LOS PADRES: Fall in Love, Lovin the Fall

Golden Fall Colors of the Upper Sespe, For the Taking

Hello Friends,

While most of the country is preparing for a long winter’s nap, here in the LP we’re just waking up! Our long summer is fading and the weather is finally cooling down. We’re dreaming about our next trip into the forest and busy planning a season’s worth of Los Padres adventures. We’re certainly loving the fall more than ever, filled with anticipation, excitement and stoke. That being said, autumn isn’t all waterfalls and rainbows, it’s also harvest time for marijuana growers. A report was released a few weeks ago indicating that over 100,000 marijuana plants were eradicated in the Los Padres over the past year. Regardless of your views on marijuana, no one should be excited about discovering an active grow site during their LP adventures. While the odds of stumbling across one of these sites are slim, be aware of your surroundings and watch for signs of grow activity. These signs might include irrigation lines, discarded seedling trays, human trails where human trails shouldn’t be, makeshift camps and loads of trash. If you happen to find yourself in an active grow site you should leave quickly the same way you came in and once clear of the site report your findings to your local LP Ranger Station. Again, chances are you won’t find yourself in an active grow site but it’s always good to stay aware of your surroundings. Another hazard we’re seeing of late is oak trees falling up and down the Los Padres. Even healthy looking oak trees can topple over or drop their limbs without any indication or immediate cause. We’ve seen green oaks fall without a gust of wind. Be mindful and pay attention where you park, camp, picnic or rest. That’s all for Debbie Downer, get out and enjoy your forest, pile of the trail miles, takes tons of photos and have a great time – after all, our season is just beginning…….

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It’s not called a Working VACATION for nothing. Toejam Soaking in the WBP views, photo CWatson

POPLAR TRAIL UPDATE
The LPFA just completed a very successful Working Vacation along the Poplar Trail in the upper Indian Creek watershed, Dick Smith Wilderness. Thanks to the help of 34 volunteers we cleared and restored over 3 miles of some of the most overgrown trail the Los Padres can dish out. The trail progress (Working) was terrific and everyone had a great time (Vacation) in the process. In fact, we had such a great time that we’re going to be heading back! In case you missed this past Working Vacation you have another chance on November 9-12 to continue the good fight against the downed trees and encroaching brush. We’ll be once again car-camping at Bluff Cabin and working down the Poplar Trail towards Pens Camp. We’d love to have you come along. To sign up or learn more please email: INFO@LPForest.org

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Gimme Five, Santa Paula Canyon Style

USED GEAR SALE: 11/4 @ 11am
The 4th Annual LPFA Used Gear Sale is on for this weekend, Sunday November 4, 11am at Tucker’s Grove Site #2 in Goleta. We’ll once again have a gigantic selection of gently used backpacks, sleeping bags, stoves, tents, camping knick-knacks, books/maps, ultralite & car-camping gear and much more…. all at super discounted prices. Our super-volunteers Rik Christensen and Paul Cronshaw have worked their ‘bee’hinds off getting the gear cleaned, organized and ready for this weekend. The sale is headlined by Gossamer Gear who generously donate many of their returned backpacks for the sale. We love them! All proceeds go towards the LPFA Trail Care program and this is a great way for Gossamer to give back to the trails. Very cool! We’re also looking for any used gear you have that might be in need of a new home. If you have any used packs, boots, gear or anything else camping related we’d love to play match-maker and help find it a new home. Email us at INFO@LPForest.org if you’d like to donate or bring it early to the sale on Sunday. It will be a great time, everyone leaves happy and we hope to see you there……..

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The freshly cut Tinta Motorcycle Trail, Looking Good thanks to a LPFA NFWF Trails Grant!

FOREST 411
• The LPFA will once again be printing a Los Padres Calendar for 2019. If you have any great photos of the Los Padres that you’d be willing to share, we’d love to include them in the 2019 calendar and will trade you a calendar for using your photo. Email INFO@LPForest.org to share photos or ask questions.

