Thomas Fire Closure Update & NTD 2018

Naked Matilija Wilderness
THOMAS FIRE CLOSURE LIFTED
The Forest Service unexpectedly lifted their Thomas Fire closure last week.  This reopens all of the Los Padres portion of the Thomas Fire burn scar to most of its normal use.  While the majority of the public should be rejoicing at the chance to get back into the forest, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  Here are a few tweaks and warnings you should be aware of before relaunching into the forest:

  • While the Forest Service has reopened their previously closed land, both the City and County of Santa Barbara have decided to keep their portions of the burn area closed.  You can read more details on the Noozhawk article by Ray Ford.  The City and County of SB control much of the lower portions of the Santa Barbara Frontcountry, including the trailheads at Cold Spring, San Ysidro and Hot Springs Canyon.  This means that while the upper Frontcountry within the Los Padres is open, people cannot access the trails through the more popular lower trailheads.  This has created a bit of a conundrum as stakeholders and trail-users attempt to figure out the best ways to legally enjoy the trails.  We’ll keep you posted as news develops……..
  • The LPFA has been busy over the past days installing yellow warning signs at the trailheads around the Thomas burn area, see photo below.  Please do be careful if you are within the burn area.  There are many loose rocks and hazard trees that have not succumbed to gravity quite yet.  Pay special attention on switchback sections where people above might trigger a loose rock on trail users below.  Also, if you plan on camping in the burned area, be really careful of hazard trees and limbs that might fall.
  • Portions of the town of Montecito remain in a state of disrepair as they continue to deal with repercussions from the Thomas Fire and January 9 debris flows.  There is still a lot of heavy equipment moving rocks and pushing dirt, and some shocking house damage remains within the community.  Please be mindful and respectful.
  • The Romero Camuesa Road from Romero Saddle down towards Pendola remains closed to vehicles/motorcycles as does Divide Peak OHV.  Hikers and bicyclists are able to use these roads.  No timetable has been set as to when the road and OHV route might reopen but don’t count on it happening anytime soon.
  • Both Rose Valley Campground and Middle Lion Campground remain closed.  No news as to when they might reopen.
  • While the forest is open, most of the trails have received little or no trail work since the winter rains.  You should plan on the trails taking significantly longer to travel than normal and be careful attempting shuttle trips as there may be some impassable sections of trail that may cause changes in your plans.
  • There have been some reports from within the burn area of the dreaded fire-follower plant called the Poodle Dog Bush.  Our unfriend, the Poodle Dog, causes human reactions similar to poison oak.  It’s a very picturesque purple flower that can grow in large robust fields that look like something you should dance through rather than skirt around.  Google search it please…….

Other than that, the forest has been reopened from the lower Sespe out to Gibraltar Road and up to Hwy 33.  Enjoy, be safe and please let us know if you come across any downed trees or horrible sections of trail that need significant work.  We’re helping compile a list of trail issues and any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Please share your reports on www.HikeLosPadres.com.  THANKS and be safe!

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This was (is) Matilija Camp? NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

National Trails Day is this coming Saturday, June 2 and the Los Padres has four trail projects scheduled within our forest:

MATILIJA TRAIL, Ventura County
The LPFA is organizing a trail project into the Thomas Fire burn area and focusing on restoring the lower portion of the Matilija Trail from the trailhead up to Matilija Camp.  The trail is covered in downed trees (crosscut sawyers needed) and burnt brush that we’ll be clearing from the trail corridor and if time allows we might work to uncover Matilija Camp, which was buried in boulders.  We’ll be meeting Saturday at 8am at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center and working until 2pm.  REI will be joining us back at Wheeler Gorge with their famous “CHILL ZONE” and we’ll have a quick BBQ for the volunteers around 3pm.  It should be a special day and a lot of fun.  For more information check us out here or email INFO@LPForest.org

DAVY BROWN TRAIL, Santa Barbara County
The LPFA will also be hosting a trail project on June 2 along the Davy Brown Trail, off of Figueroa Mountain near Los Olivos.  We’ll be meeting at the upper Davy Brown Trailhead at 8am and from there working down Davy Brown and perhaps out the Willow Spur Trail.  Work will be mainly clearing downed trees and brush from along the trail.  Mike Smith is the project leader and we’ll work until the afternoon before returning to the trailhead.  Davy Brown is one of the more scenic trails in the area providing ocean views from the trailhead as well as views of Hurricane Deck.  It’s also home to a great variety of plants and flowers that make Figueroa Mountain so famous.  We hope to see you there.  Please RSVP if you can make it (INFO@LPForest.org) and click here for more details.

BOULDER CANYON TRAIL, Ventura County
Mark Subbotin will be leading a sawyer assault down the Boulder Canyon Trail along the northern slope of Pine Mountain.  There is an estimated 20+ trees down along the trail and we’re fairly certain they’ll get them all!  This is also part of the Condor Trail.  Details will be provided by Mark and the Mt Pinos Volunteers, you can reach Mark at: MSubbotin76@Gmail.com.

HORSEPASTURE TRAIL, Monterey County
The VWA is hosting a car-camping potential multi-day project along the Horsepasture Trail.  They’ll be working hard on Saturday and then playing equally hard on Sunday.  Sounds like a great project and a terrific way to get to know the area and the people who help keep the trails open.  RSVP required, please click here for more details.

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The Quick Gray Fox Jumps Over the Newly Restored Trail, photo Humphrey
FOREST 411

• As if this weekend wasn’t busy enough, the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is hosting a special talk on Saturday at 11am by local hiking author Dr. James Caballero entitled “Hiking Be Prepared”.  It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned hiking stud or a trail newbie, you’re assured to learn something new!  See you at Wheeler……. and stay for the REI BBQ!

GREAT NEWS!  The Ojai Ranger District released a scoping letter last week outlining an environmental proposal to approve all the ORD trails for Level 1-2 trail maintenance.  See attached letter to learn more and please respond if you’d like to see the Ojai trails improved.

• This weekend marked the launch of a temporary shuttle service that shuttles visitors from the Big Sur Station parking lot down to Pfeiffer Beach and back.  Beach access to Pfeiffer and overcrowding has been a serious problem over the past decade and the shuttle service is a pilot project to see if a shuttle can prevent traffic jams along Sycamore Canyon Road.  By most accounts the first weekend was a big success.  We’ll share more information on this in a future email.

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Pay Attention to the Thomas Fire Warning Signs, and Especially Pay Attention to the Signs of Thomas Fire Warnings, photo Gordon J.

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