We are sorry to announce that the September chapter meeting scheduled for Friday, September 9th has been postponed due to Covid. Several members have tested positive or have been exposed, so we are rescheduling the meeting to Friday, October 14th. We hope to see you then!
Mark your calendar for Friday, October 14th, 7PM, TriArea Community Center
We have a great program to offer about Equine Emergency Preparedness (EEP). Chief Brett Black of East Jefferson County Fire Department will present about fire prevention and awareness for stock owners. This is open to all members and guests. This will include information on the Fire Department’s role in responding to wildfires, earthquakes, and other disasters that could require evacuation. He will also discuss the concept of YOYO, Your Are On Your Own, and the need for each individual to be prepared and take responsibility for prevention and preparedness. He will discuss Shelter in Place and how to be prepared for that. It is a great opportunity to ask any questions about these issues to someone who has been intricately involved in wildfires in California such as the big Paradise fire. His experience and insight are invaluable and we are very thankful he is taking the time to join us.
A short business meeting will follow Chief Black’s presentation.
And we are back at the fair!
Come see us at our booth in the New Commercial building.
The drive south on US Highway 101 along the Hood Canal gave us a forewarning of what lay ahead. For 50 miles there were downed powerlines and poles, trees and massive amounts of debris piled along the sides of the road. The date was Saturday, February 26th and Buckhorn Range chapter President Kris Lenke and I were on our way to a field trip to the High Steel Bridge and Vance Creek Bridge, organized by Lori Lennox of Grays Harbor Chapter. What we were seeing was the aftermath of a heavy wet snowstorm that hammered the east side of the Olympic Peninsula on Christmas Day. 101 was closed from Hwy. 104 to Hoodsport and power was knocked out for 6 days.
After visiting the bridges, Traci Koch of Oakland Bay chapter suggested we see if we could get to LeBar Horse Camp as planned, about 10 miles further up FS Road 23. After going less than a mile the road became a tunnel through the downed trees, carved out by the firewood permit holders who had been working the road. With barely enough room to squeeze through, 3 SUVs and a pickup truck slowly picked our way through and over the logs, snow and debris, finally making it to the bridges over the Skokomish River and LeBar Creek and the Lower S. Fork Skokomish R. Trailhead. The firewood cutters had gone no further, and our journey ended half a mile from LeBar Horse Camp. https://photos.app.goo.gl/GtC3fSSVJt4X1fJ38
Seeing all this devastation, Lori suggested the idea of a regional sawyer recertification/work party to try to clear the road in advance of what was obviously going to be a very busy season of logging out trails. I sent an email the next day to Jai Lust, Wilderness and Trails Coordinator of Olympic National Forest and Rebecca Wanagel, long-time WTA (WA Trails Association) Crew Leader and newly appointed Trail Crew leader of Peninsula chapter – BCHW. Rebecca took the reins in her teeth and organized a crew of WTA sawyers who, along with Kris Lenke and me, headed up to tackle the mess on Saturday March 26th. We discovered a contractor already at work on the road (Yay!) and proceeded to clear trail. We worked to open the LeBar access trail, the 120 access trail, and the Lower S. Fork Skok trail #873 to the top of the switchbacks. In the meantime, Rebecca recertified me as a B-level sawyer. A WTA crosscut crew had already opened the main trail from the lower TH the week before. https://photos.app.goo.gl/xAxpXUbNBxRHLphG9
On April 26th Rebecca, Jai and I made a scouting trip to the area in advance of the BCHW Regional work party scheduled for May 20-22nd at LeBar Horse Camp, and we estimated that there were hundreds of trees down on the 140 spur trail (1.4 miles) alone. (I made another scout trip upriver on May 7th to Camp Comfort and the 100 spur trail where I encountered even more devastation (200+ trees/mile)). Based on what we saw, Rebecca scheduled another WTA/BCHW joint WP for May 14/15th. They cleared the 140 trail and 2/3 of the 100 trail that weekend in torrential rain. Members of the Mountaineers also joined in to provide swamping.
