Welcome to fall in the Los Padres. We’ve been seeing peak fall colors this past week across most of the LP with sycamores, alders, maples and cottonwoods all dazzling in their fall bests. Fall has been especially dramatic this year thanks to the sneaky snow storm that came in a couple weeks back. If you remember that first storm, it was predicted to be light and cold with very little precipitation. The storm came and went but instead of light and cold we surprisingly found most of the high country covered in a solid blanket of 6 inches of snow. A sneaker storm for sure and it was very nice getting out over the past week and seeing the mountains drinking up some much needed moisture. Hopefully a good sign of things to come…..
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LPFA TRAIL UPDATES
The LPFA has been busy with our fall – winter program of trail work and we’re hoping the recent shift in COVID tiers doesn’t slow us down too much. The LPFA Trail Crew is currently helping the Forest Service with some BAER work in the Dolan Fire but we’ve spent much of the past months working some of the trails in and around the SLO Backcountry. We cleared the lower portion of the Lopez Canyon Trail, brushed the worst section of American Canyon and cleared trees along the Castle Crags Trail in the Machesna. Lots of work left to do in SLO and we’re hoping to get back out there soon. Our main focus this fall and early winter will be in the deeper parts of the SB Backcountry working primarily on the Santa Cruz and Mission Pine Trails while also strategically hitting Poplar, Alamar, Madulce and the upper Sisquoc. We’ll share more details and potential volunteer opportunities but we should be out there as much as we can until the rains come and shutdown access.
We had a great volunteer projectlast week and cleared about 0.4 miles of some of the nastiest wilderness chaparral you can imagine along the Mission Pine Trail, it was great to get out there! In addition, we’ll be continuing work on the Mono Jungle Reroute of the Cold Spring Trail and should also get started on restoring the North Franklin Trail out behind Carpinteria. As the weather changes we’ll plan to move closer to paved roads and should spend some time working the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail, North Fork Matilija, Sulphur Spring Trail, Blue Canyon, lower Santa Cruz while also organizing triage projects where needed to help clear storm caused trees and slides. We certainly have a lot of trail work scheduled and our collective fingers are crossed that it all goes as planned. Thanks everyone for the support and as always, if you come across any bad sections of trail, downed trees or slides, take pictures and post to HikeLosPadresand email the Forest Service or your favorite trail group – things change so quickly across the trails and any information you can share is always appreciated! See you on the trails….
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• Despite the recent rains, the forest remains in fire restrictions which prohibit campfires across the forest and camp stoves are only allowed in designated campfire use sites. These restrictions generally stay in place until the forest has collectively received a few inches of rain. The Forest Service is monitoring and checking moisture levels weekly and we’ll be sure to share when any changes occur in the fire restrictions.
• We are officially within the Seasonal Gate Closure season where some of our favorite trailheads and campgrounds become harder to get to as the FS swings the gates for the winter. As of right now the only closed seasonal gates outside of the MRD that we’ve heard of are Dough Flat outside of Fillmore, Cherry Creek in the upper Sespe and the Upper Santa Ynez gate at Romero (which has now been closed for 3+ years). Everything else should be open at least until the next big storms. If you find any locked gates, please let us know so we can pass along the news. It’s also very wise this time of year to check with the FS ahead of time to see if the gates are closed. Nothing worse that trying to get to Santa Barbara Canyon (or wherever you want to go) and finding the gates closed 4 miles before the trailhead.
• The Monterey Ranger District remains in a hard closure due to the Dolan Fire, which is currently 98% contained and is holding at 124,924 scorched acres. The cause of the fire was verified earlier this month as arson related to an illegal marijuana grow. There is no set date as to when the MRD will reopen but as we’ve seen in years past, it might be a while due to very valid post-fire safety concerns. Stay tuned….
• In case you missed last months LPFA Seven Minute Story Night, never fear, it’s on YouTube, check it out… Oh yeah, and if you’d like to sign up to present in the future, we’ll likely be hosting another one in January. Let us know….
• Four condors were released earlier this week into the wilds outside San Simeon. Another great step for our beloved California condor!
• The Los Padres National Forest is hiring! They are looking for a Forestry Technician in Santa Barbara and a wilderness/stock program manager in the Monterey RD, check it out and good luck!
• The Forest Service is also looking for volunteers who might be interested in helping treat and eliminate non-native noxious weeds within the Santa Barbara front and backcountry areas. You’d be working with the FS biologist. If this sounds fun or for more information email us at Volunteer@LPForest.org.
• Thanks to everyone who submitted photos for the 2021 Los Padres Calendar. We are just about done with the layout and the calendars should be ready in plenty of time for the holidays. To learn more or purchase your very own 2021 Los Padres Calendar, CLICK HERE…..
• Some slight changes in the West Cuesta closure order: the Forest Service revised the closure so that bicycles and hikers are once again permitted along West Cuesta. The closure remains in place for vehicles and dispersed camping.
• If you Amazon, remember that you can always use Amazon Smile and choose the LPFA as your charity of choice so that you not only shop but also help the forest, all in just a few clicks. Check it out – thanks…
• And last but certainly not least, our latest volunteer spotlight features the great Bardley Smith. You know the saying about a tree falling in the woods, right? Well, it should be changed to if a tree falls across the trail in the Ojai Ranger District…. yes, Bardley will most likely cut it out. Thanks for all you do Bardley!
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