Los Padres Swing the Gates & National Trails Day

Is that ‘June Gloom’, or yet another wave of storms headed our way?  Silver Peak Wilderness, photo Toejam

Hello Friends,

It sure seems like every time we’re ready to call an end to our 2018-19 rainy season, another storm or two pops up on the Doppler.  It’s not often we get any significant rain in May.  Yet this year, on top of all the rain we’ve already had, we made a serious run at the all-time record for rain in the month of May.  Even this past week we had some odd early season thunderstorms which caused flash flood warnings across much of the Los Padres.  As a whole, the LP is well over our seasonal average rainfall totals with most stations across the forest recording 115-140% of annual rainfall totals.  It’s certainly been an exciting year for weather but we all know the heat will be coming soon so until then lets be sure to enjoy all the overcast, dreary, precipitation filled days we can.

Speaking of precipitation and rain delays, the Forest Service has done a good job over the past few weeks of getting most of the seasonal road closures open across the forest.  Here’s the latest and greatest on gate closures and openings:

I know many of us have been waiting patiently (some impatiently) for the gates to swing open this year.  Now is the time, most of the gates are open and the forest is yours to enjoy responsibly!  Many flowers are still blooming, some of the protected hillsides remain green and water is still flowing across most of the drainages.  Get out and enjoy your forest and if you come across anything interesting, dangerous, a trail impediment or have any questions please share on HikeLosPadres.com, email us (INFO@LPForest.org) or contact your local district ranger office.  Have at it and as always be cautious and safe!

Trail work is ________!  Fun?  Rewarding?  Radical?  Necessary?  Fill the blank in for yourself during an upcoming NTD trail project LPFA, Thomas Fire Trail photo D Najera

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY 2019

National Trails Day (NTD) is an annual day of trail celebration where thousands of hikers, bikers, riders and trail users across the country donate their time to help protect and maintain the trails they love.  While NTD is technically the first Saturday of June, NTD hosted projects usually spill over a few weeks before or after the actual National Trails Day.  This year is no different with a few NTD projects still scheduled on both June 8 and June 15, see list below.  While it would be great for you to make it to a trail project this month, the essence of National Trails Day is much more than just a singular day each year.  Dedicate every month, every week and every day you spend on the trail to the spirit of a NTD event.  It can be as easy as picking up a few pieces of trash along the trail, helping clear a downed branch from the trail corridor or simply sharing what you found with your local trail organizations or agencies.  And of course, you can always step up your game and try adopting your favorite trail as well.  Every bit helps!  Hope you can make it to an upcoming trail event near you:

Deep Emerald Gems Around Every Corner, the Lower Sisquoc – LPFA Working Vacation this week!

FOREST 411

– The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center summer series of weekend interpretive events is off and running.  In June we have presentations and talks covering the Wonderful World of Bees, the Last Days of Dinosaurs and Saving the California Condors.  Always something going on at Wheeler!  Hope to see you soon….

– Speaking of the condor, our local 400+ mile Los Padres thru-hike, the Condor Trail has been seeing some activity this season.  There are currently at least three people hiking the CT and another few who have already completed it this year.  The CT made an appearance on a recent Backpacker Radio podcast and rumor has it that a guide book is in the works as well.  Stay tuned, we’re certain to be hearing more about the Condor Trail in the years to come….

– And along those lines, Piper (Diane) from Santa Barbara successfully connected the Los Padres with the PCT backpacking from NIRA to Agua Dulce.  This was Piper’s second time completing this epic hike.  You can follow her journey through a series of YouTube videos she put together.  Check it out…..

– If you’ve ever driven up Hwy 33 you’ve probably noticed the remains of Matilija Hot Springs on the left across from what used to be the U.S.A.’s Smallest Post Office.  The VC Star recently ran an article discussing the future of the hot springs along with a small video tour of how it fared during the Thomas Fire.

– The Partnership for Resilient Communities steel ring net project above Montecito is in full swing.  There are 6 nets currently being installed across West Fork Cold Spring, East Fold Cold Spring, Buena Vista and San Ysidro canyons.  If you’re in the neighborhood, go check them out, they are not hard to spot.

East Fork Cold Spring ring net, lying in wait…..

– From sediment capture to sediment flow, the San Clemente Dam was removed in 2015 along the Carmel River in large part to help restore local steelhead populations.  Reports this spring are showing that steelhead numbers along the Carmel are way up from previous years.  You can read about it here and here. This is potentially a good sign of things to come for other failing Los Padres area dams including the Los Padres Dam and the Matilija Dam.

– The Los Padres National Forest is seeking public comment on a recently proposed forest-wide Invasive Plant Treatment ProgramPublic comment can be submitted to the Forest Service before either June 19 or June 27 (conflicting reports).  You can read much more on this proposal here.

– This is pretty cool, the Forest Fire Lookout Association in conjunction with the Los Padres National Forest will be training volunteers to spot smoke from the Chews Ridge Lookout tower (36.312201, -121.568204) in Monterey County.  If interested, please see flier.  This is a neat concept for a few different reasons.  Can you think of any other lookout towers across the Los Padres that would be worthwhile to reactivate and setup similar volunteer programs?  Lets do it!

– Do you shop at Amazon?  If so, please shop through the AmazonSmile program and choose the LPFA as your charitable organization.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of all eligible purchased back to the LPFA.  It adds up quick and goes right back towards the forest and trails you love!  You can start shopping right now by clicking this link or choosing the Los Padres Forest Association within the AmazonSmile program.  Thanks in advance and happy shopping!

Otis, Susie, Beth, Kathleen and String Packing the May 2019 Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, Judell Trail, photo Beckstrand

Finally, Los Padres Spring Season is HERE!