• Remember that even with the cooler weather there are fire restrictions across the Los Padres National Forest. No campfires. And stoves are only permitted at designated campfire use sites. More information here.

• The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians have recently unveiled plans for a Tribal Museum and Cultural Center in the Santa Ynez Valley. Check the link above for more information. In case you didn’t know, there is already a really cool Chumash Museum in Thousand Oaks – check it out!

• November is going to be a super busy month for LPFA volunteer help! We’ve got projects ranging from deep backcountry trail work to encouraging cyclists along Fig Mtn Road and everything in between. Check here or look at the Upcoming Events below.

• The Los Padres Forest was found to have 15 toilets that no longer comply with EPA cesspool standards. The older style pit toilets have been closed and plans are being made to replace most of them with a vault style toilet by the end of 2020. Ventura County Star wrote an article covering the story and you can see the specific camps here.

• Quick update on the proposed removal of the Matilija Dam: Prop 3 on the November 6 ballot could authorize $80 million for the removal of the dam. Check the above link for more information and remember to VOTE on 11/6!

• The Mt Pinos Ranger District is looking for volunteers to assist with painting trailhead signs and some light road work along Alamo Mountain. Date and time of the work will be dependent on the volunteers availability. To learn more please email Caroline at: cquintanilla@fs.fed.us

• Carpinteria loves the Franklin Trail and thanks to some fantastic volunteers they will once again be organizing a ‘Turkey Trot’ to raise money to help restore and maintain the Franklin Trail. The 4th Annual Franklin Trail Turkey Trot started today and lasts all November. Check it out, participate and three cheers to Carp for all the trail love.

• CalTrans has plans to proactively close Hwy 1 at Paul’s Slide and Mud Creek this winter in advance of larger storms. Both slide areas were closed most of 2017-2018 and CalTrans is hoping to keep people off the road in case of another future slide event. Hopefully you won’t be driving the Big Sur coast in a large storm but just in case you are, there might be some delays.

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Finishing Touches on a Poplar Trail Crosscut Session, photo CWatson

Thomas Fire on the Los Padres

Sisar Peak Fire Cam, Trending Social Media Star – December 10, 2017
THOMAS FIRE UPDATE

Everyone, even that one guy living in a cave, has been following the Thomas Fire and its week long path of destruction across Ventura County, into the Los Padres and crossing into southeastern Santa Barbara County.  We’ve been talking to so many different people involved and impacted by the fire ranging from fire crews to 80 year old LP lifers and the consensus is that Thomas is “the gnarliest fire we’ve ever seen”.   A couple quick stats:

  • Thomas is now 230,500 acres and growing!  That ranks 5th all-time in California wildfire history and the 2nd all-time largest Los Padres wildfire, just a hair behind the 240,207 acre Zaca Fire of 2007.
  • By comparison it took Zaca 117 days to burn approximately the same acreage that Thomas has chewed up in a week.  Thomas could surpass Zaca later today.
  • Thomas also ranks #10 in most destructive California wildfires and #1 for a LP incident with 790 destroyed structures.  Acreage, shmacreage – lets hope Thomas stops at #10 on this list for sure.  #1 on this list was the Sonoma/Napa fires from October 2017 which burned 5,643 homes!  Quite a destructive fall wildfire season.
  • 65,000 of the 230,500 burned acres are within the Los Padres with most of the LP acreage burning within the past 2-3 days.
  • Thomas is currently 15% contained with nearly 6,400 fire crews and support personnel engaged in the fight.
  • The cause of the fire has not yet been shared.

The catastrophic loss of homes is just so sad.  Many of you reading this email probably know someone who has lost their house or a friend of a friend who is now homeless.  It’s really hard to put it all into words and we’re not out of it yet.  The fire rages on now above Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria with still 18,000 structures threatened.  Schools are closed, frequent power outages, middle of the night emergency evacuation messages and those wishing for a White Christmas got their wish as most Santa Barbara County residents have been living in N95 face masks.  It’s been just as the 80 year old man told us, “gnarliest fire we’ve ever seen”.

