Los Padres 2017 Storm Update

Raging Big Sur River at Pfeiffer Big Sur, photo California State Parks

Hello Everyone,

We’ve had quite a start to 2017 with lots of weather, snow and rain across the Los Padres.  Seems like the meteorologists got their years confused between last years El Niño (aka El Noshow) and what was predicted to be a warm, dry winter this year.  Whatever, we need it and we’ll take it!  As I am sure you all have been witnessing, these storms didn’t just bring weather but in some cases destruction along with the rain.  We’ve had flooding, landslides, snow closures, evacuations, wildfire area debris flows and even a tornado warning.  The Los Padres is well ahead of our annual average rainfall totals and as a result some of the reservoirs are starting to fill up, including Gibraltar Reservoir in Santa Barbara County, which overflowed last week for the first time in 6 years!  While that is great news, there is still more water needed before we can call off the drought.  For example, Twitchell Reservoir above Santa Maria is still only 7% filled even though that part of the Forest has received almost 20 inches of rain already this season.  It’s still early in the season and we have two full rainy months in front of us with another series of storms headed our way by the middle of next week.  It’s already been an exciting winter, who knows what else is in store.  Travel safe and be careful…….
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San Rafael Mountain Summit, January 20, photo Kevin Cody
WEATHER CLOSURES
As a result of the storms, most of the roads around the Los Padres remain closed.  These closures are fluid, so please be sure to check with the Forest Service or CalTrans before heading out on your next adventure:

  • Just about all non-paved Los Padres roads are closed.  There may be a few exceptions but again be sure to check ahead of time before assuming a road or gate will be open.
  • Hwy 1 along the Big Sur Coast has been closed for most of the past month and remains closed between Big Sur and Ragged Point due to landslides.
  • Hwy 33 in Ventura County was closed this past weekend due to landslides and snow but was just reopened.  There are snow chain warnings still in effect.
  • Hwy 41 between Morro Bay and Cerro Alto in SLO County is closed due to a landslide.
  • Paradise Rd in Santa Barbara is closed at First Crossing Day Use Area.  No time-frame has been set as to when First Crossing will reopen but it probably won’t be anytime soon.
  • Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur remains closed due to road undercutting.
  • Mt Pinos is closed this week due to icy conditions.
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 HARD HAT STICKERS

Perhaps you’ve seen this, especially if you follow college football…… Some college football teams give their players ‘helmet stickers’ as a way of recognizing either individual or team achievement. Each player has his personal football helmet and if their team wins or that player does something excellent in that game, the team rewards the player with a sticker that he then puts on his helmet. More stickers = more recognition. It’s a cool tradition and in some cases you can hardly see the helmet as it’s covered in stickers, indicating that player is a superstar.

We liked this concept and decided to try something similar with LPFA trail maintenance projects. All LPFA volunteers have to wear hard hats (helmets) during trail projects and many of our regular volunteers come with their personal hard hats. Starting this year we are going to give out helmet stickers to each volunteer after a successful trail project. Hopefully the volunteers will be proud to place those stickers on their personal hard hats and maybe if we’re lucky within a few years there will be a herd of decorated hard hats out there working the trails showing how spectacular all the volunteers are. We’ll see how it works. Look for them soon……  Hut, Hut, LOP!
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First Crossing, 6 Feet Under, photo Beeman
THIS & THAT

– On January 17 the Los Padres Forest lifted fire restrictions across the forest.

– The Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club is once again offering their Wilderness Basics Course designed to teach backpacking skills to hikers of all skill levels.  The classes are offered in Ventura County and start February 8.

– Remember that the Soberanes Fire Closure remains in effect within the Monterey Ranger District.

– We’re getting lots of reports of damaged trails across the Los Padres – thank you everyone!  Remember that HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for sharing that information and getting those damaged sections of trail onto the inventory of trails to fix.  Check it out!

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Piedra Blanca & Montañas Blancas, Sespe, photo Humphrey

Volunteer Season & Pine Valley Legend

San Luis Obispo Backcountry, March 2016
SLOCamp

NOW is quintessential Los Padres.  Flowers are blooming, grass is green, water is flowing (mostly), days are warm (mostly) and nights are cool.  If you’re not getting out on the trail (or off-trail), you really should find some time for a ride or hike.  When you get back, send us your photos, we’d love to see some good ones and be sure to check HikeLosPadres.com for the most up-to-date trail conditions.

 

VOLUNTEER SEASON

The best time to be in the Los Padres is not limited only to riding/hiking but it’s also the best time for getting out on a trail project, giving back to the trails you love and volunteering.  There are a ridiculous amount of volunteer projects and events lined up over the coming weeks/months across the Los Padres.  We’ll note a few here but feel free to contact us directly for more information or check Facebook/Meetup for updates:
April 8-17: LPFA Madulce Working Vacation, Dick Smith Wilderness

We’re set for a 10-day Working Vacation starting this coming Friday.  There is space available on the project, in particular the second weekend.  We’ll be working the Santa Barbara Canyon, Madulce, Don Victor and Puerto Suelo Trails.  For more information let us know at INFO@LPForest.org, all food will be provided for volunteers.

