There’s Snow Better Time in the Los Padres

Is there anything better than an icy cold Topatopa after a long day on the trail?  
Red Reef Trail, Sespe Wilderness – Jan 23, 2021

Hello Friends,

For those of us who resorted to rain dance rituals in order to break our mid-January drought, remember what you did, cause it worked and in some cases might have worked too well! This latest atmospheric river event certainly delivered and as seems to be the case around here, the hardest rain was unfortunately attracted once again to the recently burned areas. The 2020 Dolan Fire area within southern Monterey County took the brunt of the storm with two-day rain totals above 15″ in many places. The resulting damage was extensive, causing Governor Newsome to declare a State of Emergency for both San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. As we know all too well, recently burned areas and excessive rain don’t mix too well and there were a series of debris flows spewing out of the Dolan Fire. The most notable was at Rat Creek where Hwy 1 was completely washed away. No timetable has been established as to when Hwy 1 through Big Sur will reopen and it is currently closed between Post Mile 34 and Willow Creek.

The rest of the Los Padres received a good dousing over the past week as well with rain totals primarily between 2-6″ with some areas seeing upwards of 12″. We did see some parts of the forest receive monster downpours of close to 0.75″ of rain over a 15-min time period. Snow levels were consistently in the 4,500 – 5,000′ range and we’ve seen some spectacular photos of Los Padres winter wonderland from this past weekend. Most of the larger creeks and rivers around the forest are now flowing but many of the smaller creeks have not quite been activated just yet. While this past storm was a good one, we certainly could use more rain. That being said, please adjust your dance routines to focus on lots of snow and light consistent rain, we don’t need anymore debris flows or declared emergencies……

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Santa Barbara snowshoeing, and, best of all, it comes with ocean views.   photo Dancebymoon

FOREST OPENINGS & CLOSINGS

While it might be prime Los Padres season, there are still some closures and restrictions to be aware of and some changes too:

  • The Los Padres fire restrictions which have been in place since May 2020 were lifted on February 1. This means that campfires are once again allowed in all open and legal areas of the forest. You will need a California Campfire Permit so please take a few mins to get your permit and take a refresher on how to be fire safe.  
  • The COVID related regional campground closure order also expired on January 29. This means that all the accessible campgrounds are once again open. That being said, some of the previously closed campgrounds remain closed due to storm related road closures and we’re also hearing that Parks Management is a little behind on restaffing after the 6+ week closure. We suggest that you contact Parks Management or the Forest Service if you are looking to camp over the coming weeks just to make sure ahead of time that your favorite campgrounds are open.
  • The Dolan Fire closure area within the Monterey Ranger District was revised on January 22 and now includes mainly the burn area perimeter. See link here for more information including closure maps and language. Remember that the Pine Ridge Trail remains closed through the winter and please take into account that many of the roads into the MRD remain closed due to fire and storm damage.
  • Along those lines, all of the seasonal road closure gates should be closed after last weeks storms, this includes Mt Pinos Snow Play. If you are heading out to your favorite trailhead, be sure to call the local ranger district and confirm where the gates might be closed. We’re happy to try to help as well if you’d like to email us. Nothing worse than unexpectedly finding out that your 7 mile backpack trip is now 11 miles due to a road closure.

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Don’t worry, this photo was taken at the 2016 VWR Training.  Check our YouTube Video in honor of January 30 Kiss Your Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Day!

