From the Field – March 25, 2020

Charisse Mihalakos has been working with Trails Crew and now, with the suspension of group activities, has chosen to go out by herself to continue the work of keeping the Giant neat and tidy. We thank Charisse for her dedication and for her “field report.”

Since the regular Trails Crew has been suspended to comply with social distancing, I took myself out to the Park on Saturday, March 24, to work alone. I spent about six hours there, beginning with the fishing area. It’s great that the fishing season opened a bit early this year, but it’s disturbing to see how much trash is left – especially when there are receptacles for the proper disposal of fishing line. From the river, I took the Blue to Violet to Quarry/Hex trail and went up and down the Tower Path picking up trash. As I went, I talked to more than 50 people and overheard other conversations about the social distancing and not hiking in large groups. I mentioned it to several folks when I stepped aside on the trails – “Hi, I just wanted to let you know that the State is monitoring groups and “social distancing” in the parks. We don’t want the park to be closed, so please try to keep your distance from other people.” Most were cordial and there was zero negativity. During these conversations, we chatted about trail recommendations and how to proceed if folks did not respect “social distancing.” Because I was going off-trail I wore my SPGA volunteer shirt and was carrying a trash bag. I got some “thank you” comments for volunteering.

Some folks were disappointed, especially kids when they learned that the Tower was closed, but they understood with the need since the hallways are so narrow. I thought it was a good day to send people to Gorge Cascade because the Mill River was high and fast-flowing. It was probably quite scenic.

There was some significant rockfall on the far left side of the Quarry while I was at Violet/Red Diamond junction, and I had just been in the Quarry. I didn’t see them fall because I was picking up trash, but it was super loud like a high crane splitting apart and boom, boom, boom, and tumbling noise and rock dust “smoke.” You can see the patch that broke off-it’s light grey. Fortunately, no one was anywhere in the Quarry.

While I was there, the parking lots were full. I saw a good amount of people on the trails and in the fishing area. At least until 2:00 p.m., people were leaving a reasonable distance between each other, keeping on the sides and leaving space in the middle. Mostly hikers moved alone or in small groups, especially groups with children. Sadly, there was lots of trash around the cars. Even more concerning, these were hand wipes!

For the first time, I saw all dogs on leash…yay.