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.

October CUTRR Event

Potholes near Granite Gate. Courtesy – Michael F Ballard

Our event on August 28 was a great success! Let’s keep that going. Our next event will be on Saturday, October 23, 2021, weather and conditions permitting as always. This event will concentrate on the northern end of the roadway between Granite Gate and the Liebre Maintenance Station site. This section of roadway has numerous potholes, rocks, and other debris covering the roadway which need to be cleared. We are negotiating with the USFS to get permission to use asphalt patch material for the potholes and potentially larger equipment such as a skip-loader to remove some of the debris. Lacking those, we can still make great progress on the roadway and reduce the damage to the historic roadway. Please bring shovels, picks, branch cutters / clippers, and any other tools to help clear dirt from the roadway and brush from the drains. We will need a truck or two to transport material to another site for disposal.

Circled area marks the area where we will be working.

If you would like to join us, please RSVP as soon as possible. Let us know what sort of equipment you will bring and if you are able to assist with transporting the materials to a disposal site further south on the roadway. Try to carpool, if possible, so that we can reduce the number of vehicles on the roadway.

We will meet at the parking lot of the Carl’s Jr in Gorman (49669 Gorman Post Rd, Gorman, CA 93243) near Exit 202 off I-5 at 8 am. We will depart by 8:30 am and head to the work site.

If you have any questions or concerns about the event, please let us know. We look forward to seeing you all there! Please use the form below to sign up for the event.

For Amateur Radio: We will be on 146.580 (Simplex) as well for communications.

If you haven’t already, please use the box below to subscribe to our website. You will receive any updates we post to our site directly to your e-mail.

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