National Trails Day in the Los Padres

Madulce, site of the recently completed 10-day Working Vacation    
NATIONAL TRAILS DAY 2017
The first Saturday of June is now observed across the country as National Trails Day (NTD).  Chances are if you are reading this email then you probably think everyday is NTD but for those who don’t frequent the trails, NTD is a great reminder that trails aren’t born, they’re made.  We need to make the time to get out and help the trails so that we can also get out and enjoy the trails.  NTD is this coming Saturday June 3 and there are a variety of trail projects across the Los Padres you can sign up for.  It’s great to see that so many volunteers and trail organizations are using NTD as a platform to help our LP trails – very cool!  We’ve listed most of the Los Padres NTD trail projects below and hope you can find the time this Saturday to get out and volunteer for the trails!
— • — • — • —

 

Santa Cruz Trail, Rey Fried & Water Drenched

One project in particular we’re trying to focus our energy on for NTD is the restoration of the Santa Cruz Trail within the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  If you spend any time exploring the Los Padres, eventually you’ll find your tracks along the Santa Cruz Trail.  It’s one of only two designated National Recreation Trails in the Los Padres and provides access for trail-users to Little Pine Mountain and the backcountry beyond.  The Santa Cruz Trail is popular for just about all non-motorized trail-user groups including mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians and backpackers.  It’s an epic mountain bike ride, a challenging day hike to summit Little Pine, a perfect first-time backpacker trail to 19 Oaks and the start or finish of backcountry adventures to Santa Cruz Station and the San Rafael Wilderness.

Sadly, the Santa Cruz Trail was hammered in the 2016 Rey Fire, destroying much of the upper cribwall structures and just about all the brush along the south-facing portion of the trail.  While the upper portions of the trail need substantial evaluation before we can even get started working the trail, we’re going to start fixing the lower section of the trail specifically the single track up to 19 Oaks Camp – and that work will start this coming Saturday.

If you’re interested in helping, the Santa Cruz Trail can use your help!  We’ll be meeting Saturday June 3 at 8am at First Crossing Dayuse Area along Paradise Rd (all parking is FREE).  From there we’ll caravan to Upper Oso Campground for a safety briefing then start the 1 mile hike to the singletrack and get started restoring the trail.  We’ll work until the early afternoon or until it gets too hot then retreat to nearby Rancho Oso for a BBQ dinner and evening celebration under the stars.  Camping is FREE at Rancho Oso for trail volunteers and dinner/entertainment is provided at no cost.  You just need to invest a little sweat equity in the trail and we’ll make sure you get to bed with a full belly and smile on your face.


19 Oaks View, November 2016

For more details or to sign up please email INFO@LPForest.org.  Please RSVP if you plan on camping with us at Rancho Oso.  Rancho Oso has generously provided us with FREE camping as well as access to their amenities, including pool and miniature golf (not a typo).  We’re also going to be treated to some fun and games by REI who will setup their famous ‘Chill Zone’ at Rancho Oso for trail volunteers to relax after a hard day under the sun.  We also want to send thanks to the Los Padres Sierra Club for helping sponsor the trail project as well as Hollister Brewing Company for supplying the evening refreshments – THANK YOU!

We hope you can make it to one of these projects this weekend and thank you all for the help!

— • — • — • —
Mud Creek Slide
April 4, 2015   –   May 22, 2017
FOREST 411

• In case you missed it, the Los Padres made national news this past week when the Mud Creek landslide in southern Monterey County let loose covering Hwy 1 in 40 feet of mud and literally creating a new point of land in the Pacific Ocean.  Experts are predicting the slide will keep Hwy 1 closed between Ragged Point and Gorda for at least another year while they attempt to excavate what’s left of the Hwy.

• First Crossing along the Santa Ynez River in Santa Barbara was opened this past weekend for the first time since the January storms forced its closure.  River Road (aka Paradise) is now open in its entirety to Red Rock as well as Upper Oso Trailhead.  While dayuse is open along River Road, Upper Oso Campground will remain closed for a little while longer until the campsites can be cleared of flood debris.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has also reopened some of its campsites for the first time since the July 2016 Soberanes Fire started.  Not all campsites are open for campers but they’ll hopefully be opening the remainder of the sites throughout the summer as cleanup efforts are completed.

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is now in full swing with our weekly Summer Interpretive Programs.  While we’re taking June 3rd off, the programs resume on June 10 with a talk by Dr. James Caballero about how to be prepared for hiking.  Check out the full summer program here.

— • — • — • —

 

 

Valle Vista Campground, one of the most aptly named camps in the Los Padres.  Can you think of others?

LP STORMS 2017: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

That’s not the Mississippi!  Santa Ynez River at Sage Hill, February 17, photo Chris Orr
Good Morning Everyone and Happy Presidents Day!

