Rain Rain, COME BACK!

Cuyama River, Two Days After Flooding, Where’d It All Go?CuyamaRiver  

Hello Everyone!

We’ve had some weather.  Hurricane Delores did her thing and sent some rain and thunder storms our way last week.  It was about as exciting as summer weather gets along the California coastal ranges.

RainMap
The rain started Saturday with much of Southern California seeing an entire day of rain, very heavy in some places.  Sunday through Wednesday was the more typical thunder storms with morning sun being replaced by fluffy thunderclouds and rain by the afternoons.  As the map shows above, the rain hit hardest in the southern Los Padres but most of the forest did see some precipitation at some point over the week.  Matilija in Ventura County saw the most rain with nearly 4 inches (in July!).  Frazier Park recorded 3.5″ which resulted in flash floods and quite a few road closures.  At one point on Saturday, all roads between Mt. Pinos and Frazier Park were closed due to floods.  There were reports of people being stranded overnight due to the road closures.  Santa Barbara didn’t see as much rain but the Sierra Madre received over 2″ at both Bates and SB Potrero.  Interestingly, SLO County got more rain than SB with most places having over 1.5″ across the forest.  Monterey up into Big Sur didn’t get much rain but did see some incredible lightning and thunder displays.  We’ve had reports coming in showing new green grass sprouting across the forest and increased flow in the creeks.  If nothing else, this most recent rain might extend the campfire season.  We’ll say a fond farewell to Delores and see what comes next.

Still Spring on Mt. Pinos
ChulaVista
AROUND THE FOREST NEWS
Some stories and links you might find interesting from across the Forest:
LOST BIG SUR HIKER
Earlier this month a hiker went missing at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  Sadly, after nearly a week, the search was suspended.  You can read more about it through a Google search or here.
CONDORS AND TAR CREEK
There was a recent article in the High Country News about the Tar Creek (Ventura County) closure and its influence on the condors in the area.  The article highlights some of the Forest Service efforts to control the situation at Tar Creek.  Certainly worth a read if interested.
CONDOR IN SANTA BARBARA
This story made it’s way through Social Media land but in case you missed it, a wild/free condor made a rare visit to Santa Barbara late last month.  Yankee Barbareno did a good job of documenting and sharing the information on his blog.  You can read it here.  Perhaps one day the condor will be feeding along the beaches again, that would be cool to see.

March Normalcy

Good Morning Everyone,

It seems each year we leave February praying for a repeat March Miracle and yet once again March came and went with whatever the opposite of a miracle would be, lets call it normalcy.  Most of the forest had zero rain after that first storm on March 1.  Is it too late to ask for an April Sensation?  It does look like most of the Los Padres will be getting some rain throughout today and into tomorrow.  Initial estimates are in the 1/2″ – 3/4″ range, depending on geographic locations.  They are also calling it a ‘winter weather event’ with snow levels as low as 4,000ft.  This might be our last blast of winter weather for a while, enjoy it while you can!

Back to upcoming events:

—————————————————————————————————
April 10-13: Alamar Hill Trail Project, Dick Smith Wilderness
April 11: Wheeler Gorge Open House, Ojai
April 11: Lion Canyon (Sespe) Trail Project, Ojai
April 11: State Trails Day, West Fork Cold Spring, Santa Barbara

April 17-26: Working Vacation Upper Sisquoc
May 2: Stony Creek Celebration
May 15-17: Mono Campground Trail Weekend
—————————————————————————————————

April 11: Lion Canyon (Sespe) Trail Project, Ojai
An All-Star crew of trail volunteers will be leading a project this Saturday to work the Lion Canyon Trail above the Sespe River.  The focus will be brushing the West Fork spur trail.  Total hiking distance is 4.6miles.  The project will start at 8:30 and return to cell range by 3:30pm.  Perhaps they’ll even make it to the end of the Wheeler Gorge Open House.  If interested contact Ranger Heidi: handerson@fs.fed.us

April 11: State Trails Day, West Fork Cold Spring, Santa Barbara
In recognition of State Trails Day, come on out this Saturday and give back by spending a day working the West Fork Cold Spring Trail above Montecito.  We’ll be meeting at Skofield Park at 9am and the work will continue until 3pm.  Lunch will be provided after the event for all trail workers.  You can learn more by checking out the attached PDF.  Also, there will be a Trails and Ales event on Friday night from 5-7pm at SoHo to help kick off State Trails Day and make sure the workers are fired up for Saturday morning.  Hope to see you wither Friday, Saturday or both.

