May-June 2021 Newsletter

From the President
Michael F Ballard

With the arrival of Spring, we can declare the Ridge Route at least made it through another winter season with minimal damage. Between the threat of fires last year, such as the Lake Fire in August 2020, and the heavy “atmospheric river” storm in January 2020, the area has been through a lot. We know it can’t last without at least a basic amount of maintenance. Each winter brings rocks, mud, and the potential landslide. Each summer still brings the possibility of fires which can not only damage the roadway and burn what little wooden artifacts are left, but makes winters all the more troublesome.

On a somewhat regular basis, we travel the roadway and survey it for damage and potential problems, such as failing culverts and landslides. Some of the damage to the roadway isn’t from any of these, but from failure of the concrete itself. There are at least six instances of reinforcing bar sticking out of the roadway. All of them were marked over the weekend of April 24th during a recent survey. Some of them were large enough to potentially puncture a tire. These need to be repaired before larger amounts of traffic traverse the roadway. Some larger potholes also need to be tended to before they cause damage to the surrounding roadway. We intend to repair or have these repaired in the near future. With your support, we can make a difference and at least mitigate the damage from all these problems.

Spring on the Ridge Route
by Debbie Mallon

California Sunflower (Helianthus californicus)

Spring rains bring lushness back to the Ridge Route vegetation as well as blooms from flowering native plants. One cheerful example is the California Sunflower (Helianthus californicus) seen on the sunny slopes of the route. A common myth is that sunflowers always follow the sun. In reality, only the young flowers orient towards the sun throughout the day. However, upon maturity the flowers stop tracking the sun and blooms orient eastward. The phenomena of flowers following the sun is called heliotropism.

Cobweb Thistle (Cirsium occidentale)

Another vigorous plant found along the route is the Cobweb Thistle (Cirsium occidentale), which is a true native thistle and a member of the sunflower family. The plant has a two year lifespan producing blooms in the second year. You can expect to see them in bloom from March to July. Cobweb Thistle is an important source of pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies.

Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)

Last, Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), nature’s verdant ground cover, prefers cool and moist conditions. On the Ridge Route it is most often found on shady slopes or under tree canopies. Miner’s Lettuce is edible and so named because miners ate the plant as salad greens. Leaf, flowers and stems can be eaten raw or cooked and are a source of vitamins C and A as well as iron. The tiny flowers bloom from February through May.

Roadway Status

The Ridge Route is still closed between the Tumble Inn and Templin Highway. While we are working to get it open, always use caution if the gates are open. You can be locked in as the default position is for the gates to be closed. On the last trip over the roadway on the 24th, we saw that people had written on the gates notes regarding either being locked in or that the roadway wasn’t a “through road”. The road is marked at both ends as not going through. We are working with the USFS to increase signage but there is only so much that can be done.

The roadway, when open, is traversable by a standard clearance automobile, as we have found. Even with this in mind, don’t expect your car to clear that “small” rock in the middle of the roadway. The roadway is quite remote and the nearest service station is many miles away. Bring plenty of water and food for any trip over the Ridge Route as you never know what may happen up there.

Membership

Are you a member yet? If you aren’t, you should be. Our CUTRR events, for example, are a members-only event and we plan to get those going in the near future. Your membership dues help us get the road open and keep it maintained. Dues are also tax-deductible as we are a 501(c)3 organization. Join us and help keep the Ridge Route alive!

Events

It looks like events are finally coming back. Starting May 3, 2021, Volunteers will be allowed to start working again in the Angeles National Forest. We are working on a date for our “first” new CUTRR event this year. Depending on how the season goes, as well as other factors, there may be one in June. It is more likely there will be one in September, to allow for more people to be vaccinated and for the summer heat to subside. If you are interested in joining us or wish to contribute to an event, let us know. You must be a member of the Ridge Route Preservation Organization to go to a CUTRR event. If you aren’t a regular member, we do have daily memberships available.

We are also considering hosting another Zoom meeting in the near future. Once we establish a date and topic, it will be posted on our website. Let us know if you’d be interested and what topics would be good to cover. Please subscribe to this website, if you haven’t already, as you will be e-mailed updates.

Fundraising

As it is finally getting closer for us to hold events and cleanups on the Ridge Route, we will need your support. We plan to obtain some asphalt patching material to stabilize some of the 1920’s asphalt between the Liebre Maintenance Station and Sandberg where the pavement is rapidly degrading. We also may be repairing the Tumble Inn gate, which will potentially involve labor costs and materials. Your donations may be tax-deductible, so keep that in mind.

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