Hello Friends – Some Unfortunate Sad News to Share Today,
The Los Padres lost a legend with the recent passing of our dear friend Rik Christensen. Rik, aka Ranger Rik, has been a regular along the Los Padres backcountry trails for the past four decades with his favorite trails being within the San Rafael Wilderness. Rik’s enthusiasm about the trails was indelible and if you happened upon him while backpacking, you would not forget his welcoming smile, his encouraging word and of course those supernatural white teeth. In this modern world where photos are shared but directions are not, Rik would always go out of his way to share his wisdom, any helpful tips and of course that smile.
Rik was one of the inaugural Volunteer Wilderness Rangers (VWR) and never shied away from a trail maintenance project or an opportunity to survey and explore the backcountry. Rik was instrumental in so many trail surveys, in particular those crucial and difficult post-wildfire journeys into the forest. For many years the Forest Service relied on Rik to be the eyes and ears of the Forest and he took that responsibility very seriously. Rik was the first recipient of the Dave Weaver Wilderness Award, which is presented annually as a lifetime achievement award for Los Padres volunteers. Rik was also at the forefront of the ultralight hiking revolution and a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador who helped Gossamer with many of their tent and gear designs. Some of you might also know Rik through his involvement with the LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale, which he organized and founded. Rik’s passion for backpacking was never more apparent than at the Used Gear Sales where he would spend hours happily sharing his knowledge and helping make sure that each backpack perfectly fit its new owner.
Perhaps Rik’s greatest Los Padres contribution was his efforts to restore South Fork Station along the Sisquoc River. For many decades South Fork had been left in disrepair, ignored as it slowly decayed. Never was South Fork worse than shortly after the 2007 Zaca Fire when it was saved from the flames but left to rot amongst the ash. The mouse invested Station had no shutters, the screens were all ripped, the paint gone, roof cracking and there were no plans to bring it back. South Fork was a goner. That changed when Rik took on the challenge of bringing South Fork back to life. Over the next several years Rik worked with the Forest Service and backpacked the 15 miles to South Fork countless times hauling in supplies and handcrafted materials. Rik used his background in car restoration to carefully restore every detail of the cabin from the color of the paint to the shape of the hinges. If you’ve been to South Fork in the past 10+ years, you know how beautiful that cabin is and that is all thanks to Rik Christensen. Rik embodied the spirit of volunteerism here in the Los Padres and his contributions and spirit will live on forever.
For those interested, there will be a Rik style get together at La Cumbre Peak this Saturday December 10 at 11am followed by a Rik style lunch at Natural Cafe on Hitchcock in Santa Barbara at 1pm.
Rest in peace brother Rik and thank you for all the smiles you shared.
2023 Los Padres Forest Calendar
Back by popular demand, the LPFA has once again published a full color, professionally bound wall calendar full of Los Padres AWESOMENESS! This isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have! Great holiday present for the Los Padres lover on your list or be a little greedy and get one for yourself. The calendars will likely be available at your local REI or you can purchase online and we’ll send them directly to your door.
Thanks to everyone who contributed photos and please have a safe holiday season and terrific 2023….. oh, and find some trail time too!
Amazon Smile Shopping!
Tis the season for lots of shopping. For those few of you who are going to buy more than just the LPFA Calendar and might use Amazon for your shopping, please consider using Amazon Smile and choosing the LPFA as your charity of choice. Any proceeds raised go straight back into supporting the Los Padres Forest. Thank you!
Volunteer This Week!
The LPFA will be leading a volunteer trail maintenance and sign installation project this Friday – Saturday Dec 9-10 out near Mono Campground. We’ll drive in early Friday and out Saturday afternoon, car-camping at Middle Santa Ynez Campground. To sign up click the link below or feel free to email with any questions: VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org – should be fun, hope you can join us!