THE SUPER LOS PADRES

Aaron, before and after, sizing up a complex oak on Cold Spring Trail
TRAIL REPORTING

Hi Everyone – we hope you’re having a great Good Friday and an even better Good Friday evening,

We’ve got a lot to share today – this is probably the most jam-packed email we’ve ever sent.  So, slip into something more comfortable, pour yourself an ice-cold lemonade and enjoy the read.
If you read nothing else, please check out the massive list of upcoming events and trail projects at the bottom – thanks!

There is no shortage of activities and events going on right now in and around the Los Padres.  We’re right in the middle of what is typically the busiest time of year for the Los Padres.  The flowers are doing their thing (more on that below), the water is plentiful and the trailheads are crammed with hikers, riders and backpackers enjoying the forest.  While the trail-users are busy enjoying the trails, the trail crews and trail volunteers are doing their best to fix any damage sustained from this winters storms.  At the bottom of this email (way down there) is a list of upcoming trail projects.  Giving back to the trails and volunteering time to cut brush from the trail or remove a rock slide can be so rewarding.  We encourage all of you to find a trail event this Spring that inspires you and sign up to volunteer for a day or a weekend or even a 10-day Working Vacation.  You’ll love it!  There are plenty of options out there for everyone, we hope you can find some time to make it happen…….

In the meantime, there is something all of us can do while we’re out on the trails that will directly benefit the trails: TRAIL REPORTS.  Trail crews can’t fix a trail if they don’t know that the trail needs fixing, right?  So while you’re out for a ride or hike and if come across a section of trail with a downed tree or a slide or is buried in brush; take a picture and share it with your local trail group, Forest Service staff or post it to HikeLosPadres.com and we’ll make sure it gets into the right hands.  When taking the picture, it helps to position a friend or a hiking pole or your dog or something in the photo to give the feature some perspective so that we can tell exactly how big that downed tree is.  If you can include GPS coordinates that helps a lot as well.  HikeLosPadres has an easy user-interface that allows you to post pictures and include information like GPS and size estimates along with the photo.  It works great to share as much information as you can so that the trail crews can get out there and do what they love to do fixing these trail problems and issues.  Thank you all for the help and we hope you’re finding plenty of time on the trails this Spring……

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A nice bouquet somewhere between Greenfield and the Pacific

WILDFLOWER SUPER BLOOM 2017

Look out at that hill, it’s a balloon, it’s a tie-dye, no it’s SUPER BLOOM!  You’ve probably seen the words ‘super bloom’ a lot over the past couple of weeks.  That’s the word being used to describe an exceptional eruption of wildflowers and after all our winter rains, California 2017 is certainly qualifying as a super bloom.  Social media is overflowing with pictures of pilgrimages to Death Valley, Joshua Tree and the Carrizo Plain.  In fact there are even pictures from outer space showing the 2017 super bloom.  While we can’t all be so lucky to join in these epic trips to the desert, never fear, chances are there are super blooms right outside your door.  Find some time in the next couple of weeks to revisit your favorite flower haunt or try to find a new one!  Helen Tarbet of the Santa Lucia Ranger District here in the Los Padres puts together a wildflower update for those people headed to Figueroa Mountain to see the wildflowers.  Her latest report from April 12 is attached with this email.  Check it out and remember to tread lightly so the next people can see the flowers just as you saw them.  Enjoy…….

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The soon-to-be new Pfeiffer Gulch Bridge, CalTrans

FOREST ACCESS UPDATE

While the flowers are certainly out this year, the Los Padres hasn’t completely reopened after the winter storms.  Most of the dirt roads across the Forest remain closed and behind locked gates.  Some of the roads (such as Sierra Madre) have reopened but most of them will stay closed for at least a few more weeks.  The traditional gate opening ceremony usually occurs on May 1 but this year that might not be the case as some of the roads did sustain quite a bit of damage and are not passable yet.  The Forest Service is working on it.  If you’re heading out to the forest, it’s a good idea to call your local Ranger Station to check if the roads are open.  More details below:

  • The Soberanes Fire Closure remains in effect up in the Big Sur and Ventana Wilderness portions of the Los Padres.  No date has been established for when the fire closure will be lifted.
  • The Big Sur Coast remains somewhat isolated as CalTrans works to reopen Hwy 1.  Google search if confused.
    • Nacimiento Ferguson Road has reopened creating a connection to the coast but Hwy 1 is closed in both directions from there.
    • The Pfeifer Gulch Bridge in Big Sur is being rebuilt with an end of September estimated date of completion.
  • In Santa Barbara, First Crossing and Romero Camuesa Rd at Divide Peak remain closed due to storm flooding and debris flows related to the Rey Fire.
  • Highway 33 will start to see traffic delays as CalTrans continues to work on stabilizing slopes damaged by the storms (see attached).

