September – October 2021 Newsletter

August CUTRR Event

On Saturday, August 28, we held our first 2021 CUTRR event. Each event has a section of roadway to focus on and this one was to remove a large rockslide that occurred in January 2021 below Swede’s Cut. The event was advertised on our website and on our social media accounts. It was a huge success! We had a much larger group than I had expected and we completed our task. The rockslide has been removed and the roadway is clear!

The slide, as it was in February 2021 and what we had to clear.

The big boulder visible took a lot of work to deal with. At first, we worked to break up the boulder, which slowly chipped away at its bulk. We had hoped to break it down yet further but reached a point it was too difficult given our tools and the heat. We decided the best course of action was to move it across the roadway and off the pavement. Between a truck and a jeep with tow straps, we were able to finally drag it off the roadway with minimal damage to the historic pavement below. Eventually, we hope to completely remove the large boulder either by further breaking it up or removing it in its entirety to another location.

Crew at work clearing the slide. Moving the big boulder took some time.
Fossil leaves from the upper Miocene Ridge Route Formation. Found in the slide material.
Almost done clearing the debris. The big boulder is now moved across the road and out of the way.
Roadway cleared and swept.

I want to thank ALL the volunteers that were able to attend. It was really a great and enthusiastic group. We could not have done this without all of you!

A video of the event was also posted on YouTube by one of the participants, Sydney Croasmun.

An additional video with aerial footage was posted by Huck Outdoors.

October CUTRR

We are planning another CUTRR event in October when temperatures will hopefully be cooler, however at this time we do not have a date set. We will be developing a better list for tools similar to a “potluck” for signups. Look for updates coming in the near future. If you would like additional information, have tools or equipment you’d like to offer for use, please let us know!

Roadway Update

The roadway is overall in decent condition but many problematic sections still exist. The northern end from the Liebre Maintenance Camp site to Sandberg has a few larger dirt-covered sections and areas where the culverts are partially clogged. Some sections of 1924-1927 asphalt are also failing. We intend to get work parties up there to rehabilitate the failing asphalt and remove the material on the roadway in the near future.

The roadway does remain closed between the Tumble Inn and just north of Templin Highway. While the gates have been left open, usually by the utility companies working along the road, anyone traveling up there should expect the gates to be locked. If one is unlocked, don’t expect the other to be as well. Please exercise caution along the roadway. We all want to keep the roadway around for the future and everyone can help do their part in ensuring that.

Forest Closure

All National Forests are closed from August 31, 2021 to September 17, 2021 per a recent USFS press release. This includes access to the Ridge Route from Templin Highway to State 138. For detailed information, please see the link below.

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Featured Photo

Curbing just north of Martins

Concrete curbing used to be much more common along the Ridge Route. It was used in places where wooden railing was more difficult to install. As the roadway was realigned, the curbing was removed. Today, very little remains of what once was miles of it. Only four short sections remain today. Those are located at the Callahan Line Change, just north of Martins, Serpentine Drive, and Grapevine.

August 28 CUTRR Event

After many delays and other issues, we will finally be hosting our first Clean Up The Ridge Route (CUTRR) event on Saturday, August 28, 2021. We will be meeting in Castaic in the parking lot of Mike’s Original Diner (31537 Castaic Rd, Castaic, CA 91384) at 8 am and leaving by 8:30 am to the work site. It may be hot, so bring plenty of water and food. Please make sure to carpool as we want to reduce the number of vehicles on the roadway. This CUTRR will concentrate on the large rockslide south of Swede’s Cut and, if there is enough time, Swede’s Cut itself. We will need tools such as picks, shovels, rakes, pruning saw, pole pruner, mattocks, clippers, wheelbarrows, brooms, and a vehicle to haul away materials to our designated disposal site at Reservoir Summit.

Contact us for additional details or if you’d like to RSVP for the event. We look forward to seeing you out there! Let’s get the road cleared!

Ridge Route Meeting

Let’s talk! On Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at 1800 (6 pm), I will be hosting an open meeting via Zoom on the Ridge Route. We will discuss the current status of the roadway, our plans for roadwork, and answer any questions you might have about the roadway.

If you have questions about our upcoming CUTRR event, this would be a good time to do so. Looking forward to seeing you all at the meeting! Make sure to register ahead of time. There is much to discuss now that we can hold in-person events again.

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUuc-mtrz8tGNUd_qJrOcU_AyFq80p9XWZd

July-August 2021 Newsletter

The Grapevine or The Ridge Route?
by Michael F Ballard

The Grapevine. Courtesy – Caltrans

I-5 is commonly referred to as “The Grapevine” by locals and traffic reporters. Most assume the name derives from the twisty nature of the original roadway – the Ridge Route. That road was indeed very twisty, much like a grapevine. However, that is still not the reason. The name Grapevine actually comes from Grapevine Canyon, where old US 99 and I-5 come down from the mountains and into the San Joaquin Valley. The canyon is called such as wild grapes grow along the canyon walls. It was formerly known as Canada De Las Uvas which is Spanish for Canyon of the Grapes. The name Tejon Pass is also a “new” addition to the area. The current Tejon Pass was known as Grapevine Pass or Badger Pass until the 1850’s. Old Tejon Pass, much farther to the east, was a very treacherous route. That pass was eventually abandoned in favor of the current Tejon Pass. The name was just shifted to the new route.

