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

MISSION: Mission Pine

Mission Pine View, September 2016
missionpineoverview
MISSION PINE WORKING VACATION
October 21-30
    The LPFA will be hosting our next Working Vacation along the Mission Pine Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness from October 21-30.  We’ll be driving up from Cachuma Saddle to McKinley Saddle and backpacking 8 miles from there to our basecamp at Mission Pine Basin.  While the project will cover 10 days, we’ll have multiple entry-exit windows to choose from that will allow volunteers to participate for shorter periods of time.  The project will be supported with pack stock and all food will be provided.
The ‘WORK’ will consist of crosscutting any downed trees off the trail and clearing brush from the trails that radiate out from Mission Pine Basin.  These include the uppermost part of the Santa Cruz Trail and our primary objective of brushing the Mission Pine Trail east from the Basin towards West Big Pine.  There is plenty of work to be done.
The ‘VACATION’ portion of the trip will be spending time outdoors, with friends while enjoying this incredible slice of pine-studded Santa Barbara Backcountry awesomeness.  Mission Pine Basin is over 5,000 ft in elevation and has tremendous views of the Channel Islands to the South, Big Pine to the East and the Sisquoc Valley to the North.  It really is a great spot to hunker down and work the trails.
    We are looking for volunteers to help with the trail work as well as someone (or team of someone’s) to help with the cooking.  If you like backcountry cooking, I can assure you there will be plenty of hungry volunteers happy to have you there.
Space is limited, you must be able to backpack 8 miles, if you are interested in volunteering/cooking or would like to learn more, email us (INFO@LPForest.org) and hope to see you out there in late October.  More photos are on the LPFA Facebook page here.


Top of the Forest, photo Beemanpinosbeeman

SOBERANES UPDATE & MORE

• The Soberanes Fire continues to make history within the Monterey District of the Los Padres.  We’ll get into more details when it’s officially snuffed but for now it’s racking up some pretty horrifying statistics:

  • 132,069 acres, 94,875 of those are within the Los Padres Forest.  That’s the 16th largest wildfire in California history.
  • 92% containment with estimated 100% containment being October 15.
  • Today marks the start of the 11th week Soberanes has been burning.  71 days!
  • Soberanes is the most expensive fire to fight in history!  Well over $200,000,000 has been spent fighting the fire.  That does not include damages.
  • Good news is that both Church Ranch and the famous Jack English Cabin in Pine Valley survived!  Both were wrapped in fire-resistant foil and cleared before the fire came through.
  • Most evacuation orders have been lifted and life is starting to return to normal for some people affected by the fire.
  • That being said, life around Soberanes is certainly not back to normal for everyone.  The LP within Monterey County remains closed, this includes all campgrounds other than the few along Hwy 1.  All California State Park campgrounds remain closed as well.
  • We remain optimistic that portions of the forest will reopen once Soberanes reaches 100% containment and we’ll certainly keep you posted as things unfold.

RAIN?  Yes, rain.  This past week saw almost a half inch of rain fall in some parts of the Southern Los Padres, mostly in the Mt. Pinos and Ojai Ranger Districts.

• And don’t forget the LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale tomorrow, 10am at Tucker’s Grove in Goleta!  It’s not too late to donate as well.  Just bring your used camping gear to the sale at least 30mins before the sale starts.

That’s it for now folks…..  Coming soon we’ll share an update from National Public Lands Day on the Lion Canyon Trail, some exciting news about Matilija, the year in Wheeler Gorge, hunting season, upcoming campground changes and more…..  Hang in there and have a great weekend!