Summer is Off to the Races

Old Man Mtn Bike, photo Cotton Rockwood CottonBike

Hi Everyone,

We hope your summer is going along swimmingly.  For those of you who wish it was more swimmingly, you are not alone.  Swimming holes across the Los Padres are drying up and it was just announced that Lake Cachuma has hit an all-time low water level, yikes!  That being said, there are still those epic year-round pools hidden here or there and plenty of water flowing in the creeks across the Big Sur region.  There’s also some areas that still have green grass and wildflowers for those of you interested in heading to the high country.  All this being said, it’s still a great time to get out and enjoy the Los Padres.  Just be sure to plan accordingly, bring more water than you think you need and remember no campfires in the backcountry!  And when you get back, we’d love to see some photos or hear your tales…….

Buckhorn Aid Station

For those of you who are trail runners, here are a few upcoming events that you might be interested in:

Robert Gilcrest is once again hosting this 100 mile and 100 kilometer endurance run across the Santa Barbara Backcountry and Frontcountry.  The race begins at Lower Oso and winds its’ way up, down, across, over onto the frontcountry, back up, over towards Divide Peak and then back again to Lower Oso.  100 miles!  It’s pretty amazing to see these athletes challenge themselves over that distance.  For those of you who might want to give it a shot, signups are still available, click the link above.

The LPFA will be helping the event by overseeing an Aid Stations along Buckhorn Rd above Upper Oso.  We’ll be out there helping the runners from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning.  If you’re interested in helping, please let us know.  Even a few hours of support would be greatly appreciated.  Our job is to make sure the runners get whatever water and nutrition they need in order to finish the race.  And then we cheer them on and have a great time while doing it.  If interested, email to sign up.

REI is sponsoring the 2nd annual REI Trail Run 5k Race at Elings Park, Santa Barbara on Sunday July 24.  If you would like to join the race, check the link above.  They are also looking for a few volunteers who might be able to help with the race in the morning from 7-11am.  If interested let us know,

Another cool looking running event scheduled for later this summer is the inaugural Island View Trail Race along the newly rediscovered Franklin Trail above Carpinteria.  The course is 4 miles long, follows the Franklin Trail and all proceeds from the event go towards the Santa Barbara County Trails Council as they continue working towards restoring the Franklin Trail.  If interested, check the link above.

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 pimp your event!

June 30: Mountain Bike Activism Presentation at Patagonia, Ventura

July 7: SBMTV Not2Bad Film Screening, Bicycle Bob’s Goleta
July 8-10: Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Aid Station, Volunteers Needed!
July 21: LPFA Trail Talk Series, Condor Trail
July 24: REI Trail Run Series, Elings Park

August 11: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Chumash Trails
August 11-13: LPFA Madulce Trail Sawyer Project
August 13: A-Zone South Hunting Season Starts

September 8: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Walking El Camino Real
September 11: Island View Trail Race
September 14: LPFA Backpacking Fundamentals Class
September 24: National Public Lands Day Trail Project, Lion Canyon Trail, Ojai

October 13: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Rangers of the San Rafael Wilderness
October 16: D-13 Hunting Season Starts
October 22: LPFA Used Gear Sale
October 29: LPFA First Aid & CPR Training

I told you there’s still a little green out there, even in the golden hour, Pine Mtn Campground, June 24

LPFA Transverse – 7.20

Hi There,

Usually the summer weather in the Los Padres is pretty boring.  This has not been the case of late.  About a week ago, our interesting weather started with a southerly monsoonal flow that dropped bits of precipitation across the the region. Temps were hot along the inland side of the forest which resulted in some thunderstorms over portions of the backcountry.  The best part of the week has been the cloud formations and lingering fog on the mountains.  We heard reports from across the Los Padres of rainbows, winter-like cloud formations, both low hanging and high scattered that made for some great views and sunsets.  Many easterners complain that California has no weather, but I think it makes us even more appreciative when weather does come in.  We’ll see what happens next…….


Hope you like your Jameson dry?  photo Humphrey, July 2014

We’re starting to get reports of water sources drying up around the Los Padres.  Most of the Sespe is now dry outside of a few standing pools of water.  Most of the reports from the Dick Smith/San Raf are showing dry creekbeds and the same goes for the San Luis Backcountry where flowing water is a rarity.  Even the reliable creeks and rivers of the Northern LP are at low flow rates.  Reliable springs are still flowing and most of the perennial streams have water, but it looks a lot like what September water conditions would look like during a normal year.  If you are heading out for a hike or overnighter, be sure to bring extra amounts of water and always check in with the Forest Service or shoot us an email ( ahead of time to get the most recent water and trail information.


The Forest Service has passed on a few messages of late about safety procedures and processes.  Trail leaders, please take a few minutes and read the notes below.  Safety is always priority number one when on projects.

As most of you have heard, there was an incident on the Jemez Ranger District involving an explosive device that appears to have been deliberately placed at the base of an information sign.  The device was constructed with a mason jar and had what appeared to be a protruding  wick.  It was placed on the ground with no camouflaging material to conceal it from view.  When tapped with the boot of the individual, the device detonated.  Thankfully, the individual’s injuries were minor.  At present, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm, and Explosives has taken the lead on the investigation.  No additional devices have been found on the Forest.

Due to this incident, many employees have expressed some concern about their safety while working in the field.  So what can you do to protect yourself?  First, stay vigilant and increase your “situational awareness.”  Look up, down, and all around.  If something appears “out of place” or “not quite right” (i.e. a suspicious looking object), do not disturb it!  Move away from the area and immediately contact law enforcement.  Second, work in pairs if possible so that a second person is right there in the event of an accident.  Finally, always have appropriate communication devices readily available and be sure to adhere to our Forest’s Check-Out and Check-In Program.

