Los Padres Storm Damage, Target Shooting, Condor Talk

Quite a weekend for waterfall hunters, finding unknown targets around every corner, photo Humphrey

storm /stôrm/ – noun – a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow.

Hello Friends,

We certainly had a storm this past weekend, to say the least.  Most of the forest received somewhere in the 5-10″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with snow piling up at the higher elevations.  It was a bit of a crazy storm as well including reports of 80mph winds in some locations, a tornado warning in Santa Barbara County and even a kiosk in Big Sur being lifted away and blown across Hwy 1.  While we haven’t seen a whole lot of trail damage reports just yet, which we’re sure will come in soon, we have quite a few road closure updates to share as well as other storm related updates:

  • Maybe the most dramatic images of this past storm were taken by Cynthi Bacon who filmed a debris flow tearing out of the Whittier Fire burn area near Lake Cachuma.  This flow, along with others, blocked the culverts under Hwy 154 and have caused an indefinite closure of Hwy 154.
  • Montecito once again received a ton of rain within the Thomas Fire scar but thankfully it appears that all the prep-work on the creeks and basins paid off.  Here’s an amazing video taken by Tim Sulger showing some of the raging water that came through Montecito last Saturday.  While Hwy 101 was closed, it is back open again.
  • Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and Lockwood Valley due to slides but is scheduled to reopen before the weekend.  There will be delays even after reopening due to single lane closures and repair crews.
  • Speaking of Hwy 33, there were some stranded backpackers along the Sespe Trail who needed rescuing over the weekend as well.  I would love to see some photos of what the Sespe looked like, must have been horrifying!
  • All gates are currently closed on the Ojai Ranger District.  Rose Valley and Middle Lion Camps are closed due to mud and damaged roads.
East Camino sinkhole, photo LPFA
  • A sinkhole developed along East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara that wiped out half the road (see photo above).  The FS has closed East Camino Cielo east of Gibraltar Road including Divide Peak OHV.
  • Sage Hill and First Crossing remain closed along Paradise Road due to high water.
  • Highway 1 remains closed at Paul’s slide but should be reopening perhaps as early as today.  Remember that CalTrans continues to proactively close Hwy 1 ahead of each significant rain event.  Cone Peak Road is closed for the season and Palo Colorado remains closed due to 2017 storm damage.  Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd is open.

Maybe it would have been quicker to report everything that was open?!!?  There are more storms on tap for this weekend and most of next week as well.  If you are planning to head into the Los Padres, please use caution and be careful, especially in recent burn areas.

Expect to see similar signs, sans the Fire Restrictions, for at least the next year

FOREST 411

Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara TONIGHT Wednesday – February 6 to share with us the latest and greatest California Condor news.  They’ll be talking about condors across the Los Padres with a special emphasis on the recent successes in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  You can learn more on our Facebook page.  We’ll also be sharing an update on some exciting upcoming trail projects that you’ll certainly want to hear about.  It’ll be a fun night, hope to see you there……

• The Forest Service announced earlier this week that there will be an extended ban on all target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest for the next year.  Target shooting will remain legal at the two designated target ranges within the Los Padres: Winchester and Rose Valley.  You can read the FS explanation here.

• Do you have any great photos of the Ojai Backcountry or Hwy 33 corridor through Ventura County?  The LPFA is once again organizing a series of interpretive events this coming summer to be held at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  Each year we print a brochure highlighting these events and our annual Open House and this year we are looking for a terrific cover photo for the brochure that captures the beauty and essence of the Ojai Backcountry.  If you have any photos to submit or questions, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org  We’ll hook the winning photographer up with some great LP gear!

• The landowners along Prewitt Ridge in Monterey County have started a GoFundMe to assist with maintaining the road east of Nacimiento-Fergusson.  This road sees a lot of traffic, in particular campers, and gets thrashed by winter storms and improper use.  If you’d like to learn more or to help, check this link here.

Some more waterfall hunting photos from this past weekend, photos LPFA, AQuinn, HGuild

LOS PADRES: Fall in Love, Lovin the Fall

Golden Fall Colors of the Upper Sespe, For the Taking

Hello Friends,

While most of the country is preparing for a long winter’s nap, here in the LP we’re just waking up! Our long summer is fading and the weather is finally cooling down. We’re dreaming about our next trip into the forest and busy planning a season’s worth of Los Padres adventures. We’re certainly loving the fall more than ever, filled with anticipation, excitement and stoke. That being said, autumn isn’t all waterfalls and rainbows, it’s also harvest time for marijuana growers. A report was released a few weeks ago indicating that over 100,000 marijuana plants were eradicated in the Los Padres over the past year. Regardless of your views on marijuana, no one should be excited about discovering an active grow site during their LP adventures. While the odds of stumbling across one of these sites are slim, be aware of your surroundings and watch for signs of grow activity. These signs might include irrigation lines, discarded seedling trays, human trails where human trails shouldn’t be, makeshift camps and loads of trash. If you happen to find yourself in an active grow site you should leave quickly the same way you came in and once clear of the site report your findings to your local LP Ranger Station. Again, chances are you won’t find yourself in an active grow site but it’s always good to stay aware of your surroundings. Another hazard we’re seeing of late is oak trees falling up and down the Los Padres. Even healthy looking oak trees can topple over or drop their limbs without any indication or immediate cause. We’ve seen green oaks fall without a gust of wind. Be mindful and pay attention where you park, camp, picnic or rest. That’s all for Debbie Downer, get out and enjoy your forest, pile of the trail miles, takes tons of photos and have a great time – after all, our season is just beginning…….

