Photos by Frank Tortorich
WEDGE WARRIORS of 2007
The Wedge Warrior Summer Gathering, July 30 and 31
Five or six years ago, Frank Tortorich, charter OCTA and charter CA/NV Chapter member, gathered like minded OCTA/chapter members to do trail clearing, cleaning, and marking of the Carson River Route from Carson Pass west. They seem to gather whenever a project came to Frank’s attention.
Over the years the numbers of Wedge Warriors vary between 12 and 24 OCTA volunteers.
Traditionally, on the first day of the two-day outing, the volunteers divide into chain saw, lopper, handsaw, clearer, and marker crews.
The tasks are self-explanatory.
The marking crew has the job of placing a small “pregnant triangle” markers reading “California Historic Trail” with the ox yoke logo on trees “in line of sight.” That means from one marker you can see the next marker.
After the arduous work of the first day, these tired folks meet in the evening for a pot luck and social time. For the past few years Linda and Larry Lacey or Joan and Dick Young have taken turns hosting the gatherings.
Next morning’s plan is a day of lighter work of just fun-hiking part of the trail, or leisurely searching for trail remnants not clearly visible.
The crew shares their trail knowledge so everyone learns from each other. Of course,
Frank offers his knowledge of history and answers questions.
They look for the usual tattle-tale trail signs of swales, rust on the granite rocks, and any trail markers left by a group based in the summer out of Stockton Camp called the Silver Lake Campers Association. They marked the trail in the 1940s and ‘50s.
However, this year the second day had an exciting difference. They were to dig post holes, hand-mix cement in a wheelbarrow, and install bases for the first two interpretive signs in the Carson Pass area.
For those of you who may not remember, at the 2005 chapter symposium in Genoa, NV, Frank asked for and the chapter board granted $8,000.00 for six interpretive signs for the Carson River Route of the California Trail.
Chuck Milliken of the National Park Service offered to commission a graphic artist to do the drawings and Frank worked on the text. This spring Frank received the panels and bases.
The panels were on display at the chapter symposium in Yreka. Those who saw them were duly impressed.
For the past two years Frank has been working for placement approval with the Eldorado and Humboldt Toiyabe National Forests.
With permission finally granted and with panels and bases delivered, the crew was able to begin the process of installing the panels with two more installations scheduled for Hope Valley this fall.
Let’s hope the aspen are turning when they do it!
When all the panels are installed the chapter plans to have a dedication.
Oh, and just how did the group come up with the name of Wedge Warriors?
Well, legend (theirs) has it that a few years ago, their fearless leader, Frank, sought to teach them the use of an archaeologist trail survey maneuver called “The Wedge.”
The plan is to systematically cover a lot of ground looking for trail evidence.
This entails one person to walk the middle of the known, or unknown, trail and be “point” person.
Then, two folks walk 10 yards out on either side of the trail and slightly behind the point person; two more walk 20 yards out; two more walk 30 yards out; etc. Well, you get the idea.
Frank is said to have patiently explained this maneuver to the crew, set them up, and off they went.
Well, supposedly it didn’t take long and they were all walking with Frank on the trail to see if he found “something.” Over rough ground even archaeologists have difficulty maintaining a wedge.
So, he placed them back in the wedge-mode, again and, again, they ended up walking with Frank.
He gave up owing to all the laughter at his failure of trying to teach them the use of “The Wedge.”
They still manage to find the trail evidence, but in the “OCTA way.”
Volunteer Linda Lacey takes the lead with her trusty whisk broom and trowel; she is incredibly good at finding rust rocks. Others quickly learned what to look for: swales, “old” trail markers, and rust rocks.
Feeling sorry for Frank, the crew jokingly dubbed themselves the “Wedge Warriors.”
Now you know the rest of the story.