Over the last few years we have had important conversations about organizational and individual safety. I truly believe the safer we are the more successful we are. Our mission of improving the health and resilience of our National Forests and providing public services to the American people can only be achieved with a focused attention on our safety and well-being.

I would ask each of you to take time now and periodically throughout each day to assess your safety situation and those you are responsible for. It is critical that you are prepared to take on your work safely, are confident that the work you are undertaking is worth the risk, and have a keen sense of your situational awareness whatever your work environment. I would also ask that you insure your behavior is consistent with the agreements you have made with yourself, your supervisor, and all who rely on you. I will never ask you to cut any corners on safety to get the work done.

In addition to expecting that each one of you personally lead up in safety, I expect that when unexpected outcomes occur that you notify your supervisor immediately so that we can understand what happened and can learn from the experience. Learning from unintended and unexpected outcomes will be key to our growth as a world-class safety organization. The primary tools we will use to accomplish this are Facilitated Learning Analyses and After Action Reviews.

At the end of every day and every assignment, every employee, partner, and volunteer who works on behalf of the Forest Service should return home safely. I am asking each and every one of you to help insure we accomplish this together.


Redwood Sunset, Wearing the Weather Well, North of Big Sur, July 17th

The 8th of July Version

Hope everyone is well and finding some time to get on the trails.  Couple quick updates and information to share with you.  If you have any announcements or information that you’d like shared, please send our way.  Thanks………


W A T E R    U P D A T E

The 2013-14 rain season was pretty wimpy by just about standards.  Most of the Los Padres got under 50% of normal rain totals with some places getting significantly less than that. Yet hidden amongst the calm of the winter was one rain event that turned out to be far from calm.  The last three days of February and first day of March brought lots and lots of rain to the Los Padres.  The upper Sespe recorded nearly 18 inches of rain during that time.  There was a lot of water running and quite a few rescues as a result of that storm.  Turns out that we are still seeing the results of that storm.  Reports from around the forest are that many of the reliable pools and swimming holes are filled in with silt at the moment.  How did this happen?  In order to find out we enlisted the help of a few local scientists, and in layman’s terms, concluded that after having a few seasons of light rain, the silt buildup in the forest was stacking up.  The one large storm we had in February freed up most of that silt and carried it downstream filling in pools.  Since then we’ve had no additional rains that would usually carve out the pools and remove the silt.  As a result we are left with filled in pools until at least the next rain storms have the opportunity to clear them out again.

While we’ve heard reports of filled in pools from Indian Creek, Mono Drainage, Little Pine area and the Sespe; the most extreme example has to be at Fishbowls Camp on the upper reaches of Piru Creek.  Fishbowls is usually a series of pools carved into the sandstone that is highlighted by a 7 ft deep pool.  The main Fishbowl is normally a godsend in the summer heat as the pool promises cold water to jump into.  Not this year.  James Wapotich hiked out there a few weeks ago and found the pool completely silted in.  Such a shame.  But never fear, these things happen and no doubt that in the next year or so when the rains re   turn, the Fishbowl will be carved out again.

Silted in Fishbowls, June 2014, photo Wapotich


Seven foot deep Fishbowls, August 2007, photo Rose


Any other questions about water availability or to share what you’ve found along the trails, hit us up:


W I L D E R N E S S    R A N G E R    T R A I N I N G

The Sierra National Forest hosted a week long Wilderness Ranger Training in early June.  Over 170 rangers from across California convened near Huntington Lake to hear about ranger techniques, learn new skills and have an opportunity to share stories with rangers from other forests who are doing the same things we’re doing here in the Los Padres.  The rangers included Forest Service personnel as well as volunteers.  We had around 15 people from the Los Padres representing the various districts and including volunteers from the VWA, UTMC and LPFA.  Some of the classes included crosscut sawing, axe work, rock work, Leave No Trace, stock packing, rigging and wilderness first aid.  It was a great training and after talking to the other rangers it really makes you understand how unique many of our issues are here in the Los Padres.  Hope you can make it next year………

Day 4 Morning Briefing, Wilderness Ranger Training 2014




F O R E S T    C L A S S I F I E D

Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council Projects
Have you heard of Cape Ivy?  It’s a very aggressive, non-native vine that invades the chaparral community and smothers it ultimately killing the native vegetation.  The Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council is hosting volunteer events every Sunday in July from 8am-12pm and 2-5pm.  They could use your help.  If interested contact Jason Nelson (805.569.5429 –  Hope to see you there!

Gaviota Coastal Trail
There has been a lot of talk lately about the California Coastal Trail.  You can find descriptions of the trail online as it makes its way around the Los Padres.  While the trail generally follows the coastline, there are some areas where private property, geographic confrontations or federal lands prevent the trail from actually being on the coast.  There are a few areas that fit this description along the Gaviota Coast.  The SB County Trails Council has been working on a plan to develop the trail along this area and completed a report earlier this year studying and documenting the trail and coastal access along the Gaviota Coast.  Check it out and be sure to weigh in with your thoughts on the plan.

Friends of the California Condor
Got plans on July 18?  Now you do.  The Friends of the California Condor are hosting a free event at the Ojai Libby Bowl on July 18.  They’ll be showing The Condor’s Shadow, which is a great documentary about the condor that came out a few years back.  There will also be opportunities to meet some birds up close.  Check out the attached flier for more information.  Once again, hope to see you there…..