Los Padres Winds of Winter, NPLD & Trail Trainings

Winds of Winter Revealing Early Fall Colors, San Rafael Mountain

Hi Everyone,

This past week (Autumnal Equinox on 9/22) we officially said goodbye to summer and hello to fall!  People complain about the lack of seasons here in the Los Padres but chances are you’ve felt some chillier mornings this last week and have probably put on a jacket for the first time in a few months as well.  Fall is here and with it the start of our real trail season – hallelujah!  That being said, this past summer was a memorable one and left in a blaze of glory with some crazy September weather.  According to some sources “they” say this summer was the hottest recorded summer in California history.  We saw a late season extreme heat wave that included record temps across much of the forest.  But don’t complain too much about our heat as Death Valley suffered through a record 94 straight days of temperatures over 100˚, which ended earlier this month.  Speaking of this month, September brought lots of monsoonal rains and spectacular weather including thunderstorms, microbursts, flash floods and even our first freeze of the season.  Rain totals across the forest were generally in the 0.25″ – 0.5″ range but select areas received over an inch highlighted by the Sierra Madres which received 1.3″ at Bates Canyon.  There is already some greenery sprouting as a result of the rain which hopefully means a long green season to come.  Summer rarely leaves without a fight and temps are expected to be hot again this week but winter is coming……

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NPLD Across the Forest

NPLD VOLUNTEER CENTRAL

This coming Saturday September 30 is National Public Lands Day (NPLD).  NPLD is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort on public lands with events and volunteer opportunities setup across the country.  If you’re looking to participate in NPLD we’ve got you covered here in the Los Padres with three scheduled projects to choose from:

SALMON CREEK, SOUTH BIG SUR COAST
Join volunteers from Ventana Wilderness Alliance and the LPFA as we will be camping near Salmon Creek Trailhead and spending the weekend maintaining nearby trails and helping to educate trail-users on Leave No Trace and responsible forest use.  If you’d like to sign up please email us (INFO@LPForest.org) or check this link for more information.  RSVP is required as space is limited……

TUNNEL TRAIL, SANTA BARBARA FRONTCOUNTRY
A local who’s who of SB trail restoration workers are going to descend on Tunnel Trail this Saturday to do what they do best.  Tunnel Trail is in need of some love and when better to share that love than NPLD.  Project begins at the trailhead at 8am, lunch will be provided, more information here and attached PDF.

PRATT TRAIL, OJAI FRONTCOUNTRY
This NPLD project was scheduled a week later on October 7 in order to avoid conflicts.  We’ll be meeting at the Ojai Ranger District at 8:30am on 10/7 and then carpooling up to the top of the Pratt Trail.  From there we’ll be clearing brush and fixing trail, all with great views of the Ojai Valley and the eastern Santa Ynez Mtns.  Come join us!

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“Trail? I Don’t See No Stinkin Trail!” – Aliso Trail Hole

UPCOMING TRAIL TRAININGS

Most of us have probably volunteered at some point to help support the trails you love.  If you haven’t, you really should!  It’s great exercise, you feel good about yourself, spending time in nature, you feel good about yourself, meeting new friends, you feel good about yourself, always learning new things and you feel good about yourself.  And some of us have probably volunteered A LOT, thank you for your help!  For those of us looking to add skills to the trail work we love, there are two upcoming trail building trainings that you might want to look into:

OCTOBER 7-9: GRIPHOIST / RIGGING CLASS
Rigging is an advanced trail building technique designed to safely move large heavy objects into place while building or restoring trails.  Think of rigging like a zip-line for objects such as boulders, supplies or wood where those objects are moved into place along the trail using a tool called a griphoist.  I’m sure you’ve seen giant 400lb rock steps placed on trails, most likely those steps were built using a griphoist and rigging.  If you’re interested in learning more about the art of moving large objects, United Trail Maintainers of California (UTMC) has graciously scheduled a free 3-day training Oct 7-9 in Tehachapi.  The class will be taught by OBP Trailworks, for more information check this link or contact UTMC to sign up.  We’re expecting lots of beautiful step works and rockwalls across the LP in the coming years!

