5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post up where you went, or read about what other folks did.
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-Spike-
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5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by -Spike- » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:40 pm

We'll be running the Sunflower Mine loop (FR25A, FR201A) to see how it coped with the winter storms. We may have at least one FS person along. This trail can be challenging, a lift and oversize tires are highly recommended and damage is still a distinct possibility.

Meeting time and place-
8AM at the Baja Gas Station 10180 N Fort McDowell Rd, Fort McDowell, AZ 85264

Lunch will be provided for folks who let us know they're coming at least 24 hours before the event start time. Either register on the TRAL Event Calendar or reply to this thread. Please let us know if you plan on bringing guests. Look for the option to add a note if you register on the calendar.

Keep an eye on this thread for the latest updates.
-Ben

Contact Richard Lillard at adat@tralaz.org for information about TRAL's Adopt a Trail (ADAT) program.
Contact me via PM or tral.bene@gmail.com if you are interested in receiving training to inspect the trails in Tonto National Forest, offered through the ADAT program.

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BrianR
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Re: THIS SAT 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by BrianR » Thu May 16, 2019 4:23 pm

Ben, I’ll meet you up at the trail head. I’ll be at the first
dirt road off the pavement, typical air-down spot.
Brian,
90 4Runner

jlabr2
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Re: THIS SAT 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by jlabr2 » Thu May 16, 2019 5:07 pm

I will meet you at the Bush Hwy overpass.
Jeff Labertew - Jeep JK
Old retired Iowa dirt farmer.

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-Spike-
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Re: THIS SAT 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by -Spike- » Thu May 16, 2019 5:55 pm

10-4
-Ben

Contact Richard Lillard at adat@tralaz.org for information about TRAL's Adopt a Trail (ADAT) program.
Contact me via PM or tral.bene@gmail.com if you are interested in receiving training to inspect the trails in Tonto National Forest, offered through the ADAT program.

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RichardLillard1
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Re: THIS SAT 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by RichardLillard1 » Sun May 19, 2019 11:05 am

This was a somewhat long day, but still had a good time and got a lot done.

Chad from the Mesa district rode along, I picked up him up at the ranger station and stopped by Goldfield on the way out to pick up a chainsaw. When we got there, while airing down, having our usual safety talk, and getting everything ready, we discovered a group coming in from the highway. A group of 32 Jeeps! :eek:

We let them know what we would be up to, they suggested we get in ahead of them and we were okay with this, so started our way down the trail. They intended to run counter clockwise, so we altered our plan to fit that, in an effort to prevent a bigger traffic jam on the trail.

Did the usual maintenance stuff, documented what we saw and got potential hazards out of the way. All in a good day’s work!

This low hanging tree was bound to cause some problems eventually so rather than wait for it to cause an issue, we decided to head it off at the pass.
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Better!
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Started off making good time throughout 201A, but we could see members of the large group in the distance.
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RichardLillard1
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Re: THIS SAT 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by RichardLillard1 » Sun May 19, 2019 11:20 am

Then we got into the bushier sections. A lot of the dead and fire-damaged trees had suffered damage, likely from the amount of snow which fell on them towards the beginning of the year’s SNOWPOCALYPSE. Thankfully many of these weren’t in the trail or posing any kind of danger, so we moved on, making notes that further work should be done in the fall, including more sawyers from Forest than just Chad, to work a larger area and get more done. Specifically, the section of 201A climbing up towards 3721, in a burned area from the fire.

We did have one tree which needed attention out of the burn area, a pinyon pine which, at first glance looked to just need some brushing, but upon closer inspection had uprooted and needed to be removed. So out came the chainsaw.

As Chad prepped, we kept well clear to let him work.
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He went up to the base of the tree, made a couple quick cuts and down it came.
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Now in the middle of the trail, but too big to handle, he cut it into more manageable pieces before we moved in to clear it from the tread way.
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All clear.
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The uprooted stump.
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RichardLillard1
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Re: THIS SAT 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by RichardLillard1 » Sun May 19, 2019 11:31 am

We continued on, playing on the rocky climb before the top.
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By this point, the large group had caught up to us and, after some discussion with Chad and over the radio, we decided because they were making good enough time for such a large group and because the signs at the 3721/201A junction needed tending, to let them pass us and start their way down to 25A.

Cleaned up the signage in the area a bit and Chad, who didn’t want to slow either group down by waiting on him doing cutting work, decided to hike his way down 3721 in search of any other trees which might need to be removed.

This seemed like a solid plan, as part of the large group passed by him while on foot, he cut a couple trees and we waited around at the top, fixing the signage and chatting a bit with various members of the group to let them know more about TRAL and what we do. Handed out a bunch of brochures and were overall pretty well received, which was very encouraging.

Things were going pretty well, we let the last of the group pass by us while we also did a little brushing.

Then we hit a hiccup...

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RichardLillard1
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Re: 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by RichardLillard1 » Sun May 19, 2019 12:56 pm

Okay, so I’m about to get a little opinionated here.