We are in the midst of what is clearly going to be remembered as an epic winter here in the Los Padres.  Last Friday, during the heart of the latest storm, some of us were watching the real-time flow rate in Sespe Creek.  The website lists the historic flood level crests along the Sespe and as the latest crest continued to climb, it started to creep up towards the all-time winters like 1978, 1969, 1983 and 2005.  Last Friday’s storm didn’t quite crack that list, at least along the Sespe, but we’re certainly headed towards 2017 being remembered in a similar fashion with those other most epic winters.  While we’ve all been praying for a season like this, it hasn’t been all rainbows and green grass for everyone around the forest.  The rains have certainly caused some challenges and will continue to do so.  Lets take a quick look at the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY:
— • — • — • —
Matilija Overflowing
THE GOOD
Last February the LPFA hosted a volunteer trail maintenance project up Santa Barbara Canyon.  We camped on a bench overlooking the dry creek (note: this is not an insignificant small creek) and had to have mules haul in water for the 3-day project.  There was no water in February!  That is not a problem we’ll have to worry about this year.  The creeks are flowing, rivers are raging and best of all, the lakes and reservoirs are filling up.  Water levels within the reservoirs are climbing fast.  There were reports that Lake Cachuma climbed 25ft this past weekend.  That’s great news and we should have nice flowing water for months to come!
— • — • — • —
Rain Soaked Trail Damage, see the People on the Trail?
THE BAD
We’re getting reports from across the forest about damaged trails, downed trees, rutting, boulders, holes, slides and even NO MORE TRAIL!  After 4-5 years of drought, many of the trees have been compromised and with the saturated soil and wind, they are toppling down.  Same goes with water related soil damage like slides and sink holes.  The Forest Service, as well as volunteer groups from across the Los Padres, are working as hard as they can to get the trails cleared and safe for travel again.  The best thing you can do if you come across a trail hazard or downed tree is document that trail hazard and share that information.  www.HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for sharing trail conditions or email a trail report to your local trail organization or FS trails person.  Speaking for all the trail maintenance people, we can’t help the trails unless we know where the trail damage is.  It really helps to take photos of the damage and include as much information as you can about the location and size/extent of the damage.  The trail-users far outnumber the trail maintainers, sharing information is a key component to making the trails good again.
— • — • — • —
Highway 1, South of Big Sur, photo Father Zack, from BigSurKate
THE UGLY
Do you see the “PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY” Los Padres Forest sign in the photo above?  It might need to be changed to say “YOU WON’T BE DRIVING FOR A WHILE”.  The roads in and around the Los Padres have clearly been the ugly casualty of the storms so far.  Most of the dirt roads around the LP have been closed for the winter (TBD the extent of the damage on those roads) but even the paved major access roads have been getting hammered:

  • Highway 33 out of Ojai has been closed on/off all winter and remains closed today due to slides.
  • Hwy 41 finally reopened after being closed for over a month due to a landslide.
  • I5 near Gorman sustained some major damage this past weekend.
  • And other temporary closures including Hwy 154, Lockwood Valley Rd, 101, etc……

But none of this compares to what has been happening along the Big Sur Coast.  It’s been a tough year to say the least.  First, the massive Soberanes Fire and now crazy amounts of rain followed by flooding and landslides.  Hwy 1 remains closed between Ragged Point (southern end) and Big Sur Station (northern end).  Slides, such as the one in the photo above, have been regular occurrences along Hwy 1.  It seems that as soon as one slide is cleared or mitigated, another slide occurs.  At one point there were reports of over 20 slides blocking Hwy 1.  In addition, the Forest Service has closed the Nacimento-Fergusson Rd west of Coast Ridge Rd due to road slippage.  And as if that was not enough, structural damage was discovered on the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (just south of Big Sur Station) which has completely blocked access along Hwy 1 in Big Sur.  A slide has developed under the bridge that has caused the structure to move 7 inches within the past week.  Quite a mess!  We won’t try to predict a timeframe as to when Hwy 1 will reopen in Big Sur, but it’s looking likely it will be closed for quite a while.

Sorry for the UGLY news last.  I wish they had called that movie The Ugly, the Bad and the Good.  Oh well.  In time the Ugly will be repaired, the Bad will be maintained and we’ll be left with beautiful creeks flowing well into summer and more water than we’ve seen in quite some time.  That is Good.  Until then, please be careful and never underestimate water.

Santa Ynez Double Rainbow

LPFA Big Sur Wilderness Celebration

BIG SUR   WILDERNESS   CELEBRATION
BigSurSign
For those of you in the Big Sur area or wanting an excuse to cruise Hwy 1, the LPFA is hosting a Wilderness Celebration at Big Sur Station on Saturday June 27 from 10am – 4pm.  The event will be held outside the Big Sur Station and will feature bluegrass music by the Zach Brough Band, a climbing wall for the kiddies (and non-kiddies), informational booths (Ventana Wildlife Society, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, California State Parks, Forest Service, etc….), food, local photographer exhibits and a children’s arts and crafts area.  Gonna be a great time!  See here for more information.  Hope to see you there…….
KIOSK  INSTALLATIONS
KioskNIRA
The Santa Lucia Ranger District was able to design and secure new kiosks to be placed at 7 of the San Rafael and Dick Smith Wilderness trailheads.  This past weekend, a group of volunteers installed three of the new kiosks at the NIRA and Cachuma Saddle trailheads.  Up next is McPherson Peak, Rancho Nuevo and Santa Barbara Canyon.  If you are interested in helping with the next wave of installations, please email INFO@LPForest.org
WOODPECKER TRAIL PROJECT
SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST
Mike Smith is leading a trail project in the Sequoia on June 26-28.  The work will be along the Woodpecker Trail and will be mostly chainsaw bucking fallen trees that are blocking the trail.  For more information or to sign up, contact Mike Smith at: michael.d.smith@ulalaunch.com


Upcoming Events and Projects
June 27: Big Sur Wilderness Celebration
July 10-12: Bear Sisquoc Crosscut
July 10-12: Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Run Support
August: Madulce Trail Crosscut
September: Alamar Trail Crosscut