MAY the FOREST be with you

Hi Everyone – Good Afternoon,

Quite a week for celebrations we’ve had…… 

  • Monday was May Day: a celebration of Spring and the giving of flowers.
  • Tuesday was Teachers Day: even to this day we all have teachers, it’s never a bad idea to say thank you!
  • Wednesday we caught our breath.
  • Thursday was Star Wars Day: May the fourth be with you!
  • And today is Cinco de Mayo: you can read about the history of May 5 but generally associated with Mexican heritage, margaritas and family.

All special days of course, but here in the Los Padres we celebrated yet another event this week as well…….

LOS PADRES GATE OPENING DAY: May 1

Generally speaking, the seasonal road closure gates across the forest close December 1 for the winter and then reopen May 1 after most of the rains have passed.  This is a relatively new holiday as many of the seasonal gates have not always been closed but none the less May 1 now provides reason for many of us here in the LP to celebrate.  We won’t get into MVUM or budgets or politics or any of the other reasons the gates are closed, instead lets focus on the good news that once again road access to more of the forest is open.  Here’s the latest and greatest from each of the five ranger districts:

Ojai Ranger District:
– Three seasonal roads have reopened including Reyes Peak Road (Pine Mountain), Dough Flat Road and Nordhoff Ridge Road (permit required).
– Cherry Creek Road remains closed.
– All campgrounds and trails are open!Mt. Pinos Ranger District:
– All roads, camps and trails have been reopened except for Snowy Trail, Cerro Noroeste, Dry Canyon Rd and Tinta / Rancho Nuevo Trailhead Gate at the Cuyama River / Hwy 33 junction.
– This includes Grade Valley, Alamo and Santa Barbara Canyon.
The new Romero Saddle gate at East Camino and Romero-Camuesa Rd, photo USFS
Santa Barbara Ranger District:
– The news is not so good in the SBRD……
– The Romero Camuesa Rd, which connects East Camino Cielo with the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation area sustained major structural damage this winter and remains closed to all vehicles.  A cribwall section of the road was severely undercut near the junction with the North Romero Trail and will require engineering before the road can be reopened.  As a result, the Forest Service has installed a new gate at the junction of East Camino and Romero-Camuesa at Romero Saddle where the pavement turns to dirt.  Divide Peak OHV remains open, so appropriate OHV vehicles (<50″) can pass around the new gate and continue to access Divide Peak but there is no vehicle travel down to Juncal, Pendola, the Calientes, etc…….  Staging for OHV is now at Romero Saddle.  This is major news, we’ll keep you posted as progress develops and timeframes established.
– First Crossing along Paradise Rd remains closed due to storm damage resulting from the Rey Fire.  The Forest Service expects First Crossing to reopen in the next few weeks.  Currently Upper Oso and the day use areas off River Road are closed.
– No news on when or if Buckhorn Rd / Camuesa will be reopened for OHV use.  The Buckhorn was hit hard by the Rey Fire and with most of the road resources going towards public access roads, it sounds like the Buckhorn will have to wait its turn.  We’ll keep you all posted on this as well.
– Happy Canyon has been cleared and is open for 2wd passenger car travel.Santa Lucia Ranger District:
– Santa Lucia is a bit more fluid than the other districts.  We suggest contacting the District before heading out to a trailhead or location.  Here’s the latest:
– All paved roads are open including Fig Mtn Rd, Sunset Valley.
– The dirt roads in the Fig Mtn Recreation Area are closed, including Fig Mtn Lookout, East Pinery, Catway and Old Catway.
– Sierra Madre is open from Rock Front east to McPherson Gate.
– Miranda Pine is closed at the junction with Sierra Madre.
– Bates is closed.
– Rock Front is open.
– Hi Mtn Rd remains closed at both Arroyo Grande and Salinas River sides.
– Pozo is open.
– Colson Canyon is open to Colson Camp but remains locked at the Rattlesnake Saddle gate (more on that below, see La Brea!)Monterey Ranger District:
– The Soberanes Fire Closure continues to impact the Monterey district with most of the Ventana Wilderness remaining closed.
– Hwy 1 is still closed at Ragged Point (south) and Big Sur Station (north).
– Nacimiento Ferguson is open as well as Prewitt and South Coast Ridge Roads.
– All Forest Service Camps along Hwy 1 are open but access is only via Nacimiento Ferguson.
– Palo Colorado is closed.
– Pfeiffer Beach is closed.
– Pfeiffer Big Sur and Andrew Molera State Parks are closed but should open in the coming weeks.Whew, that’s a lot, are you still with us?  It doesn’t feel like much of a celebration when you see all the closures that remain in effect.  We had quite a winter (rain) following quite a summer (fire).  Maybe we should start a band and call it Fire, Rain & Earth.  The FS is working hard to reopen the roads.  It’ll happen.  Remain optimistic we must…….

