20 years ago today (Oct 11, 1999) the Madulce Cabin was tragically burned to the ground as a result of either an accidental burning or arson (click here for more of the history). The historic Madulce Cabin site is located in the heart of the Santa Barbara Backcountry, within the Dick Smith Wilderness and has a rich history dating back long before the Los Padres was known as the Los Padres. Before going up in flames, the much beloved Madulce Cabin was open to the public for shelter during bad weather or to briefly relive times long gone when forest rangers lived in cabins, stations and lookout towers across the Los Padres. It’s hard to imagine how different the forest must have been back then. Phone lines stretching across the mountains, connecting stations with fire lookouts and horse mounted rangers regularly patrolling the backcountry. Allow yourself to dream of how immaculate the trails must have been back then? Insert dream……. Times have changed, for better or worse, and the idea of phones across the mountains might not sound so good these days but back then it must have been a sight to behold. The Madulce Cabin site remains on the National Register of Historic Places but without the cabin it’s hard to recreate the feeling of what this site must have felt like during its heyday. There was some talk a few years back of trying to rebuild the Madulce Cabin. Local backcountry historians drafted a blueprint of the cabin and had secured private funding to rebuild an exact replica of the Madulce Cabin. Yet the story goes that due to modern Wilderness regulations the Forest Service was not able to permit the rebuilding of the Madulce Cabin. Pros and cons…..
In recent years, Madulce has been the location of quite a few LPFA trail projects and Working Vacations and remains a fantastic place to visit for backpackers or horse/mule packers. The area was mostly burned in the 2007 Zaca Fire but a few mature cedars and pines are still standing next to the cabin site. The horse corral remains along with some other remnants of the cabin era. Times change and perhaps one day a replica of the cabin can be rebuilt at Madulce to once again aid backcountry travelers. Maybe people will again seek refuge from snow storms inside the cabin and wait out the weather next to the wood burning stove. Then again, maybe not. Either way, today we look back at 20 years ago when the Madulce Cabin burned to the ground and along with it a treasured part of Los Padres history. Lets hope that even without the cabin the memory and history will live on at least another 20 years too…..
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D13 DEER SEASON
The general deer hunting season in Zone D13 starts this weekend October 12 and lasts through November 10. Within the Los Padres, D13 covers the Mt Pinos Ranger District east of Hwy 33 and the Ojai District north and east of Sespe Creek. Expect to see a lot more activity within D13 over the next month and in particular this long holiday weekend. If you aren’t planning on hunting, you may want to choose a different location for your LP adventures this weekend and over the coming few weeks. Be safe, tread lightly, remember fire restrictions and good luck……
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• While wildfire season is now a 12 month endeavor, we’ve got some “fire weather” headed our way over the coming days that include red flag warnings and potential preemptive power outages. Be safe.
• There have been a few smaller wildfires within the Los Padres over the past month including the October 1 Ranch Fire (55 acres) near Pozo and the September 21 Lopez Fire (220 acres) outside of Arroyo Grande. The Lopez Fire was started by an improperly extinguished campfire. Please, even if you are in a designated campfire use site, always remember to properly extinguish your campfire, it’s not worth doing it half ash. Like that? It’s an original. Royalties?
• Lastly, regarding wildfires, there were a couple articles recently written and a podcast related to the Los Padres and wildfires. Check out History of Wildfires in Big Sur, an Outside Magazine Podcast about defending your home from wildfire and a LA Times piece discussing fuel breaks as related to the Thomas Fire.
• Last month SLO based super meteorologist John Lindsey scientifically prophesied that “we could see lower than average amounts of rainfall in California this winter“. And so the prediction game begins. In the past we’ve heard weather predictions ranging from acorn droppings to ant activity but Mr. Lindsey is a living legend and a genius when it comes to weather. We’ll see what happens….. What do you predict?
• Over the past month sections of the following Los Padres trails have been maintained by your friendly neighborhood trail groups and the Forest Service: Lion Canyon Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Tunnel Trail, Jesusita Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail, Romero Trail, San Ysidro Trail, Franklin Trail, Pine Ridge Trail, Potrero John Trail, Reyes Peak Trail
• Big thanks to volunteers from Southern California Edison who showed up at toasty Dough Flat on a late July Saturday to help clean up the trailhead, paint the bathrooms, install signs and spend a little time clearing the trail up to the Condor Observation Point. Thanks also to United Trail Maintainers of California for providing the trailhead sign and the Forest Service for the support!
• Two more steel debris flow nets are being installed above Montecito on San Ysidro and Buena Vista creeks. These two new nets will bring the total nets installed to six. Note that the information on the link is out of date.
• Here’s an feel-good story about some stranded hikers along the Arroyo Seco who were unable to reach the Police and cleverly used a message in bottle in order to get help.
• The Los Padres Forest and Ventana Wilderness Alliance will be moving forward with a trail reroute along the Pine Ridge Trail. The PRT was damaged during the 2016 Soberanes Fire and subsequent 2017 storms to the extent that a reroute is needed near Barlow Camp. No date has been set as to when the trail may reopen but hopefully sometime within the next year. Stay tuned…..
• Late last month the State Water Resources Control Board voted that more water needs to be released from Cachuma Lake in order to support the steelhead population.
• Super Volunteers, friends of the LPFA and Gossamer Gear ambassadors Rik and Paul were featured this past month in a Gossamer Gear profile series, click link above. We know Rik and Paul really well, they are the main driving force behind so much good stuff across the forest including the LPFA Used Gear Sale, but it’s always cool seeing their influence extend beyond the Los Padres. Great work guys!
• LPFA supporter and friend of the forest Kevin Cody has started a Facebook fundraiser on behalf of the LPFA. We’ve known Kevin for many years and over that time he’s become somewhat famous for his dedication to keeping the forest litter free. In particular he has a hatred of stray helium balloons. It is not uncommon to be running or hiking with Kevin and then all of a sudden see him swimming through brush or scaling hillsides to retrieve that stray helium balloon that happened to plunge down in the Los Padres. We’re willing to bet that no one has recovered more lost helium balloons than Kevin has. Setting a great example Kevin and thanks for the additional support. Happy Birthday! If you’d like to support Kevin’s fundraiser, click here.
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