Marco Polo Meadow Launch atop Polo Ridge

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Marco Polo Meadow Launch atop Polo Ridge

Postby sd » Sat Mar 09, 2024 7:37 pm

Sunday 3/10/2024 Volunteer Request for a work party to clear a new launch on Polo Ridge.
10 am (PDT) meet time at Padaro Beach Grill parking to carpool in two or 3 vehicles to the trail head.

Note that the time springs forward tonight, so Sunday’s 10 o’clock is equivalent to today’s 9 o’clock.

We want to get a head count, so we know how much tooling to bring. We need a minimum of 4 Volunteers (including myself) to be in the go mode, but 6 or more would be better. I estimate we can accomplish the objective with 6 people in about 2-1/2 hours of on-site work plus transit time. It takes about 20 minutes each way to hike, plus 10 minutes to drive to the trailhead from Padro.

This is primarily a work outing, however, it would be good to have one or 2 pilots test the new launch, but not too many because we will need bodies to carry most the tooling back down. I normally bring snacks and water, but since we need to hike up, I’ll leave it to the individual volunteers to bring their own snacks and water. I’ve got 8 pairs of work gloves. Recommend long sleeves and boots.

The weather is forecasted to be dry, but the uphill trail is wet with some running water and puddles in places. Mid-day temperatures are in lower 60s under thick high clouds.

We will leave a few tools hidden up top, including a tarp, rake, and mattock. I’ve got 4 EGO 5 Amp-Hour batteries, and a couple smaller 2 AH size. Some are older and iffy. The batteries are a bit heavy, about a pound per AH. They can power the brush cutter, hedge trimmer, and chain saws (we need chain saws to clear the existing debri piles). We also have a couple of loppers and as noted above will also lug up a mattock or 2 (depending on our head count, rakes and a tarp (to transport clippings).

Please check in either through the Telegram Polo Ridge Chat Group
https://t.me/+PKC2JPAfJWQwN2Rh
or via DM and I’ll add your name to the volunteer list in the message above.

Volunteer List for Sunday Work Party / 10 am PDT at Padaro Beach Grill parking. To clear a new launch on Polo Ridge. See logistics details in message below.
As of Saturday night the following volunteers have indicated participation:
Tom Truax
Wesley Heustess + Jean
Yaroslav Rastrigin
Johannes Schweiger
Tammie
Zain Axe
Sandra Acres
Carl Cadenasso
Dave Patterson
Patrick Gaylord

________________________________________________
3/5/32024 Polo Ridge Proposal and Notice / Telegram

polo_ridge_scratchpad_2024_03-09.kmz
Updated Polo Ridge Google Earth File showing glides to potential LZs
(2.25 KiB) Downloaded 388 times

We are planning to clean up an existing small clearing on Toro Canyon Ridge Trail for a new hike up PG launch. After scouting trips, the proposed location (see KMZ file attached above) was chosen for a number of reasons:

It is not at the highest point on the trail (about 1,132 Ft MSL), but it is still high (about 1,073 Ft MSL), only 60 feet lower than the high point (the Skyport is about 50 feet lower than the Eliminator).

It is the widest, largest, and flattest area high on the ridge line, arguably a more suitable topography for P2s than the higher options which are narrow, steep, and rocky.

It is the easiest place to clear/clean, requiring the least amount of work and effort.

It is also less visible to prying eyes from the high dollar estates to the west.

A negative is the location adds about 150 yards of hiking beyond the high point, and about 400 yards past the 1st potential option (the bench where the trail reaches the ridgeline). So, another 2 to 5 minutes of hiking depending on which other option you compare it to.