No more waiting, LP Season 2019 is on now!
No White Walkers here, just Blue Canyon, photo D Haan

Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you with a little Los Padres dirt under your fingernails, perhaps a very small splotch of poison oak on the back of your leg, sore legs from hammering up that big trail climb last weekend and a huge smile thinking about what was and what is yet to come in your Los Padres explorations.  This is the prime time of the year for hiking, riding, camping and/or swimming.  There are lots of opportunities near and far to enjoy the Los Padres and to give back to the forest in the process.  You can explore local Meetup groups for close-by trail addicts looking for like-minded friends to share the trails with.  Study your LP maps or HikeLosPadres.com for new trails or camps to visit.  And for those who want to give back to the trails you love, join the LPFA on one of our upcoming volunteer projects.  Have at it, get-out get-out wherever you are and take advantage of the prime season here in the Los Padres.  Oh, and by the way, we’d love to see any photos you take while you’re out in the forest.  Just as you probably (hopefully) like to get these updates, we also love to see what you’re up to as well.  Living vicariously……

Nathan Wickstrum for the win! And he won the contest too.

WHEELER GORGE BROCHURE COVER CONTEST

A few months ago we ran a contest looking for great photos of the Hwy 33 / Ojai Backcountry region of the Los Padres Forest to be used on the cover of the 2019 Wheeler Gorge event brochure.  We received over 100 incredible photo entries from across the Ojai Ranger District featuring sunsets, flowers, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, majestic trees, vistas and people enjoying the forest.  It was a hard choice but we ended up choosing this fantastic layout of waterfalls taken by Nathan Wickstrum.  Thank you everyone who participated and Nathan, we’ll be in touch to discuss your prize!  Woot woot…..

The annual Wheeler Gorge Open House is this weekend!  Please come by for a visit with your family and friends, say hello and come back again throughout the summer for the weekly events and talks.  You can learn more here.

LPFA volunteers went Dothraki clearing brush on the Tinta Trail. 
Yes, that was and is the trail.  Up next is fixing the ruts and water damage……..

FOREST 411

– The LPFA will be co-hosting a Trivia Night TONIGHT with REI at Night Lizard Brewing in Santa Barbara.  If you enjoy the outdoors, find yourself at REI regularly, dig trivia nights or enjoy beer; we expect to see you tonight at 7pm.  Bring your A Game…….

– We’ve been busy restoring many of the trails you love and some that you might learn to love.  Over the past month we’ve led trail projects on the Aliso Trail, Santa Barbara Canyon Trail, Alamar Trail, Tinta Trail, Mono-Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Alamar Hill Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Judell Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Matilija Falls Trail, Gridley Trail, Manzana Trail, Lost Valley Trail, Hurricane Deck Trail and Big Cone Spruce Trail.  We’ve also partnered with Santa Barbara County Trails Council to help them on the Franklin Trail and Baron Trail, partnered with Montecito Trails Foundation to work on the Wiman Trail, Hot Springs Connector Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail and Old Pueblo Trail and partnered with SLOPOST to help on the Trout Creek Trail and Seller’s Potrero Trail.  Tis the season for trail work, it’s been a busy month!  Big thanks to all our partners, The Forest Service, our LPFA Trail Crew and especially all the volunteers who have poured their heart and souls into helping the trails we love!  THANK YOU……

– The Amgen Tour of California will be passing through the Los Padres in a few weeks.  Stage 4 starts at Laguna Seca on May 15 and follows Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast before ending 137 miles later at Morro Bay.  Should be spectacular!  The next day on May 16, stage 5 covers 136 miles from Pismo Beach to Ventura passing the Los Padres through Hwy 154 in Santa Barbara.

– The Los Padres National Forest is proposing to reroute the Pine Ridge Trail around a damaged section of trail near Barlow Flat Camp.  The Pine Ridge Trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Los Padres and has been closed since July 2016 due to the Soberanes Fire and subsequent damage to the trail.  The FS is looking for comments on the proposed reroute.  Please check this link for more details and let your voice be heard.

– The Los Padres’ very own Helen Tarbet has released her latest Figueroa Mountain Wildflower update for April 18.  This is a fantastic resource for knowing where and what flowers are out and about.

– Many of the roads around the forest remain damaged and closed after this winters heavy rains, see photo below.  The FS is working to repair the roads and restore trailhead access. Many of the seasonal gate closures are expected to be reopened on May 1.  Please be patient with the FS but at the same time give them a call and let them know you want and need the roads reopened as soon as possible.

– Even with the above average rain season we’ve enjoyed, the Los Padres is preparing for another potentially big fire season ahead.  Due in part to the wet winter, the grasses around the Los Padres have grown quite high and much of that grass is starting to dry out.  We’ve already seen a few smaller grass fires around the Central Coast.  In anticipation of the upcoming fire season, Cal Fire has been adding staff and fire engines as well as awarding grants to areas such as Big Sur and the Santa Barbara Frontcountry to tackle local fire prevention projects.

– In response to a 2018 lawsuit, an agreement was reached last week between the Forest Service and ForestWatch to extend the temporary ban on un-managed target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest until January 2020.  This does not impact the regular legal hunting seasons and target shooting remains legal at both the Ojai Valley Gun Club in Rose Valley and Winchester Gun Club on West Camino Cielo.

– With the assistance of the VWA, Arroyo Seco Gorge has been selected as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot for 2019 and will be visited by LNT staff August 19-26.  As part of a LNT Hotspot program, LNT will send out a small team of LNT experts who will stay at Arroyo Seco for the week and conduct public outreach and lead community events designed to teach and preach more sustainable practices for the Arroyo Seco Gorge.  Good stuff!

– The Los Padres National Forest will be hosting a job fair on Saturday May 4 from 9am – 1pm at the San Marcos Fire Station.

– Lets get back to the trails, shall we?  While last month was certainly busy, we’ve got more trail restoration on tap for the coming month including work on the Tequepis Trail, Matilija Trail, Three Peaks Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Willow Spring Trail, Manzana Trail, Deal Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Grapevine Trail and Matilija Falls Trail.  Busy busy busy……  If you’d like to help with any of these trail projects, we’d love the support either through volunteer help or donations.  Email Volunteer@LPForest.org or make a donation to the LPFA Trail Care program today!