After the 1933 bypass of the original road to as late as the 1970’s, the roadway over the mountains was still referred to as “The Ridge Route”. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the name “The Grapevine” was extended to the entire roadway. Why this was done is still unclear. Even Caltrans called it the “Ridge Route” when I-5 was completed. So, if you want to call it proper – call it Tejon Pass, when being specific to the actual pass, and the Ridge Route when referring to I-5 from Castaic to Grapevine. While you’re passing through Grapevine Canyon, be sure to spot the wild grapevines that still grow in the canyon. Names may change, but the name Ridge Route should live on. It applies to I-5 better than “The Grapevine” ever will.

Events

After many delays and other issues, we will finally be hosting our first Clean Up The Ridge Route (CUTRR) event on Saturday, August 28, 2021. We will be meeting in Castaic in the parking lot of Mike’s Original Diner at 8 am and leaving by 8:30 am to the work site. It may be hot, so bring plenty of water and food. Please make sure to carpool as we want to reduce the number of vehicles on the roadway. This CUTRR will concentrate on the large rockslide south of Swede’s Cut and, if there is enough time, Swede’s Cut itself. We will need tools such as picks, shovels, rakes, pruning saw, pole pruner, mattocks, clippers, wheelbarrows, brooms, and a vehicle to haul away materials to our designated disposal site at Reservoir Summit.

Membership is required to attend due to USFS volunteer requirements and you must RSVP prior to the event. If you just need a one-day membership, you can get one for $10 using our online form or via the mail by check.

Contact us for additional details or if you’d like to RSVP for the event. We look forward to seeing you out there! Let’s get the road cleared!

Roadway Update

We have been getting many reports lately that the roadway is open at both ends. This may well be the case, but please understand, this is not the standard position as yet. It is likely the utility companies have been leaving the gates open instead of closing them after they pass through. This does indeed create a problem where people can get stuck between the gates. Both gates have writing on them attesting to this.

We are working to get them open on a more permanent basis but it will take a while. There are issues with the roadway which do need to be dealt with before even the RRPO wants the roadway open. There are numerous places where the reinforcing bar in the concrete is exposed, potholes in the asphalt that are getting worse, and many other problems that can cause more damage when traversing the roadway. Please remember, we are here to help preserve and protect the roadway. Travel over it is also a goal but not at the cost of the roadway itself. Now that we are getting CUTRR events going again, we may well see improvements to the roadway quality. Why not join us and help protect the roadway we all enjoy?

Featured Photo

Looking north from the Ridge Route near the National Forest Inn. Courtesy – Michael F Ballard

The Ridge Route is well known for its views. Wide expanses of open land, mountains, and canyons as far as the eye can see. One of my favorite viewpoints is just south of the National Forest Inn looking northerly. From there, you can see all the way to Liebre Summit with Kelly’s Halfway Inn and Reservoir Summit plainly visible. To the west, the distant peak of Frazier Mountain (8000′) is visible.

July 2020 Update

So far, Summer 2020 isn’t shaping up to be what, well, many of us hoped it would be. Things are still moving at least, just a bit slower. We are still working with the USFS to get repairs done and get the utility companies to repair any damage to the roadway they have caused.

Just north of Kelley’s Halfway Inn

In late June, a group of board members took a trip over the Ridge Route from Castaic to Gorman to assess the roadway. To be honest, there was a lot of good news along the roadway to be had. Since the last of the major winter storms have passed, it looks like the roadway has not suffered any major damage. Most of the roadway, with little exception, was easily traversable by a standard automobile. Some sections needed a bit more maneuvering but were still quite manageable.

Section being undermined by a natural gas line on the slope below.

The date for our next CUTRR event is still unknown. We are presently waiting for the USFS to give us the green light for volunteer events. As it stands, August is likely out for sure. We hope to have something done before the rains begin, but we shall see.

Other ongoing projects include getting the roadway opened, replacing the signage at the markers, and setting up a YouTube channel are progressing, just slowly. The markers won’t be replaced until the roadway is opened. Funding for opening and maintaining the roadway is still unknown at present. The current crisis, health and budgetary, may well impact this more than we’d like. I feel it only delays it. We will push for legislation to force the roadway to be opened if need be.

The gates are still closed and locked. If you find a gate open, do not expect the other to be open. Travel is still restricted to non-motorized travel beyond the gates.

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