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

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

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