The hike from the trailhead (at the high point of Toro Canyon Park Road / about 880 Ft MSL) to the Ridgeline Bench (about 1,110 Ft MSL) takes about 15 minutes, plus another 5 minutes along the ridgeline trail to the mini meadow. The trail is steeper at the bottom but parallels the ridgeline behind (north of) private property estates near the top, so there is a little mild up-and-down higher up on the trail. The elevation gain from the trailhead to the high point is about 350 feet vertical, but with the up-and-down likely closer to 400 feet of uphill hiking.
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/toro-canyon-ridge
and or some drone videos and hike overview at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns-SR_bgAQE

The Official Name of the Trail is the “Toro Canyon Ridge Trail”, which appears to be part of and maintained by Toro Canyon Park? Our SBSA community has referred to the ridge as “Polo Ridge” for many years, because it is above the polo fields, and the terms canyon and ridge are somewhat contradictory? Not to be confused wtih another tail associated with Toro Canyon Park (Toro Canyon Park Trail) from the picnic area up to a Gazebo.

We haven’t requested permission. The work is minor small brush and weed clearing plus re-locating debris piles (from prior trail construction and maintenance work?). Not cutting any trees. Not worth a bureaucratic taxing tangle? We will consider the aesthetics and environmental impacts.

The site is not intended to be a go-to spot on most days but could be a valued option in various weather scenarios like low cloudbase and or late afternoon SW or prefrontal SE.

____________________________________________
Saturday, 3/9/2024 reply to JLo’s questions listed in his telegram post on Tuesday 3/5.
The parking situation is limited. There are only 2 to 4 spots on the side of the road at the trailhead, which can by muddy after a rain. I think we can do some work to improve parking, but that would be a secondary project after we evaluate the value of the site? Since any work on the side of the road would be quite visible, we may want to coordinate with the park admin? Don’t want to open that can of worms until we are somewhat established?

The updated KMZ (posted above) shows glides to various potential LZs. I suspect most pilots will use the beach, but the beach can be a bit of a reach at over 6 to 1, a half point more than the glide from the Skyport to Upper Parma. There are numerous private property fields near the base of the ridge in the 3.5 to 1 range, and landable crop fields just north of the freeway en route toward Padaro, but likely best to avoid private property if possible.

Not certain of the actual ownership, but google searches indicate it is part of Toro Canyon Park, so I suspect the proposed takeoff is owned by the County?

We don’t expect the site to have a lot of usage, much less than sites like Bates, More Mesa, the VOR etc. It is intended to be an option for less mainstream scenarios like low cloudbase and possibly higher altitude ridge soaring with thermals mixed in. We no longer have the Rock, and the Bypass appears to be out of service for a while? Currently our lowest launch is the Skyport? (other than the coastal sites). It isn’t really a mountain site or a beach cliff site, more like the Avenue? It has been flown a bunch but never launched from? So current experience is limited to days that have been good enough to get there from other launches.
Last edited by sd on Sun Mar 24, 2024 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Marco Polo Volunteer Request

Postby sd » Sun Mar 24, 2024 7:52 am

Marco Polo has yielded impressive potential on weak low cloudbase days (not today). Volunteers from a couple Sunday’s ago (3/10) produced a mostly functional result, but ran out of gas leaving a pesky bulging web to the left that has claimed a few gliders because it tends to cross a tad from the west later in the afternoon so pilots who don’t steer a bit to the right on pullup can end up in the bushes. This past Friday, we had 3 pilots in the brush, and one was a lengthy and challenging extraction.

We can clear the problem today (Sunday 3/24) if we have at least 6 volunteers confirm by 10:30 (on the MP telegram chat) for a noon work party? I’ll post at 11 to the Marco Polo Telegram Chat Group with more detail if we are in the go mode, but likely meeting near Padaro Grill because parking is limited at the trailhead.

If you are not already a member of the Marco Polo Telegram Group, you can join at
https://t.me/+PKC2JPAfJWQwN2Rh
but won' be able see the messages posted prior to joining.

Volunteer List for Sunday 3/24
Bernardo Fanti
Cort Flinchbaugh
Grauspm Kemp
Alex Teplitxky
Gokcen
Tom Truax
Grayson Kemp
Dave Patterson
Johannes Schweiger
Sandra Acres
______________
Sunday’s (3/24) turnout was better than initially expected with short notice. I was inclined to wait a week or two before more slugging, but being an unflyable day (for PGs due to excessive wind) on a weekend, and the ground still soft from recent rain, logic overruled my lax inclination and I opted to try and raise a crew on short notice.