We’ve always made it a point of mentioning in our tailgate safety talks that the most dangerous thing we would do at every event is operating the vehicle. Indeed, it’s a piece of heavy machinery in its own right and should be treated with caution and respect. I feel like I cannot stress this enough as mishaps can and do happen from time to time and how a situation is handled before it gets out of hand is paramount, which is why we encourage keeping this in mind. Knowing when to call out for a spot and what that means often goes a long way towards preventing things from becoming unmanageable. Moreover, it’s not a competition; a driver’s experience and comfort levels, as well as those of the passengers of any vehicle may vary from those of your own but the bottom line should be safe and responsible actions which are absolutely necessary and that’s why it’s in our mission statement.

Without trying to negatively criticize the group yesterday (nothing I say here is meant that way), when someone without a lot of experience got into a situation in which they felt uncomfortable, they didn’t know to call out for a spot, panicked and the situation only got worse as a result. I am of the opinion that this was due to a lack of communication about the terrain they would be covering and not going over how to handle a situation where someone would be in need of assistance. No one was hurt, so I hope this serves as a learning experience for everyone involved yesterday, including those present from TRAL.

The downhill section of 3721 which has a lot of erosion is typically a section of the trail which requires a lot of spotter/driver interaction unless the experience level of the driver is such that they feel confident in driving without assistance. A lot of the time it can be run while getting some great poser shots and without any mishaps and a spotter certainly helps quell any feelings of uneasiness, like these pictures from past trips of ours to the area show.
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As one of the guys in the group yesterday went down this section, they got into a position where they did not feel comfortable. Their lack of experience with this sort of situation threw them into a panic and despite Chad offering a spot, did not know how to handle the situation and wanted out of their vehicle. Both the driver and passenger hopped out and, in their haste, the vehicle was left in gear, allowing it to continue down the trail uncontrolled until the passenger side fell into a deeper spot and the vehicle went onto its side.

Again, no one was hurt, but this could have played out much differently. Chad immediately asked one of the guys in the Jeep group to switch to channel 4 on their CB to contact our group, which was sitting at the top, and asked us to get down there. This was what we pulled up to:
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With this many people and their trail leader already at the bottom of the canyon on 25A, there was initially a lack of coordination with getting the Jeep back up onto its wheels, which was merely one step of many necessary to get through this situation. As we showed up and offered assistance, Ben, Brian, and Brent were put in charge of communication and coordination of the winch operations while members of the club coordinated the use of hi-lift jacks and putting someone into the driver’s seat of the stricken Jeep to apply brakes and operate steering, preventing it from becoming a free weight once upright. While Chad and myself spoke with the owners of the vehicle to work on a plan for getting them and their Jeep off the trail safely (whether it would start or not had yet to be determined) as well as other miscellaneous sundries necessary to the recovery operation. This took about three hours.

Once the Jeep was upright, it wouldn’t turn over, so the multitude of vehicles were shuffled around to make room at a wide spot at the top of the hill to bring it up there until Joe Osuch could come to pick it up.
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The whole process took about four hours, and despite any negatives of the situation there was no one injured aside from some bruised egos. Indeed, this could have been much worse and all things considered this was the best outcome given what had happened.
Last edited by RichardLillard1 on Tue May 21, 2019 8:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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RichardLillard1
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Re: 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by RichardLillard1 » Sun May 19, 2019 1:34 pm

25A follows largely through the base of McFarland canyon in the eastern side of the Mazatal Mountains. Its tread way twisting in and out of the rocky bed of the West Fork of Deer Creek which feeds into the larger Sycamore Creek to the south. A picturesque riparian area gives visitors an otherworldly experience compared to the surrounding desert of other popular trails as they traverse its unforgiving terrain which is constantly sculpted in different ways by the flowing creek and its numerous nearby springs. Several remnants of the National and Cornucopia mines dot the landscape and offer a stark contrast from the natural features, making it a diverse destination for a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts who want to enjoy its plethora of offerings.

This also means that it’s pretty narrow. With 31 Jeeps and four trucks from TRAL, trying to find a lunch spot was a bit of a challenge. Took some time, but we found a nice little spot.
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While we had lunch, the bulk of the larger group decided to turn back, not wanting to negotiate the rocks, while a few of them repositioned to make their way out 25A.

Leaving lunch, Brent and I decided to go ahead, through the rock gardens, then waited at the turn off for the National Mine for Ben and Brian who were playing around with shocks and tires.
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It was getting a little late by this point, but we decided to fix a couple more signs in one spot, got some pictures of the landscape with the lowering sun, then fooled around a little.
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So immature. :hillbilly:
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azrich
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Re: 5-18-19 ADAT Sunflower inspection run

Post by azrich » Wed May 22, 2019 6:55 am

Wow, quite the day you guys had! It was good that you had so many years of experience in the group to be able to help out those who had trouble. Like you point out, it's incidents like this that reinforce our focus on safety and how important our safety talks for every event are.

Good day's work too! It's so awesome to see the cooperative effort between TRAL and the forest!
There is a fine line between hobby and mental illness. - Dave Barry

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