That’s the road, and a legit reason why Grade Valley remains closed, photo Upper Ojai SAR

Get Your Los Padres Updates Here

“Early Spring at its Best”, photo THurt

Hello Friends,

Simply put, it’s about as good as it gets right now across the Los Padres.  The _______ is amazing this season! We’ve not seen _______ like this for years and the _______ Trail is spectacular right now, never been better.  And have you seen the _______ on _______ Peak?  Wow….  Stunning.

We’ll leave it at that…….  you should have no problem filling in the blanks.  That’s your homework, uh, we mean forestwork!  The rest of this email will focus on upcoming volunteer projects and some updates from across the Los Padres.  We do hope you’re finding time to enjoy the trails and forest responsibly, be sure to check HikeLosPadres for the most recent trail and camp information and if you have any questions or need information, please don’t hesitate to let us know.  We’ll try our best to get the answers you might need. Let’s get to it…..

REI Giving Back and Walking the Walk, photo LPFA

TRAIL HELP NEEDED

As usual, all the upcoming forest events and volunteer trail projects are listed at the bottom of this email but we wanted to call out a few in particular that we are looking forward to:

April 12-14: TINTA TRAIL
The Tinta Trail is a seldom used trail set just off the northeastern edge of the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Tinta, which is part of the Condor Trail, is designated as a motorcycle trail but is also a great option for mountain bikes as well as hikers. Tinta has become incredibly overgrown over the past few years to the point where it’s become really hard to ride.  Not for long….  We’ll be working/camping for 3 days on April 12-14 working on brushing the Tinta Trail from Upper Tinta Camp down beyond Brubaker Canyon.  Since this is non-wilderness we’ll have the benefit of using power tools and are hoping to get some local motorcyclists to help support the project by riding in tools, supplies and food for the volunteers.  It should be a different yet really fun project.  If you’d like to help out, please let us know: Volunteer@LPForest.org

April 26-28: THREE PEAKS TRAIL
Do you have a favorite trail that needs maintenance?  If so, this is a good model to follow.  Los Padres volunteer extraordinaire Steve Cypher had a similar feeling for the Dutra area of the Silver Peak Wilderness and decided to do something about it. Partnering with the FS, VWA and LPFA, Steve has now led multiple trail projects in and around Dutra Flats focused on clearing the trails.  This is the 3rd or 4th such project and together with volunteers Steve is successfully reopening this area.  Talk about awesome.  It would be great if others were able to follow in Steve’s footprints.  If you’re interested in learning more about adopting a trail or working Three Peaks, click this link and sign up to help April 26-28.

May & June: SISQUOC WORKING VACATIONS
If you don’t know about the famous LPFA Working Vacations, this might be the year for you to sign up and find out.  The LPFA will be hosting two Working Vacations this year focused on restoring the Sisquoc Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness.  The first is May 4-12 along the Upper Sisquoc and the second is June 1-9 on the Lower Sisquoc.  Both projects will be stock supported with all food provided for volunteers.  While we’ll be out there for 10 days in total, there are shorter stints available in case you can’t spend the whole time out there.  This is a great year for these projects as the Sisquoc should be flowing nicely well into the summer season.  Let us know if you have any questions and we’d love to see you out there with us later this spring.  Volunteer@LPForest.org

Cherry Garcia, Looking Beautiful in Green

FOREST 411

West Fork Cold Spring Trail above Montecito has reopened after being closed for a few months due to a landslide taking out a large portion of the trail.

– In nearby news, the debris-flow ring nets above Montecito have been approved and will be installed in the coming weeks.  There will be certain trail closures during the installation of the nets and we’ll do our best to share that with you through social media.

– And related to that, late last month the cause of the Thomas Fire was released as fire investigators determined that “power lines slapping together in high winds” was the cause of the Thomas Fire ignition.

– The LPNF is extending the comment deadline for those interested in weighing in on the proposed closure of Dry Canyon in the Mt Pinos Ranger District.  The closure is a result of a 2015 study which found munitions and explosives in Dry Canyon that date back to the 1940’s.

– There have been a few rescues across the Los Padres over the past month related to lost or injured trail users.  Be sure to share your trip itineraries with friends or family before you venture into the forest and use common sense while in the forest.  Be safe.

– The proposed wildlife corridor in Ventura County was approved last month which should help the safe passage of mammals between the Los Padres and adjacent wild areas.  On the heels of the wildlife corridor, a study was released late last month about the potential extinction of Southern California mountain lions.

– Congressman Salud Carbajal is poised to reintroduce the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act.

– The Monterey Ranger District continues to struggle with closures and lack of forest access.  The lack of access has been leading to overcrowding within the few locations that are open.  You can read more in a recent article from the Monterey County Weekly.

– The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center will once again be hosting weekly Saturday educational programs designed for nature lovers of all ages.  Wheeler will be kicking off the season with the Annual Wheeler Open House on Saturday April 27.  Come on out, we hope to see you on the 27th and throughout the summer.

 – Maybe you’ve heard, but the flowers aren’t bad right now either. Los Padres Forest’s own Helen Tarbet is once again providing regular flower updates for those brave enough to venture into the Figueroa Mtn area.  Her most recent excellent update is attached with this email.  Please tread lightly.

Charlie Robinson, in his Happy Place!

And last but certainly not least, we wanted to congratulate our good friend Charlie Robinson on his recent retirement from the Forest Service.  Charlie served as the Ojai District Recreation Officer for over 27 years and was with the Forest Service for 43 years.  We wish Charlie all the best as he skis into whiter pastures and thank him for all his help over the years.  27 years of institutional knowledge will be hard to lose. Fortunately, some of us have his cell number…..  You can run Charlie, but you can’t hide…..  ha  ha.  Thank you Charlie!

Pano Around the Mono Narrows, photo LPFA

UPCOMING EVENTS
A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know.
If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pass along!