Initially, there were just a few of us, so we dialed back our scope of work, but soon enough 10 workers hiked up so we were able exceed our primary objective and leave the meadow in a state that should be good to go (until trimming maintenance next year?). If pilots end up in the brush on aborted pull-ups, then they could likely benefit from more ground handling practice?

We did get rained on for a half hour as a shower moved overhead from the mountains with the blustery wind from the NW, not so hard that we had to abort, but the wet ground did result in dialing the washing machine from medium to heavy to deal with extra soiled attire.

Thank you to the 17 volunteers who toiled on 2 Sundays (3/10 and 3/24). 21 workers total, but 4 showed up for both work parties, so 17 individuals. It takes a village.

An interesting side note: 6 of us opted to duck into Padaro Grill after. I was the only one born in the USA, the others were born in Great Britain, France, Germany, (but an Italian), Austria, and Turkey.
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Toro Ridge Trail Refurbishment

Postby sd » Wed May 22, 2024 12:36 pm

Initially posted Monday, 5/13/2024 to the Toro Trail Telegram Group
Looking for a couple volunteers
Tomorrow, Tuesday, 5/14
to assist with clandestinely grooming the Toro Canyon Ridge Trail from a little east of the ridgeline bench to our Marco Polo Meadow PG Launch.

We picked Tuesday because the weather is forecasted to be cool and cloudy, which should dampen the noise and provide a more productive work environment. Also, now-ish is arguably the optimal time in this year’s brush cutting season, both from a results perspective and our desire to go unnoticed, blending in with other concurrent brush cutting activity.

Clandestinely, because there is some feedback from a few pilots who oppose trail maintenance for various reasons. We will evaluate leaving a short section east of the bench as overgrown to appease some of the opposition concerns.

I have contracted with a trail maintenance company to do the bulk of the work, but we will be more productive and get a better aesthetic result if we have a few muckers to haul away debris and rake. The trail maintenance company is providing 5 laborers (including 1 working supervisor) and all the major tooling, but I’ll bring an extra tarp and perhaps another rake.

Some pilots think we should not use contract labor and do the work ourselves. I have tooling and experience in launch construction and maintenance, but 400 yards of poison oak infested overgrown trail is outside my core expertise and beyond what I’m willing to encourage unseasoned volunteers to tackle. The company we are using specializes in trail maintenance and does the trail work for Thatcher School. Our work is more likely to go unnoticed if done to typical trail maintenance standards. The trail is on various trail maps and YouTube videos, but the ridgeline section is badly overgrown from years of neglect. Once the overgrown section is restored, we should be able to maintain it with a yearly volunteer work party.

We are planning to start early, on launch at 8 am, and work a full 8-hour day. This is a one-day endeavor and what we get done is what it will be. Let me know if you are available to assist. If you know someone who might want to participate, let me know and I’ll add them to the group chat. The permissions for the chat are restricted to limit visibility.

We ask that you be discrete until after the task (after Tuesday). Our biggest threat arguably is from fellow pilots who oppose the task, so let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot like we did with the Skyport fiasco in 97 when a few disgruntled HG pilots channeled a complaint to the city, attempting to shut down the Skyport (which inadvertently resulted in a fence that also shut down the HG launch).

I realize that with short notice I might be solo (with the contractors) but I’m also writing and posting as a sanity check. I suspect some may be available for part of the day but not at dawn. If so, let me know so I know how much equipment to bring.
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Toro Ridge Trail Refurbishment

Postby sd » Wed May 22, 2024 12:36 pm

Initially posted Monday, 5/13/2024 to the Toro Trail Telegram Group
Looking for a couple volunteers
Tomorrow, Tuesday, 5/14
to assist with clandestinely grooming the Toro Canyon Ridge Trail from a little east of the ridgeline bench to our Marco Polo Meadow PG Launch.

We picked Tuesday because the weather is forecasted to be cool and cloudy, which should dampen the noise and provide a more productive work environment. Also, now-ish is arguably the optimal time in this year’s brush cutting season, both from a results perspective and our desire to go unnoticed, blending in with other concurrent brush cutting activity.

