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

Thunderstorms, Thru-Hikers and National Trails Day

Old Man Thundercloud
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Hello Everyone!

What a crazy weather week we enjoyed last week, especially in the Santa Barbara and Ventura backcountry areas.  It started with a tropical storm last Tuesday that dropped significant rain across the forest.  Most of the Forest got rain with the highest concentration (one inch) occurring on the frontcountry above Santa Barbara.  The weather changed on Wednesday and brought in some incredible thunderstorms that blanketed the backcountry through the weekend.  There were reports of flooding along the Cuyama River and Santa Barbara Potrero recorded an inch of rain in just over an hour – that’s a lot!  We had some of the more impressive storms that we get to see around here.  We even heard comparisons to thunderstorms in New Mexico and the south west.  Pretty cool stuff and we’ll certainly take every bit of rain we can get.  The weather has settled back down and most of the interior is HOT with coastal regions displaying the typical June gloom.  Always nice to see some exciting weather………
NATIONAL TRAILS DAY
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There were three trail projects across the Los Padres on Saturday June 6 for National Trails Day.  The LPFA hosted an event along the North Cold Spring Trail.  Our focus was to fix a particularly nasty slide section of the trail that has been causing problems for hikers for most of the past two decades.  We had a great time and did a fantastic job cleaning up the slide.  Big thanks to REI, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Los Padres Trail Riders, Jack’s Bagels and the Forest Service for their support of the project.  They say a picture tells a thousand words, check the movie below:
CONDOR TRAIL
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Most of you have probably heard about the Condor Trail.  For those who have not, it’s a route of connected trails that cross the Los Padres Forest from the Ventura/Los Angeles County line in the south up to Bottcher’s Gap in Monterey County.  The total length of the trail is 411 miles long.  The concept of the trail has been around for nearly 20 years, headed up by the Condor Trail Association.  Over the years we’ve had a few people attempt to hike large sections of the trail but no one ever attempted to hike the entire thing….. until now.   In mid-May a solo female hiker name Brittany started on the trail from Lake Piru.  She has now been on the trail for nearly 5 weeks and is on pace to complete the trail later this week and become the first Condor Trail finisher.  It’s been a roller coaster journey for Brittany.  She’s had to endure snow, heat and lost trails but along the trail has met new friends and had some amazing experiences.  We’ll keep you posted as the she gets close to finishing.  I’m sure she’ll have some great stories to share.  Most amazing in my opinion is that before she started this hike, she had never set foot in the Los Padres.  Good luck Brittany on her last 60miles of trail.
ROAD UPDATES
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Some quick updates on access issues across the Forest:

ROMERO CAMUESA ROAD
The gate to the Romero Camuesa Rd at Divide Peak is scheduled to reopen Wednesday of this week.  A combination of rain and a crew working on the road has led to the closure.

DOUGH FLAT / SQUAW FLAT
The retaining wall construction continues along the Dough/Squaw Flat Rd in Ojai.  The road is scheduled to reopen June 19 but until then the road will be closed from 8am – 12pm and again from 1pm – 5pm.  Call the Forest Service for more information.

HIGHWAY 1 / NORTHERN SLO / SOUTHERN MONTEREY
There is continued retaining wall construction along Highway 1 near the Monterey/SLO County line.  There seems to be weekly changes as to when the road will be closed or open.  Currently the road is closed at night time for construction and open during the day.  If heading along Highway 1 either to or from Big Sur, you’ll want to contact CalTrans to get the most up-to-date information on closures.  http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/road_information.htm

That’s it for now.  Enjoy the week………..