State of the Winter, So Far…..

Matilija Canyon Changed Forever, Again – Nov 2017 & Jan 2018

Hello Friends,

This winter has not exactly gone as planned, has it?  We were in uncharted waters heading into the rainy season with the largest fire in California history still burning across the southern Los Padres and the already scorched mountains laying helplessly baron, devoid of any vegetation.  Our mountains are no strangers to fire but they’ve usually grown a protective five o’clock shadow of at least a few months of post-fire regrowth before the rains kick in.  We did not have that luxury with the Thomas Fire.  We were all hoping for extended light rain which might fend off the drought while at the same time not causing too much soil erosion.  That certainly has not been the case.  Rainfall totals are way down for the year, with most of the forest receiving well under 40% of average rainfall totals to date.  And all the rain that we have had essentially came in that one horrible storm on January 8.  So much for light rain over an extended period of time, we ended up with hard rain all at once; which, as you know, resulted in the tragic Montecito debris flows.  As of today, there is no rain in the extended forecast and we’re looking at what might be nearly a whole month in the heart of winter without any rain.  It’s really hard to know what to root for from here on out.  It might be best to get through the winter with as little rain as possible and sink back into what will be the 7-year drought.  Or perhaps we hope for rain and pray that we don’t get a repeat Montecito debris-flow.  Then again perhaps we stick to the gameplan and continue to root for light rain spanning the end of winter and into spring.  Who knows.  We’ve already seen so much destruction below the forest and so much change within it.  No matter what outcome we get please be careful.  The forest remains closed within the Thomas and Whittier Fire perimeters and should remain that way for quite some time.  For those looking to take advantage of the good weather, there are plenty of great trails to explore outside the burn perimeters.  It might require a slightly longer drive but there is water in most of the creeks, areas that have not burned and new trails to explore.
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United States Hero & Los Padres’ Own, David Dahlberg
FOREST 411
• In case you missed it, David Dahlberg was recognized earlier this week as part of President Trump’s State of the Union Address.  Dahlberg is a Los Padres Fire Prevention Technician and heroically saved the lives of over 60 people stranded at Circle V Ranch near the onset of this summers Whittier Fire.  While the Los Padres has been making national news of late, it was special to see David get a well deserved round of applause.  David, next rounds on me…..

Fire Restrictions were lifted on January 19 permitting campfires and target shooting.  See attached PDF for more information.  Please PLEASE, be careful with your fires and pick up your brass if target shooting.

Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and Lockwood Valley Road.  It is possible the road will reopen on February 7 but you’ll want to confirm with CalTrans before attempting to drive through.

• The Thomas Fire was officially called 100% contained on January 12 at an astounding 281,893 acres.

Highway 1 along the Southern Big Sur Coast remains closed at Mud Creek due to the epic landslide from last spring.  It remains on schedule to reopen his summer.

• The FS will be implementing annual prescribed burns across the forest as conditions allow.

• As if TOTALITY wasn’t enough, yesterday we had the pleasure of witnessing the SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON LUNAR ECPLISE, try saying that fast 10 times in a row.  It was spectacular.  In case you missed it, we will have another blue moon in March, just can’t promise the SUPER or LUNAR ECLIPSE parts.

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The SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON LUNAR ECLIPSE, from Aliso Canyon, photo Orr
UPCOMING EVENTS

This time of year is supposed to be too rainy for any trail projects…..  Not this year and as you’ll see below, there are a lot of upcoming volunteer projects and events across the Los Padres that are taking advantage of the unseasonable weather.  We wanted to give you a heads up about one project in particular that popped up late this week:
ROSE VALLEY CLEANUP
Saturday February 3
8:30am at the Ojai Ranger Station
The LPFA is partnering with the Forest Service to arrange a special cleanup around Rose Valley.  Rose Valley burned in the Thomas Fire, revealing decades old trash that was buried in the brush.  We’ll be caravaning up to Rose Valley from Ojai to help cleanup the trash.  Hwy 33 remains closed to the public so it’s important to arrive on time in order to be part of the caravan through the barricades.  Once at Rose Valley, we’ll be spreading out, exploring the area and picking up any trash we see along the way.  Should be a special opportunity to see the burned area up close and help the forest in the process.  For questions you can email INFO@LPForest.org, check the link above and we hope to see you on Saturday at 8:30am sharp.
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Troop 111 from Ventura recently replaced the San Rafael Wilderness sign on the Judell Trail.  GREAT WORK!

newly restored trail sign along Davy Brown Trail.
The sign restoration was part of an Eagle Scout project compliments of Orcutt Scout Troop 91.

Working Gear Big Beer Karma Sur Sale Vacation

Western Start (not end) of the Mission Pine Trail
Greetings Everyone – Hello,

It’s finally October!  The nights are getting cooler, the days shorter, fall is setting in, the creeks are flowing a bit better and it is officially time to ride/walk/run/skip/worm the trails!  The LPFA is setting up a busy fall schedule of trail maintenance projects, forest-related events, camp cleanups and trail surveys.  We’d love to have you come along as your schedule permits.  Excuse the shameless self promotion:

MISSION PINE SPRING W.V.