Take care, enjoy the weather………

West Fork Lion Canyon Waterfall, photo H. Anderson
LionFalls

LPFA Transverse – Let it Rain, Please!

Get Your Rain Dance On!
LetItRain

I heard one of my mentors say the other day, “Remember when it used to rain in February?”  No doubt we’ve all been reading and hearing about the drought that has engulfed California.  It got me wondering, just how bad is it?  So I did a little research (note: I’m no scientist, there are countless experts and bloggers who can provide much more substantiated and in-depth analysis).  Currently the annual rain totals across the Los Padres are about 67% of average, give or take depending on geography.  Throughout history we’ve endured years much worse than this one, but what’s different about this drought is that we are now in year 4 of well below average rain totals.  Throughout local history, droughts generally don’t last more than 3 seasons.  One of the worst droughts in our history occurred in 1989-1991, two seasons.  Those years were really bad but it lasted only two years.  We’re in year 4, including 2013-14 which was by most accounts considered THE WORST single rain season of all time.  This is not good.  While there is a chance for the much needed March Miracle that could boost this season to above normal levels, we are working out of a 3 year deficit that in all likelihood won’t be replenished this year.  We’re dealing with reservoirs across the state being below 50% capacity, snow-free mountain ranges, San Francisco recording no rain in January for the first time in nearly 200 years, water rations, expansive swaths of dead trees, large ranches “harvesting water” to sell to municipalities and Big Sur getting 16% of normal rain during the 2013 season – however you break it down, we are up to our necks (or perhaps better, up to our ankles) in scary scary lack of water.  I hate being pessimistic but its pretty hard to spin any positives out of the situation we find ourselves in.  The best we can do is enjoy the creeks while they are flowing, conserve water the best we can, know that Mother Nature does this in cycles, hope for the best and get your rain dance on……
We need it all!


Mission Pine Pano, photo Nick D’Incelli
MPPano
MISSION PINE UPDATE
The LPFA has focused much energy over the past year logging and reopening the Mission Pine Trail within Santa Barbara County.  The Mission Pine Trail is one of the most spectacular trails within the Los Padres.  The trail covers nearly 15miles across the San Rafael Mountains from McKinley Saddle to Windy Gap, all above 5,000ft and covering mostly pine terrain.  The channel islands can be seen to the south and most of the time the Sierras can be seen to the north.  According to legend, the area got its name after the timbers used to build the SB Mission were harvested from up along this ridge.  The trees were cut and carried nearly 30miles up and down mountains on their long journey to the Mission.  Anyway, volunteers have led 6 projects over the past year to work on the trail and we have another one planned for later this month.  If you are looking for a great multi-day backpack across some fantastic terrain, this trail should be on your short list.  If you have any questions about the trail, camps or loop/shuttle options – feel free to let us know:  INFO@LPForest.org


Crew Training, photo provided by Burtness
SawyerTraining
FOREST FOUR ONE ONE
Bob Burtness sent in this photo from 1929 showing the University of Washington crew team training through the use of crosscut saws.  No doubt it is hard work – we could use them.  If you’d like to volunteer for a project, we could use your help too.  Check the calendar of events on LPForest.org and come on out.  If you can’t make a project, we could certainly use donations to help feed the hungry sawyers.  It all goes to helping the trails and keeping access to the Forest open…….

TRAILS & ALES, GOLETA, CAPTAIN FATTY’S
TODAY, FEBRUARY 19
Last minute reminder that we’ll be having a Trails & Ales event this evening at Captain Fatty’s in Goleta.  Come one, come all!  Talk trail, win prizes, say hello, cheers with your friends, all of the above.

FIRST AID / CPR / BBP CERTIFICATION
FEBRUARY 28
We have a few spaces still available for a First Aid / CPR class in Ojai on February 28.  The cost is around $50 and you’ll walk away with great knowledge and certifications for First Aid.  Contact the LFPA to sign up or for more information.


