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The Mad TrailDigger in the Hamilton Gulch: Background & Info

Jon Nileprecinct Feline

to whom it may concern (this is an archived version of the original webpost):

At this time there is a serious problem in the Hamilton Gulch concerning an individual I have come to call the "Mad TrailDigger" (hereafter MTD). The purpose of this document is twofold:

To introduce myself & the reasons this concerns me

To clearly record the dossier of the actions of the MTD since the beginning of his activities in early 2007. The Mad TrailDigger is using heavy tools to destroy sensitive parts of the biological preserve on the south bank of the Hamilton Gulch above the Botanical Garden. I was only finally able to meet him on Thursday 2007may24 at the end of one of his most conspicuously destructive days. He has been informed both in writing & orally that his actions are inappropriate.

A Brief Introduction to Who I Am

Call me Kjovno. All the deer think Im cool, believe me.

This is the only tool I use when I hike. It lets me push the nettles away.

Ive been out here awhile.

Ive taken out 100 garbage bags of rotted squattage in 3 years from the 5 canyons: Blackberry, SanAntonio, Strawberry, the Gulch, & the Derby. When I clean the gullies I take everything but the glass & the trophies. This is the Derby above Clark Kerr this winter. UC Physical Plant finished the heavy work I couldnt do including the 200 glass bottles I lined up neatly in the creekbed.

I know my way around. I make a day hike of circumambulating either or both labs counter- or clockwise. I can reach Grizzly Peak from the stadium & back in 5 hours; I dont mean on the fire trails.

But this winter a really scary guy showed up on the turf.

Summary Dossier on the Mad TrailDigger


(My apologies for the informality of this presentation. This is my first use of a digital camera to document ecological damage of this hideousness & extent)

The Mad TrailDigger is a white male in his thirtys with short well cut black hair medium build no glasses black hiking tennies. He carries gardening trawls, saws & long-handled shears including boltcutters along a particular route from the Woodbridge grove, destroying plants, disturbing the soil, carving stairs & apparently creating what can only be called a mountainbike trail into the bottom of the Hamilton Gulch. He is *not* a camper, he is a hit & run vandal who only shows up every couple weeks or so. He probably has a day job & a car. Whats alarming is how much backwork he puts into his labour on the days he shows up. He is taking it quite seriously.

2007winter : MTD carves first steps at entrance to Woodbridge Metcalf. When I notice them I hope he is merely a returning alum putting finishing touches on the winters culvert work there. Evidence of his work progresses several km inward however & in early April I leave a conspicuous plastic barricade at the brink of the ridge hes reached telling him to stop now

2007apr06 : MTD leaves 1st note on barricade (below)

2007apr08 : I leave handwritten note stating clearly he has gone far enough & it is not my decision anyway; that he is destroying a biological preserve which he does not own

2007apr28 : MTD leaves 2nd note on barricade (below). Ive made myself clear; I have nothing more to say; assuming he understands I dismantle barricade in a few days

2007may24 : In the morning still nothing unusual. In the evening around pm1800 I find him with a greyish backpack & three long-handled shears one of which is a bolt cutter. He has proceeded over the ridge edge & spent the day carving about 50 steps in the mud right down to the rock & is continuing to broaden the path & hack at the foliage nearly up to one of the delicate plumtrees in a gravelslide above the Strawberry Valley. I explain to him the truth & leave. Im waiting on Centennial across from the parking lot with all the licence plates already written down. He doesnt go to his car but heads down the Centennial path with his bag & his cutters. A few cars leave but Im not waiting; I have 5 plate numbers one of which is likely his

One of the trees holding the original trail in place: healthy branches up to an inch in diameter snipped off on 2007may24 with long handled pruning shears. This is as far as he got.

2007may26 : First contact with UCPD & Hill Patrol. It should be noted that I have been trying to handle this myself because its difficult to imagine UCPD getting excited about someone I cant see whos probably lost in the woods anyway. The fact is: there is still no evidence he understands what he is doing is illegal & he may indeed show up again in a week & keep on going. In retrospect, the moment I had ascertained he was not with UC Physical Plant or the BotGard I should have given him no latitude whatsoever rather than tacitly introducing him (in my handwtitten letter) to the community of practitioners & credentialed researchers who frequent the area

2007may28 : I finish reerecting the barricade at the location I originally demanded he stop. I create it from debris I have nearby & include a woodpile & a chesthigh horizontal barrier. I decorate it with UC logos & hanging body parts & skulls from dead animals

2007jun02 : I perform a second formal decommissioning of the barricade, this time without clearing the area of debris, which is neatly lined up along the path in a respectful fashion. I ensure the UC / BotGard / Starbucks logos are clearly displayed. Across the path I leave only the single chest-high beam with a hanging buckskull strung by a rotting belt thru its nostril to its occipital condyle

For the record: here are the communications except for the main letter I wrote him on Easter which I didnt keep.

Message I left on the barricade:
Whoever you are
Give it up NOW
You have done enough damage
UC has been informed
You will thank yourself as I thank you

Message MTD left in reply to the barricade:


Yes, I will stop if you feel that strongly about it.

I am puzzled however, by why you would want that. A new trail is a benefit in the following ways. It allows critical access in the case of a fire. It is a welcome egress corridor for large animals on these steep slopes. It also allows for greater appreciation of the lower canyon in a way which the Jordan Fireroad does not reveal.

The small disturbance created by the levelling of the trail heals itself almost immediately & so I am unclear about what you mean by 'damage' exactly. Perhaps you refer to the introduction of ANY people into the area. My feeling is that limited access will EXPAND appreciation. and right now this is an appreciation which needs expanding, especially for the lower canyon. Notice however that I have taken efforts to keep the onset of this trail non-obvious off the Metcale [sic].

In any event, I am asking you to reconsider your position. but in the event you dont, I will cease this effort.

[-- the Mad TrailDigger]

My handwritten letter in reply:

In summary, I stressed it is not my decision & that his work is illegal & destructive & must stop. I also alluded to serious work decommissioning wrecked barbedwire fences in the deepest part of the Stawberry Canyon which would in fact be valuable. I did not retain a copy but it is my hope he saved his for the judge.

Stairs dug literally under healthy treeroots exposing them & increasing overall erosion.

Message MTD left in reply to my fully written explanation:


Your point is well taken about the dogs running around due to broadening. I also have respectability [sic] for the fact that this is your turf.

I personally am entranced by this area too. Perhaps you would feel OK if I just added some more steps on the steep parts without the element of broadening, so as to make it easier to walk without slipping. I am good at trimming poison oak. I would like to do that, & if I accidentally do something you dont like, you can just leave another note & I can stop.

What do you say? I dont want to just work for works sake. This is the place which interests me.

[-- the Mad TrailDigger]

When I met him face to face I told him if he wants to work on something he should work on controlling himself. It is certainly clear from his computer-printed communications (both of which I still have) that he has no grip whatsoever & is probably exceedingly dangerous, if only to protected species & sensitive ecosystems.

This is an ordinary healthy deertrail a hundred feet from the scarred wreckage left by the Mad TrailDigger. Note the deft mix of natural & hiker maintained berming, the undisturbed accumulation of pine needles, & the occasional undamaged object to step over or around. This is a place where deer & their allies rule over dogs.

My appreciation for your continued patience & attention to this matter. Although I continue to believe I am in a position to handle it properly, I nonetheless want to put the current info all in one place concerning what may prove to be a lengthy process of dealing with a criminally insane individual in the UC Ecological Study Area.

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