Camping, Hiking in Los Angeles County
Greetings, Los Angeles Indymedia people! It’s been a year or so since I posted an update on the status of the Crystal Lake Recreation Area located within the Angeles National Forest, some 25 miles North of Azusa, California.
An up-to-date status of the condition and restoration effort of the campgrounds can be located at http://www.CrystalLake.name/
along with photographs of the volunteer efforts which take place every week to eventually re-open the grounds.
Video of the restoration efforts can be located at http://www.YouTube.com/user/NotSoOldHippy
which contains not only video and photographs of the volunteer efforts but also commentary and video of surveys of the general health and welfare of the environment and ecology of the campgrounds and surrounding areas.
Currently Caltrans is repairing the first bridge that requires repairs about 2 miles North of the current gate closure at around mile marker 29.5, and one mile South the “Valley of the Moon” parking area just above Coldbrook Campgrounds.
That bridge was undermined in the 2005 floods that we had here in Southern California which you might remember. There is actually gaps under the piling supports for that bridge, and Caltrans has brought out their big equipment to repaid the foundations and supports.
The next bridge up is just below Valley of the Moon, and after that the only thing left for Caltrans to finish are the railings along the highway which were destroyed in the 2002 Curve Fire.
The campgrounds themselves are in perfect condition and are ready for people to start utilizing them. A third phase of contracted work is scheduled to begin soon which will complete the repairs on the drinkable water distribution network.
The only thing left within the Crystal Lake Recreation Area that volunteers must do is the removal of dead trees from the various hiking trails. Soldier Creek Trail has been considered far too dangerous for visitors to use so when the campgrounds finally open, that trail will remain closed until trail-builder volunteers can go through that trail and pull down the many hanging deadfalls that constitute a serious heath hazard.
If anyone wants to get automated updates on the condition of the campgrounds and any news about re-opening the grounds, you can go to http://www.crystallake.name/emails.htm
and use the form there to send in the subscription to the mailing list.
One thing: Right now the campgrounds are unused and in pure, clean, pristine condition. The first week of the grounds being open will see a lot of visitors – probably 20,000 the first week. (Over 20,000 people were evacuated from the area on the week end of the start of the Curve Fire.)
Such a high number of visitors to the area will doubtless bring a lot of Mexican garbage and spray paint, drugs and domestic violence – all the old issues and problems which started making Crystal Lake unsavory to families and nature lovers to visit.
What is needed to keep Crystal Lake a clean, safe place for families and “normal” campers and hikers is the constant presence of law enforcement. What is needed is a Sheriff who constantly patrols the campgrounds 24 hours a day every day of the year. For that to happen, money is needed from the State or Federal level to hire a highly qualified police officer with special training in domestic abuse situations and gang drug and violence abatement.
It’s not known whether an officer will be assigned to the area for constant patrolling, but there should be a constant level of patrol by volunteers who can radio for police which would be capable of responding within 20 minutes of any problem.
Any way, when the campgrounds re-open, Angelinos and visitors from San Gabriel, Riverside and beyond will once again have excellent camping, hiking, and climbing facilities in the Crystal Lake basin.