GENE MARSHALL – PIEDRA BLANCA TRAIL PROJECT
MARCH 20-22
The LPFA is teaming up with UTMC and the MPRD VWR to host a three day trail project along the Gene Marshall Trail.  We’ll be starting from the Reyes Creek Trailhead and working up and over Pine Mtn eventually coming out at the Piedra Blanca Trailhead.  Most of the work will be logging fallen trees from the trail corridor.  We’ve had recent reports that nearly 20 trees are across the trail with quite a few in the 40″ diameter range.  If interested in helping, contact Mark Subbotin.

BACKPACKING FUNDAMENTALS CLASS
STARTS MARCH 10
The LPFA will be teaching a 6 week class on the fundamentals of backpacking.  We’ll be covering everything from what gear to bring, how to choose a trail, what to do if you get PO, map reading, wilderness first aid and much more.  The classes will be in Goleta starting Tuesday March 10.  If you would like more information, contact Curt Cragg.  Hope to see you there!

That’s it for today everyone!  Hope you get out on the trails this weekend and have some great stories to share afterwards…….

Fire Restrictions Lifted

   Snowy Thorn Point, December 2014, photo Dan
ThornPoint

Happy Holidays Los Padres!
We’ve had quite a few nice storms over the past few weeks.  Most of the Forest is well over the normal % of rain and the forecast remains strong for more rain in the coming weeks.  Fingers crossed, we need it.  We’ve been getting reports that many of the creeks have started flowing again.  We’re headed in the right direction.  Check out www.HikeLosPadres.com for more updates on trails, camps and water.

F I R E  R E S T R I C T I O N S

In response to the above normal amounts of water falling from the sky, the Forest Service and CAL FIRE announced earlier this week that fire restrictions across the forest have been lifted.  This is great news for most of us and means we can have campfires again.  Woohoo!!!  Bust out the s’mores!!  Please remember to be careful with your campfires.  Many of the fire rings have not been used in over a year, be sure to clear a safe space (5 feet) around the campfire and of course extinguish your fire before you leave camp.  Fire permits are required and can be picked up at any Ranger Station or online here.


First Crossing, Santa Ynez River
FirstCrossing
R O A D    C L O S U R E S

While green grass, flowing creeks and campfires are a nice side effect of the rain, unfortunately rain does cause some of the roads across the forest to close.  The Forest Service posts these closures on their website, check it out here.  Of note:- Divide Peak Gate remains closed but will reopen after a few days of sunshine.
– First Crossing is closed due to mud flow across the Santa Ynez River.  It should reopen in a few weeks.
– Santa Barbara Canyon is closed at Reyes Ranch and will remain closed until May 1.
– Reyes Peak Road is closed for the season.
– Cherry Creek is also closed for the season.We’ll keep you posted as gates open and close.  If you have any questions, feel free to email: info@LPForest.org


Pine Ridge Trail, photo Ventana Wilderness Alliance
PineRidgeTrail
P R O J E C T S    U P C O M I N G  
&   N E W S

PINE RIDGE TRAIL CLOSED
The Pine Ridge Trail in the Ventana Widlerness is currently closed due to this large washout.  Wowzers!  The slide is about 3miles up the trail from Big Sur Station. We’ll keep you posted on updates or check in with the VWA.

LOST VALLEY TRAIL: December 20
– LPFA volunteers will be out this weekend logging fallen trees from the Lost Valley Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.

– We’ll post updates on HikeLosPadres.com early next week.

 

VWR HEADQUARTERS CLEANUP: December 27
– We’re looking for volunteers to come out on December 27 and help clean up the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Headquarters off Paradise Road in Santa Barbara County.
– Most of the work will be raking up leaves, removing fallen tree limbs, clearing brush and trimming trees.
– We can use all the help we can get.  If you’re free all day or only have a few hours, we’ll take it.
– Contact Curt at Curt@LPForest.org for more information and to sign up!

