National Trails Day 2017: SANTA CRUZ TRAIL

Come join us on National Trails Day (Saturday, June 3) as we begin work on bringing the Santa Cruz Trail back to life!

• We’ll meet at First Crossing (34.545955, -119.779028 – about 30mins from Santa Barbara) at 8am on June 3.  From there we’ll caravan across the river and through locked gates (locked at Lower Oso) to Upper Oso.  We’ll park the cars at Upper Oso and walk the 0.7 miles to the start of the Santa Cruz Trail singletrack.  Parking is FREE!

• If you are running late, we a second caravan leaving First Crossing at 8:30am.

• Once at the Santa Cruz Trail, we’ll do a safety talk, explain the plan for the day and break into teams to start work.  All of the work will be along the 1.3 miles up to 19 Oaks Camp.

• We’ll have hard hats, gloves and provide all the tools for the day.  Please wear long pants, sturdy boots, eye protection (sunglasses are fine) and you might want to bring a helmet (bike helmet is fine), personal gloves and a favorite trail tool if you have one.

• You’ll also need to bring any water and food needed to get you from 8am until 5pm.

• It’s predicted to be sunny with high temperatures in the low 80’s.  There should be a light breeze by mid-morning that will hopefully help keep things cool as well. It will be warm for sure, but not hot by Los Padres standards.  There is plenty of water in the creek and enough shade here and there to cool down during rest breaks.  Take as many breaks as needed!

• Most of the work will be clearing rocks, burned slough and ravel from the trail bed, plan on getting dirty! Everyone likes getting dirty, right?

• We’ll work with our teams until the early afternoon and have two departure times from Upper Oso out through the locked gate at Lower Oso.  The first departure time will be around 12:30pm and the final one will be at 2:30pm.

As you probably know, this portion of the Santa Cruz Trail was burned in the August 2016 Rey Fire and this project will be the first official work to clean up the damage from the fire.  The trail is in bad shape but all things considered it could have been much worse.  The trail is certainly not dead, it just needs a little love.  It will be very rewarding hiking out and seeing all the work that was accomplished out there!  You’ll feel great…..

• Once we’re out past the Lower Oso gate you are free to head home, take a swim in the river or drive up to Rancho Oso for the evening.

Camping is FREE at Rancho Oso for the trail volunteers.  We’ve reserved the Lower Tent Sites down by Arroyo Burro Road.  If you drive into Rancho Oso, tell the front kiosk you are with the LPFA and they’ll point you in the right direction.  Feel free to setup your camp, take a swim in the pool (shower first of course) and then eventually head over to the Screened Pavilion and Chuck Wagon for the REI Chill Zone and some much deserved ice cold beer compliments of Hollister Brewing.

BBQ dinner will be served between 4-5pm.  If you’re not staying the night, let the front kiosk know you are just there for dinner and they’ll guide you to the dayuse parking.

REI will have some games and prizes setup around the Chill Zone and a raffle sometime after dinner.

• After that, we’ll switch to camping mode and retreat to the Lower Tent Sites for a campfire and some needed rest.  There are tables at the Lower Tent Sites as well as a nearby bathroom/shower.

• Feel free to bring your favorite musical instrument or nighttime activity, just know that quiet hours start at 10pm, or is it 11pm?

Dogs are welcome for camping but need to be leashed.  We do ask that you don’t bring your dog on the trail work portion.  We’ve seen that sharp metallic swinging tools and dogs are a bad combination.

NOTE: There is nothing planned for Sunday.  No trail work.  No food.  Bring what you need and plan whatever you’d like to do!

And that’s the plan man.  What did we forget…..?

We hope you can make it and please email an RSVP if you plan on coming so we can make sure we have enough food and camping spaces reserved:

Special thanks to the following for supporting this great trail project:

– Rancho Oso


– Sierra Club

– Hollister Brewing

– Los Padres National Forest

LPFA Transverse – No Campfire, No Problem

Getting Ready for the Night, Terrace Creek, Ventana Wilderness


Most of the Los Padres has now received between 0.5 and 3 inches of rain this season.  We’re getting a fairly consistent flow of small storms, especially in the northern LP, but have not gotten the big rains that most of us are looking for.  Knock, knock – it’s still early.  The Forest Service normally doesn’t lift the fire restrictions until most of the Forest gets at least 2 inches of rain, so we’re still a ways out from having campfires in the backcountry.  The LPFA receives quite a few questions from backpackers and campers who don’t seem to know what to do if they can’t have a fire.  “How can I camp without a campfire?”  Well, here are a few suggestions:

Stay Warm
– The sun goes down around 5 these days and as a result you’ll be in the cold/dark more than ever.
– Bring an extra jacket, some fleece pants, gloves and a really good beanie.
– If you don’t want to climb into your bag at sunset, the best protection is some extra layers to stay warm.
– It’s also a good idea to use a tent.  Tents provide additional warmth and a nice place to hang out if you can’t be next to a fire.

– When facing nearly 14 hours of dark, be sure you have a fresh headlamp and extra batteries.
– In addition, you might want to bring a lantern or some light source to create the environment of your choice (Christmas lights, disco ball, etc….).
– There are quite a few light light options these days that can make you forget about your trusted campfire and not break your back packing them in.  REI is a great place to start.

Have Fun
– Nothing beats lack of campfire better than some good old entertainment.
– Depending on what floats your boat, you could bring in some music, a guitar or even watch a movie on your iPad.
– Games are always fun.  Some camp favorites include Yahtzee, LCR, charades, UNO and of course the mandatory deck of cards.
– What is better than telling ghost stories?  Nothing.
– Just remember to be courteous to other campers, your fun could become their nightmare.

Be Active
– Things go bump in the night, perhaps you should investigate?
– Rather than hitting the hay, bundle up and take a short walk away from camp and sit next to the creek or stare at the stars.  Always a special treat!
– If you are camping with a group, tour other people’s tents.  A sure fire way to chew up the time and you might learn some gear tips along the way.

Eat & Drink
– The best way to eat up the hours is to eat during the night hours.  Rather than cooking when its light, save the cooking for the dark.
– With plenty of time on your hands, you can use the stove to get really creative.
– Try that complicated recipe you heard about in Backpacker Magazine.  Go for it!
– Who says you can’t eat s’mores without a campfire?  What’s wrong with the stove?
– And nothing warms the insides more than a sip or two of your favorite evening drink; hot chocolate or tea, of course.

– How often do you get 14 hrs to yourself with nothing to do?
– Take advantage of the long night and write in a journal or read your favorite book.
– You could just sit there and listen for animals.  Without the glare of a campfire and smell of smoke, your odds of hearing critters will go way up.
– Once back at work/life you’ll be wishing you had that extra time to relax and do exactly what you wanted to do.

– If you can’t beat it, join it!
– Everyday life has a way of depriving you of sleep, am I wrong?  This is a great way to take the sleep back.
– Try to squeeze in every minute of sleep you can.

The moral of the story is that there are plenty of things to do in order to make camping fun without a campfire.  Get out there, make it to your favorite camp, be creative and have fun.  If you have any great ideas that were not covered here, we’d love to hear them too……..

Fullmoon Frisbee, San Rafael style, photo Ziegler