#los-padres

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So Close, Yet So Far Away: Bikefishing and Solitude in the Los Padres National Forest

Reportage

So Close, Yet So Far Away: Bikefishing and Solitude in the Los Padres National Forest

Less than thirty miles from one of the most populous areas in North America, lies the remote eastern reaches of the Los Padres National Forest. With its seemingly endless layers of pinyon, ponderosa and fir-studded peaks that stand sentinel over a tangled labyrinth of deep, rugged valleys, it’s hard to believe that such a wild oasis exists merely a stone’s throw from the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area and its nineteen million residence. And, in unbelievably stark contrast to the concrete-laden hustle and bustle of neighboring LA, this portion of the Los Padres remains almost entirely devoid of human presence for much of the year. For the months that motorized access is prohibited, one must hike or pedal their way into these wild and untamed canyons. Getting back there can be a rigorous effort indeed, but more than worth it for the unhampered solitude one can find.

April is typically a shoulder season here; heavy snow years and lallygagging winters can render the month bitterly cold, the trails can remain unrideable, and the streams too cold and icy for any desirable form of fishing. This winter was different however…the snow never really fell, and unseasonably warm and dry weather persisted through the once-rainy winter season and on into spring. So here we were, the first weekend in April, baking under an angry sun as we loaded bikes and prepared to set off deep into the Los Padres in search of wild campsites and native fish.

Ruta de Los Padres: Four Days Bikepacking the Sierra Madre and San Rafael Mountains

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Ruta de Los Padres: Four Days Bikepacking the Sierra Madre and San Rafael Mountains

“We’re cultivating this weekend, a few weeks earlier than we normally do. It’s getting drier every year, and harder to grow grapes in a dry farm system”. This passing statement tickled somewhere on my brain stem as Steve’s words seeped in and we all gazed up at the Sierra Madres. I wondered if the mountains too might be getting drier every year just like down below at Condors Hope, the 20-acre ranch situated at the opening of Bates Canyon, the gateway into our four-day bikepacking mission.

Two years ago, nearly to the day, my friends Erin, Campbell, Ian, and I all came down to Condors Hope to embark on a similar long weekend trip to explore and experience the landscapes, otherwise referred to as the high steep broken mountains, that had, at the time, just been reopened to oil and gas leasing by the Trump administration. We returned from that trip two weeks before the world shut down from COVID, and well, you pretty much know the rest of that story.

Radar

The Long Traverse: The Los Padres Traverse Route FKT

The Long Traverse is about learning from, and loving, the landscapes we ride in. Through the story of an iconic 80-mile, 11,000-foot ride, @Christopherblevs, and @dillon.osleger consider the history of a landscape and our place within it, grappling with the realities of forest fires and extraction while letting the bike show us all we can appreciate and learn as people on the land.

The Los Padres national forest spans the Central Coast of California, from the Pacific Ocean to the fringe of the Mojave Desert. This land of many uses hosts world-class biodiversity, the endangered California Condor, 350+ miles of trail, and a multitude of Chumash cultural sites. The Los Padres Traverse route is not only an incredible ride, but it highlights the intersection of recreation, conservation, and climate. Through the trail stewardship and advocacy work of Dillon’s nonprofit Sage Trail Alliance, Christopher established the fastest known time (FKT) along the route. And throughout this process, Christopher learned more about caring for the places he gets to ride in and the communities along the way. Whether you’re trying to complete the traverse in six hours or taking three days to bike pack it with friends, the Los Padres is a place to visit. Likewise, whether you’re a World Cup racer or a Weekend Warrior, we can use the bike to understand our responsibility to take action to better our planet, and we can all dig during trail restoration days.

Teacher rides Tour de Los Padres and Fundraises for San Marcos Foothills

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Teacher rides Tour de Los Padres and Fundraises for San Marcos Foothills

Hallie Silva is taking on the Tour de Los Padres this year and is running a fundraiser to help raise awareness for the area. Hallie reached out with some details of her effort, including some organizations she’s currently fundraising for:

“I’m a teacher in Santa Barbara riding the Tour de Los Padres this year as to bring awareness to, and fundraise for the San Marcos Foothills Preserve. This public space is the ancestral home of the Chumash and one of the last remaining access points for front-country wilderness in Santa Barbara, and right across the street from the junior high I teach at. This access point is being currently threatened by corporate luxury home development. 

I’m currently collecting donations that will go directly to two local organizations:

Seeds to Forest Defense, an autonomous group of Chumash, BIPOC and white allies protecting the land who center Indigenous ecological knowledge. They also work to provide resources such as lawyer fees for the indigenous folks who were arrested in ceremony while protecting our public lands. 

The second organization is Save the San Marcos Foothills Preserve, led by Channel Islands Restoration, whose mission is to purchase the undeveloped property next to the San Marcos Foothills Preserve at fair market value, to protect it forever as public open space, and to restore the native habitat. You can learn more at their website, https://www.savesanmarcosfoothills.org  “

If you can and would like to help out Hallie’s efforts, you can donate to her cause. Right now, she’s $1,000 into her $3,000 goal. Expect more to come from Hallie in the near future.