COZY DELL: December 21
– Ranger Heidi with the Ojai Ranger District is hosting a project along the Cozy Dell Trail in Ojai.
– Most of the work will be filling in sink holes caused by the recent rains.
– For more information, contact Heidi:  handerson@fs.fed.us

FIRST AID CERTIFICATION: February 28
– We’ve put together a First Aid / CPR certification class for February 28.
– The class will be held in Ojai.
– If you need your certification renewed, this is a great opportunity.
– The cost will be around $40-$50.
– Let us know if interested:  bryan@LPForest.org

SUPERVISORS OFFICE FLOODED
– The Forest Supervisors Office in Goleta was flooded last week.
– It will be closed for the next month or two.
– Business will continue for the Forest with much of the staff being moved to different districts or working remotely.

FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN CONTROLLED BURNS
– There will be a series of controlled burns in and around Figueroa Mountain starting this month.
– The focus is to burn some of the ladder effect fuel buildup.

Happy Holidays and wishing each of you a stocking filled with hiking and riding gear……..

 

Los Padres Cloud Formations
OjaiClouds

LPFA Transverse – Water in the Sky

Reyes Peak Dusting, November 1 by Ranger Heidi
ReyesDusting

Rain, rain……. stay a while!  The LP was treated to a nice storm this past weekend.  Rain fell across the Forest with some of the higher elevations getting a brief dusting of snow.  Rainfall totals ranged from around half an inch up to 2.5inches along Big Sur and eastern SLO County.  The great thing was that the entire Forest received some precipitation with most of it falling fast and furiously on Friday.  Many of the trails throughout the forest showed clear signs of substantial runoff – hope those waterbars were in good shape.  Anyway, the trick is that temps have returned to above normal and there wasn’t enough rain to change the flows in any of the creeks.  Water remains a major concern for those heading to the backcountry.  If we can help gather any information for you, please let us know – and of course if you have any information worth sharing, we are all ears.

S B    H I G H    C O U N T R Y

The LPFA hosted two trail projects recently in the Santa Barbara high country.  This is the area ranging from Madulce Peak west along Mission Pine to McKinley Peak.  It’s beautiful country, with elevations generally above 5,000ft and views in all directions.

West Big Pine, by Curt Cragg
WestBigPineCrew
EAST MISSION PINE TRAIL
One of the nastiest sections of trail in the San Rafael Wilderness is along the East Mission Pine Trail, specifically where the trail dips down above Rattlesnake Canyon.  This trail was ravaged in the 2007 Zaca Fire and has not seen much attention since then.  Our ten trail-volunteers set out to fix the hidden tread past Rattlesnake but found that there was enough work before that section to keep them busy for two solid days.  As a result, they are setting up a second mission to get back in there and work farther West along the trail – this time hoping to blast through the scrub oak mess on the far side of Rattlesnake Canyon.  If you are interested in helping with this second project, we’ll be heading out the weekend of November 14-16.  Contact INFO@lpforest.org or Curt Cragg (cragg.curt@gmail.com) for more details.

100+18 Trail Crew, by Gilcrest
MadulcePeakCrew
MADULCE PEAK TRAIL
Another popular trail in the SB High Country that is in need of some TLC is the Madulce Peak Trail.  This trail spurs off the main trail and heads a couple miles up to the 6,500ft Madulce Peak, which was once the home to a fire lookout.  We teamed up with a group of 18 Hundred Peak Hikers and spent a day clearing the old trail.  While some larger trees remain along the tread, the trail is now actually followable up to the peak – including along the dozens of switchbacks.  And once on the peak, the views are incredible!  It was great partnering with the 100 Peak crew and we look forward to many more trips in the future.

MadulcePeakWork
Switching Back to the Peak, photos by Gilcrest
G A T E S   &   M O R E

As winter approaches, many of the seasonal gates across the forest will start to close for the season.The Mount Pinos District will begin their seasonal closure on November 10.  We are unsure exactly which roads these include but will try to get that information for you by the next Transverse.  If you are planning a trip into the Pinos backcountry, best to give them a call and verify which gates are open and which will be closed.

The Ojai District will be closing the Dough Flat gate on December 1.

The Divide Peak Gate in the Santa Barbara District is open but does close at the slightest indication of pending rain.  We get complaints quite a bit about the gate being closed.  Rule of thumb, If rain is forecast, that gate will be closed.  Live by that.