FOREST 411

  • The last weekend of January has long been reserved for the annual Los Padres Volunteer Wilderness Ranger (VWR) Training. This year would have been the 24th annual VWR Training. Unfortunately we aren’t able to host the training this year due to COVID but we’re certainly missing the 80+ volunteers who regularly attend these trainings. We’re looking forward to seeing all the great volunteers later this year on trail projects (as COVID restrictions hopefully ease) and we’ll throw an even bigger celebration (we mean training) next year for the 25th annual VWR Training. Can’t wait….
  • The Los Padres NF extended the forest-wide target shooting ban through June 30, 2021. No target shooting outside of Winchester and Ojai Valley Gun Clubs. For more information, click here…..
  • The Neverland Ranch sold recently for a reported $22 million. Neverland is located near Figueroa Mountain on the edge of the Los Padres.  
  • Back by popular demand, the LPFA will be hosting another virtual SEVEN MINUTE STORYTELLING event on February 11 at 7pm. Click this link or email if you’d like to sign up to present or attend and click this link to see our first virtual storytelling event from October. These events are a lot of fun and we have a great list of presenters from around the forest! Should be great and hope to see you there…..
  • Our buddies from the Ventana Wilderness Alliance are in the process of looking for a new Executive Director. Click the link for more details and tell ’em the LPFA sent ya…..
  • Our buddies from the Channel Islands Restoration are looking for some good volunteers to help with some of their upcoming Santa Ynez River volunteer trips. Check em out here
  • Our buddy Chuck Graham, who frequently writes about adventures across the Los Padres, recently released a photo book featuring the sights and splendor of the Carrizo Plain. It’s called Carrizo Plain “Where the Mountains Meet the Grasslands”, you can check it out here and congrats Chuck, so cool!
  • In late 2020, officials with the CDFW cleared out over 3,000 lbs of trash from an illegal marijuana grow site in the Los Padres above Ragged Point. We hate seeing grow sites, it’s no fun and so destructive to the environment. If you come across a grow site in your explorations, get out of there as quickly as you can and please report it to the Forest Service.
  • For us condor lovers, there’s a couple interesting articles you might want to check out. The first is about wind farms applying for take permits for incidentally killing condors and the second is an article about increasing wildfire impacts on the condors
  • We’re working on our winter-spring trail work schedule and have a lot of catching up to do after much of our 2020 program of work was COVID derailed. Trails we’ll be focusing on include: Hurricane Deck, Santa Cruz, Red Reef, Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca, Blue Canyon, Red Reef, American Canyon, Madulce, Sisquoc, Mission Pine, Lion Canyon, Matilija and likely more…  The LPFA Trail Crew will be focusing on the eastern Hurricane Deck Trail for the next few weeks with the hope of punching through to connect with Lost Valley. Exciting for sure!
  • Last but not least, when you get out into the forest over the coming weeks please be sure to let us or the Forest Service know if you come across any downed trees or slides blocking the trails or roads.  We’ll collectively do our best to get them cleared as soon as we can.  Be safe out there…..

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Thanks to the generous #GivingTuesday support, we started working the Santa Cruz Trail down from Alexander Saddle.  It’s going to be a slow push but we’re going….  One step and swing of the tool at a time.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Obviously COVID can and will adjust some of our upcoming volunteer opportunities but we wanted to share what we have scheduled and hope for the best. We’ll be providing signup links and updates when we get green-lighted for the projects. In the meantime, if you’d like to sign up for any specific projects, please email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org and we’ll get you on the list.

February 11: Seven Minute Storytelling Virtual Talk, LPFA 7pm
February 19-22: Red Reef Trail / Sespe Trail Project, LPFA
February 27: Agua Blanca Trail Project, TBD
February 27-28: Blue Canyon Trail Project, LPFA

March 6: Red Reef / Sisar 1st Saturday Trail Project, LPFA
March 6-7: American Canyon Trail Project, LPFA & SLOPOST
March 13: Agua Blanca Trail Project, TBD
March 13-14: Blue Canyon Trail Project
March 19-21: Upper Sisquoc Project, LPFA

April 3-11: Indian Creek Working Vacation, LPFA
April 10: Ojai 1st Saturday, TBD
April 23-25: Madulce Trail Project, LPFA

May 1-9: Red Reef / Lady Bug Working Vacation, LPFA
May 15: Ojai 1st Saturday, TBD
May 15-23: Santa Cruz Trail Working Vacation, LPFA
May 28 – June 6: Pine Mtn Haddock Working Vacation, LPFA

VWR Training March 14

2020 Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training – COMING SOON!

Hello Friends – Pardon the interruption…..

We’re in the middle of a larger Los Padres Forest email update but wanted to let you know that the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training that was scheduled for this weekend (January 25) has been rescheduled for Saturday March 14

The VWR Training is an annual training that the LPFA and Forest Service host in order to train volunteers on best practices and needed Forest Service procedures in order to run volunteer trail projects within the Los Padres Forest.  If you’ve not been before, it’s a great introduction to the behind-the-scenes steps needed for running trail projects and helping to keep our trails open and passable. We generally squeeze a lot of information, perhaps too much, into the VWR Training with an assortment of guest speakers who talk about subjects including First Aid, Trail Standards, What If Scenarios, Tool Maintenance, Packing Safety, Camp Cooking, FS Protocol and more…..

If you’re interested in attending or would like more information, please email INFO@LPForest.org and we’ll get you on the list.  We’ll also be sharing additional information in the coming weeks as part of the regular email updates.

Now back to your regularly scheduled emails.  Thanks and stay tuned for more Los Padres information coming soon…….

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First Full Moon Light Around Cara Blanca, photo Ziegler

UPCOMING EVENTS

A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know. If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pass along!

