10/10/19 update: PG&E shut off electricity to Sonora for about 24 hours, from the mid-afternoon of 10/9/19 through the mid-afternoon of 10/10/19. As announced by e-mail on 10/8/19, we were not going to let what was then a potential power shutoff stop us from building new trails in Dragoon Gulch. Now that electricity has been restored, we expect all will go forward as originally planned, and we look forward to seeing you at Woods Creek Park for check-in on Friday evening, Saturday morning, or Sunday morning, whenever you are arriving!
In October, V-O-Cal will end the 2019 season with its first-ever project in Sonora, a Gold Rush town of approximately 5,000 people nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We'll build a new trail in Dragoon Gulch, a network of trails through oak woodlands that's walkable to downtown Sonora but still feels remote.
Lots of fun and a sense of community
We anticipate having a great mix of V-O-Cal regulars, other volunteers from greater Bay Area, and local residents who will be doing their first V-O-Cal project. We hope you enjoy not only the trail system itself but other tastes you'll get of Tuolumne County. Local businesses are donating food, including Diestel Family Ranch (meat), Indigeny Reserve (hard cider), Sonora Brewing Company (beer), Columbia Mercantile 1855 (nice cheese and crackers), and Gold Country Honey Farms (honey). After dinner on Saturday, you can learn about Dragoon Gulch's human history and geology from complementary talks by locals Barbara Balen (retired from the U.S. Forest Service; currently serving on the board of directors for the Tuolumne Utilities District) and Jeffrey Tolhurst, Ph.D. (professor at Columbia College).
On Saturday evening, you can wander into downtown Sonora for its monthly 2nd Saturday event; art galleries and other shops stay open later, and many offer live music. After the galleries and shops close, you can stay downtown for a free outdoor concert from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m., part of the Sonora Chamber of Commerce's After 8 Summer Concerts series. Downtown Sonora is walkable from our "center camp" at Woods Creek Park. Information about 2nd Saturday and the After 8 Concert, plus a walking map of downtown Sonora, are included in the project fact sheet, which is posted below. A 14-minute interview with updates about the project as of 9/2/19 can be heard on KAAD-LP 103.5's "Tuolumne County Trailhead" program under "TCT #22 - Summer Round Up," starting at 12:07.
Great opportunity for out-of-towners
If you're not from Tuolumne County and are thinking of extending your stay in the area before and/or after the project to enjoy more of what this region has to offer, the Tuolumne County Visitor's Bureau is a terrific resource. It prepared a welcome sheet specifically for V-O-Cal volunteers, which suggests ideas for an extended stay; that document is included in the project fact sheet, which is posted below. In addition, its Web site is full of ideas of things to do--from outdoor recreation to arts, history, and culture--and planning tools. Monday, October 14, is a work holiday for some people (Columbus Day); why not spend the day after the project continuing to enjoy the Sierra? (Camping is not offered on Sunday night.)
Online photo gallery
If you’re new to V-O-Cal and would like to get a sense of how “center camp” runs, check out these photos from the project in Sonoma in July 2019.
How to sign up
Volunteers must be age 14 or older. Volunteers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Volunteers under age 18 must have their parent or legal guardian complete two waiver forms in order to participate, as discussed below.
Please sign up for every option below that applies to you. Options are presented by days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You are welcome to volunteer for as many days as you like. Saturday and Sunday are the days we'll be working on the trail. (We also will have volunteers at center camp [Woods Creek Park], including in the camp kitchen, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; as of 9/15/19, those spots are full.) It is important that you sign up for each day you plan to volunteer.
- We buy and prepare food for breakfast and lunch (provided on both Saturday and Sunday) based on the number of people who sign up to volunteer on each of those days.
- We buy and prepare food for Saturday's dinner based on the number of people who sign up for the dinner option. (You are welcome to join us for dinner on Saturday even if you are able to volunteer only on Sunday.)
- We plan the number of V-O-Cal certified crew leaders to supervise the trail work (and the number and type of tools) based on number of people who sign up for trail work on Saturday and Sunday.
On the page where you provide your contact information, you will be asked for your preferred T-shirt gender and size. The T-shirt order was placed on 9/23/19, so it no longer is important that you complete this question. All volunteers who registered prior to 9/24/19 are guaranteed a T-shirt as a memento of the project. We ordered some extra T-shirts for volunteers who register later, and those will be distributed at the time of check-in on a first-come, first-served basis.
What comes next?
After you register, updates will be communicated to you largely through this Web site. The fact sheet (really, fact booklet) was finalized on 9/15/19 and posted below; we hope it tells you everything you want to know about the project weekend (e.g., the specific schedule, what we recommend you wear and bring with you).
You will be required to complete two waiver forms in order to participate: one for V-O-Cal and one for the City of Sonora. To speed up check-in on the project weekend, we recommend you print the waiver forms at home and then turn in the completed forms when you check in. The forms are posted below. (V-O-Cal's form appears at the last two pages of the project fact sheet.) If you are unable to print and complete the forms in advance, copies will be available at center camp. Volunteers under age 18 must make arrangements to have their parent or legal guardian sign the forms.
Thank you for planning to be part of this project!