Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

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friendofThundergod
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by friendofThundergod » May 12 2020 11:29 am

I was finally able to talk to someone at the Alpine station today. I am cautiously optimistic they do have an eye towards improving the trails out there, however, I was a little disheartened to learn that it is against the rule for private parties to clear the trail, even with hand tools.

I have attached a map of what they cleared last year. It’s pretty self explanatory and promising. I agree with their assessments of Foote Creek being impassable after P-Bar Lake and Long C Trail being deemed impassable as well. Long Cienega is one of the final two or three trails that I have not done out there and I am dreading it. The map is consistent with my earlier post regarding what area I think they should focus on, so that is promising. Clearing Grant Creek and the shortcut Trail should be done every year IMO. Their map also provides an interesting snap shot of trail maintenance in that area last year.

Katie and I got a dog sitter and are heading out there for a 5 day backpack next week. I hope to incorporate some of these newly cleared trails into our itinerary. In particular, I want to see that upper portion of Steeple and the KP Rim Trail.
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wildwesthikes
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by wildwesthikes » May 14 2020 7:34 am

@friendofThundergod
Looks like Steeple Creek route is decent to the blue river and back? I see it on yours but not noted as cleared on the the recent cleared USFS map... Assuming they've erased the white-board of sections already cleared in years past or something. As long as it's not a painfully slow bushwhack I can hack it.

It's looking like a good option is to head down from Hannagan Meadow along Grant.
Then connect with the river, follow river/FR 281 south.
Head back up via Steeple.
Looks like a comfortable 3 day or long 2 day trip.
Already aware of private parcels in the river zone so will avoid camping near them.

Then will use that as a corridor for deeper exploration following the blue river shortly after monsoon is over.
Weather/foliage, I'm guessing rim-like ponderosa forest at the top & warm P/J transition zone-ish in the basin (?)

Thanks again.

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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by friendofThundergod » May 14 2020 8:46 am

@wildwesthikes

They cleared the top of Steeple, which is pretty scenic and nice. The lower portions and the section across KP Mesa will be fine. That is a highway with a burnt forest around it. [ photo ]

Upper portion of Steeple
[ photo ]

Also if you take a look at the key on the map, they used a system of high lights to signify trails cleared going back to 2017. Take a close look at key.

In regards to camping along the Blue, yes there is some private property, however, I just DL camped near the Blue Box. I am not sure if it was private property, but it was a concealed location and no signs to indicate no camping.

We are doing a 55 ish mile five day loop. Down Grant, up Largo, past Dutch Oven, Bear Mountain, Bear Valley, Gov. Mesa to Blue, up Blue to Steeple, across moonshine park back to Grant..

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wildwesthikes
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by wildwesthikes » May 14 2020 8:59 am

@friendofThundergod
Yeah looks totally fine to me. Very similar to the Gila Wilderness.

Enjoy your trip!

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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by friendofThundergod » May 14 2020 9:30 am

@wildwesthikes
So I can confirm Steeple will be good to intersection with KP Rim and good from river up to intersection with KP Trail #70. I just can´t account for that middle portion, which is not too many miles, but could be completely obliterated too. We may commit to that section as a finish, so will have info on entire length of trail, if we do that. I will let you know.

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nonot
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by nonot » May 14 2020 9:45 am

friendofThundergod wrote:I was a little disheartened to learn that it is against the rule for private parties to clear the trail, even with hand tools.
Did they happen to clarify which "rule" prohibits this? I would think that if the government refuses to do maintenance they cannot prohibit citizens from picking up their slack...
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by chumley » May 14 2020 10:03 am

@nonot
There's probably some kind of liability issue. Also, there is a right way and a wrong way to do trail maintenance (ask @sredfield!). I know in Sedona they have cited/prosecuted people who have constructed new trails. I don't know what the law that was in violation of, but it might be the same one that applies for maintenance work.
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nonot
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by nonot » May 14 2020 10:50 am

chumley wrote:
May 14 2020 10:03 am
@nonot
There's probably some kind of liability issue. Also, there is a right way and a wrong way to do trail maintenance (ask @sredfield!). I know in Sedona they have cited/prosecuted people who have constructed new trails. I don't know what the law that was in violation of, but it might be the same one that applies for maintenance work.

I would be interested in even one hypothetical example of how it is even possible to do trail maintenance "wrong". I have also sent Shaun a message asking him that per your suggestion.
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by chumley » May 14 2020 10:58 am

@nonot
A very quick lmgtfy came up with this one. I suspect there are a few others.
https://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfpubs/ ... 6dpi72.pdf
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by wildwesthikes » May 14 2020 11:18 am

@nonot
It's covered under 36 CFR § 261.10 - Occupancy and use.

