Winter’s Grand Finale, Trail Updates, Spring is Coming

Was this the grand finale to the epic 2018-19 winter season, if so, what a way for it to end!  Photo Andy Quinn

Hello Friends,

It’s been quite a winter for storms hasn’t it?  We’ve had flash floods, debris flows, road closures, evacuations, washed away trails, snow, snow and more snow and it might have been capped off by one of the more spectacular lightning displays this past Tuesday night.  And most importantly, we’ve had a lot of great rain soaking into the earth, recharging the groundwater supplies and filling up our creeks, rivers and reservoirs.  Almost all of the LP has received over 100% of our annual rain averages with more “rain season” still ahead of us.  It’s been terrific!  While we might not be completely done with the rains, many of the signs across the forest are indicating that spring is in the air.  Wildflowers are starting to do their thing (#SuperBloom2019?), the grass is gliding a little different, the ants have resurfaced (%&#^#&), the days are longer and there is that faint sweet smell of flowers.  No matter what season you might argue we’re in, the Los Padres is about as good as it gets at the moment.  We hope you are getting out and enjoying the trails, sights and sounds.  Be safe with the water crossings and be sure to check in on www.HikeLosPadres.com before you head out and after you get back.  There are also a bunch of upcoming volunteer projects up and down the forest you could participate in.  Olly olly oxen free = time to come out of hiding! 

— • — • — • —

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these trail crews from the swift completion of their appointed trail work. 
Hurricane Deck Trail, LPFA Trail Crew, Photo Jason Morris

TRAIL WORK UPDATE

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about recent trail work and upcoming trail work.  While we can’t possibly share every detail here, you’d be reading for a month, we can at least provide a quick update on some of the LPFA trail work that has occurred over the winter season.  As always, if you come across any downed trees or showstoppers along the trails, let us know and we’ll do our best to share the information with the appropriate trail crews: INFO@LPFOREST.ORG

  • Hurricane Deck Trail has been brushed a mile from Lost Valley out towards White Ledge.
  • Poplar Trail (Upper Indian Creek) within the Dick Smith Wilderness from Bluff Camp down to within 100 yards of Poplar Camp has been opened.
  • Grapevine Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness is clear other than some large downed trees about 1.5 miles west of Bluff Camp.
  • Alamar Trail is in the best shape it’s been in many decades.  You can actually follow the trail now, which is saying a lot based on how bad it was.
  • The Sisquoc Trail remains our main focus this spring with multiple Working Vacations planned over the next few months.  These projects are piggy-backing on some great work we accomplished in 2018 including this summertime project that Terrence filmed for us along the upper Sisquoc.
  • Deal Trail has received some much needed attention brushing out the upper valley between the Narrows and the wilderness boundary.
  • We had a crew working the Agua Blanca Trail in December between Blue Point and Log Cabin.
  • The Tinta motorcycle trail has had 5 of the 7 miles brushed along the trail.
  • Quite a bit of work has been put into the Matilija Trail outside of Ojai.  We’ve worked the bottom mile of the trail and recently flagged the entire trail from trailhead to trailhead.  Once the water levels lower we’ll be back out there to continue working up towards Middle Matilija Camp and beyond.
  • We’ll also be working nearby Gridley Trail on March 16, hope to see you there!
  • We’ve also been working hard to clear downed trees and washouts along many of the Santa Ynez Valley trails including Davy Brown, Devil’s Canyon, north Tunnel Trail, north Arroyo Burro, north Cold Spring, Blue Canyon, Aliso Canyon, Santa Cruz, Tequepis, Snyder and we’ll be leading a trail project this Sunday on the White Rock Trail on Figueroa Mountain.  Come join us!
  • We also did some water control tread work on Santa Paula Canyon, Last Chance and Lion Canyon Trails in the Ojai Ranger District.
  • And of course a TON of work has been accomplished in the SB Frontcountry partnering with Montecito Trails Foundation, SBMTV, SB Trails Council and others…..
  • We’ll also be maintaining the Sellers Potrero Trail in the Garcia Wilderness later this month. Scouting project is set for March 10.