NOVEMBER 4-5: SUSTAINABLE TRAIL BUILDING WORKSHOP
What good is working a trail if it’s not sustainable?  Of course the brush always comes back and gravity takes down trees but if you’re interested in learning how to build and maintain a sustainable trail come on out to this 2-day training being offered by Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB) at Montaña de Oro State Park.  The class costs $100 and should be a great weekend of practical trail learning and instruction.  For more information check the link right here.

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The Itsy-Bitsy Spider Climbed Up the Dry Waterfall

There’s a lot of volunteer projects and events upcoming that we want to highlight including the Upper Ojai SAR fundraiser this weekend, the October Working Vacation at Mission Pine Spring, LPFA Karma Tap at Draughtsmen Aleworks where you can contribute to the LPFA literally by drinking beer – all OCTOBER LONG! and the Fig Mtn Gran Fondo.  So much going on, we’ll plan on sending another email soon…..  In the meantime here’s a quick teaser…..

Los Padres is Totality Hot!

Brrrrr….. A Chilly Mission Pine Basin
– Hello Los Padres –
With the “excessive heat” we’re experiencing around the forest this week we thought it might be nice to share a picture and story of our Los Padres in the snow.  Maybe it will cool you down a little.  This photo was taken around dawn in early March at Mission Pine Basin (5,300′) in the San Rafael Wilderness.  I had backpacked in from Upper Oso, taking two days along the Santa Cruz Trail to get to MPB.  It rained on and off most of the second day and the final 2,000 foot climb up to Mission Pine was like taking a shower each time I rubbed against any of the 7,000,000 manzanita bushes along that 4mile climb.  I was drenched and cold when I saw the campfire at the Basin indicating that my buddy, ‘The Masticator’, had indeed upheld his end of the bargain and backpacked in from Cachuma Saddle.  He had slogged his bike up to McKinley Saddle the previous night and backpacked through mostly snow flurries to the Basin.  We were there to see it snow and knew a storm was forecast that evening.  We spent the night next to a raging fire as 8 inches of snow piled up beside our tents.  The next morning (shown above) was crisp as we explored the Basin, looking between the clouds at the blue Channel, snow curdling off the trees and….. lots of hot coffee.
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The LP Piru Neighborhood
FOREST 411
We’re hiring!  The LPFA is looking for a forest-loving go-getter to help manage our retail sales and grow the public outreach.  If interested, we’d love to hear from you.  More information at the link RIGHT HERE.

• So a bear walks into Reyes Creek Bar and says to Tony, “I’ll have a pint of beer and a……….. tri-tip sandwich”.  Tony responds, “Why the big pause?”   Wha wha wha…..  Okay, did you hear the one about the bear who stumbled out to Rincon Point on a summer Saturday afternoon…..?  Amazingly that isn’t a joke as a black bear did indeed find its way to the beach two weekends ago.  The photos are hard to believe but tragically the bear was euthanized after it was found to be unhealthy.

• Speaking of bears, this weekend at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is a presentation called the Amazing World of Bears by Kelley Swedlow.  It starts at 11am at the Visitor Center, which gives you enough time for a morning on the trailw beforehand or some extra time to sleep in.  It will be interesting to hear what Kelley thinks of the Rincon bear…..

• Do you Piru?  The water agency is charge of the Lake Piru Recreation Area is required to make changes to their recreation management plan for Piru.  They’ve hired an environmental consulting company to assist in the design of that recreation management plan and have released an online recreation survey designed to collect information from the public who use the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  This includes boaters, anglers, hikers, riders, hunters, Condor Trail backpackers, kayakers, campers, etc who use or pass through the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  If that’s you, please take the time and fill out this short online survey.  The surveys asks how often you use the Piru neighborhood, what you do there, what you like about it and what could be improved.  Certainly worth the time if you have an opinion, see link above.

• We’ve heard some questions about accessing the Whittier Fire burn area.  An update was released this week after an infra-red flight showed that some hot spots remain within the fire perimeter.  As a result the fire remains 87% contained and closed to public entry.  It might be a while before the area is reopened to the public.  Stay tuned….

• Last time we mentioned that Cherry Creek Road (6N01) was closed, it has since been opened.