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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by wildwesthikes » May 14 2020 11:34 am

nonot wrote:I would think that if the government refuses to do maintenance they cannot prohibit citizens from picking up their slack...
I believe that would fall under the, "if they're not doing maintenance, then there also won't be anyone official out there to catch you" clause that I made up just now.

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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by friendofThundergod » May 14 2020 12:11 pm

I am still not entirely sure he knew I meant with hand tools and not a chainsaw, but the ranger said it disrupts the natural setting, or something to that extent. He said he knows the downfall can get annoying, but said to just be patient with their trail clearing crews.

I can´t imagine an informal clearing or trimming back of a trail in spots is going to attract too much attention, but I guess some sort of organized group doing it on their own is probably going to be frowned upon, walking by a ranger with an assortment of saws, picks and axes probably not a good idea either...

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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by nonot » May 14 2020 12:48 pm

@chumley
This is mostly a guide for trail construction, and even within the first few pages, it even says there isn't a wrong way to do it, but that there may be better techniques you can use. The only significant discussion on maintenance is how far to clear the trail of brush past the edge of the trail, and that there is no rule for this distance. There is some discussion on trail tread restoral that goes beyond what I consider maintenance, into restoral, but I could see some lumping it under the term mainteannce.

The rest is just warnings not to chop off your foot using an axe and the assorted safety recommendations.

I still see no example of a "wrong way" to do maintenance.
http://hikearizona.com/garmin_maps.php

Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, ankle-twisting, HAZmaster crushing ROCKS!!
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by nonot » May 14 2020 12:55 pm

@wildwesthikes
Thanks for the reference. However, the rule says it illegal to do without a special-authorization. As I understand it, FOTG went to request such an authorization. Yet he was denied with a statement that citizens are not allowed to do trail maintenance.

So perhaps the ranger didn't understand he was requesting the authorization to do trail maintenance, or else FOTG wasn't clear he was requesting one. It seems perfectly legal for any hiker on HAZ to do trail maintenance once they obtain authorization from the Forest Service.
http://hikearizona.com/garmin_maps.php

Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, ankle-twisting, HAZmaster crushing ROCKS!!
Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, shin-stabbing, skin-shredding plants!
Hike Arizona it is full of striking, biting, stabbing, venomous wildlife!

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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by chumley » May 14 2020 1:04 pm

Well there are clear guidelines for trimming brush. For example, don't just trim to the width of the trail, but instead trim back to the trunk, or remove the encroaching brush altogether. Would it hurt if you went in with clippers and made the equivalent of a hedge-trimmer cut on either side of the trail? Probably not. But somebody else will have to go back and do it right sometime again.

It also suggests that when resources are scarce and you can only put a little bit of effort in to make sure you trim on the uphill side of a trail. This seems to be something that if somebody does it "wrong" could encourage travel on the downhill side of a trail, thereby eroding the tread and subsequently damaging, or destroying the trail over time.

I think many experienced hikers that visit Arizona's lesser used trails have carried clippers and done some light maintenance along the way (I sure have). But I have also learned that I've trimmed in ways that will just cause more growth for the next year, in ways that are not aesthetically pleasing, and I have redirected the path through a less-overgrown area that deviates from actual tread with results that I'm not qualified to understand the effects of. And that's with nothing bigger than a set of loppers!

There's a fine line somewhere in there. I'm not sure where it is, but I'm sure I've crossed it before. I don't think knowing more about trail maintenance before heading out there is bad thing.

Perhaps instead of saying there might be a "wrong" way to do it I should have said there are established "best practices" for maintenance that one should learn and follow if they are going to try to help out on their own.
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by outdoor_lover » May 14 2020 1:09 pm

People trim all the time and they even mention that they do it. Just sayin'.....
With that said, I imagine that if there is an "organization" or "club" that wants to do trail maintenance, the FS would most likely approve it. I know of at least a couple of "Clubs" that go out and maintain stuff in the Supes and since it's well publicized, I'm sure that the FS is aware of it. The FS gave us permission to go out and do Graffiti Clean-Up, so I'm sure they would feel the same about maintenance, if someone was to go through the proper channels and make it an event type thing for a group.
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by DixieFlyer » May 14 2020 2:14 pm

outdoor_lover wrote:
May 14 2020 1:09 pm
P I imagine that if there is an "organization" or "club" that wants to do trail maintenance, the FS would most likely approve it. I know of at least a couple of "Clubs" that go out and maintain stuff in the Supes and since it's well publicized, I'm sure that the FS is aware of it.
There is a board(or at least there used to be a board) at both the First Water and Peralta TH's that listed the names of the trails and the hiking clubs/groups that had volunteered to maintain the trails. Back in 2016 I volunteered to help a hiking meetup group maintain a trail (the Dutchman Trail I think) at the Peralta TH. The forest service provided loppers and saws
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by SuperstitionGuy » May 14 2020 4:44 pm