James Wapotich will be giving a slideshow presentation about Exploring the San Rafael Wilderness this coming Thursday (Nov 6) at 7pm in Santa Barbara.  More information here:
http://songsofthewilderness.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/exploring-the-san-rafael-wilderness/

That’s it for now everyone.  Enjoy the cool nights and warm days – we’ll catch you next time…….

LPFA Transverse – 7.20

Hi There,

Usually the summer weather in the Los Padres is pretty boring.  This has not been the case of late.  About a week ago, our interesting weather started with a southerly monsoonal flow that dropped bits of precipitation across the the region. Temps were hot along the inland side of the forest which resulted in some thunderstorms over portions of the backcountry.  The best part of the week has been the cloud formations and lingering fog on the mountains.  We heard reports from across the Los Padres of rainbows, winter-like cloud formations, both low hanging and high scattered that made for some great views and sunsets.  Many easterners complain that California has no weather, but I think it makes us even more appreciative when weather does come in.  We’ll see what happens next…….

 JamesonWaterUpdate

Hope you like your Jameson dry?  photo Humphrey, July 2014

We’re starting to get reports of water sources drying up around the Los Padres.  Most of the Sespe is now dry outside of a few standing pools of water.  Most of the reports from the Dick Smith/San Raf are showing dry creekbeds and the same goes for the San Luis Backcountry where flowing water is a rarity.  Even the reliable creeks and rivers of the Northern LP are at low flow rates.  Reliable springs are still flowing and most of the perennial streams have water, but it looks a lot like what September water conditions would look like during a normal year.  If you are heading out for a hike or overnighter, be sure to bring extra amounts of water and always check in with the Forest Service or shoot us an email (info@LPForest.org) ahead of time to get the most recent water and trail information.

S A F E T Y

The Forest Service has passed on a few messages of late about safety procedures and processes.  Trail leaders, please take a few minutes and read the notes below.  Safety is always priority number one when on projects.

As most of you have heard, there was an incident on the Jemez Ranger District involving an explosive device that appears to have been deliberately placed at the base of an information sign.  The device was constructed with a mason jar and had what appeared to be a protruding  wick.  It was placed on the ground with no camouflaging material to conceal it from view.  When tapped with the boot of the individual, the device detonated.  Thankfully, the individual’s injuries were minor.  At present, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm, and Explosives has taken the lead on the investigation.  No additional devices have been found on the Forest.

Due to this incident, many employees have expressed some concern about their safety while working in the field.  So what can you do to protect yourself?  First, stay vigilant and increase your “situational awareness.”  Look up, down, and all around.  If something appears “out of place” or “not quite right” (i.e. a suspicious looking object), do not disturb it!  Move away from the area and immediately contact law enforcement.  Second, work in pairs if possible so that a second person is right there in the event of an accident.  Finally, always have appropriate communication devices readily available and be sure to adhere to our Forest’s Check-Out and Check-In Program.

Over the last few years we have had important conversations about organizational and individual safety. I truly believe the safer we are the more successful we are. Our mission of improving the health and resilience of our National Forests and providing public services to the American people can only be achieved with a focused attention on our safety and well-being.

I would ask each of you to take time now and periodically throughout each day to assess your safety situation and those you are responsible for. It is critical that you are prepared to take on your work safely, are confident that the work you are undertaking is worth the risk, and have a keen sense of your situational awareness whatever your work environment. I would also ask that you insure your behavior is consistent with the agreements you have made with yourself, your supervisor, and all who rely on you. I will never ask you to cut any corners on safety to get the work done.

In addition to expecting that each one of you personally lead up in safety, I expect that when unexpected outcomes occur that you notify your supervisor immediately so that we can understand what happened and can learn from the experience. Learning from unintended and unexpected outcomes will be key to our growth as a world-class safety organization. The primary tools we will use to accomplish this are Facilitated Learning Analyses and After Action Reviews.

At the end of every day and every assignment, every employee, partner, and volunteer who works on behalf of the Forest Service should return home safely. I am asking each and every one of you to help insure we accomplish this together.

RedwoodSunset

Redwood Sunset, Wearing the Weather Well, North of Big Sur, July 17th