While other gardeners were uprooting early spring bulbs and planting their perennials, I joined the good folks at Habitat Works for a little tamarisk butt-kicking. The Cleanest Line has a nice little piece lining out what tamarisk did to Canyon de Chelly, explaining why someone might want to pack into a remote section of Piru Creek with a set of Fiskars bypass loppers, and spend a perfectly good Memorial Day weekend pulling weeds. But the short answer is that it is all about the Arroyo Toad.
In the snapshot above you can see Mike, William and Tom taking down a mature tamarisk in flower. Altogether we uprooted or chopped down over 7,000 seedlings, and a few hundred shrubs, catching the shrubs before they had time to produce seeds. Any roots left behind can still sprout but at least we we gave these evil trees a good licking.
The thing about Extreme Gardening is that you do the same kind of back-breaking weed pulling that you’d do in your backyard garden, only you do it without access to cold beer and with a 30 lb. pack on your back. In wet shoes. After slogging through waist-deep, snail-infested water. It’s like the African Queen, only without a boat or Nazis.
During the rainy season Piru Creek at Gold Hill Gorge becomes a Class V whitewater course, which was bad news for some dirt biker who tried to cross the stream at the Gold Hill crossing. We found the remains of his ‘sickle some two miles downriver, not in running condition.
On the last part of the trip Julia found this cool rattlesnake for us by nearly stepping on its head. Who knew that rattlers cool down at the water’s edge?
For the duration we found ourselves tagging along behind some good sized bears. From the tracks I’d say there were four or five big ones, two juveniles and three babies. The bears stayed out of sight.
The trail ended at the Castaic Mines where the Riff Raff 4WD club trucked us out. That alone was worth the price of admission.