April 6: 1st Saturday Deal Canyon Project, MPRD & LPFA
April 6: State Trails Day, SB Frontcountry
April 6-9: Judell Trail Car-Camping, LPFA
April 12-14: Tinta otorcycle Trail Project, LPFA
April 18: Helpful & Harmful Plants, Sue Reinhart, SB Library
April 20: Ojai Earth Day
April 20-21: Marble Peak Trail Project, VWA
April 22: Earth Day in Fillmore!
April 26-28: Three Peaks Trail, Silver Peak Wilderness
April 27: Wheeler Gorge Open House

May 4-5: Mocho Sawyer Project, VWA
May 4-12: Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
May 10-12: Terrace Creek Trail Project, VWA
May 11: Mt Pinos Ranger District Open House
May 17-19: Strawberry Camp Trail Project, VWA
May 24-27: Big Sur Trail Sawyer Project, VWA

June 1-9: Lower Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
June 8-10: Lost Valley Trail Project, Ventana, VWA
June 9: Cold Spring Trail, SBMTV
June 21-23: Big Sur Trail Sawyer Project, VWA

West Big Pine

Winter’s Grand Finale, Trail Updates, Spring is Coming

Was this the grand finale to the epic 2018-19 winter season, if so, what a way for it to end!  Photo Andy Quinn

Hello Friends,

It’s been quite a winter for storms hasn’t it?  We’ve had flash floods, debris flows, road closures, evacuations, washed away trails, snow, snow and more snow and it might have been capped off by one of the more spectacular lightning displays this past Tuesday night.  And most importantly, we’ve had a lot of great rain soaking into the earth, recharging the groundwater supplies and filling up our creeks, rivers and reservoirs.  Almost all of the LP has received over 100% of our annual rain averages with more “rain season” still ahead of us.  It’s been terrific!  While we might not be completely done with the rains, many of the signs across the forest are indicating that spring is in the air.  Wildflowers are starting to do their thing (#SuperBloom2019?), the grass is gliding a little different, the ants have resurfaced (%&#^#&), the days are longer and there is that faint sweet smell of flowers.  No matter what season you might argue we’re in, the Los Padres is about as good as it gets at the moment.  We hope you are getting out and enjoying the trails, sights and sounds.  Be safe with the water crossings and be sure to check in on www.HikeLosPadres.com before you head out and after you get back.  There are also a bunch of upcoming volunteer projects up and down the forest you could participate in.  Olly olly oxen free = time to come out of hiding! 

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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these trail crews from the swift completion of their appointed trail work. 
Hurricane Deck Trail, LPFA Trail Crew, Photo Jason Morris

TRAIL WORK UPDATE

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about recent trail work and upcoming trail work.  While we can’t possibly share every detail here, you’d be reading for a month, we can at least provide a quick update on some of the LPFA trail work that has occurred over the winter season.  As always, if you come across any downed trees or showstoppers along the trails, let us know and we’ll do our best to share the information with the appropriate trail crews: INFO@LPFOREST.ORG

  • Hurricane Deck Trail has been brushed a mile from Lost Valley out towards White Ledge.
  • Poplar Trail (Upper Indian Creek) within the Dick Smith Wilderness from Bluff Camp down to within 100 yards of Poplar Camp has been opened.
  • Grapevine Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness is clear other than some large downed trees about 1.5 miles west of Bluff Camp.
  • Alamar Trail is in the best shape it’s been in many decades.  You can actually follow the trail now, which is saying a lot based on how bad it was.
  • The Sisquoc Trail remains our main focus this spring with multiple Working Vacations planned over the next few months.  These projects are piggy-backing on some great work we accomplished in 2018 including this summertime project that Terrence filmed for us along the upper Sisquoc.
  • Deal Trail has received some much needed attention brushing out the upper valley between the Narrows and the wilderness boundary.
  • We had a crew working the Agua Blanca Trail in December between Blue Point and Log Cabin.
  • The Tinta motorcycle trail has had 5 of the 7 miles brushed along the trail.
  • Quite a bit of work has been put into the Matilija Trail outside of Ojai.  We’ve worked the bottom mile of the trail and recently flagged the entire trail from trailhead to trailhead.  Once the water levels lower we’ll be back out there to continue working up towards Middle Matilija Camp and beyond.
  • We’ll also be working nearby Gridley Trail on March 16, hope to see you there!
  • We’ve also been working hard to clear downed trees and washouts along many of the Santa Ynez Valley trails including Davy Brown, Devil’s Canyon, north Tunnel Trail, north Arroyo Burro, north Cold Spring, Blue Canyon, Aliso Canyon, Santa Cruz, Tequepis, Snyder and we’ll be leading a trail project this Sunday on the White Rock Trail on Figueroa Mountain.  Come join us!
  • We also did some water control tread work on Santa Paula Canyon, Last Chance and Lion Canyon Trails in the Ojai Ranger District.
  • And of course a TON of work has been accomplished in the SB Frontcountry partnering with Montecito Trails Foundation, SBMTV, SB Trails Council and others…..
  • We’ll also be maintaining the Sellers Potrero Trail in the Garcia Wilderness later this month. Scouting project is set for March 10.


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We haven’t seen this much winter camping in the LP in many years, Pine Mtn at it’s finest, photo Jack Roten

FOREST 411

  • There is still space available for the LPFA Backpacking Fundamentals class we’re teaching in Santa Barbara.  We had our first class this past week and it was great sharing the backpacking stoke.  Click here or email us for more information. 
  • Even with some nice drying weather on the horizon some of the roads and trails around the Los Padres remain closed due to storm activity and damage:
  • Highway 154 opened earlier this week about a half a week ahead of schedule.  The damage along Duval Canyon is astounding.
  • Ranger Peak along Fig Mtn Rd remains closed due to black ice.  You cannot drive between Fig Mtn and Cachuma Saddle.  Fig is bound to receive a lot of attention in the coming weeks as wildflower season kicks in, be sure to call the FS ahead of any visits to make sure the roads are open.
  • As reported by the VWA, the Carmel River Trail is closed at the moment due to trail damage. 
  • West Fork Cold Spring Trail in Montecito remains closed due to a particularly active landslide.  Trail work is scheduled this coming week with the hopes of getting the trail reopened by the 15th of March.
  • Highway 1 through Southern Big Sur remains on a pre-storm closure schedule.  Check CalTrans ahead of any visits between San Simeon and Big Sur.
  • And we’re also getting a lot of mixed messages about the regular Forest Service gate closures.  Some gates that are supposed to be locked have been found open and vice versa.  We suggest you contact the FS ahead of any trips into the forest that might be impacted by gate closures. 
  • If you have a spare $31million, you might be in luck as the Neverland Ranch outside Los Olivos is for sale.  Great access to the Los Padres!
  • The FS announced this week that there will be a series of controlled burns across the forest, namely at Arroyo Seco and Fig Mtn. 
  • This information slipped through the cracks a bit but the FS extended the Soberanes Fire closure of the western Pine Ridge Trail through November 6, 2019.
  • If you missed the story of the trail runner who fought off and killed a mountain lion last month in Colorado, it’s certainly worth a read.  Fortunately, that mountain lion was just a kitten.  He probably wouldn’t have fared so well against a full grown athletic mountain lion like this one recently seen in Montecito.