In addition to the regularly scheduled weekend/day trail projects, we try to lead three larger week-long volunteer projects each year that we call Working Vacations.  Generally we schedule one in the fall and then two each spring.  This year our fall project will be along the Mission Pine Trail based at beautiful Mission Pine Spring Camp (MPS).  The project kicks off on Friday 10/20 as the pack stock move in to help support the trail work.  The volunteer crews arrive Saturday 10/21 and we’ll be spending the next week at MPS working the trail out towards Mission Pine Basin and back up towards San Rafael Mtn.  Most of the work will be lopping back manzanita and ceonothus that has been encroaching on the trail but there will also be some crosscut saw work and tread restoration as well.  While the project lasts parts of 10 days (10/20 – 10/29), there are options for shorter hitches if your work/life schedule won’t allow a week in the woods.  We’re able to drive in 8 miles to McKinley Saddle and from there it’s a quick 4 miles to MPS Camp.  If you can break away for 3+ days to help the trails, we’ll do our best to get you rides in & out and feed you while you’re in camp.  Backcountry chef extraordinaire Rich Scholl has signed on to be the camp cook once again – YES!  If interested or to sign up please email us at: INFO@LPForest.org.
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Gear Gurus Rik & Paul, photo Sue Green

LPFA USED CAMPING GEAR SALE

Yeah – baby!  This Sunday 10/8 is the 3rd Annual Used Camping Gear Sale at Tucker’s Grove Site #2 in Goleta.  Our hero Rik, whose forest resume is too long to list here, is the master of ceremonies for the event and is also an Ambassador for Gossamer Gear.  Rik spends literally hundreds of hours each year compiling, cleaning and arranging gear for this sale.  It’s great that this sale helps the LPFA Trail Care program but more than anything else Rik does this to share his stoke of the trails with anyone interested in getting off the pavement.  It’s amazing how much great stuff is available.  We’ve got over 40 backpacks, a dozen tents, hiking poles, cook sets, stoves, clothes, camp gadgets and gizmos – we even have a tent space heater!  While most of our gear is lightweight or UL, we’ve got car-camping covered as well.  Come on out this Sunday and check it for yourself.  And in case you want to clean out your garage a little, there is still time to donate your used gear as well.  You can bring it to the sale on Sunday (arrive early please) or shoot us an email and we’ll arrange a pickup today or tomorrow (INFO@LPForest.org).  Thanks to EVERYONE who has already graciously donated their used gear – so cool!  We’ll see you Sunday and if you don’t know Rik, Paul, Valerie, John, Ron, Jasonn and all the other volunteers who will be helping, introduce yourself and say hello.  They can help with just about any questions you’ll have as well…..
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Beer, Karma & Trails – DRAUGHTSMEN ALEWORKS

LPFA KARMA BEER

Goleta based brewery Draughtsmen Aleworks has dedicated October to the LPFA and will be contributing $1 for each Karma Tap beer they sell from October 1 through Halloween.  BE SURE TO ORDER THE KARMA BEER!  We’ll be putting all the money raised towards the restoration of the Santa Cruz Trail, which was totaled in the 2016 Rey Fire.  Bring a friend, bring your office, bring an army and help us bring Santa Cruz back one beer at a time.

PLUS Draughtsmen is allowing us to host an event on Wednesday 10/18 at the brewery.  After bouncing ideas around about what sort of event we should host, we decided to throw a TRIVIA PARTY.  Put it on your calendar:

WEDNESDAY 10/18 – 6pm
Los Padres Themed Trivia Night at Draughtsmen Aleworks
We’ll be following the typical trivia night format used at breweries around the world but the questions will be Los Padres themed and each round of questions will be hosted by a different LP character.  We’ll share those names soon, but you’ll love it, something for everyone and again it all goes to help the Santa Cruz Trail.
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Pfeiffer Canyon (Gulch) Bridge w/ Mt. Manuel Trail, Mid-September, photo Kyle Evans

BIG SUR MOVIN & SHAKIN
Most of the Big Sur Coast and the northern Los Padres would just assume forget about 2016 and most of 2017.  Between the Soberanes Fire (July – Sept, 2016) and the 2016-17 torrential winter rains (causing slides and bridge failures) access to Big Sur and the forest has been disrupted (to put it nicely).  We can’t go into the full extent of the disruption here (see the coffee table book that I am sure someone is working on) but giant steps have been made to restore access.  Here’s a quick rundown and update……
PFEIFFER BRIDGE: After 8 months of being closed, Pfeiffer Bridge is scheduled to reopen a week from today on Friday October 13.  While CalTrans may want to wait a day due to superstition, their efforts to rebuild the bridge in a quick 8 months needs to be applauded.  Once opened this will restore access along Hwy 1 from Monterey down to the Mud Creek Slide, which is 10 miles north of Ragged Point.

• MUD CREEK SLIDE: Speaking of, the Mud Creek Slide remains closed between Salmon Creek Trailhead and the closure north of the slide.  CalTrans is estimating that the slide will be cleared and Hwy 1 reopened sometime in summer 2018.

• Coming from SLO, you can only get as far as Salmon Creek.  Once Pfeiffer Bridge is reopened you cannot connect Hwy 1 out to SLO.  The main exit along Hwy 1 will be along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road which connects Kirk Creek with Fort Hunter Liggett.  Nacimiento Rd is a windy 1.75 lane road that crosses over the Los Padres.  We expect the road will be quite busy between next week and when Mud Creek reopens.  In addition to the coffee table book, some entrepreneur might want to set up a lemonade stand.

PFEIFFER BEACH: So many Pfeiffers….  Did you know that the Los Padres Forest touches the sand at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur?  It’s been closed for most of the past year due to the bridge failure and winter storms but is scheduled to reopen shortly after the bridge is opened a week from today.

SOBERANES CLOSURE: The Soberanes Fire closure remains in effect but there are whispers that the closure will be reduced in the coming weeks.  We’ll see what that entails and share it with you as soon as it is released.

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Los Padres Harvest Full Moon

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!
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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!

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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.

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