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An Apple a Day, photo Aanjelae
FOREST 411

First Saturday Trail Project Ojai: May 6 on the upper Pratt Trail.  Meet at 8:30am at the Ojai Ranger Station to carpool to the Nordhoff Ridge trailhead.

La Brea Restoration Plan: The SLRD is hosting an Open House to discuss the proposed restoration project for the La Brea Fire closure that dates back to 2010.  Public is welcome, the Open House is May 8 from 4-7pm at the SLRD Ranger Station on Carlotti Drive in Santa Maria.

• Final LPFA Working Vacation of the season is May 20-29 at Madulce Camp in the Dick Smith Wilderness.  To learn more or to sign up, email INFO@LPForest.org or check here.

• Latest Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update from our Forest Service wildflower expert Helen Tarbet, see attached.

Wood cutting permits are available later this month at the Chuchupate Ranger Station.  Dates are May 10, 24 and 31 from 10am – 2pm.  Call Chuchupate for more information: 661.245.3731

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Stay Thirsty my Friends, photo Humphrey

Freezing Gates of the Los Padres

Big Sur Coastline, Making Even the Worst Photographer Look Good
BigSurCoast

Chances are you’re reading this with a few more layers of clothes on and a few more windows closed than you had at this time last week.  The storm that just passed (or is passing) is our first winter storm of the season.  Rain totals across the forest have varied greatly with the Northern LP getting well over an inch of rain and as much as 2 inches in certain areas.  The rain totals dwindle heading south with SLO backcountry in the half inch range, SB backcountry in the quarter inch and Ventura backcountry in the tenth of an inch range.  Of course there are outliers and areas that received more rain than others.  BUT the exciting thing, if you get excited about things like this, is that this storm will mark the first time this season that much of the backcountry will experience freezing or near-freezing temperatures.  Low temps should be around freezing up through the high 30’s for most of the Los Padres over the coming two nights.  A taste of things to come.  Temps will warm up heading into what looks to be a perfect weekend for a hike or ride.  Great time of year!



Shutting of the Gates
LockedGate GATE CLOSURES

As winter arrives, along with it we usually see a few more seasonal gate closures across the forest.  Knowing the status of gate closures is tricky and it can certainly ruin your weekend outing if you come across a locked gate you expected would be open.  Some gates are opened/closed solely on established dates.  What this means is that there are rules for certain roads/gates where they are recommended to be closed or opened on certain dates regardless of weather.  The big dates across the forest are November 1, December 15 and May 1.  Other gates are opened/closed around storm systems and weather events – open during dry times and closed when rain is forecast.  It’s really hard to know for sure if and when a gate will be open/closed.  Best advice for any of you heading to the mountains is to do your homework ahead of time.  First check two online sources:

• The Forest Service has a page dedicated to road and campground closures:

• HikeLosPadres also has a page designated to the status of certain gates around the forest.  The gate list is not complete but it is updated as closures happen.  NOTE: If you have any updates or would like any gates added, please let HLP know.

Then, in addition to the online resources, I’d also recommend calling the Ranger District you plan on visiting and double checking the status of the gate closures.  There is almost nothing worse than getting shutdown by a locked gate before you even get to a trailhead.  Research ahead of time can solve most of those headaches.

GATE UPDATES

Again, check the resources mentioned above but here are a few closures to keep an eye on:

  • Dough Flat, above Fillmore, will be closing December 15 this year.
  • Middle Lion Campground, near Piedra Blanca, will be closed December 1.
  • Santa Barbara Canyon gate, at Reyes Ranch, is scheduled to be closed November 1.
  • Reyes Peak / Pine Mtn is scheduled to be closed December 15.
  • West Cuesta Rd above SLO will be closed for repairs from November 1, 2015 – October 31, 2016.

Rik’s Army of Packs, Waiting for YOU!
RikBackpacks

And don’t forget the Used Gear Sale this weekend in Santa Barbara!  Check out the link below for more information:


UPCOMING EVENTS

November 7: Used Gear Sale, Tucker’s Grove Site 5, Goleta
December 4-6: LPFA Lower Mono-Alamar Trail Project

* It’s harder to schedule events this time of year, sorry there isn’t more on the schedule.  If you want anything added, please let us know.