• LPFA is excited to announce that Sunday October 8 will be our 3rd Annual Used Camping Gear Sale at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta.  We’ll once again be partnering with Gossamer Gear to provide some incredible deals on great backpacks and camping gear.  We hope you can make it and let us know if you have any camping gear to donate to the sale.  We’ll provide a tax donation receipt and the proceeds go right back to Trail Care.

• Sorry about the bad bear news but we’ve got some great wildlife news to share that might cheer you up.  For the first time since 1985 a wild-born pair of California condors have successfully nested and have a chick of their own.  You can read more about it here.  The nest is located in Southern Monterey County and is an important step showing just how incredible the condor re-population is progressing.  It’s probably not too far off that we’ll be seeing healthy condors on the beaches soon as well.

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Chumash cave 1677 eclipse & Madras, Oregon 2017 eclipse, photo AYoung

The eclipse was all the news this past week, you don’t need to hear about that, although some of you may still be stuck in traffic.  A little different twist on the eclipse was visiting a Chumash cave that very same day and seeing their rendition of a solar eclipse that occurred on November 24, 1677.  They didn’t have the benefit of months of advanced notice, nor did they have CNN covering the PATH OF TOTALITY.  It must have been something truly amazing back in 1677…….

FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN GRAN FONDO

“So what is a Gran Fondo?”  Good question…  Originating in 1970 in Italy, a gran fondo is a long-distance (at least 75 miles) road cycling event in which a large number of riders are racing the distance against the clock.  Think of it like a marathon for cyclists.  Cool, right?  Anyway, this year Carmichael Training Systems and Figueroa Mountain Brewing are partnering to present the inaugural Figueora Mountain Gran Fondo on November 11.  They’ve asked the LPFA to help support the race and we’ll be organizing an aid station at the very top of the race at Ranger Peak along Figueroa Mountain Road.  Should be great!

If you’re a cyclist interested in doing the ride, have at it, sign up.  If you’re not but would like to volunteer to help at the LPFA aid station, we’d love the support!  You can sign up by emailing INFO@LPForest.org.  All volunteers will get a free shirt and lunch/beer at the after party in Santa Ynez.  Come one, come all……

We’re still sorting out the details but imagine we’ll be meeting at Ranger Peak around 8am and heading off the mountain in time for lunch.

INFO@LPForest.org

Figueroa Mountain Gran Fondo

 

 

LPFA Job Announcement: RETAIL SALES & PUBLIC OUTREACH MANAGER

The Los Padres Forest Association (LPFA – 501c3) has been helping the Los Padres National Forest and supporting the people who use the forest since 1979.  We are based in Goleta but have projects and work sites across the Los Padres from Ojai to Big Sur.  We work in conjunction with the Forest Service with responsibilities that include Visitor Center management, Ranger Station retail sales, forest-user education and trail maintenance with an emphasis on helping people enjoy the Los Padres in a responsible manner.

The LPFA is growing and we’re looking for a forest-lover and outdoor recreationalist to manage our retail sales and public outreach programs while helping elsewhere within the organization as needed.

The position is part-time with much flexibility, working remotely and will require occasional travel in and around the Los Padres Forest.  Individuals applying should be computer and social media savvy, happy, knowledge of nature, creative, energetic, strong ability to write, hard working, attention to detail, honest and excited to be working to support the Los Padres Forest.  Previous experience working with non-profits and grant funding would be great as well.  Compensation, schedule and hours are negotiable.

If the paragraphs above are you, we’d love to hear from you………  INFO@LPForest.org

BIG SURealism

Pfeiffer Gulch (Canyon) Bridge, photo CalTrans  
Hello Los Padres,

Once again we find ourselves in the dog days of summer, closer to fall than spring but aren’t the dog days supposed to be lethargic and carefree?  That certainly is not the case here, in particular the Big Sur coastal portions of the Monterey Ranger District where the community continues to recover from the 2016 Soberanes Fire and subsequent winter storm damage.  Dog days?  More like a colony of ants, hustling and bustling to get ready for the coming winter…..  There’s a lot going on around these parts and I’m not quite sure where to begin so we’ll start at the heart and work out from there:

  • Access along Highway 1 has improved but remains closed at both Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and Mud Creek.
    • Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is located just south of Big Sur Station and was famously demolished earlier this year after it was discovered structurally unsound.  Great progress has been made rebuilding the bridge and it is on schedule to reopen by October.
    • Also famously (recurring theme), a bypass trail was built around the failed bridge so that workers and residents could pass from one side to the other.  This bypass trail was initially only open for residents and workers but was opened to the public on July 1.  The public can now park near either side of the bridge and walk around to the other side.  Shuttle services are available to help usher tourists to and from the bypass trail.
    • Mud Creek, which again famously demolished a 1/3 mile chunk of Hwy 1 in May 2017, remains closed and won’t be reopened until sometime in 2018.  CalTrans is working on a plan to rebuild the new road over the slide.
    • The other major slide named Paul’s Slide has been reopened with a single lane allowing vehicles to pass 24hrs a day 7 days a week.
    • Pfeiffer Beach access remains closed due to both Sycamore Canyon Road damage as well as the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge closure.
  • All said, you can now drive north from SLO all the way to Salmon Creek Guard Station.  You can drive south from Monterey as far as Big Sur Station.  You can also drive over Nacimiento-Fergusson Road from Hunter-Liggett to access Hwy 1 and from there head north as far as the Big Sur Taphouse and south as far as Mud Creek.  Confusing, isn’t it.  Here’s a map that might help.

The newly minted Bypass Trail (aka Taphouse Trail), a shining example of community’ism.

  • All State Parks and Los Padres Campgrounds / Dayuse areas along Hwy 1 are open.  Now that being said, there are certain parts of the parks and campgrounds that remain closed due to winter damage.  If you are heading out that way to camp, BE SURE TO HAVE RESERVATIONS (note the new State Parks reservation service).
  • One rather large issue in recent years has been campers coming to Big Sur without reservations and having no place to camp or stay.  As a result many of these campers are ‘forced’ to camp illegally along roads or in turnouts.  The road most heavily impacted by the illegal camping has been Nacimiento-Ferguson Road.  It’s been well documented that illegal campers have left trash-piles, campfires and make-shift toilets along the sides of Nacimiento-Ferguson Road and as a result the Forest Service responded today by prohibiting dispersed camping along Nacimiento-Ferguson.

Doesn’t sound very dog days’ish does it…?  The Big Sur Coast is the most highly visited portion of the Los Padres Forest and for good reason – it is absolutely spectacular.  It’s unfortunate that not everyone cares for Big Sur the way most locals do.  And it’s equally important to step back and put yourself in the shoes of the people who come to visit Big Sur.  There is a great saying: come with solutions not problems.  Progress is being made.

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West Cuesta View
FOREST 411
• In case you can’t get enough LPFA through these emails or Facebook, we are now on Instagram as well: Los_Padres_Forest_Association
West Cuesta Ridge Rd (aka TV Tower) in San Luis Obispo has reopened after being closed for nearly a year.  Great mountain biking!

Cherry Creek Road off Hwy 33 in Ventura County is usually opened seasonally on August 1 but due to gate damage has not yet opened this year.  We’ll keep you posted.

• Once again, A-Zone South general hunting season starts August 12 and lasts through September 24.  A-Zone includes most of the Los Padres.  For those of you new to hunting season, expect more people camping around the trailheads and more activity both at sunrise and sunset.

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is hosting a talk on August 12 on the geology of caves, volcanos, mountains and more.  Show starts at 11am, this is a great event for the kids and adults alike.

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IMBA‘s Chris Orr teaches trail design at a Patagonia sponsored Trail Summit hosted by the OVLC

Fires, Hunting Season, Volunteer Opportunities, 411

 Whittier’s Final Gasp
FIRE FOREST & RESTRICTIONS

It’s been a fiery few weeks around the Los Padres.  It seems like wildfires are popping up just about every day but thanks to the excellent fire crews most of them haven’t developed into much.  That being said, we’ve had quite a few significant fires that have grown large enough to garner incident names and/or attention:

  • We had Hudson, in the eastern Cuyama, that didn’t get onto the Los Padres but burned just over 1,000 acres.
  • There were a series of seven fires in Santa Paula Canyon that burned 35 acres and has caused the closure of the popular Santa Paula Canyon Trail.
  • The biggest has been the Alamo Fire, which burned over 28,000 acres.  It also didn’t get onto LP soil but came really really close and caused multiple forest access closures.
  • And of course the Whittier Fire, which has burned over 18,000 acres, mostly within the Los Padres and remains 87% contained.  Tragically, 16 residences were destroyed at the hands of Whittier and a Forest Closure remains enforced across the Western Santa Ynez Mountains.

