Jake Sigg handed me his mattock. “Well, I suppose I should clarify,” Sigg said. “It’s a hand mattock.” A hybrid between a pickaxe and a hoe, the mattock was to be my tool of destruction. Or, on this particular day in early February, restoration. Sigg and I were standing in a creek bed, just north of the Laguna Honda Reservoir, at the base of Mt. Sutro’s western slope, in the center of the San Francisco Peninsula. Sunlight streamed through a canopy of Monterey pine and coast live oak. Down in the creek, the air was cool and moist.

Sigg wore a rough brown Carhartt work
shirt and black dickies. His leather boots were caked with dirt. A brown,
brimmed mesh hat, faded from years of sunlight and sweat, sat on his head. His
attention had…

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