April 9: ORD Murietta Trail, Matilija
Ranger Heidi of the Ojai Ranger District will be leading this project to brush and clear the Murietta Trail in Matilija Canyon.  The project starts at 0830, email Heidi for more information or to sign up: handerson@fs.fed.us

April 9: SB Trails Council, Bill Wallace Trail, El Capitan State Park

Volunteer with SBCTC as they work the Bill Wallace Trail above El Capitan State Park along the Gaviota Coast.  For more information, click Meetup here.

April 16: Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center 11th Annual Open House
The Visitor Center at Wheeler Gorge will be hosting the 11th Annual Wheeler Open House.  We’ll provide more details soon but there will be booths setup from a variety of local organizations, a guided nature hike, games, food and much MUCH more……..  A super fun event that is a must for families with kids of all ages.

April 16: ORD Chorro Grande Trail, Highway 33
Join Ranger Heidi of the Ojai Ranger District along the Chorro Grande Trail on the south side of Pine Mtn.  The project starts at 0800, email Heidi for more information or to sign up: handerson@fs.fed.us

April 16: Slide Mountain Fire Lookout, Pyramid Lake
This is a cool event focused around California Trails Day.  Slide Mountain is within the Los Padres National Forest but is administered by the Angeles National Forest.  Volunteers will be meeting at Frenchman’s Flat at 0800 and working from there up towards the fire lookout.  Email Chris Fabbro (cfabbro@fs.fed.us) for more information or to sign up.

April 16-17: VWA Santa Lucia Trail, Ventana Wilderness
Join the Ventana Wilderness Alliance as they work the Santa Lucia Trail from Memorial Park Campground.  Meetup here for more information.

April 19: LPFA Wilderness Trails Presentation, Santa Barbara Veterans Hall
The LPFA is hosting a Trails Talk on Tuesday April 19 at the Santa Barbara Veterans Hall.  James Wapotich will give a presentation about the Wilderness Trails of Santa Barbara County and there will be plenty of time to socialize and hang out talking trails – what could be better?  For more information check out Meetup here, event is free for LPFA members.

April 23: Jesusita Trail, Santa Barbara Frontcountry
Another event focused on California Trails Day will be working the Jesusita Trail above Santa Barbara.  The project starts at 0830 and will meet at the water treatment trailhead off San Roque Rd.  For more information see Meetup here.

April 23-24: VWA Pine Ridge Trail, Ventana Wilderness
The Ventana Wilderness Alliance will be hosting a 2 day project along the Pine Ridge Trail working out of China Camp (near Pine Valley, spoiler alert)Meetup here for more details.

April 29 – May 1: LPFA Alamar Trail Weekend Project, Dick Smith Wilderness
The LPFA will be hosting a 2 or 3 day project based out of Bluff Cabin and working the upper 2.4miles of the Alamar Trail.  All food will be provided and work will involve crosscut sawing, tread and brushing.  This portion of the Alamar Trail is along one of the more beautiful stretches of trail in the wilderness.  Come along…..  INFO@LPForest.org for more information or to sign up.

May 20-30: LPFA Middle Sisquoc Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness

The second LPFA Working Vacation of 2016 will be set at Sycamore Camp along the Sisquoc River within the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ll be working the Sisquoc Trail downstream from Sycamore to Abel Camp.  Access will be provided to Painted Rock Camp and down the Jackson Trail to camp.  The water will be perfect in late May along the Sisquoc.  INFO@LPForest.org

LittlePineSunset

Little Pine Sunset, March 2016


THE PASSING OF A LOS PADRES LEGEND
There is no shortage of legendary Los Padres figures who helped shape the landscape, protect the environment or add character to the geography.  Study any local maps and you’ll see dozens and dozens of unique placenames dotted across the Los Padres revealing many of these characters.  Sadly, we lost one of the LP living legends last month with the passing of Jack English.  Jack was able to purchase a private inholding of land in beautiful Pine Valley surrounded by the Ventana Wilderness in the late 1970’s.  Jack and his family built a small cabin on their land, chose a simpler life and called it home.  You’ll find tons of articles about Jack with a quick Google search, a few articles are linked below.  What you might not find is all the stories from backpackers who had the pleasure of meeting Jack and his family at Pine Valley over the years.  Stories about him sharing pancakes with campers, sharing his cabin during storms and most importantly sharing his time and stories with Pine Valley visitors.  Truly a legend and gentlemen, he will be missed but his legend will live on forever……..


English Cabin 2005, Pine Valley, Monterey County
PineValley