The Regional BCHW work party began Friday May 20th to clean up LeBar Horse Camp and finish logging out the Skok trail as far as the 100. Rebecca ran the sawyer crews made up of WTA sawyers Martin Knowles, Tom Griffith, Tien Vo, Bernt Ericsen, and Paul Hornberger. Peninsula chapter sawyers Jim Hollatz and Rick King, with Suzanne King and Kris Lenke swamping. Harold Weise of Olympic chapter provided pack support for the sawyer crews while Larry Sammons of Buckhorn and I demolished and removed the old rotting roof from the vault toilet in camp in preparation for the new roof.
On Saturday the trail work continued, with sawyers Traci and Wayne Koch from Oakland Bay chapter joining the party. Larry and I worked on extending the highline poles to raise them higher in sites 3 and 8 while Peninsula chapter members Theresa Percy and Stephanie Burns and friend Dean joined Kris who worked all day to clean up campsites, while Peninsula members Linda Morin and Judy Sarles helped Dutch Oven Queen (and Buckhorn Secretary) Kim Merrick make and serve everyone a delicious dinner!
On Sunday the mighty sawyers completed the last difficult mile of trail, which opened about 6 miles of main trail and 3 miles of spur trails, making 3 possible loops of riding using FS road 2353 to return.https://photos.app.goo.gl/9KvYYDhDHsYtbCxV6
Another work party has been scheduled by Rebecca to continue logging out the trail upriver to the ford at Church Creek and beyond, eventually opening the entire 12.5-mile trail to the upper TH parking lot and the Upper Skok trail. Other WTA crew leaders have several trips planned to get this trail back up to snuff.
I want to thank everyone who pulled together and worked so hard to accomplish all that we did over the last 2+ months and apologize to anyone I may have left out. The collaboration between Backcountry Horsemen, WTA and the Mountaineers was truly inspiring. I especially want to acknowledge Rebecca for being an extraordinary human being who has more energy and enthusiasm for trails than anyone I have met and was instrumental in pulling this collaboration together.
In her own words, “I cannot begin to describe how many trees we have cut out. The efforts put forth by everyone involved have been inspiring. The teamwork between agencies is heartwarming, and the stock support we had all this past weekend from Harold Weise (Olympic chapter) was a lifesaver. Special thanks to Magic, Archie and Frank, the 4-footed volunteers. It was lots of talented, generous, hard-working, tough, trail-loving people from multiple agencies and chapters. This was a herculean effort by so many who were involved. The blowdowns were in the many, many, many hundreds. A final, but important note: all these many hundreds of trees have been cut with full attention to safety and not one mishap or incident. We are proud of our safety record and the communication we maintained between crews using radios.” LeBar Horse Camp is now open to the public and the trails are open for riding. Please consider making this beautiful camp and trail one of your riding destinations soon!
Submitted by Bob Hoyle
Director/Work Projects Coordinator
Buckhorn Range Chapter -BCHW
(And long-time WTA member)
We are hosting a regional work party in partnership with other chapters in the region to get LeBar Horse Camp and the Lower S. Fork Skokomish River trail ready for the season. Winter storm damage is extensive – there is a lot of work to do! We need volunteers for camp and trail work. Tasks include: brushing/swamping (a lot of swamping!), blowdown removal (sawyers needed!) and cleanup of campsites. We will also be removing the rotten roof on the vault toilet and (hopefully) installing the new roof. Something for everyone! Bring gloves, appropriate attire. Tools, PPE’s provided (Sawyers need to bring their own saw/PPE)
Pre-register online at https://www.bchw.org/lebar_horse_camp_regional_work_party.php
We have added a new page to our site to give you resources to assist you in preparing for emergencies and natural disasters.
Buckhorn Range Chapter member Jeanne Buchanan is featured in this article about WASART (Washington State Animal Response Team).
Join us for viewing the film, produced by chapter member Wren Winfield, of Bernice Ende’s epic story about riding 30,000 miles across our country. In Lady Long Rider, Bernice shares the miles of insight she gained on the horseback ride that ultimately became a journey of self-discovery. Question/Answer session with Wren to follow.
7PM, Tri-Area Community Center
Important meeting to discuss suggestions for 2022 meetings and work parties, by-laws changes, and chapter officer nominations.