Back in the 80's I would visit the Mesa office and show them pictures I had taken of illegal prospecting/mining in the Sups. I was never turned down for a revisit of the sites to clean it up. I mostly did this solo but occasionally would take a small group of Scouts to help me. No paper work was involved including the work we did on the Reavis ranch house after the fire. We shoveled out the interior which consisted of ash, sand (from the plastered walls), nails, electrical wiring, plumbing, metal ceiling tiles and the metal roof which was two layers thick offset with 2 by 10's. You could walk in the building and still see the standing walls and fireplace. Of course in those days the U.S. Forest Service was staffed by old timers that had common sense and a good relationship with the community. Now days they are all young kids that went to college and had their brains filled with save the world crap. May God help us..... :M2C:
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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by Sredfield » May 14 2020 9:46 pm

Since someone asked.

The liability is a huge issue, there are policies and procedures to follow, none of which are convenient and most that seem like overkill, but all created for reasons, mostly because the FS is seen as the deep pockets to sue over anything. Drop a tree on someone—there’s a Ranger District’s budget for a year, not to mention the staff time that will be devoted to it for years. Bury an axe in your leg, big time lawsuit—the FS didn’t warn/train/rescue me. And it doesn’t have to be you bringing the lawsuit, more than likely it would be your insurance company when the medical costs rise.

Remember that the staff people don’t know you from the rest of the newbies out there now. Spend some time with them, show up on their volunteer events, build the relationship, then seek permission to go it alone. They desperately need the help, but they must be cautious. All that takes time, and a lot of relationship building. Working folks probably don’t have the time for this.

But I often think of what someone from Volunteers for Outdoor AZ said about volunteering-“Do you want to be part of the audience or part of the cast?” There are huge opportunities to really change up your involvement in the outdoors and public lands, but it’s a process.

And there is indeed the right way, ok way and wrong way to do most anything, trail maintenance included. Brush trimming has been covered—one thing we see is people cutting the tips off brush and leaving it in the trail. No big deal until someone trips over it. Another is leaving a stub sticking up because they don’t bend down to cut it at the fork or ground level. This is ugly and a danger if someone falls on it.

My pet peeve-tiny drains! Well-meaning folks take picks and McLeods out and dig a ditch across the trail, maybe a few inches wide, thinking this will drain the water off. It won’t last beyond the first couple rains. Drains should extend along the trail for 10-12 feet, the bottom of them should be at least a foot below the downhill side, should extend diagonally across the whole width of the trail, and be a smooth transition when traveled linearly along the trail. This takes a bunch of work, no less than 30 minutes in soft soil, longer when things are dry, rocky or packed.

It takes several days of formal training to be authorized to run a saw—chain saw or cross cut--on the forest for trail work. I believe this applies to anything over 4 inches diameter. A big part of that training is instilling or acquiring a safety sense. We’ve cut some huge logs that could have killed someone if they got loose.

I know and work with many dedicated FS and BLM staff; I have seldom gotten the sense that there is a “conspiracy” or “agenda” to limit, cover up, or influence anything. Most are as frustrated by the bureaucracy as the rest of us. They are trying to do their job despite it, with shrinking resources, and most do great work. Case in point: today State Parks approved $214k for trail work in the Payson Ranger District, the culmination of well over three year’s of bureaucratic processes. The bad news—this will address a drop in the bucket of the pent-up need for maintenance and development work that the trails need.

Like most things government, public land management is complicated-anyone who boils it down to a sound bite doesn’t understand.

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Re: Blue Range Primitive Area - Linking Dutch Blue Creek with Bear Mtn

Post by friendofThundergod » Jul 20 2020 12:13 pm

After another trip to the Blue Range, I can say the trail situation is much better than my post several weeks ago. In fact, the FS has been pretty busy out there and it is evident. As reported earlier in an earlier triplog, the trail to Blue Peak is now clear and kind of a pleasant hike now. KP rim was definitely cleared recently, Steeple and the trailheads have been updated with new signage and informative boards. I encountered similar promising conditions on all of the trails I hiked during a 65 mile backpack [ photoset ] there at the end of May. There is still a lot of work to be done and I would like to see even more trails cleared of course, but I do think the FS has made some great progress on the trails out there recently. I am also continually amazed at the immaculate condition of the trailhead restrooms FWIW.

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