Working Vacation Update and National Trails Day

Hello Los Padres – hope this finds you well,

The big news this past week was that most of the seasonal gate closures in the Ventura backcountry were opened as of May 1.  This includes Dough Flat, Grade Valley, Santa Barbara Canyon (SBCo), Alamo and Pine Mtn amongst others.  These gates are closed November 1 and reopened May 1 as part of seasonal gate closures.  Unfortunately the closures happen to coincide with the best time for people to recreate behind most of these gates.  It would be nice to see the gates opened and closed on a case by case basis based on storm events, conditions and elevation rather than a blanket closure.  Hopefully this is something we can work on over the next 6 months so that next years closures won’t be so drastic.  For now, the gates are open and now is a great time to get out and enjoy the Forest.  Have at it………


 

PackSupport

Dream Team of Otis, Susie and team……….

WORKING VACATION
– UPPER SISQUOC –

The LPFA just wrapped up a 10-day Working Vacation along the Upper Sisquoc in the San Rafael Wilderness.  We had 16 volunteers over that time working the trail and helping supply the project with stock support.  Working Vacations are designed to entice volunteers to spend time working the trails in exchange for cooked meals and cold beverages at the end of each hard days work.  Led by VWR super hero Mike Smith, we were able to log out over 100 downed trees from the Judell and Sisquoc Trails.  By the end of the 10-days, the entire Judell Trail and from Mansfield to Lower Bear was passable to stock.  It was a great project and huge accomplishment.  Special thanks to the Forest Service for helping support the project, in particular Joe Duran, Pancho Smith and Nate Rezeau.  Also Susie and Otis for their expert pack support and Rich Scholl for being a dutch oven magician as our designated cook.

Now that the trail work is done, it’s time to head out and see for yourself.  There was plenty of water in the Sisquoc and the trails are in great shape.  We’re starting to plan an early summer followup project to log the section of trail from Alamar Saddle down to Lower Bear.  We’ll keep you posted and hope to see you next time around……

MansfieldOak

Crosscut Logging near Mansfield, photo Beckstrand

TombstoneTree

The Tombstone Oak, you know it’s taken some time when a tree gets a name, photo Burtness 

SisquocTread

Tread Looking Nice!

HeathCamp

Benefits of stock support, photo Burtness

HeathFood

Eat like Kings and Queens

JudellTrail

Spectacular Judell Trail, looking better than normal!

 

 

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

Give back to your trails by celebrating National Trails Day with the LPFA.  This year we are hosting a 1-2 day project along the Cold Spring Trail in Santa Barbara County.  With the help of a grant from the Los Padres Trails Riders, we’ll be base camping at Mono Campground and working the Cold Spring Trail through the Mono Jungle and up to the infamous North Cold Spring Slide.  The Slide has been choking the trail for the past 10+ years and preventing most trail users from making it along the trail.  We are going to spend our time reestablishing this section of trail and logging downed trees in the Mono Jungle.  Here is a quick breakdown on the project logistics:

Friday June 5
– Arrive at Mono Campground in the afternoon or evening
– Setup camp, relax, nearby hot springs

Saturday June 6
– Arrive at Mono Campground
– Trail work will start at 0800
– We’ll break into groups and hike the 2miles to the slide section
– Work the trail……
– Stop work at 1500 and head back to Mono Campground
– BBQ and post-work cold beverages provided by the LPFA and TBA local brewing company
– Relax around camp, enjoy nearby hot springs

Sunday June 7
– Breakfast provided by the LPFA
– 0900, optional continued work on the Slide for those interested
– 1400 stop work and head back to Mono Campground
– Pack up and head home

If you are interested in helping either with trail work or as a camp cook, please email INFO@LPForest.org.  For more information check here:

http://www.nationaltrailsday.org/events/north-cold-spring-trail-project/

The Slide, looks better than it actually is…….
SlideOne
SlideTwo
OverviewMapColdSpring

List of more upcoming events……….
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May 19-27: Santa Cruz Trail Project
May: Buckhorn Trail Project
June 3-11: Mono Alamar Trail Project
June 5-7: National Trails Day, Mono Campground Trail Weekend
June 27: Big Sur Wilderness Celebration
June: Bear Sisquoc Crosscut
July 10-12: Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Run Support
July: Madulce Trail Crosscut
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