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San Jose Trails report, and a South Bay creek trail cleanup this weekend

Posted by on March 7, 2017

Many of our creekside trails have been underwater for several weeks after this season’s epic winter storms. The rivers are finally subsiding, exposing a mess of mud and debris. Maybe you can’t donate $5 million in flood relief like self-made billionaire Kieu Hoang did last week, but you can spare ten bucks for a shovel, or $80 for a chainsaw, or even an hour or two of your time this weekend.

Guadalupe River Trail Trimble Road mud

TL;DR summary: Guadalupe River Trail cleanup under Montague Expressway, 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. Saturday, March 11, 2017. Bring water, good shoes or boots, shovel, handsaw, or chainsaw. Park at Qorvo, 3099 Orchard Drive, San Jose, CA and walk up to the trail. Other instructions in the final section below.

Guadalupe River Trail Report

You can continue to monitor trail flooding for the Guadalupe River Trail and other South Bay trails at this trail flooding status page, but mud and debris does confound the status a bit. Here’s the portion of the Guadalupe Trail in San Jose that I know as of the morning of Tuesday, March 7, 2017. I anticipate Hwy 101 and Trimble will be completely open sometime on Wednesday.

  • The trail across downtown San Jose remains a mess. I know of no plans to clean this up anytime soon (though please tell me if you know otherwise).
  • Julian Street to Airport Parkway is open and mostly clear, though might need to choose between upper vs lower trail to avoid deep mud. The deep mud is mostly on the upper trail; I shoveled a path clear on the upper trail between Hedding and 880 but the lower trail is the better option now.
  • Airport Parkway underpass has some deep mud that I haven’t touched yet. I might dig that out Wednesday morning (but after Bike Pool)
  • Highway 101 underpass still has water on it as of right now. It’s just barely passable now by bike, with the water just below bottom bracket level. There’s a curb to walk on if you want to keep your feet dry. I predict this will be passable Wednesday morning. The mud here is a sandy silt. Photo from this morning at https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWCa0DABju/
  • Trimble Road underpass has about two to three inches of water, which means you can pedal across without damaging your bottom bracket or getting your feet wet. The mud under the water is very slimy so be careful. I shoveled a path to the water line on both approaches. Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWFoiogC3Q/ and https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWLhaxgpnZ/.
  • Montague Expressway is still very deep with large limbs and piles of debris blocking the trail. I think a pile of mud is keeping water on the trail from draining into the river. Saws, strong backs, and multiple shovels will be needed to open this. I’ve played Frogger crossing Montague the past couple of days but it’s a pretty hazardous location to play this game. Wednesday update: Water at Montague is below bottom bracket level, but a large limb still blocks the path. During Lupe Bike Pool this morning Ihui, Kate and I chopped a few smaller branches away at the river side of the path, so the trail is just passable if you walk on the curb (far left side of the trail if you’re headed north towards the Bay).

    Guadalupe River Trail under Montague Expressway after floods  March 2017

Creek cleanup with the South Bay Clean Creek Coalition

The South Bay Clean Creek Coalition do good work with trash cleanup, and they’ve organized post-flood cleanups this Saturday, March 11, 2017 for the Los Gatos Creek at Auzerais; the Guadalupe River at Willow Street & Highway 87 near Tamien Station; and Coyote Creek at Williams Street near Olinder Elementary School. This is more of a trash pickup event than clearing mud from what I understand. Cleanup organizers provide tools and other supplies. You provide your own water bottle, heavy soled shoes, gloves, sunscreen, hat and long pants. Please read these instructions and then RSVP so organizers know how to many to plan for.

My own ad-hoc Guadalupe River cleanup at Montague

I’ve collected a lot of the low-hanging fruit by scooping mud from the Guadalupe River trail at several locations between downtown San Jose and Montague Expressway, such as the approach to Trimble Road show above. I need tools and muscle that I don’t have available to clear the mess under Montague Expressway. At a minimum, somebody needs to show up with a chainsaw, a pruning saw, or maybe even a good set of pruning shears to lop off bits of branches. A couple of strong backs and additional shovels would be nice to have as well. You’ll want good shoes or boots, gloves, sunscreen, eye protection and water. Anything you wear will get filthy.

I’ll be at the trail under Montague at about 10:45 A.M. this Saturday, March 11, 2017 and I plan to work until 1 P.M. Qorvo has kindly given us permission to park in their back lot next to the trail at 3099 Orchard Drive in San Jose. Please let me know if you think you can make it. I and other trail users will thank you.

True story: Two women on bikes told me “You’re a rock star!” as they enthusiastically expressed their gratitude to me just last night just north of Hedding Street, and I was covered head-to-toe in muck. Your mileage may vary but I assure your efforts will be appreciated.

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