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

April 2021 Newsletter

Special Feature
Tracks of the Ridge Route

During the original paving of the Ridge Route from 1917-1920, various travelers left their marks on the road. While not intentional, they created a sort of “pseudo-fossil” and a window into the past. Tracks were left in the concrete from cars, people, and even animals. In one instance, you can see where the car tracks were poorly covered, creating a slightly bumpy surface and making the tire tracks even more apparent. These impressions are a part of the history of the Ridge Route and deserve to be preserved alongside the foundations of the cafes and gas stations along the way. They remain as one of the interesting aspects of the roadway. Next time you travel the Ridge Route, be on the lookout. Maybe you’ll spot a 100 year-old deer track?

Animal Tracks

Quite a few small mammals crossed here
Coyotes or wolves by the paw prints. Could have also been a contractors dog.

Human Tracks

Shoe prints left in the concrete.
Almost like a detective story. The prints and the tire tracks leaving the scene.
Here, someone did a three-point turn over the wet concrete and tried to cover it up.
Tracks, complete with treads, are still visible at the three-point turn location.

Road Updates

The roadway is still closed. The storms of January 2021 did some damage as did the trucks that traveled the roadway, mostly in the form of rock slides near Swede’s Cut and damage to the southern gate. These will take a bit of time to clear, so please use caution if you travel the roadway. Keep in mind the default position for the gates is to be closed. If one is open, don’t expect the other to be nor expect the gate to still be open when you return.

We have also received reports of rebar sticking out of the concrete near the Liebre Maintenance Station site. The rebar can and will puncture a tire. Issues like this are part of why we want a basic maintenance agreement with the USFS before it is reopened.

Rebar spike sticking out of the concrete near Culvert #24. Photo courtesy – Debbie Mallon

We are working with the USFS to have the gates open at least outside of the rainy season. This compromise would allow travel over the roadway while reducing the potential for damage. The long term goal of the RRPO has always been preservation of the roadway. It does come with a cost. That cost may include having the roadway closed when it is most vulnerable. Help us by doing your part to keep the road safe. The area between Sandberg and the Tumble Inn gate is deteriorating more than the rest of the roadway. Don’t travel over when it is raining, snowing, or muddy. It might be pretty, but you are likely damaging the roadway by going there at that time. During those times, it might be best to walk or take a bicycle.

Membership

We recently made some changes to our website to allow online membership applications. If you were a member in the past and would like to renew (memberships are annual), or you’d like to become a new member, it is a whole lot quicker and easier now. If you’d like to join or renew, please use our online membership form. We still have our mail-in method as well. Keep in mind your donation may be tax-deductible as we are a 501(c)3 organization.

Events / Projects

In-person events, such as a CUTRR or tours, are still on hold due to the pandemic. As things are improving, albeit slowly, we anticipate being able to hold some sort of event much later this year. An exact time is still uncertain. It doesn’t mean we can’t hold other events, such as online meetings. Our first online meeting had up to 15 people attend. It was a lot of fun and will be done again. We plan to hold more meetings like this in the future to help inform the public about what is going on with the roadway and the RRPO. Come join us!

We may also be helping to repair the gate at the Tumble Inn. If you are or know a welder / metal worker, let us know. We aren’t seeking estimates yet but would like to know who is out there.

Fundraising

Our online fundraising has been going rather well in March. We do wish to thank all those that have donated. We will need those funds in the near future for a few possible projects on the roadway, such as pothole repair and modifying the gate at the Tumble Inn. Your donations help ensure the roadway will continue on into the future.

Errata

We are moving the newsletter to a bimonthly timeline starting May 2021. You can find our previous newsletters and updates here. There will still be interim updates on the website as needed. Make sure you’re subscribed to keep up-to-date on the road.

February 2021 Update

On Saturday, February 6, We had the opportunity to travel over the Ridge Route and survey the roadway for damage from the storms, trucks, and car chase that have happened all since January 21. The storms that hit were pretty strong, closing I-5 multiple times for extended periods. As the Ridge Route itself is higher in elevation, it looks like a lot of the precipitation that hit the area fell as snow instead of rain. This may well have saved the road this time but future storms may no be so “kind”. We still have a lot of work ahead of us but at least now we have a better idea of what to focus on for now. If you’d like to help us with these tasks, join us, donate, or both. Your donation may be tax-deductible and you’ll help save this historic roadway.

As an aside, our next update may be in a different format as we are planning to move to a newsletter style soon.

Gates

Southern gate
Northern (Fisher Springs or Tumble Inn) gate

Both gates were open when we went up there. We closed them behind us each time and locked them. While we want the roadway open, the current USFS position is for the roadway to be closed and the events of January 26 definitely show why. This time, the gates were left open by contractors working on the SCE power lines a few miles north of the National Forest Inn site. We will be speaking again with the USFS to see what can be done about this problem.

Rockslides

Rockslide partially blocking the roadway below Swede’s Cut
Large boulder and additional material ready to fall

Our biggest concern following the storms was rockslides or worse, landslides. Thankfully, the roadway seemed to hold up well. Only one major rockslide was found, which was located on Serpentine Drive just north of the gas pipeline bridge. One of the rocks that fell was the rather large, close to the size of a refrigerator and probably as heavy. We saw that more rocks will fall at this location in the near future. Other problematic locations, such as Swede’s Cut and the northern end of the roadway, seemed to have minimal problems.

Truck Damage

Tire marks and trampled shoulder
First big sign of skid marks and scrapes
Looking southerly toward the sunken area where they got stuck
Closeup of the broken pavement and tire debris area
Large pile of melted tire debris and oil on the roadway

Three big rigs traversed the roadway on January 26, as we have noted in earlier reports. We found the location they became stuck, which was about 0.3 miles north of Kelly’s Halfway Inn. We noted multiple locations where they lost traction and spun their tires, leaving large amount of melted tire debris. They got stuck at a large sunken area, creating a large amount of scrapes and pavement damage. They also drove over the edges of the roadway in numerous places, possibly compromising the pavement and culverts in those areas. We are currently working with CHP to obtain information regarding those vehicles.

Signage

County signage at State 138

Following the January 26th incident, we contacted the County of Los Angeles to help with dissuading people from going over the roadway during the storms. We suggested adding additional signage at both ends of the roadway if possible. They complied and said they’d put up the signs that day. On Saturday, we saw those signs still in place at Templin Highway, Pine Canyon Road, and State 138. We want to thank the County of Los Angeles for their efforts and will be working on getting better, more permanent signage in place in the near future.

Car Chase

Tracks from where the car left the roadway
Trail where the car crashed off the road

I did mention a car chase involving the Ridge Route. On January 21, a high speed chase ended rather abruptly at the northern end of the Ridge Route, about 1.3 miles south of State 138, well north of Pine Canyon Road. The chase didn’t involve the rest of the roadway, thankfully. The car involved drove off the Ridge Route and the suspects were apprehended shortly after. It doesn’t look like the roadway was damaged but the marks are still there in the dirt.