— • — • — • —

We haven’t seen this much winter camping in the LP in many years, Pine Mtn at it’s finest, photo Jack Roten

FOREST 411

  • There is still space available for the LPFA Backpacking Fundamentals class we’re teaching in Santa Barbara.  We had our first class this past week and it was great sharing the backpacking stoke.  Click here or email us for more information. 
  • Even with some nice drying weather on the horizon some of the roads and trails around the Los Padres remain closed due to storm activity and damage:
  • Highway 154 opened earlier this week about a half a week ahead of schedule.  The damage along Duval Canyon is astounding.
  • Ranger Peak along Fig Mtn Rd remains closed due to black ice.  You cannot drive between Fig Mtn and Cachuma Saddle.  Fig is bound to receive a lot of attention in the coming weeks as wildflower season kicks in, be sure to call the FS ahead of any visits to make sure the roads are open.
  • As reported by the VWA, the Carmel River Trail is closed at the moment due to trail damage. 
  • West Fork Cold Spring Trail in Montecito remains closed due to a particularly active landslide.  Trail work is scheduled this coming week with the hopes of getting the trail reopened by the 15th of March.
  • Highway 1 through Southern Big Sur remains on a pre-storm closure schedule.  Check CalTrans ahead of any visits between San Simeon and Big Sur.
  • And we’re also getting a lot of mixed messages about the regular Forest Service gate closures.  Some gates that are supposed to be locked have been found open and vice versa.  We suggest you contact the FS ahead of any trips into the forest that might be impacted by gate closures. 
  • If you have a spare $31million, you might be in luck as the Neverland Ranch outside Los Olivos is for sale.  Great access to the Los Padres!
  • The FS announced this week that there will be a series of controlled burns across the forest, namely at Arroyo Seco and Fig Mtn. 
  • This information slipped through the cracks a bit but the FS extended the Soberanes Fire closure of the western Pine Ridge Trail through November 6, 2019.
  • If you missed the story of the trail runner who fought off and killed a mountain lion last month in Colorado, it’s certainly worth a read.  Fortunately, that mountain lion was just a kitten.  He probably wouldn’t have fared so well against a full grown athletic mountain lion like this one recently seen in Montecito.

— • — • — • —

You might call this a boilermaker, Topatopa with a shot of Jameson.  Please, someone has to get that joke!  Photo Humphrey
You might call this a boilermaker, Topatopa with a shot of Jameson.  Please, someone has to get that joke!  Photo Humphrey

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…….

— • — • — • —

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

— • — • — • —

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……..

— • — • — • —

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.

— • — • — • —

Finishing Touches on a Poplar Trail Crosscut Session, photo CWatson

Thankful Los Padres Givings

Kids + Trail + Forest + Time to Explore = Next Generation of Los Padres Lovers

Hello Friends – Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Throughout the year we hear so much negative noise circulating around the forest.  The media regularly shares articles about what is not working in the Los Padres, the latest forest-related lawsuits, illegal pot grows, destructive wildfires, closures and photos of damaged forest land.  While it’s critically important to stay aware of all these ‘negatives’ and work to prevent unwanted change, it’s just as critically important to revisit why we love the Los Padres and what ‘positives’ are happening around the forest.  It can’t all be negative.  In fact, for every negative we hear, there are dozens of positives across the forest that are most likely not being heard.  It’s easy to leave negative feedback or write a bad review, lets flip that script and instead focus on some of the really cool, helpful and inspiring people, organizations and programs that are working to benefit the forest.  What better time of the year to focus on the positives than Thanksgiving and the Holidays, right?
— • — • — • —

FRANKLIN TRAIL
A group of mainly Carpinteria based trail-lovers have been working the past decade to reopen, construct and restore the historic/new Franklin Trail in the hills above Carpinteria.  Unfortunately, here in the Los Padres we don’t hear the words ‘construct’, ‘new’ and ‘trail’ in the same sentence too often.  The idea of bringing the Franklin Trail back from the dead must have seemed farfetched but that didn’t stop the Carp trail community from making it happen.  They got organized, formed an organization called Friends of Franklin Trail, raised funds and worked with the Forest Service to get their dream off the ground.  The Santa Barbara County Trails Council with the guidance of Ray Ford took the lead on the trail design and with the help of countless volunteers and trail stewards they were successful in getting the Franklin Trail back on the map.  If you’ve not explored the Franklin Trail, put it on your list, do it this week if you can – it’s spectacular!  And even more spectacular is how the community of Carpinteria has embraced the trail.  Franklin has become a source of pride for Carpinteria and the local trail-users actively work to keep the trail maintained and improved.  A great example is the 3rd Annual Franklin Trail Turkey Trot where trail-users are sponsored and get donations for each time they use the trail in November which has raised thousands of dollars to continue work on their beloved Franklin Trail.  If you’re interested, the Turkey Trot Celebration is this Friday 12/1 at Island Brewing in Carpinteria.  This example of a community dreaming of more trails, organizing, working with the Forest Service, successfully reestablishing a trail and staying engaged to maintain that trail is an incredible accomplishment.  Big thanks to everyone involved and lets hope other communities can follow this Franklin Trail blueprint in order to build new trails in their neck of the forest as well.
— • — • — • —