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North Fork Matilija Engulfed, December 7
LOS PADRES UPDATE
It’s difficult focusing on the Los Padres with all the Thomas urban destruction but we’ve been getting a lot of questions about how the forest is holding up and what impacts are out there at the moment.  We’ll hit on a few of those here:


Q: Is the forest open?
Much of the Southern Los Padres is now closed (closure order and map).  The closure covers large portions of the Santa Barbara and Mt. Pinos Ranger Districts and all of the Ojai.  This closure, in some shape or formation, will be here for a while.  It is expected that the fire will continue burning within the LP until we get some sizable winter rains.  At that point the footprint of the fire will dictate the closure perimeter and based on past FS closure orders we’d expect that footprint to remain closed well into the spring.

Q: What’s the best source of information?
Good question and no shortage of answers.  We’ll share a few links and you can probably find better links that are more appropriate for what you are looking for:
KEYT News Channel 3 has been doing a solid job streaming the fire since it entered SB County.
InciWeb is the best source for overall incident information including evacuation warnings, maps, etc….
– Lots of maps: NWCG, DirectRelief, SARTopo, WIFIRE, Public Information
– Twitter is fantastic in natural disasters, search #ThomasFire and then include your local community for a more specific search.  Ex: #ThomasFire Ojai

Q: What trails burned?
We’ll spend more time on this once the fire is wrapped up but as of now the following areas/trails received at least some fire damage: Santa Paula Canyon (including East Fork), Santa Paula Peak, Topatopas, Sisar, Red Reef, Lion Canyon, Horn, Gridley, Pratt, Bear Heaven, Howard, Cozy Dell, Fuelbreak, Shelf, Wheeler Gorge (the Visitor Center survived!), Dry Lakes, Ortega, Matilija, Matilija Falls, Murietta, Franklin, Monte Arido, South Pot Seco Rd, Upper Santa Ynez, Alder Creek, Ocean View, Divide Peak, Juncal, Romero and Blue Canyon.  Awful seeing a list that long.  We might have missed a few as well, again we’ll focus more on this later and unfortunately this list might continue to grow.  NOTE: Pendola Station is wrapped, fingers crossed!

Smoke Filled IC Briefing


Q: At least those trails are clear now?
While we appreciate the optimism, in almost all cases fire does not help trails.  Vegetation is what makes trails, especially along steeper trails, it holds the soil in place and keeps the tread intact.  Without vegetation, the trails will (in a best case scenario) be covered in ravel after this winter.  Most likely we’ll have to wait a season or two for the vegetation to come back before removing that ravel and starting to restore the tread.  With all the fires over the past decade we’ve become far too familiar with fire trail recovery.  Most of the trails impacted by the fire will remain closed for a while and might need some major repairs in order to reopen.  Not good.  And there has been so much work done over the past years to repair many of these trails, it’s sad seeing all that work go up in smoke.

Q: What about the animals?  Will they have water to drink?
We’re not biologists but those animals that were able to run away from the fire and/or hunker down should be fine.  Water within the creeks did not evaporate, there will still be water.  Plants regrow quickly and there will be plenty of nearby wild areas that the animals can head towards.  We saw fresh deer tracks well within the black less than a week after the 2016 Rey Fire, we expect the same with Thomas.  That being said, the animal population was certainly hit hard.  Here’s a story regarding California condors threatened by the Thomas Fire.


Q: What does this mean for winter storm damage?
Great question.  There are hydrologists assigned to the fire who are working on this right now.  Most wildfires occur in the summer, giving the burned plant life at least a few months to regrow before winter kicks in.  That plant regrowth helps hold soil in place for when the winter rains start.  We’re in uncharted waters here as the rain could come any week now giving the plants such a short period of time to start coming back.  It might mean unprecedented levels of sedimentation into Matilija, Jameson and Gibraltar reservoirs.  It could also mean extended road closures, Hwy 33 for example is normally closed a few weeks each winter due to landslides, it could be closed all winter.  Who knows…..  Ray Ford wrote an article in Noozhawk this week in regards to previous fires stating “it wasn’t the fire that hurt so much, it was the floods that came through the next winter.”