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It’s not called a Working VACATION for nothing. Toejam Soaking in the WBP views, photo CWatson

POPLAR TRAIL UPDATE
The LPFA just completed a very successful Working Vacation along the Poplar Trail in the upper Indian Creek watershed, Dick Smith Wilderness. Thanks to the help of 34 volunteers we cleared and restored over 3 miles of some of the most overgrown trail the Los Padres can dish out. The trail progress (Working) was terrific and everyone had a great time (Vacation) in the process. In fact, we had such a great time that we’re going to be heading back! In case you missed this past Working Vacation you have another chance on November 9-12 to continue the good fight against the downed trees and encroaching brush. We’ll be once again car-camping at Bluff Cabin and working down the Poplar Trail towards Pens Camp. We’d love to have you come along. To sign up or learn more please email: INFO@LPForest.org

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Gimme Five, Santa Paula Canyon Style

USED GEAR SALE: 11/4 @ 11am
The 4th Annual LPFA Used Gear Sale is on for this weekend, Sunday November 4, 11am at Tucker’s Grove Site #2 in Goleta. We’ll once again have a gigantic selection of gently used backpacks, sleeping bags, stoves, tents, camping knick-knacks, books/maps, ultralite & car-camping gear and much more…. all at super discounted prices. Our super-volunteers Rik Christensen and Paul Cronshaw have worked their ‘bee’hinds off getting the gear cleaned, organized and ready for this weekend. The sale is headlined by Gossamer Gear who generously donate many of their returned backpacks for the sale. We love them! All proceeds go towards the LPFA Trail Care program and this is a great way for Gossamer to give back to the trails. Very cool! We’re also looking for any used gear you have that might be in need of a new home. If you have any used packs, boots, gear or anything else camping related we’d love to play match-maker and help find it a new home. Email us at INFO@LPForest.org if you’d like to donate or bring it early to the sale on Sunday. It will be a great time, everyone leaves happy and we hope to see you there……..

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The freshly cut Tinta Motorcycle Trail, Looking Good thanks to a LPFA NFWF Trails Grant!

FOREST 411
• The LPFA will once again be printing a Los Padres Calendar for 2019. If you have any great photos of the Los Padres that you’d be willing to share, we’d love to include them in the 2019 calendar and will trade you a calendar for using your photo. Email INFO@LPForest.org to share photos or ask questions.

• Remember that even with the cooler weather there are fire restrictions across the Los Padres National Forest. No campfires. And stoves are only permitted at designated campfire use sites. More information here.

• The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians have recently unveiled plans for a Tribal Museum and Cultural Center in the Santa Ynez Valley. Check the link above for more information. In case you didn’t know, there is already a really cool Chumash Museum in Thousand Oaks – check it out!

• November is going to be a super busy month for LPFA volunteer help! We’ve got projects ranging from deep backcountry trail work to encouraging cyclists along Fig Mtn Road and everything in between. Check here or look at the Upcoming Events below.

• The Los Padres Forest was found to have 15 toilets that no longer comply with EPA cesspool standards. The older style pit toilets have been closed and plans are being made to replace most of them with a vault style toilet by the end of 2020. Ventura County Star wrote an article covering the story and you can see the specific camps here.

• Quick update on the proposed removal of the Matilija Dam: Prop 3 on the November 6 ballot could authorize $80 million for the removal of the dam. Check the above link for more information and remember to VOTE on 11/6!

• The Mt Pinos Ranger District is looking for volunteers to assist with painting trailhead signs and some light road work along Alamo Mountain. Date and time of the work will be dependent on the volunteers availability. To learn more please email Caroline at: cquintanilla@fs.fed.us

• Carpinteria loves the Franklin Trail and thanks to some fantastic volunteers they will once again be organizing a ‘Turkey Trot’ to raise money to help restore and maintain the Franklin Trail. The 4th Annual Franklin Trail Turkey Trot started today and lasts all November. Check it out, participate and three cheers to Carp for all the trail love.

• CalTrans has plans to proactively close Hwy 1 at Paul’s Slide and Mud Creek this winter in advance of larger storms. Both slide areas were closed most of 2017-2018 and CalTrans is hoping to keep people off the road in case of another future slide event. Hopefully you won’t be driving the Big Sur coast in a large storm but just in case you are, there might be some delays.