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You might call this a boilermaker, Topatopa with a shot of Jameson.  Please, someone has to get that joke!  Photo Humphrey
You might call this a boilermaker, Topatopa with a shot of Jameson.  Please, someone has to get that joke!  Photo Humphrey

Los Padres Storm Damage, Target Shooting, Condor Talk

Quite a weekend for waterfall hunters, finding unknown targets around every corner, photo Humphrey

storm /stôrm/ – noun – a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow.

Hello Friends,

We certainly had a storm this past weekend, to say the least.  Most of the forest received somewhere in the 5-10″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with snow piling up at the higher elevations.  It was a bit of a crazy storm as well including reports of 80mph winds in some locations, a tornado warning in Santa Barbara County and even a kiosk in Big Sur being lifted away and blown across Hwy 1.  While we haven’t seen a whole lot of trail damage reports just yet, which we’re sure will come in soon, we have quite a few road closure updates to share as well as other storm related updates:

  • Maybe the most dramatic images of this past storm were taken by Cynthi Bacon who filmed a debris flow tearing out of the Whittier Fire burn area near Lake Cachuma.  This flow, along with others, blocked the culverts under Hwy 154 and have caused an indefinite closure of Hwy 154.
  • Montecito once again received a ton of rain within the Thomas Fire scar but thankfully it appears that all the prep-work on the creeks and basins paid off.  Here’s an amazing video taken by Tim Sulger showing some of the raging water that came through Montecito last Saturday.  While Hwy 101 was closed, it is back open again.
  • Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and Lockwood Valley due to slides but is scheduled to reopen before the weekend.  There will be delays even after reopening due to single lane closures and repair crews.
  • Speaking of Hwy 33, there were some stranded backpackers along the Sespe Trail who needed rescuing over the weekend as well.  I would love to see some photos of what the Sespe looked like, must have been horrifying!
  • All gates are currently closed on the Ojai Ranger District.  Rose Valley and Middle Lion Camps are closed due to mud and damaged roads.
East Camino sinkhole, photo LPFA
  • A sinkhole developed along East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara that wiped out half the road (see photo above).  The FS has closed East Camino Cielo east of Gibraltar Road including Divide Peak OHV.
  • Sage Hill and First Crossing remain closed along Paradise Road due to high water.
  • Highway 1 remains closed at Paul’s slide but should be reopening perhaps as early as today.  Remember that CalTrans continues to proactively close Hwy 1 ahead of each significant rain event.  Cone Peak Road is closed for the season and Palo Colorado remains closed due to 2017 storm damage.  Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd is open.

Maybe it would have been quicker to report everything that was open?!!?  There are more storms on tap for this weekend and most of next week as well.  If you are planning to head into the Los Padres, please use caution and be careful, especially in recent burn areas.

Expect to see similar signs, sans the Fire Restrictions, for at least the next year

FOREST 411

Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara TONIGHT Wednesday – February 6 to share with us the latest and greatest California Condor news.  They’ll be talking about condors across the Los Padres with a special emphasis on the recent successes in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  You can learn more on our Facebook page.  We’ll also be sharing an update on some exciting upcoming trail projects that you’ll certainly want to hear about.  It’ll be a fun night, hope to see you there……

• The Forest Service announced earlier this week that there will be an extended ban on all target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest for the next year.  Target shooting will remain legal at the two designated target ranges within the Los Padres: Winchester and Rose Valley.  You can read the FS explanation here.

• Do you have any great photos of the Ojai Backcountry or Hwy 33 corridor through Ventura County?  The LPFA is once again organizing a series of interpretive events this coming summer to be held at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  Each year we print a brochure highlighting these events and our annual Open House and this year we are looking for a terrific cover photo for the brochure that captures the beauty and essence of the Ojai Backcountry.  If you have any photos to submit or questions, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org  We’ll hook the winning photographer up with some great LP gear!

• The landowners along Prewitt Ridge in Monterey County have started a GoFundMe to assist with maintaining the road east of Nacimiento-Fergusson.  This road sees a lot of traffic, in particular campers, and gets thrashed by winter storms and improper use.  If you’d like to learn more or to help, check this link here.

Some more waterfall hunting photos from this past weekend, photos LPFA, AQuinn, HGuild

Campfires, Condors and More Rain on the Way

Is there a better place to watch the Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse, photo Sonia C, for the win!

Hello Friends – We hope this email finds you doing well!

The big news around the forest this week has been additional reductions to fire restrictions across the Los Padres.  Under the current reduced restrictions, campfires are now allowed in all areas of the Forest.  This is good news for those of us backcountry wanderers who have spent long freezing nights under the stars over the past few months.  That being said, you will need a California Campfire Permit, which takes just a few mins, click here.  You can read specifics of the current fire restrictions in the attached PDF.  Please note that target shooting remains prohibited in all areas of the Los Padres other than Winchester Gun Club and Rose Valley Gun Club.  That is a change from previous years.  Enjoy the warmth of your campfire and please remember to keep a safe campfire, clear a safe space around your campfire and always extinguish your fire before leaving camp.  February is a terrific time to explore your forest, go get it!

LPFA service day with Appfolio, great team building and an opportunity to give back to the trails! 
Let us know if your company is interested in a trail maintenance service day.

