Los Padres National Forest
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This is another bit of volunteer trail work hosted and organized by the Los Padres Forest Association. It is a little longer with groups coming in Friday morning or Saturday morning, all leaving on the holiday Monday except one hiking out earlier. Food and BEvERages are provided with a dedicated cook for the preparation. Since we can drive in, it can be quite elaborate. I opted to come in on Friday.
FridayWe gather at the Lower Manzana Trailhead at 8AM. From here, there is the option of hiking in while others carry any gear and a few people take that opportunity. At least one is even going to try out Hurricane Deck for their route in. The rest of us collect into a reduced number of high clearance 4x4 vehicles to travel the private road that accesses the ranches near the Manzana Schoolhouse. This is something quite new to us since in general the public has no access, not on foot and especially not on bike, to this road. It is rough and extra long, climbing high over a ridge before dropping down again with great twists the whole way. The creek crossings are a bit rough and one is wet. They should all be wet this time of year, but it has been another miserable rain year.
|We may never pass this way again, at least not other than Monday on the way out, so we pause once high above Castle Rock and Hurricane Deck for the view.|
Once in camp, we set up. There are some rather tall and dead trees in camp as well, so we try to avoid them. Since we are still not quite in the wilderness, out come the chainsaws to make the camp safe. They knew these danger trees were here and came prepared.
|Micky perfects his notch, which directs where the tree will fall.|
The rest of us are told that today is an optional work day, but that is just silly. We have lots of tools and the whole afternoon and we came here to work on trails. We get the safety talk and the sign in form and collect tools for working along the Sisquoc River Trail. The overall objective is to work everything to Water Canyon, about 4 miles up. First we have to locate it, somewhere across the dry Manzana Creek. It is not entirely clear where the trail is supposed to go through the camp, but someone has put up a cairn and one can eventually spot the signs on the other side after enough looking around. We head out, each with a pair of loppers and a trail smith. (The trail smith is something Mike Smith has been working on and there would be more of them about if he had more time to put them together.)
|Entering the wilderness. The painted wilderness sign is the easiest thing to spot from the other side of the creek and campground. The metal mileage sign blends a bit better.|
|Trail climbs onto "the ledges" which host oak savanna. There are a few flags along the way that seem unneeded in this season, but may come in quite handy in others.|