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Finishing Touches on a Poplar Trail Crosscut Session, photo CWatson

Ojai Edition: Wheeler Gorge, Sisar and More

Good Morning Los Padres – We hope you are doing well and have some adventurous plans lined up for this coming weekend.  The weather will be turning a little hotter starting this weekend with most of the forest climbing into the low-80’s.  There is still plenty of water out there to cool off in and slowly but surely some of the unpaved forest access roads are starting to reopen.  If you can’t stand the heat, you might still find a few patches of snow hanging on up around Mount Pinos to really cool off in.  The flowers are doing their thing as well with peak season either underway or a few weeks off at some of the higher elevation spots.  Lots going on, we hope your plans include some Los Padres time as well…….  We’ve got a very Ojai’centric email today.  Lets get to it…..
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WHEELER GORGE OPEN HOUSE
You want to get out this weekend but still don’t have a game plan, try this on for size….  This Saturday is the 12th Annual Wheeler Gorge Open House up at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center (15mins up Hwy 33 above Ojai).  The Open House is FREE and goes from 10am – 2pm.  There will be booths setup from a variety of local organizations sharing some of the great work they do in and around the Los Padres.  Some of the booths will have reptiles and/or birds you can touch (great for the kids), other booths feature geology specialists and there will be a guided nature hike with Lanny Kaufer starting at 1pm.  In addition there will be have some food, rumor is that Smokey Bear will be stopping by (another fan favorite with the kids) and new this year we’ll have a Used Camping Gear Sale featuring backpacks donated by Gossamer Gear.  It’s going to be a great time, the weather is looking fantastic – come stop by, say hello and learn about all the great summer programs we have lined up at Wheeler Gorge!

Back to plans for the weekend.  If you are an early riser, get up Hwy 33 around dawn and go do what you do in the forest.  Bag that peak, run that trail, go for that ride, etc….  Then stop by Wheeler on your way back home and tell us all about it!  Check out the used gear, high-five Smokey and enjoy the afternoon under the Sycamores at the Visitor Center.

Now, if you’re not an early riser or if you have younger kids, wake up slow, get some breakfast and head up to Wheeler in the late morning.  Check out the booths, learn about condors, get some lunch and after the Open House head up Hwy 33 to the Sespe for an afternoon dip in the pools around Piedra Blanca.  Or come with your camping gear and make a weekend out of it at one of the nearby campgrounds or backcountry campsites.  Lots of options, make Wheeler a stop along the journey, there’s always something going on at Wheeler Gorge, especially this weekend!

Rik doing what he loves most, helping people enjoy the trail – Gossamer Gear packs lined up – 2016 Used Gear Sale layout
As far as the Used Gear Sale; we’ll have tents, backpacks, ultralite, car-camping and most of the other necessities you need for getting out into the forest.  We’ll also have a few gear gurus, including Rik Christensen, out there to help get you sized up correctly with the perfect gear for your frame (both physical and of mind).  We’re also taking gear donations if you have any old camping gear you don’t use anymore – tax writeoffs available!  All proceeds go to the LPFA Trail Care program which go directly back into the trails and camps here in the Los Padres.

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SISAR CANYON TRAILHEAD CHANGE
The Sisar Canyon trailhead in the Upper Ojai Valley is a popular starting point for forest users (equestrian, MTB or hikers) heading up the Red Reef Trail or to see the incredible Ojai views along Sisar Rd. It’s used by peak baggers heading to Topatopa or Hines, used by backpackers en route to the Sespe, great for longer loops incorporating other Ojai Valley trails or a pleasant spot for a day trip to see the flowers and listen to the creek. For the past X AMOUNT OF years there were two main parking spots used to access the trails above Sisar. You could park at the start of the dirt road near the large water tanks or continue 0.4 miles further up-canyon along the high-clearance dirt road to the parking area just below the forest boundary locked gates. That’s now changed……

The 0.45 miles of dirt road between where the pavement ends and the forest boundary is privately owned. Over the past decade the owner of the land has been dealing with issues ranging from illegal campfires to 4WD doughnuts across their fields. Despite repeated attempts to stop this misuse of their property, the landowners have now installed a gate at the start of their property which prevents vehicle access to the two established parking areas. Note that the land owners posted signs at the location of the new gate close to a year ago indicating that this change was going to happen. The owner is still allowing passage up the road and across their property but now forest-users will have to either park at a newly created parking area about 100 yards below the new gate (holds approx 8 vehicles) or at the Stagecoach Station Market along Hwy 150.

Note that the new gate is both equestrian and bicycle friendly. This change is not preventing forest access but it is adding additional mileage for forest-users. If you park at Stagecoach Station it’ll add about 0.5 miles of walking/riding to the new locked gate and then another 0.45 up to the forest boundary gate.

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Another Secret Sespe Oasis