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November – December 2021 Newsletter

Ridge Route Update

With winter coming, we will be shutting down our CUTRR projects until March or April 2022, depending on how winter goes. Planning gets to be a bit more difficult when dodging rain and snow storms. Those same storms also bring additional hazards to the historic roadway. To ensure both yourself and the roadway stay as safe as possible, please do not travel the roadway during or just after a heavy rain or snow storm. Mud, rocks, and other debris may be present on the roadway blocking the roadway. The concrete paving is also most vulnerable during this period and can be easier to break with a wet base. We can all do our part to help keep the roadway safe.

Overall, the roadway is in decent shape with some major exceptions. Those exceptions are a part of our CUTRR goals and what we intend to get the USFS to repair as needed. The gates at both ends remain closed and as always, if you see them open DO NOT expect them to remain open for the duration of your visit. USFS, utility companies, and other groups with access may close the gates behind them.

We are working with the USFS to “upgrade” our relationship with them as well as get approvals to use heavier equipment, such as skid-steers and scrapers. Using them will allow us to clear the roadway a lot easier and with greater speed while still ensuring the historic roadway remains intact. Our last two events have mostly used hand tools, which we still will use for smaller projects and to clear brush as needed. I do wish to thank ALL that have contributed to the success of these events, in any way they have contributed. Some have done so financially, others brought tools, many others have been helping swing picks and clear debris. We couldn’t, nor could we continue, to do this without all your efforts. Thank you Ridge Route volunteers!

October 23, 2021 CUTRR Event Report

CUTRR crew hard at work

We had another successful CUTRR event on the 23rd. We set the date later in October with the hopes the weather would be cooler and the fire danger would have subsided. We got that and more. It rained a bit the night before, but not enough to cancel or cause a problem. It rained / drizzled yet more when we all met in Gorman. However, when we got to the work site, the weather was near perfect.

The work was hampered a fair amount due to the lack of heavier equipment. Should we do this again without skid-steer/bobcat-type equipment, we intend to use powered tools, such as jackhammers and the like to break up and remove the debris from the roadway. We hadn’t really used such equipment in the past and I hadn’t considered it before as a result.

Despite using just hand tools, we made really good progress, thanks to our volunteers. The drain was cleared, channels were dug to help direct the water better, and a decent amount of material was removed to help prevent this from getting worse. Repairs to the drainage culvert will be necessary in the near future, however, as it is starting to rust and develop holes.

Finished for the day.

If you’d like to help plan the next CUTRR event, let us know! We can use the help.

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Reporting Problems on the Ridge Route

With all the recent fire activity as well as other events such as January 26 when big rigs tried to travel the Ridge Route, we thought it was a good idea to have a place to report things. If you see something wrong on the Ridge Route, be it a developing washout, large vehicles traversing the roadway, or things out-of-the-ordinary, we have have set up a web page to help you report things on the road. We will pass the information along to the appropriate agencies as needed.

To Report Problems or other issues on the Ridge Route, please use the website below. The web page is also located under our “Current Roadway Conditions” page in the menu.

Featured Photo

Ridge Route in Castaic with Castaic Dam in the right background. Courtesy – Michael F Ballard

This month’s featured photo shows a section of the Ridge Route which seems insignificant, but contains a great deal of history. It was taken on Castaic Lake Drive just north of the Castaic Lagoon entrance. This location marks the end of the 1915-1917 Saugus to Castaic paving, the 1922 widening of the 1917 paving (the small strip of concrete at the edge of the roadway), the beginning of the “true” Ridge Route 20′ wide paving, the first curve on the Ridge Route, and the former junction with Elizabeth Lake Canyon Road (now Lake Hughes Road). Come check out this unique piece of Ridge Route history next time you visit Castaic or Castaic Lake.

Report a Problem

With all the recent activity as well as other events such as January 26 when big rigs tried to travel the Ridge Route, we thought it was a good idea to have a place to report things. If you see something wrong on the Ridge Route, be it a developing washout, large vehicles traversing the roadway, or things out-of-the-ordinary, we have have set up a web page to help you report things on the road. We will pass the information along to the appropriate agencies as needed.

To Report Problems or other issues on the Ridge Route, please use the website below. The web page is also located under our “Current Roadway Conditions” page in the menu.

#EmigrantFire Update

As of 1615 on September 17, the fire is at 220 acres and 5% contained per USFS. Some good news to report however. The fire appears to be focused only on the ridge between West Fork Liebre Gulch and Liebre Gulch. This ridge heads NNE toward Bald Mountain near Sandberg. While not a large distance away from the Ridge Route (average about 1.25 miles), it is enough to keep the Ridge Route safe for now. Winds have so far carried the fire only along that ridge. Our Twitter account has been a great resource for information during events like these. The feed can also be seen on the right-hand side of our website, for desktop users.

Fires like this show that we need to continue to keep the Ridge Route in good condition. Working with the USFS and other agencies as we have, we can make sure the road is in good repair not only for its preservation, but to assist with fire suppression along the roadway. Activities such as our CUTRR events go a long ways toward that goal. In August, we removed a major rockslide which could have hampered crews. Next month we will remove or at least mitigate debris on the roadway which makes travel more difficult. We need your support in this effort. Last month, we had 15 enthusiastic volunteers. You can RSVP for our October 23 event and help us continue these efforts.

Another Fire near the Ridge Route

It appears yet another fire has begun near the Ridge Route. This time, closer to Reservoir Summit along I-5 at the Vista Del Lago exit. It is moving east and is, at this time, still out-of-control. The #EmigrantFire has the potential to burn the area along the Ridge Route between Reservoir Summit and Kelly’s Halfway Inn. We are hoping this fire doesn’t do any of that for many reasons. A “worst case” scenario for this fire would bring it into Liebre Gulch, which the Ridge Route runs alongside from Reservoir Summit to Sandberg.

Our Twitter account, @ridgeroute99, and our website will again be kept updated as this fire progresses.

#RouteFire Update – 9/13/2021

Things have calmed down quite a bit on the Ridge Route, thanks to the efforts of the fire crews working the #RouteFire. The old Ridge Route was unharmed and was well away from the fire. Per USFS, it appears the reports of trucks once again traveling the Ridge Route were likely people spotting fire crews taking the roadway. They did not get any reports of heavy traffic over the roadway either during the I-5 closure. This is good news. While we do not know if the gates were open before the fire, it looks like efforts by the USFS, County of Los Angeles, and Caltrans to block the roadway through other means during the forest closure were fruitful.

I do wish to reiterate that the Ridge Route, regardless of closure, is not an alternative to I-5. Heavy vehicles should not be traversing the roadway at any time as they can and do damage the historic roadway.

If you see vehicles that should not be on the roadway, such as big rigs and similar commercial traffic, please let us know and we will inform the proper authorities. Make sure to give us where you saw them, what direction, and any description of the vehicle so we can give the best information possible.

Thank you all again for your support f0r the roadway and our organization. We look forward to seeing many of you out there on October 23, 2021 for our next CUTRR event, contingent on the forest closure or other conditions. Should be a lot of fun!