LeBar Horse Camp and Skokomish trail updates. Please come and be part of the decision-making. Since we’re indoors, mask up.
Come and enjoy all that LeBar Horse Camp has to offer along with other members of our chapter.
Whether this is your first time (kind assistance offered) or one of many times camping with your equine partner, you’re sure to enjoy this weekend full of camaraderie and riding. More information and directions available.
Please RSVP so we have an idea if we need to organize meals, riding etc. We also plan to do some camp improvements as well as trail maintenance to extend access to the upper portion of the trail.
Hope to see you there! Kris
I would like to thank all those that made the LeBar work party successful and fun. It was one of those planned events that could either have worked or not worked. We had 44 yards of gravel being delivered to a locked gated campground in the mountains (LeBar) so it could have been a true disaster if everything didn’t happen like clockwork. For example, the USFS staff needed to make it to the campground just ahead of us to unlock the gate, which did in fact happen. It was a welcomed sight for USFS staff Jai and James to be at the gates Friday morning ahead of Juelie and I with the gravel truck (first load) following us.
Between Friday and Saturday, we filled the camp up with volunteers. Most all the gravel was spread (except about 5 yards piled saved for later) with Nancy Scott on her Kubota. We had a plan to replace 6 highline cables. In fact, Larry (and crew Kris and Pat) replaced 8. The campground was completely brushed and all sites were spruced up. Campground trails were opened up and graveled. Picnic tables were repaired.
A few volunteers came with horses for the purpose of scouting the trail and identifying blocking logs. This was done along with some additional help from local riders. Not only did they identify the blocking logs, but Bob, Jim H (with chain saw), Donna H, and Terry Monroe (with pack horse) went in afterwards on Sunday to cut them out. They opened up the main loop from the horse camp to Camp Comfort and back. (One hanging log was too low to ride under – Bob went back the following Saturday and lowered the tread so a horse can safely pass until it can be removed). Now there is a reason to go back with riding horses to camp.
Karma and Rick came up to make everyone dinner Saturday night as well as breakfast and lunch on Sunday. I just hope they got out of there Sunday before the gate gets locked, or they may be there for the rest of the month!!!
This was a grant project that Buckhorn Range committed to, and we met most of that commitment. There is still some funds to spend, and we may spend it spreading more gravel. It was a highly successful weekend other than one rider finger smash and one lost cell phone.
LeBar Horse Camp officially opened the same week.. While we showed our willingness to invest in the horse camp, the effort to keep it open for stock is just beginning. It is important for folks to use the camp when it officially opens.
On a somewhat similar note, the next drainage north, the North Fork Skokomish (Cushman/Staircase) was closed last year because of crowding and irresponsible dispersed campers. The USFS just imposed an alcohol ban on dispersed camping in that drainage for 2 years.
The may drive some partying campers to the South Fork Skok where LeBar is. Horse use at LeBar will help us with “staking our turf” preserving the campground, so make sure you come or come back if you were with our work party!! Jeff
More photos can be found at https://photos.app.goo.gl/Mrw318RGABKYeVsx6
We had a dry if not terribly sunny day on Saturday, although someone invited the mosquitoes to the party as well. Since the pandemic blew into our lives there have been solo and household work parties, and a couple of small gatherings to work at the Horse Park, but this was the first group work party I had hosted in over a year, and it was wonderful to see those orange vests and hard hats again.
Ever since we built the bridge on Silent Alder Trail at Gibbs Lake County Park there was a problem with traction when the deck was wet. I tried anti-skid tape on the running planks, but it wasn’t durable and some riders still thought it was slippery when wet, so I came up with a more solid solution – extend the trail tread over the bridge itself.
Five of us met on Saturday morning at Beausite Lake Rd. Larry, Kris, Judith and I would work on resurfacing the bridge while Helen cleared the trail of low-hanging branches. First, we cleaned the bridge deck and put down fabric and curb rails to hold the gravel in place. Then we used our power gravel toter to move the material down to the bridge surface. After crowning and tamping it down and building up the approaches the bridge is ready for many future uneventful equine crossings.
No more clopping of hooves on the wooden deck, but perhaps Ichabod will appreciate the quiet.