Q: What does the LPFA do to help, how can we help?
Another great question.  The LPFA has been assisting however we can with fire logistics and sharing information but most important right now is for all of us to just stay away and let the fire crews do their thing.  Once the fire is contained the FS will start getting BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) teams involved in quickly assessing and fixing potential winter storm damage within the forest.  They might be started on that already.  LPFA will assist with that as needed as well.  Then when the time is right we’ll start working with the FS to survey trails, photo-document trail conditions, share that with the public and ultimately work with the FS and other groups to restore and reopen the damaged trails.  As of RIGHT NOW, there’s not much any of us can do within the forest other than stay out.  That being said, if any of you could use help with any fire related cleanup or anything the LPFA might be able to assist with outside the forest, let us know as we’ve received quite a few emails from volunteers asking how they can help.

Thomas Fire Approaching Divide Peak, December 9

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The 2018 Los Padres Calendar is printed and ready to ship!  They turned out great.
Help support the LPFA while at the same time chipping away at your holiday shopping list

And if you like these emails and would like to support the LPFA, donations and memberships are always welcome!

 

Thankful Los Padres Givings

Kids + Trail + Forest + Time to Explore = Next Generation of Los Padres Lovers

Hello Friends – Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Throughout the year we hear so much negative noise circulating around the forest.  The media regularly shares articles about what is not working in the Los Padres, the latest forest-related lawsuits, illegal pot grows, destructive wildfires, closures and photos of damaged forest land.  While it’s critically important to stay aware of all these ‘negatives’ and work to prevent unwanted change, it’s just as critically important to revisit why we love the Los Padres and what ‘positives’ are happening around the forest.  It can’t all be negative.  In fact, for every negative we hear, there are dozens of positives across the forest that are most likely not being heard.  It’s easy to leave negative feedback or write a bad review, lets flip that script and instead focus on some of the really cool, helpful and inspiring people, organizations and programs that are working to benefit the forest.  What better time of the year to focus on the positives than Thanksgiving and the Holidays, right?
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FRANKLIN TRAIL
A group of mainly Carpinteria based trail-lovers have been working the past decade to reopen, construct and restore the historic/new Franklin Trail in the hills above Carpinteria.  Unfortunately, here in the Los Padres we don’t hear the words ‘construct’, ‘new’ and ‘trail’ in the same sentence too often.  The idea of bringing the Franklin Trail back from the dead must have seemed farfetched but that didn’t stop the Carp trail community from making it happen.  They got organized, formed an organization called Friends of Franklin Trail, raised funds and worked with the Forest Service to get their dream off the ground.  The Santa Barbara County Trails Council with the guidance of Ray Ford took the lead on the trail design and with the help of countless volunteers and trail stewards they were successful in getting the Franklin Trail back on the map.  If you’ve not explored the Franklin Trail, put it on your list, do it this week if you can – it’s spectacular!  And even more spectacular is how the community of Carpinteria has embraced the trail.  Franklin has become a source of pride for Carpinteria and the local trail-users actively work to keep the trail maintained and improved.  A great example is the 3rd Annual Franklin Trail Turkey Trot where trail-users are sponsored and get donations for each time they use the trail in November which has raised thousands of dollars to continue work on their beloved Franklin Trail.  If you’re interested, the Turkey Trot Celebration is this Friday 12/1 at Island Brewing in Carpinteria.  This example of a community dreaming of more trails, organizing, working with the Forest Service, successfully reestablishing a trail and staying engaged to maintain that trail is an incredible accomplishment.  Big thanks to everyone involved and lets hope other communities can follow this Franklin Trail blueprint in order to build new trails in their neck of the forest as well.
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Recently Restored Tinta Trail

