowfall. Snow heavy and wet, crusting over in shady areas by late afternoon.

Keith worked in the first aid room, where it was an uneventful day; Dodge was fairly empty, perhaps due to stormy weather in the early morning.

Steve and I skied Nordic, Augie, and Ridge from the top of chair 7. It was snowy and cold, with poor visibility at the top of the hill, but a very scenic ski through open terrain on Nordic Run. We cut trail through several inches of "nordic cement," as Steve put it. By mid-morning the weather was clearing and warmer, and we shed layers as we skied down Augie and had lunch in Aspen meadow, dodging falling clumps of wet snow falling from the trees. There are rocks just below the exposed first section of Ridge, in spite of the recent snowfall. One "lane" of Crabtree past the junction of Ridge Run and the road has been carted off for use at Dodge. We did a final sweep down Gooseberry.

Sunday was sunny and cold in the early morning, warming in late morning. Clouding over and cool in early afternoon, with snow falling by 2:00 pm. Snow was solidified and frozen in the morning, turning crusty, and softening by late morning.

Keith and I skied (snowshoed in Keith's case) up Crabtree road, turning off to Bell Meadow just before Aspen Meadow. (The turnoff, for those who haven't been there, is just before a locked gate. The turnoff area is muddled by melting snow runoff.) Snow conditions were mostly good, but thin coverage on certain parts of the road or under areas of dense tree cover. We had lunch on the way out to Bell Meadow. On the return trip, snow began falling but this did not deter a fair number of snow players from enjoying themselves. We're hopeful that the snow will continue and fill in the gaps in snow coverage.

Saturday Attendance and Areas Patrolled: Steve Barr, Keith Gale, Oren Eshel. Crabtree: Nordic, Augie, Ridge; Gooseberry

Sunday Attendance and Areas Patrolled: Keith Gale, Oren Eshel. Crabtree out to Aspen and Bell Meadows.

--Submitted by: Oren Eshel

03/29 - 03/30/2003 Patrol Report

This was the last weekend for Spring Skiing at Dodge Ridge, the resort is now closed!

The Team patrolling on 29 and 31 March was Mariano Caunday (Patrol Leader), Dean Fanara (Team Leader) and Matt Coleman (Candidate). We had a great skiing experience.

Saturday we were at the Lodge by 0800 attending the sign up table for the Ski with a Patroller program. Unfortunately, no one signed up. So we skied from the Knob down Gooseberry. There were some bare spots and when we came upon snow players they were wearing tennis shoes. We went back up to the Knob and went up toward Burst Rock and then skied down through the forest following ski tracks. Matt taught us some good backcountry skills. The Candidate lead the way! Great experience. We ended up on the moguls.

Sunday we went up to the Knob and skied out to Augie (my skies have some grooves now from rock skiing). Then down to Aspen Meadow and on to Crabtree. A lot of bare spots. Ten cars loads of snow players wearing tennis shoes. It was warm and sunny. By late in the day the runs back to the lifts were mud and stones.

While cleaning up our cabin I met Becky. She will be there just one week. We are expecting snow tonight, but alas too late - Thanks for a great experience team!

--Submitted by: Dean Fanara

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