In response to the increase in fire activity, the Los Padres National Forest went into Level III Fire Restrictions effective July 17.  You can read all about it here.  The largest change in this order is the banning of target shooting across the Los Padres.

Summer is a tough time in the Los Padres.  Temperatures are really high across most of the forest and water is becoming scarce.  If you’ve got the itch to get into the forest please be careful and plan on doing most of your moving either early or late……..

A-ZONE SOUTH: August 12
Now, that being said, early August is also one of the busiest times in the Los Padres as A-Zone South deer (rifle) season kicks off.  This years general season goes from August 12 – September 24.  You can see on the map that A-Zone South includes just about all of the Los Padres.  If you are a hunter, have at it, be safe and responsible.  If you are not a hunter, you may want to pick your forest endeavors carefully, especially on weekends.  Be prepared to see more activity than usual along forest roads and at campgrounds and leave your antler hat at home.  If you have any questions, please contact your local Ranger District.
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Four Fingers View, Channel Islands, Madulce Trail

MADULCE TRAIL PROJECT: August 4-6

In case you need a Los Padres Fix for your NDD or more likely your TWDD (Trail Work Deficit Disorder), the LPFA will be squeezing in a trail project August 4-6 along the Madulce Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Led by Mike Smith, we’ll be working the top mile of the trail from the Buckhorn Road out to the junction with the Madulce Peak Lookout Trail.  Most of the focus will be fixing tread and broken cribwalls on the north slope of the ridge, which in conjunction with the 5,500ft elevation should mean cooler temperatures.  We’ll be driving in from Santa Barbara Canyon and base-camping at nearby Alamar Camp.  If you’ve never been to Alamar or this part of the forest, it is spectacular and a real treat to be able to drive in 2 hours what normally takes 2 days to backpack.  As usual all food and tools will be provided for the volunteers.  If you have any questions or would like to sign-up, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org

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Colorful History, Mono Debris Dam

FOREST 411

• Got plans this weekend?  If not, throw the kids in the family roadster and head out tomorrow to Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center to see the Humane Society of Ventura County give a presentation at 11am.  The coolest thing about the Humane Society is that you never quite know what animals they’ll show up with.  They might have a blind corn snake?  They might come with dogs performing tricks?  Maybe a goat?  You never know….  But one thing for sure is that your kids will love it and spend the entire drive home begging you to adopt a cat or a mouse or an iguana.  No thanks needed.  See you tomorrow!

• Were you around 25 years ago?  Does June 19, 1992 mean anything?  It should, that was the day the Los Padres Condor and River Protection Act was signed adding more than 400,000 acres of wilderness and 80 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers to the Los Padres National Forest.  This included the creation of the Silver Peak, Sespe, Matilija, Garcia and Chumash Wildernesses as well as additional land added to both the San Rafael and Ventana Wildernesses.  That was quite a day, cheers to June 19!

• This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the Soberanes Fire, which burned from July 22, 2016 well into the winter months.  Soberanes consumed over 130,000 acres, destroyed dozens of homes and took the life of a dozer operator working on the fire.  Even a year later, we’re still reeling from Soberanes with road closures and forest closures continuing to impact life in and around Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness.  More updates next time around….

• A press release was issued earlier this month about the continued closure of Hi Mountain Road in SLO County.  Hi Mtn Rd is an unpaved road that connects Arroyo Grande with Pozo going through both SLO County and Los Padres land.  It leads to a variety of recreational activities and campgrounds but remains closed as SLO and the LP work out an agreement on road maintenance.  The attached PDF tells the story better than we can.  Note that Hi Valley Road remains closed from the first gate down next to the creek coming up from Arroyo Grande out to Pozo.

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Taking it Easy, LPFA Flume Chute Aid Station, SBER 2017