FOREST 411

Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara this coming Wednesday (February 6) to share with us the latest and greatest California Condor news. They’ll be talking about condors across the Los Padres with a special emphasis on the recent successes in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  You can learn more on our Facebook page or see the attached flier.  We’ll also be sharing an update on some exciting upcoming trail projects that you’ll certainly want to hear about.  It’ll be a fun night, hope to see you there……

• NEWS FLASH: We’re going to be getting some rain over the coming days.  Predictions across the Los Padres are showing 3-5″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with Saturday bringing the most precipitation.  Most volunteer projects around the forest have been cancelled due to the rain and if you have plans to travel around the forest, be prepared to encounter potential road closures.  Hwy 1 should be closed at Mud Creek in anticipation of the storms and we are expecting Hwy 33 to close over the weekend as well.  There are also evacuation warnings in areas downstream of the recent burn scars.  Be safe everyone……

• Earlier this week the Amgen Tour of California released their 2019 stage routes and two of the stages will pass through the Los Padres.  Stage 4, which is May 15, will pass along the Big Sur Coast from Laguna Seca to Morro Bay and Stage 5, May 16, goes from Pismo to Ventura over San Marcos Pass.  The Tour of California is exciting to watch both in person as well on the screen. 

• The LPFA is excited to announce that we’ll be once again hosting our 6th Annual Fundamentals of Backpacking course starting March 6.  The Backpacking Fundamentals is a 5-week course designed to teach backpacking tricks and techniques to everyone from a first timer to a seasoned thru-hiker.  We have a lot of fun with it and we always learn so much.  If you are interested, click this link or email INFO@LPForest.org for more information.

Is it possible Tequepis means “Super Green After Rain”?

Condor Talk and Los Padres Winter Storm Update

The Santa Barbara Backcountry

Hello Friends,

It’s been a nice winter so far here in the Los Padres, hasn’t it?  The storms last week were solid, covering the Los Padres in mostly good rain and lots of snow at the higher elevations.  The snow pack around Mt Pinos hasn’t been this good in quite a few years.  In fact, it’s been so good that there have been multiple snow evacuations including a couple and their dogs who were stuck along Alamo Mtn for two weeks due to snow.  In the lower elevations there has been rain caused road closures and trail damage but thankfully nothing as tragic as what we endured last year.  Hwy 1 along the Big Sur Coast has been closed and reopened multiple times and we just heard that Hwy 33 outside of Ojai will be reopened Sunday January 27, although it might not look as clean as usual and expect up to 5min delays here and there due to lane closures.  In total we’ve received about 50% of our average rainfall for the season and most locations are trending at 100-120% of average rainfall to date. We’re looking good for rain but more is certainly needed.  That all being said, the forest is alive and thriving.  Water is flowing in just about every creek, the grass is about as green as it gets and the trails are drying off nicely and mostly ready for you to enjoy.  If you’ve not found your way into the Los Padres of late, be sure to do so soon and please check back in with us afterwards to share a photo or two and update HikeLosPadres.com with what you found.  Have fun…..

Soaring Wild & Free, photo Friends of the California Condor

LPFA UPCOMING EVENTS: Condor Talk, Feb 6

We’re really excited to announce that the LPFA will be welcoming the excellent speakers from Friends of California Condors Wild and Free to the Santa Barbara area to discuss the latest in the world of the condor including updates from around the Los Padres and in particular the condor efforts in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  The talk will be Wednesday February 6 at the Balboa Building on State Street, Santa Barbara.  Doors open at 6:30pm for a Happy Half Hour courtesy of Topa Topa Brewing Company and the event starts at 7pm.  $10 at the door, no charge for current LPFA members.  See attached flier or Facebook for more details and we hope to see you there. 
Any questions: INFO@LPForest.org

Speaking of LPFA events, moving forward we’ll be sharing all the LPFA volunteer projects and events through our Facebook page. Over the past few years we’ve tried posting events on Meetup, Facebook, other social media sites, Evite, LPForest.org and word of mouth, but after trial-and-error we’ve decided to focus the announcements through Facebook.  Check it out!  And for those of you who choose not to have Facebook, you can still check the site without having a Facebook account.

Devil’s Canyon Downed Tree, It Can’t be Cleared if it’s not Reported, photo Blakley

FOREST 411

• Thanks in part to the recent storms mentioned above, we’re getting a lot of trail reports featuring downed trees or fresh slides covering the trail.  Receiving these trail reports is crucial in order to get the trails repaired.  If you come across any significant trail obstacles, damage, downed trees, slides, illegal activity or anything else worth reporting, please share with the Forest Service, your local trail group, HikeLosPadres.com or send to us and we’ll forward it along.  THANK YOU for your help!
*Note that GPS coordinates, pictures and an object (person, dog, hiking pole, water bottle) in the picture so we can get a sense of scale always help!

• As of today the Government Shutdown is ending, at least for the next three weeks.  You can read elsewhere for specifics and commentary but we believe the furloughed LP FS staff will be back at their desks by Monday morning.  We’ve certainly missed our friends at the FS and look forward to wishing them Happy New Year and hearing more about gate closures, road conditions and other upcoming projects.  We’ll be sure to update you when more information becomes available.

West Fork Cold Spring Trail in the Santa Barbara Frontcountry is currently closed due to a storm related slide. Work is being planned to repair the section of damaged trail and we’ll keep you posted with updates when available.

• Santa Barbara based Hap Freund and Melinda Burns recently released a short documentary about the debris flows that impaled Montecito on January 9, 2018.  It’s available on Vimeo here.

• Speaking of, the LA Times released a very comprehensive article on Los Padres fire history and restoration efforts related to the recent abundance of large-scale fires.  It’s a great read featuring a few locals you might know.  Check it out here.

• Again, somewhat related, a report was issued in December analyzing the spending and fire fighting tactics involved with the 2016 Soberanes Fire in the Northern Los Padres.  Soberanes was, and still is, the most expensive wildfire to fight in US history.  The article is here and worth being aware of if you’re interested in wildfires.