VOLUNTEER TRAIL WORK

Trails are the main artery used by people to access and enjoy the Los Padres Forest.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a birdwatcher, a mountain biker, a hunter or a backpacker; you’ll be using some of the over 1,200 miles of Los Padres trails to get where you want to be.  Unfortunately, Los Padres trails are some of the most difficult to maintain.  Chaparral grows so fast, needing to be worked every year or two.  Trees fall across the trails and fires can alter the trail landscape for the better part of a decade.  So how are the trails kept open?  The Forest Service oversees trail maintenance but most of the boots on the ground efforts come from the numerous Los Padres non-profit trail organizations and the the volunteers who work with these groups.  If you’ve not taken a day or a weekend to volunteer on a trail project, you have to find a way to make that happen.  You’d be surprised at how much fun a day of hard work along the trails can be.  It’s a chance to meet like-minded friends, get outside in the forest and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel on your way out is what keeps people coming back for more.  The LPFA alone accounted for over 12,000 volunteer hours this past year and there are many other great trail groups up and down the Los Padres who host regular trail projects as well.  Get involved if you can, volunteer, give back to the trails you use and love, you won’t be disappointed.  Check the calendar of projects below and sign up for a project near you.

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HPS Sierra Club Volunteers, photo Mark Allen – Patagonia Volunteers, photo Aanjelae Rhoads

VOLUNTEER GROUP WORK
Another great way to get out and volunteer in the Los Padres is by organizing your company, organization and/or friends to maintain or adopt a Los Padres trail.  There are fantastic examples of companies providing an option for their employees to spend a “service day” working on a trail.  Sort of like a Habitat For Humanity but instead of building homes they’re maintaining trails.  It’s a great way to get outside, often times your company will pay for your service day and trail work is a fantastic team-building exercise as well.  This format also works for groups or organizations who use the forest but aren’t trained in trail maintenance.  Student organizations from university’s and High Schools have also come together to help the forest.  A great example is the Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai which sends students out each year to help for a weekend around Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  The VWA has also had great success getting school groups involved with their programs.  There are great examples of groups and companies up and down the forest partnering with all the usual Los Padres volunteer organizations.  Get involved.  Sign up your company, your church group, your friends – you’ll have a great time and will be helping the forest with a smile on your face.  For more information check with your local Los Padres Ranger District of email INFO@LPForest.org.
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Just Another Cuyama Peak Sunrise

SCOUT PROJECTS
There have been some really great scout projects across the Los Padres over the past year or two.  While the forest has benefited from just about all levels of scouting, the most popular service project is an Eagle Project where the scout performs a larger scale project for the benefit of the community, or in this case the Los Padres Forest.  We’ve seen scouts restore and replace forest signs, rebuild and clean damaged forest structures, maintain campsites and create educational material designed to teach forest-users how to properly recreate in the forest.  The LPFA has had the pleasure of working with a few of these scouts and it’s so refreshing seeing a teenager take a concept, formulate an idea, develop a plan and then execute on that plan.  Scouting projects are a great way to get younger people involved with the forest while at the same time providing a tangible outcome that benefits the forest.  Very cool program!  If you know any scouts who might want to tackle a forest-related project, contact your local Ranger District or email INFO@LPForest.org for ideas and assistance.

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Three Concrete Crossings along Davy Brown & Munch Creeks

FOREST 411
• The Forest Service announced last week that longtime Los Padres employee Tony Martinez has been appointed the new Mt Pinos District Ranger.  Welcome and congratulations Ranger Martinez!  For more information click here.

• The Los Padres National Forest, in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is working on a proposal to improve aquatic organism passage along Munch and Davy Brown Creeks by removing three concrete water crossings and replacing two of them with bridges.  If you’ve ever driven Sunset Valley Road to NIRA, the two main crossings are between Davy Brown Campground and the lower Manzana Trailhead.  See attached document for specifics.  The Forest Service will be hosting an open house to discuss this proposal on November 30, 4-6pm at the Santa Lucia District Office in Santa Maria.

• The LPFA 2018 Los Padres wall calendars are going to the printer later this week.  They cost only $15 but will provide you a years worth of priceless Los Padres vistas, scenery, wildlife and stoke!  Get em while you can, you can order them here.

Brookshire, La Panza and Miranda Pine Campgrounds are currently closed as older pit toilets are removed and replaced with new vault toilets.  See here for more information, they are expected to be closed for 3-4 more weeks.

