June 28, 2016

Rockin' the Castle

I remember the first Earth Day. I was just a kid, but I helped haul trash out of the marshy woodland near our school, former cranberry bogs gone native. I was inspired to haul more trash out of the wooded area near my home, too.

Spend any time on the road, especially on a bicycle, and the popular dumping grounds become all too familiar. In the local neighborhood, it's small scale: cigarette butts, fast-food wrappings, bottles and cans. Get out of town, though, and there is so much more. I think of one area along Sierra Road as “The Valley of the Appliances:” washers, dryers, you name it.

I can only wonder how it all got there. I mean, if you're hauling it in the first place, why don't you just haul it to the dump? [Yes, I know. Because then you'd have to pay a disposal fee.]

My assignment today was to lead a group of colleagues for a few workday hours in the wild: Hard labor in Castle Rock State Park, on behalf of the Portola and Castle Rock Foundation.

Hypericum calycinum, Castle Rock State Park, Los Gatos, California
One group would stay in the parking lot and repaint the trim on the entrance kiosk. Light duty.

Another group would hike to the Castle Rock Falls overlook and paint the railing. Beautiful view.

The third, and largest, contingent was needed to haul junk out of the creek in a not-yet-opened section of the park.

Guess which group I joined? [Hint: I'm not much for painting.]

This new tract was formerly a Christmas tree farm. Oh, the allure of exploring non-public territory, legally!

Old growth Douglas fir, Castle Rock State Park, Los Gatos, California
Down the hill we tromped, past the stumps of logged redwoods and one particularly massive Douglas fir. Old growth.

Of course we went down the hill, because that's where you find a creek. [And poison oak. Though I managed to emerge unscathed.]

Down means we'd be hauling the junk back up the hill. Cardio workout!

Four teammates hauling a tarp loaded with junk up the trail, Castle Rock State Park, Los Gatos, California
Tires. There are always tires. That's easy to understand; they roll.

Pipes, tubes, rusted wire mesh, fence posts, orange plastic netting, a traffic cone. Three lengths of narrow PVC piping encasing three heavy-gauge insulated wires. A sealed bucket full of white paint.

Really, what is all this stuff? And why is it here?

The grand prize was an unwieldy corrugated metal panel, as big as a garage door, but heavier. Down an embankment. (Of course.)

I love engineers. How best to move that behemoth called for brains as well as brawn. Pipes and shovels were pressed into service as levers, and with coordinated effort (and coordinated grunting), the panel was heaved up the hill. About six inches at a time. More importantly, no one got hurt!

Someday I'll hike along these same trails, and I will see what others cannot: The ghost of Christmases past.

Pile of junk hauled up from the creek, Castle Rock State Park, Los Gatos, California

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