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The aforementioned Carrizo Super Bloom, photo Andy Quinn

FOREST 411

  • There is a lot of trail restoration activity going on at the moment in the San Rafael Wilderness.  The LPFA has been working on the Manzana Trail and is currently in the middle of a 10-day Working Vacation based at Happy Hunting Ground.  We’ll have additional crews based at Manzana Narrows starting next weekend through the middle of May.  In addition, the CREW is working on the Sisquoc Trail based out of South Fork working up towards Heath Camp.  These trails will be beautiful after all this work.  If you’re out there, be sure to thank the crews!
  • This is kind of cool, there was an officer in Solvang who got a video of a mountain lion chasing after a deer.
  • With all the recent fires and storms, there have become quite a few hazard trees hanging over campsites around the Los Padres.  Some of the trees have been documented, others have not.  It’s always a good idea to check the area for dead trees or leaners before setting up your camp and obviously camp elsewhere if there is a nearby hazard tree.  Take photos of any hazard trees and share with the Forest Service once you get home.
  • The Wheeler Gorge Open House will be Saturday April 22 from 10am – 2pm.  This years Open House will feature booths from local organizations, a Used Camping Gear Sale, BBQ and a visit from Smokey Bear.  If you have kids and like the forest, this is the place for you!  Come on out.  We’ve also released the summer program of talks at Wheeler.
  • The Big Sur International Marathon is April 30.  There is only one way in and out of Big Sur at the moment.  Unless you are running in the marathon, you might want to stay away from Big Sur that weekend.
  • Some personnel news in the Los Padres, more to come later, LP Supervisor Bob Baird has accepted a position as California Regional Fire Director for the USFS.  He will unfortunately be leaving the Los Padres next month.  While we say goodbye to Supervisor Baird, we also say hello to Ranger Brad Turberville who is taking on the Ranger duties at Mount Pinos Ranger District on a 120-day detail.  Welcome Ranger Turberville!
  • The Santa Barbara Trails Council is currently running a photo contest featuring the Gaviota Coast.  There are some really amazing photos being shared, including some from the Los Padres.  Proceeds from the contest will be used to complete the Baron Trail, which is a new trail being built along the Gaviota Coast.

Lost Valley Trail Maintenance Working Vacation

Lost Valley Trail Maint. Working Vacation

Los Padres Forest Association        

April 8th – April 17th 2016

 

Trip Purpose – The main purpose of this trip was to perform brushing and tread-work in the areas heavily covered in brush. Remove debris slides and cut out and remove the estimated 10 downed trees blocking the Lost Valley Trail from the lower trailhead starting at the Lost Valley/Manzana trail intersection and ending at the Hurricane Deck trail intersection. This trail took heavy debris damage during the August 2015 thunderstorms.

Water Conditions – Water conditions were about as expected considering 5 years of drought. The creek bed had some wet areas in the lower 2 miles. The dependable wet area, ¾ miles below twin oaks, was wet and vulture springs was trickling. Packers brought us water for camp every other day or so.

Weather Conditions – We experienced rain the first 3 days of the project and stayed at NIRA, then moved camp to Twin Oaks and finished the project from there. The remaining 7 days were mostly clear with highs in the high 70’s and low 80’s.

Description of Work/Surveys Accomplished

Project Overview

  1. Bucked out 10 fallen trees along the entire Lost Valley Trail.
  2. With the total length of the Lost Valley Trail being about 8 miles, we cleared the first 5 miles to Vulture Springs to full LPFA standard. We also completely cleared the remaining 3 miles from Vulture Springs to hurricane deck of all trees and heavy brushing and worked on tread areas in problem spots.

Trip Overview – This 10-day working vacation was originally planned for the Madulce Trail. However, rainy weather during the first few days, caused concern for getting pack animals safely in and out of camp and up the infamous heartbreak hill.

So we moved the project to the Lost Valley Trail, which sustained heavy damage during the August 2015 thunderstorms. That particular weather event brought down trees and debris slides, making the trail nearly impassable to hikers.

We car-camped the first 3 days of the project at NIRA while working on the first few miles of the Lost Valley Trail. After the weather cleared, and the remaining work was farther up the trail, we moved to Twin Oaks Camp to continue our efforts.

The trip was very successful overall, especially as an alternate to the original plan. Each day we broke into several teams, performing brushing, tread-work and/or tree removal as needed.

Future Projects for the area – The remaining 3 miles, from Vulture springs to hurricane deck, need to be completed to Full LPFA standard. A multi-day trip, with workers staying at cowboy camp and packers bringing water to camp, will make working this section feasible. This will allow us to work on the East Hurricane deck section simultaneously.

Backcountry users observed in the area – We observed several groups of day-hikers and backpackers in the Manzana trail and NIRA camp areas. On the final day of the project, a couple of backpackers who hiked the middle-deck loop mentioned that they were very pleased to hike a freshly worked Lost Valley Trail.