Clandestinely, because there is some feedback from a few pilots who oppose trail maintenance for various reasons. We will evaluate leaving a short section east of the bench as overgrown to appease some of the opposition concerns.

I have contracted with a trail maintenance company to do the bulk of the work, but we will be more productive and get a better aesthetic result if we have a few muckers to haul away debris and rake. The trail maintenance company is providing 5 laborers (including 1 working supervisor) and all the major tooling, but I’ll bring an extra tarp and perhaps another rake.

Some pilots think we should not use contract labor and do the work ourselves. I have tooling and experience in launch construction and maintenance, but 400 yards of poison oak infested overgrown trail is outside my core expertise and beyond what I’m willing to encourage unseasoned volunteers to tackle. The company we are using specializes in trail maintenance and does the trail work for Thatcher School. Our work is more likely to go unnoticed if done to typical trail maintenance standards. The trail is on various trail maps and YouTube videos, but the ridgeline section is badly overgrown from years of neglect. Once the overgrown section is restored, we should be able to maintain it with a yearly volunteer work party.

We are planning to start early, on launch at 8 am, and work a full 8-hour day. This is a one-day endeavor and what we get done is what it will be. Let me know if you are available to assist. If you know someone who might want to participate, let me know and I’ll add them to the group chat. The permissions for the chat are restricted to limit visibility.

We ask that you be discrete until after the task (after Tuesday). Our biggest threat arguably is from fellow pilots who oppose the task, so let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot like we did with the Skyport fiasco in 97 when a few disgruntled HG pilots channeled a complaint to the city, attempting to shut down the Skyport (which inadvertently resulted in a fence that also shut down the HG launch).

I realize that with short notice I might be solo (with the contractors) but I’m also writing and posting as a sanity check. I suspect some may be available for part of the day but not at dawn. If so, let me know so I know how much equipment to bring.
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Toro Ridge Trail Refurbishment Post Workparty Report

Postby sd » Wed May 22, 2024 12:38 pm

Initially posted to the Toro Trail Telegram Group

Successful but grueling day for us old timers.
Amadeo plus 3 additional crew with his Home and Range brush cutting company did most of the heavy lifting while Mike and I were mostly muckers. I was out of breath pretty quick and dragging by noon. We stated at 8 and got back to the trailhead at 4 PM.

The meadow has been enlarged to better accommodate top landings plus we addressed the aesthetics. The trail from the bench has been widened to about 6 feet across so should be easy to maintain next year.

HnR will bill me $1450 (a one-time discounted rate). I will ask the SBSA board to reimburse me $1600 for the HnR work plus another $150 for consumables from the prior work parties. A couple of rakes, a mattock and a tarp left on-site (and another tarp worn out), plus a half dozen chain saw chains and a dozen pairs of work gloves.

We initially considered not clearing a short section of the trail just east of the bench to discourage prying eyes, but the meadow looked so good after enhancements that we opted to open it up to curious hikers.

The HnR crew was young and strong. Mike (in his mid-60s) was impressive making me look old and slow. I think everyone will like the outcome.
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Marco Polo Reimbursement

Postby sd » Wed May 22, 2024 12:46 pm

Initially Submitted on 5/15/2024 to the SBSA BOD via the telegram group titled:
MP Reimbursement
Updated 5/16/2024

I am asking (making a motion?) the SBSA BOD to reimburse me (Tom Truax / DBA Tasker, http://tasker.us) $1600 for expenses incurred in hosting 3 work parties to explorer, develop, and enhance our new Marco Polo hike up paragliding launch along Polo Ridge (Toro Ridge?).

Reference
2024_05-14_contract_hnr_n_tasker_signed.pdf
Contract for Trial Work
(258.07 KiB) Downloaded 211 times

2024_05-15_hnr_invoice_1006_for_toro_trail.pdf
Home & Range Invoice for Trail Work
(36.99 KiB) Downloaded 221 times

$1450 (of the 1600) is a pass through to Home and Range, a brush cutting and trail maintenance service partially owned and operated by Amadeo Fleichmann, a new-ish P2 student of Fly Above All. Amadeo donated his personal time and expertise but needs to satisfy his business partner, cover overhead, and pay his workers (signed contract attached in message above).