• Two more condors were released in December in the hills above San Simeon.  It’s great to see how successful the condor recovery program continues to be. Again, shameless plug, come on out February 6 to learn more about the California Condors.

• The Franklin Trail above Carpinteria remains closed at the 3rd mile marker along Phase II due to road construction.

• The Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club will once again be offering their Wilderness Basics Course (WBC) this spring designed to teach hiking and backpacking skills.

• Earlier this month over 225 acres of land along Interstate 5 near Castaic was donated in order to protect wildlife passage between the Angeles and Los Padres Forests.  Check it out here.

• The Los Padres Volunteer Wilderness Ranger (VWR) Training has been postponed due to the Government Shutdown.  The training was initially scheduled for Saturday January 26.  We’ll be sure to share when a makeup date is announced.

Leave it to the Beaver, Back and Doing Well along the Sisquoc River, photo Paul Cronshaw

Getting Your Year End Los Padres Fix

Hello Friends – Happy New Year!

We hope this email finds you either on your way to your favorite trailhead or packing up and leaving work for the last time this year.  Woot woot!  We wanted to send out a few quick notes before the start of the New Year holiday that might help with your Los Padres adventure planning.  Be safe and thanks again for all your support to the LPFA over the past year…….
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Early Contender for the 2020 LPFA Calendar, photo Nikolay Zapreyev
FIRE RESTRICTION CHANGES
On December 18 the fire restrictions across the Los Padres National Forest were downgraded from ‘extreme’ to ‘high’.  What this means for the regular forest-user is that:

  • Campfires are allowed within Designated Campfire Use Sites only
  • No backcountry campfires
  • Portable camping stoves can be used anywhere across the forest, including backcountry
  • No recreational target shooting

There is a chance that the restrictions will be further modified in January, we’ll be sure to keep you posted on any changes.  Oh, and don’t forget your California Campfire Permit, which is needed for having a campfire or using a portable stove, click here, it’s free and takes just a few minutes…….

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The new Matilija Falls Trail is taking shape and one of the LPFA’s big initiatives for 2019!
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or been too involved with the Holidays then you’ve no doubt heard about the latest Government Shutdown which started at 9pm on Friday December 21.  While you can educate yourself on the intricacies of the Shutdown and budget through mainstream media we’ve been getting a lot of questions about how the Shutdown is impacting the Los Padres Forest.  At the moment, other than a large percentage of FS staff not working, there hasn’t been a lot of changes across the Los Padres.  All regular campgrounds and Parks Management Campgrounds remain open and we don’t think there have been any additional gate closures or changes that would impact forest-users.  Now that being said, things could change starting January 2 when select FS employees return from holidays and we’ll be sure to share that with you if and when changes occur.  Until then, lets hope the budget issues are resolved and that access remains open across the Los Padres……
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The LPFA Trail Crew, changing the name “Lost Valley” to “Staying on Trail Valley” one bush and downed tree at a time.
Another LPFA focus for 2019 is continued trail work in the San Rafael Wilderness.  Photo Jason Morris

FOREST 411

  • Some really exciting news came out of Santa Barbara County earlier this month when the first California condor chick fledged in the SB backcountry in more than 35 years.  Awesome stuff!  You can read more about this monumental success here, here, here and here.
  • We’ve been hearing reports from across the Los Padres from Big Sur to Agua Blanca that ticks are out in full force this season.  Yikes!  There are quite a few tricks to avoid ticks but here are a few recommendations from the Forest Service you might want to follow.
  • Thanks in large part to the Montecito Trails Foundation, the Cold Spring and West Fork Cold Spring Trails have been reopened within the Thomas Fire scar above Montecito.  The lower Mountain Drive trailhead remains closed but you can enjoy the trail coming from either Hot Springs Canyon or the Gibraltar trailhead of West Fork Cold Spring.  Cold Spring was the final trail to remain closed as a result of the Thomas Fire.
  • The May 2019 Amgen Tour of California bike race was announced with two stages crossing through the Los Padres.  The exact stage routes have not been announced but it looks like stage 4 will be going through Big Sur along iconic Hwy 1 and stage 5 will be covering some of the Central/Southern Los Padres.  We’ll share more when available.  The Tour of California is always fun…….
  • The road construction along Hwy 33 just above Ojai near the quarry has been completed and the road delays have been removed.  Good news for sure……
  • Cherry Creek, Pine Mtn and Dough Flat roads have been closed in the Ojai Ranger District as part of the regular winter weather road closures.  They should reopen on May 1.
  • A young mountain lion was found in Santa Barbara before being relocated into the Los Padres Forest.
  • The Franklin Trail above Carpinteria is temporarily closed at mile marker 3 along Phase II due to Southern California Edison road construction.
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Devil’s Canyon, not nearly as nasty as its name indicates, thanks to SYWHG, LPFA and SBMTV volunteers, photo Jim Blakley

The LPFA Solution to Holiday Awkwardness

Happy Trails in 2018!  Sisquoc Volunteer Working Vacation, April 2018

Hello Friends & Happy Holidays!

On behalf of the Los Padres Forest Association, our Board, the hundreds of LPFA volunteers and countless thousands of forest-users; we want to thank each of you for your support of the LPFA. Without your contributions we could not have accomplished all that we did this past year – THANK YOU!

As a special thanks we wanted to share with each of you a little LPFA holiday secret that’s sure to solve some of your holiday angst. We all know how awkward holiday conversations can become with extended family and/or long-lost friends who might view the world a bit different from you.  In order to help with your holidays, we’ve come up with four ‘conversation reroutes’ you can use to quickly change the subject when politics, religion and/or other awkwardness makes an unwanted appearance. Try these reroutes and we promise the conversation, mood and holiday cheer will improve immediately:

  • When the conversation gets too political: {It’s funny that you mention Congress……}, did you happen to know that in 2018 the Los Padres Forest Association maintained over 60 miles of trails along 40 different trails within the Los Padres Forest!  The LPFA also led over 80 volunteer projects this past year which accounted for over 10,000 volunteer hours?  That’s the equivalent time of nearly 5 full time workers!
  • When the conversation gets too personal: {Cousin Jamie, there are ways to remove unwanted tattoo’s these days….} but you need to know that between HikeLosPadres.com, the LPFA e-newsletter, LPFA social media posts and the LPFA Visitor Centers at Wheeler Gorge and Big Sur Station that the Los Padres Forest Association assists close to 100,000 Los Padres visitors each year.