Condors continue their remarkable recovery as four new juvenile condors will be released into the San Simeon flock by the end of the year.

• There was an interesting article posted in the SLO New Times earlier this month discussing recent wildlife population trends and how those trends relate to drought, agriculture and changes in hunting restrictions.  It’s a good read.

• Due to potential storm related closures, camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park will become first-come first-serve only starting December 1, 2017 and lasting through April 30, 2018.

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The Epic Thorn Point View, and getting there is more than half the fun!

Giving Thanks for the Los Padres

A Thankful Los Padres Ursus
BearBear
Most of us will celebrate Thanksgiving this week.  While historically Thanksgiving was a day to give thanks for a successful harvest, today it is used to celebrate anything and everything we are thankful for – which is great.  Turkey Day is a fantastic excuse to take some time and reflect on all you have to be thankful for.  Then after that, stuff your face and watch football…..   Kidding aside, we all have much to be thankful for.  The above photo was sent to us earlier this month showing a Los Padres black bear traipsing across a small meadow during his/her daily rounds.  It got me thinking how thankful we all should be to have wild spaces and enough room in the Los Padres for great animals to roam.  Be it the condor, elk, fish, bear or humans; we’re very fortunate to have vast spaces to wander and explore in the LP.  There’s a billion other reasons to be thankful, almost all of them are more important than this one, but it’s really cool thinking of that bear and all his neighbors doing their thing out there right now.



FOREST 411

Couple tidbits from across the Forest, if you have anything to add, please send our way:

• The 20th Annual Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training will be January 23-24 at the Los Prietos Compound, Santa Barbara Ranger District.  Much more information to come but we wanted to make sure you all get it on your calendars.  20 years is certainly reason to celebrate.

• The Mt. Pinos Ranger District has announced their seasonal closures which start today.  See attached document for specifics.

Franklin Trail Fundraiser on December 2.  The Santa Barbara Trails Council is hosting a Happy Hour to help raise funds for the Franklin Trail and thank the Sierra Club for their contributions to the trail.  More information here.

• A cold front is crossing the LP over the coming days.  Freezing temps are expected across most of the forest.  While rain is expected in the northern LP, not much is expected to fall south of the Santa Ynez Valley and Sespe Creek.

• In October, the Ventana Wilderness Alliance headed up an effort to bring Leave No Trace to the Pine Ridge Trail in order to evaluate the impact along the trail and recommend a course of action to help alleviate the impacts.  While out there, LNT came across Flyin’ Brian Robinson, the famous thru-hiker.  He gave a nice short interview on LNT and why it’s important.  Worth checking out here.

• Yeti Coolers released a great short video talking about the Los Padres Outfitters and some of their history between Tony Alvis and Graham.  You can view it here.

• While the Los Padres Charter Sierra Club Condor Call has been out now for a few weeks old, if you haven’t checked it out, it’s certainly worth a read as well.  Click here.

Yes, it’s Calendar Season
Calendar
Back by popular demand, the LPFA will be producing 2016 calendars featuring pictures of the spectacular sights from around the Los Padres Forest. AND WE COULD USE YOUR HELP. If you have a great photo or two that you think is worthy of being included within the calendar, please send it to INFO@LPForest.org. We’ll need your name and what month you think it best represents – no need to include the location, we don’t want to spoil your secrets. If we use your photo, we’ll credit you and send you a calendar. Sound okay?

The LPFA produced 4 years of calendars from 2008-2011 highlighting waterfalls. This time around we’re opening it up to anything Los Padres related. Could be an epic sunset, a photo of wildlife, a view from your favorite trail or even a waterfall. If you have something great to share, we’d love to see it. All photos need to be sent and finalized by December 10. We won’t use your photos for anything other than the calendar without your permission. We’ll have information on how to get a calendar by mid-December, just in time for the holidays. If you have any other questions, let us know……. Thanks, looking forward to seeing some great photos.




The window, barely open….. photo Slattery
PuertoSuelo
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and hope you find some trail time over the long weekend………