Raging Big Sur River at Pfeiffer Big Sur, photo California State Parks
We’ve had quite a start to 2017 with lots of weather, snow and rain across the Los Padres. Seems like the meteorologists got their years confused between last years El Niño (aka El Noshow) and what was predicted to be a warm, dry winter this year. Whatever, we need it and we’ll take it! As I am sure you all have been witnessing, these storms didn’t just bring weather but in some cases destruction along with the rain. We’ve had flooding, landslides, snow closures, evacuations, wildfire area debris flows and even a tornado warning. The Los Padres is well ahead of our annual average rainfall totals and as a result some of the reservoirs are starting to fill up, including Gibraltar Reservoir in Santa Barbara County, which overflowed last week for the first time in 6 years! While that is great news, there is still more water needed before we can call off the drought. For example, Twitchell Reservoir above Santa Maria is still only 7% filled even though that part of the Forest has received almost 20 inches of rain already this season. It’s still early in the season and we have two full rainy months in front of us with another series of storms headed our way by the middle of next week. It’s already been an exciting winter, who knows what else is in store. Travel safe and be careful…….
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San Rafael Mountain Summit, January 20, photo Kevin Cody
As a result of the storms, most of the roads around the Los Padres remain closed. These closures are fluid, so please be sure to check with the Forest Service or CalTrans before heading out on your next adventure:
- Just about all non-paved Los Padres roads are closed. There may be a few exceptions but again be sure to check ahead of time before assuming a road or gate will be open.
- Hwy 1 along the Big Sur Coast has been closed for most of the past month and remains closed between Big Sur and Ragged Point due to landslides.
- Hwy 33 in Ventura County was closed this past weekend due to landslides and snow but was just reopened. There are snow chain warnings still in effect.
- Hwy 41 between Morro Bay and Cerro Alto in SLO County is closed due to a landslide.
- Paradise Rd in Santa Barbara is closed at First Crossing Day Use Area. No time-frame has been set as to when First Crossing will reopen but it probably won’t be anytime soon.
- Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur remains closed due to road undercutting.
- Mt Pinos is closed this week due to icy conditions.
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HARD HAT STICKERS
Perhaps you’ve seen this, especially if you follow college football…… Some college football teams give their players ‘helmet stickers’ as a way of recognizing either individual or team achievement. Each player has his personal football helmet and if their team wins or that player does something excellent in that game, the team rewards the player with a sticker that he then puts on his helmet. More stickers = more recognition. It’s a cool tradition and in some cases you can hardly see the helmet as it’s covered in stickers, indicating that player is a superstar.
We liked this concept and decided to try something similar with LPFA trail maintenance projects. All LPFA volunteers have to wear hard hats (helmets) during trail projects and many of our regular volunteers come with their personal hard hats. Starting this year we are going to give out helmet stickers to each volunteer after a successful trail project. Hopefully the volunteers will be proud to place those stickers on their personal hard hats and maybe if we’re lucky within a few years there will be a herd of decorated hard hats out there working the trails showing how spectacular all the volunteers are. We’ll see how it works. Look for them soon…… Hut, Hut, LOP!
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First Crossing, 6 Feet Under, photo Beeman
– The Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club is once again offering their Wilderness Basics Course designed to teach backpacking skills to hikers of all skill levels. The classes are offered in Ventura County and start February 8.
– Remember that the Soberanes Fire Closure
remains in effect within the Monterey Ranger District.
– We’re getting lots of reports of damaged trails across the Los Padres – thank you everyone! Remember that HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for sharing that information and getting those damaged sections of trail onto the inventory of trails to fix. Check it out!