January 18-20: Sespe River Trail Project, LPFA
February 2: Gene Marshall (Reyes Creek Side) Ojai First Saturday Super Bowl
February 8: Hwy 33 Adopt-A-Highway, LPFA
February 19 – April 8: Sierra Club Wilderness Basics Class, Ventura
February 29: Agua Blanca Trail Project #4, A.Coles

February TBD: Little Falls & Trout Creek Trail Sign Project, LPFA
March 4 – April 8: LPFA Fundamentals of Backpacking Course, Santa Barbara

March 8: Santa Paula Canyon Graffiti Removal, LPFA
March 14: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training, Paradise Road
March 14: Hwy 33 Adopt-A-Highway, LPFA
March 20-23: American Canyon, Machesna Wilderness Trail Project, LPFA
April 4-12: Indian Creek Working Vacation, LPFA

April TBD: Return to Sespe Trail Project, LPFA
May 2-10: Puerto Suelo Trail Working Vacation, Dick Smith Wilderness, LPFA
May 23-31: Piedra Blanca Trail Working Vacation, LPFA

Giving Thanks for the Los Padres

A Thankful Los Padres Ursus
BearBear
Most of us will celebrate Thanksgiving this week.  While historically Thanksgiving was a day to give thanks for a successful harvest, today it is used to celebrate anything and everything we are thankful for – which is great.  Turkey Day is a fantastic excuse to take some time and reflect on all you have to be thankful for.  Then after that, stuff your face and watch football…..   Kidding aside, we all have much to be thankful for.  The above photo was sent to us earlier this month showing a Los Padres black bear traipsing across a small meadow during his/her daily rounds.  It got me thinking how thankful we all should be to have wild spaces and enough room in the Los Padres for great animals to roam.  Be it the condor, elk, fish, bear or humans; we’re very fortunate to have vast spaces to wander and explore in the LP.  There’s a billion other reasons to be thankful, almost all of them are more important than this one, but it’s really cool thinking of that bear and all his neighbors doing their thing out there right now.



FOREST 411

Couple tidbits from across the Forest, if you have anything to add, please send our way:

• The 20th Annual Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training will be January 23-24 at the Los Prietos Compound, Santa Barbara Ranger District.  Much more information to come but we wanted to make sure you all get it on your calendars.  20 years is certainly reason to celebrate.

• The Mt. Pinos Ranger District has announced their seasonal closures which start today.  See attached document for specifics.

Franklin Trail Fundraiser on December 2.  The Santa Barbara Trails Council is hosting a Happy Hour to help raise funds for the Franklin Trail and thank the Sierra Club for their contributions to the trail.  More information here.

• A cold front is crossing the LP over the coming days.  Freezing temps are expected across most of the forest.  While rain is expected in the northern LP, not much is expected to fall south of the Santa Ynez Valley and Sespe Creek.

• In October, the Ventana Wilderness Alliance headed up an effort to bring Leave No Trace to the Pine Ridge Trail in order to evaluate the impact along the trail and recommend a course of action to help alleviate the impacts.  While out there, LNT came across Flyin’ Brian Robinson, the famous thru-hiker.  He gave a nice short interview on LNT and why it’s important.  Worth checking out here.

• Yeti Coolers released a great short video talking about the Los Padres Outfitters and some of their history between Tony Alvis and Graham.  You can view it here.

• While the Los Padres Charter Sierra Club Condor Call has been out now for a few weeks old, if you haven’t checked it out, it’s certainly worth a read as well.  Click here.

Yes, it’s Calendar Season
Calendar
Back by popular demand, the LPFA will be producing 2016 calendars featuring pictures of the spectacular sights from around the Los Padres Forest. AND WE COULD USE YOUR HELP. If you have a great photo or two that you think is worthy of being included within the calendar, please send it to INFO@LPForest.org. We’ll need your name and what month you think it best represents – no need to include the location, we don’t want to spoil your secrets. If we use your photo, we’ll credit you and send you a calendar. Sound okay?

The LPFA produced 4 years of calendars from 2008-2011 highlighting waterfalls. This time around we’re opening it up to anything Los Padres related. Could be an epic sunset, a photo of wildlife, a view from your favorite trail or even a waterfall. If you have something great to share, we’d love to see it. All photos need to be sent and finalized by December 10. We won’t use your photos for anything other than the calendar without your permission. We’ll have information on how to get a calendar by mid-December, just in time for the holidays. If you have any other questions, let us know……. Thanks, looking forward to seeing some great photos.




The window, barely open….. photo Slattery
PuertoSuelo
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and hope you find some trail time over the long weekend………