The other $150 is for consumables from the initial volunteer work parties, including tools left on launch (2 rakes, a mattock, and a tarp for transporting debris) plus another tarp (worn out), a dozen pairs of work gloves, and a half dozen chain saw chains.

The reason I’m coming to the SBSA BOD is due to the scale and nature of the activity. During the initial stages of discovery and evaluation, we are striving to balance conflicting objectives of promotion and discretion.

The reason for discretion is not that we are doing something wrong or illegal (we are providing a community service by maintaining an existing but neglected and badly overgrown public trail and meadow / see Google Earth historical imagery). Getting sucked into a bureaucratic quagmire is not cost effective and would outsize and overwhelm our initial exploratory activity.

The dollar amount is arguably small compared to the potential administrative expense (example, what is the collective dollar amount of everyone’s time to prepare and consider this request). Coming to the BOD seems to be the simplest, cost effective, and low-profile option.

Other options might be to ask for a SBSA general membership vote, or perhaps a Go-Fund-Me campaign, both of which are more administratively expensive, higher profile, and arguably not in alignment with our discretion objective?

In the past I simply funded project cost out of pocket because it was simple, but Marco Polo has been more of a community effort compared to some prior projects (to date 19 individual SBSA member pilots have physically participated in at least one of the 3 major work parties to date / 5/14/2024). For this project, we slowed down to document notice of proposed action and answer questions prior to execution.

There are a bunch of points we could discuss and debate, but the modest dollar amount doesn’t justify extended evaluation. One point of concern is the liability exposure of the SBSA in supporting a clandestine activity? I would argue that the nature and risk or our core activity (hang gliding and paragliding) is inherently problematic. Making a general donation to Tasker (Tom Truax DBA) should be reasonable insulation from the actual work performed by a licensed and insured contractor (HnR) who specialized in the task? HnR has an ongoing contract to maintain the trails for Thatcher School in Ojai.

So rather than debating the merits of Marco Polo and the value to our community, I ask the BOD to note that over the past 40 years I have spent about $50K of my personal savings on numerous projects that have benefited our community. This is the 1st time I have requested reimbursement.

I recognize that some of my past and present actions may be controversial, but part of our collective strength comes from our diversity. The whole is worth more than the sum of the parts, it takes a village, and we are all painting on the same canvas with our own individual brush.

Thank you for your valuable time in considering my request.

In addition to the 6 SBSA BOD members I added to this chat, I was unable to add Willy Dydo, Jon Blake, John Greynald, Mike Harrrington, and Daniel Gracken because they didn’t show up in the search results, so if you know how to add them please do so, and forward my request.
5/15/2024 update / Jeff Longcor responded via DM to inquire about LZs and forward my post to the full SBSA BOD, however, they (the missing BOD members) still (as of 5/16/2024) don’t appear to be listed as members of this chat group? And as such may not have access to the updated version and other attached documentation?

I was intending to present to the SBSA BOD at the published monthly meeting date but was informed the 5/15/2024 BOD meeting will either be delayed or canceled for reasonable reasons.

I posted current known (by me) LZ info to the SBSA general chat on 5/15/2024 in response to Jeff’s inquiry.

Our initial notice and proposal were posted to the Marco Polo Group chat group on 3/5/2024, 5 days prior to the initial work party. A link was posted on 3/5 encouraging the initial group members to invite anyone interested to join the Marco Polo Chat.
A link to the Marco Polo group was posted to the SBSA general group on 3/10/2024 at 05:18 PDT, prior to the initial work party.
On 3/9/2024 (a day prior to our initial work party on 3/10) we responded to Jeff Longcor’s questions (posted to the MP Group) about Parking, LZs, Glide Ratio, and Ownership.

The initial scouting was done by Bummy and SD, documented by the initial KMZ file dated 3/3/2024 and subsequently updated on 3/9 and 5/15. Other research like trail maps and YouTube videos with drone footage were posted on 3/5/2024.

Additional work parties on 3/24 and 5/14/2024 were also noticed via posting to solicit participation and outline the objectives and intended scope of work.
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