  • When the conversation gets too radical: {I agree, the status quo should be challenged……} but the LPFA worked much of 2018 to restore trails impacted by the Thomas Fire and has some new exciting wildfire trail restoration initiatives on tap for 2019 and beyond.  Stay tuned!
  • When the conversation simply needs to change: {I promise Grandma Lucille, your holiday fruitcake has never tasted better….} but were you aware that the LPFA will be building a new trail in 2019 called the Matilija Falls Trail and that the LPFA will also be building a new 1.5 mile reroute along the Cold Spring Trail around the area infamously known as the Mono Jungle?

You might want to print these four humorous ‘conversation reroutes’ out and keep them nearby or better yet memorize them as they are guaranteed to help ease any of the awkward conversations that can come with the holidays.  After all, if there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s our love and support of the Los Padres Forest.

Thank you again for your support and we’d be honored if you’d want to renew your LPFA membership or make a donation to the LPFA on behalf of yourself, your family, your friends or even Grandma Lucille.

Happy Holidays and best of luck in the New Year!

We’ve Seen Fire and We’ve Seen Rain

Thomas Fire Engulfs Wheeler Gorge – Early December 2017 – photo USFS

Hello Friends – HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

This will surely be a week of reflection for most of us as we look back at the Thomas Fire, which started just about a year ago on December 4, 2017.   Not only was the Thomas Fire the largest wildfire in California’s history but the timing of the fire also led to the destructive and deadly Montecito debris flows just a few weeks later.  Having wildfire that late in the season validated the now common statement that “Wildfire Knows No Season”.  Unfortunately, we saw the same thing again this year with the Camp and Woolsey Fires starting late in the “wildfire season”.  So far I’m not a very big fan of the new normal.  There is a ton of commentary about why we’re dealing with such large fires, who is to blame and how moving forward we can protect ourselves and our forests against these ever-growing conflagrations.  I’m not going to pretend to know the answers.  I don’t know if anyone knows the answers.  It’s likely that the answers here in the Los Padres are different than the answers in the Cleveland or Santa Monica’s or the Sierra Nevada dead pine tree belt.  While we might not know the answers, Outside Magazine recently created a four-part podcast series covering wildfires that does a really good job of outlining some of the questions.  If you’re interested in the subject of wildfires, I think you’ll enjoy listening to the Outside podcast.  Wildfire is certainly a hot topic of late, not just here in the Western United States but across the world, even grabbing the attention of our President.  Lets hope that sometime in the future we’ll look back at this new normal era with solutions that can prevent all the damage and death we’ve had to endure of late.
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2019 LOS PADRES CALENDAR
Back by popular demand, the LPFA has once again released a Los Padres themed wall calendar.  We went back to the larger size for 2019 and have full color themed months featuring great photos and content from across the Los Padres.  This is the 6th year we’ve done a LP wall calendar and once again we had a lot of fun choosing photos and compiling them into the calendar.  The calendar costs $12.00 with any proceeds going to the LPFA Trail Fund.  Check it out and get one for your friends, co-workers, family, yourself or all the above!  You’ll love em.

AND BIG THANKS TO ALL OUR FRIENDS WHO CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS!  You’ll be seeing yours in the mail soon…… 


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Tent or No-Tent, the First Light Redondo Views are Amazing!

FOREST 411
• The Los Padres is in the midst of our first large winter storm of the 2018-2019 rain season.  Most of the forest is set to see anywhere between 1-5+ inches of rain depending on location.  The rain has fallen hard at times so expect to see some extended road closures and some slides and trees down across the trails.  There is more rain on tap for next week along with some colder temperatures.  If you’re heading into the forest be sure to check the weather in detail before you go and let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.  And if you come across any fresh downed trees or trail slides, take photos and post on HLP and we’ll make sure a nearby trail crew gets the call.  Have fun and be safe…..

• In advance of this most recent storm, the LPNF has begun closing some of their seasonal and wet weather gatesHikeLosPadres.com and the Los Padres NF website are good places to check road closures but we strongly suggest calling your local Ranger Station in advance to make sure of the gate status.  NOTE: The Ojai District plans on closing their seasonal gates on December 15, which includes Pine Mtn.  NOTE: Hwy 1 in southern Monterey County is closing as needed in advance of any larger storm.

• The Front Fire Closure has been lifted and Rockfront OHV is once again open to the public.  This includes the Gifford and Adobe Trails.  That being said, Rockfront was closed this week in advance of the storms but should be reopened once the roads have a few days to dry.  Be sure to check with SLRD if you plan on hitting up Rockfront.

• Reminder that even with this wet weather fire restrictions remain in effect across the Los Padres.  Hopefully the fuel moisture levels will improve so that the FS can safely adjust the fire restrictions.  Usually the restrictions are lifted after the forest has received 2″ of rain.

• Certainly a storm theme to this email….  A privately funded group called The Partnership for Resilient Communities is proposing to install 40+ steel nets across the canyons above Montecito designed to halt the flow of debris and rocks along the canyon.  Their current plan calls for the installation of 13 nets sometime in the coming months, two of which will block trail access.

• In the bummer category of news there have been a few break-ins at some of our trailheads over the past few months.  Total bummer.  We don’t want any successful break-ins as that usually fuels repeat criminal visits.  REI has done a good job of coming up with 10 Tips to Deter Trailhead Theft, read it here.

• There are two proposed Forest Thinning Projects in the Mt. Pinos District along Tecuya Ridge and Cuddy Valley.  Earlier this week the FS released their proposed action for Cuddy Valley, click the link for specifics.  You can learn more here, here and here.

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South Fork, Bring on the Rain!  photo Beeman