Recently Restored Tinta Trail

VOLUNTEER TRAIL WORK

Trails are the main artery used by people to access and enjoy the Los Padres Forest.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a birdwatcher, a mountain biker, a hunter or a backpacker; you’ll be using some of the over 1,200 miles of Los Padres trails to get where you want to be.  Unfortunately, Los Padres trails are some of the most difficult to maintain.  Chaparral grows so fast, needing to be worked every year or two.  Trees fall across the trails and fires can alter the trail landscape for the better part of a decade.  So how are the trails kept open?  The Forest Service oversees trail maintenance but most of the boots on the ground efforts come from the numerous Los Padres non-profit trail organizations and the the volunteers who work with these groups.  If you’ve not taken a day or a weekend to volunteer on a trail project, you have to find a way to make that happen.  You’d be surprised at how much fun a day of hard work along the trails can be.  It’s a chance to meet like-minded friends, get outside in the forest and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel on your way out is what keeps people coming back for more.  The LPFA alone accounted for over 12,000 volunteer hours this past year and there are many other great trail groups up and down the Los Padres who host regular trail projects as well.  Get involved if you can, volunteer, give back to the trails you use and love, you won’t be disappointed.  Check the calendar of projects below and sign up for a project near you.

— • — • — • —

HPS Sierra Club Volunteers, photo Mark Allen – Patagonia Volunteers, photo Aanjelae Rhoads

VOLUNTEER GROUP WORK
Another great way to get out and volunteer in the Los Padres is by organizing your company, organization and/or friends to maintain or adopt a Los Padres trail.  There are fantastic examples of companies providing an option for their employees to spend a “service day” working on a trail.  Sort of like a Habitat For Humanity but instead of building homes they’re maintaining trails.  It’s a great way to get outside, often times your company will pay for your service day and trail work is a fantastic team-building exercise as well.  This format also works for groups or organizations who use the forest but aren’t trained in trail maintenance.  Student organizations from university’s and High Schools have also come together to help the forest.  A great example is the Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai which sends students out each year to help for a weekend around Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  The VWA has also had great success getting school groups involved with their programs.  There are great examples of groups and companies up and down the forest partnering with all the usual Los Padres volunteer organizations.  Get involved.  Sign up your company, your church group, your friends – you’ll have a great time and will be helping the forest with a smile on your face.  For more information check with your local Los Padres Ranger District of email INFO@LPForest.org.
— • — • — • —

Just Another Cuyama Peak Sunrise

SCOUT PROJECTS
There have been some really great scout projects across the Los Padres over the past year or two.  While the forest has benefited from just about all levels of scouting, the most popular service project is an Eagle Project where the scout performs a larger scale project for the benefit of the community, or in this case the Los Padres Forest.  We’ve seen scouts restore and replace forest signs, rebuild and clean damaged forest structures, maintain campsites and create educational material designed to teach forest-users how to properly recreate in the forest.  The LPFA has had the pleasure of working with a few of these scouts and it’s so refreshing seeing a teenager take a concept, formulate an idea, develop a plan and then execute on that plan.  Scouting projects are a great way to get younger people involved with the forest while at the same time providing a tangible outcome that benefits the forest.  Very cool program!  If you know any scouts who might want to tackle a forest-related project, contact your local Ranger District or email INFO@LPForest.org for ideas and assistance.

— • — • — • —

Three Concrete Crossings along Davy Brown & Munch Creeks

FOREST 411
• The Forest Service announced last week that longtime Los Padres employee Tony Martinez has been appointed the new Mt Pinos District Ranger.  Welcome and congratulations Ranger Martinez!  For more information click here.

• The Los Padres National Forest, in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is working on a proposal to improve aquatic organism passage along Munch and Davy Brown Creeks by removing three concrete water crossings and replacing two of them with bridges.  If you’ve ever driven Sunset Valley Road to NIRA, the two main crossings are between Davy Brown Campground and the lower Manzana Trailhead.  See attached document for specifics.  The Forest Service will be hosting an open house to discuss this proposal on November 30, 4-6pm at the Santa Lucia District Office in Santa Maria.

• The LPFA 2018 Los Padres wall calendars are going to the printer later this week.  They cost only $15 but will provide you a years worth of priceless Los Padres vistas, scenery, wildlife and stoke!  Get em while you can, you can order them here.

Brookshire, La Panza and Miranda Pine Campgrounds are currently closed as older pit toilets are removed and replaced with new vault toilets.  See here for more information, they are expected to be closed for 3-4 more weeks.

Condors continue their remarkable recovery as four new juvenile condors will be released into the San Simeon flock by the end of the year.

• There was an interesting article posted in the SLO New Times earlier this month discussing recent wildlife population trends and how those trends relate to drought, agriculture and changes in hunting restrictions.  It’s a good read.

• Due to potential storm related closures, camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park will become first-come first-serve only starting December 1, 2017 and lasting through April 30, 2018.

— • — • — • —
The Epic Thorn Point View, and getting there is more than half the fun!