Source: Los Padres Forest Association
The Los Padres Forest Association Trail Crew has been deep in the backcountry this drier than normal winter working on some of the more remote Los Padres trails. Our latest adventure took us on a 10 day hitch fighting brush on the eastern side of the Hurricane Deck Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness.
Located in the SB Backcountry, Hurricane Deck spans around 15 dry and exposed miles from the Manzana Schoolhouse to White Ledge Camp. We’ve heard it called the Mt. Everest of the SB Backcountry and quite a few other names that we can’t type here. Whatever you call it, the Deck is a special place that provides lots of loop options for backpacking trips and/or challenging longer dayhikes, and the views both as you approach and from the spines are all-time. Another thing the Deck is famous for is the world class bushwhacking that is required to follow the trails. The trail is hard to get to from just about all directions, which makes it not only infrequently hiked but also infrequently maintained.
The Deck is broken into three sections:
– West: Schoolhouse to Potrero Trail
– Central: Potrero Trail to Lost Valley Trail
– East: Lost Valley to White Ledge Camp
We’ve been focusing the past couple years on the Eastern Deck and this latest effort started at beautiful White Ledge Camp heading towards Lost Valley. The trails starts by following an incredible rock ledge up out of camp. Great views from up here looking up the Sisquoc showing Samon Peak and the backside of the San Rafaels. Even better views as you continue west towards a small flat zone on the Eastern Deck.
Our focus on these remote trails is to brush them wide to Forest Service standards. Similar to a new haircut, it might seem shocking to see such a wide trail this far back into the backcountry, but give it a year and it’ll be perfect, fast forward a few years and it’ll need another haircut. Our hope is that we can keep it open for at least 3-5 years and hopefully more along this part of the trail.
Some of the Eastern Deck burned in the 2007 Zaca Fire while some sections were islands of green and somehow avoided being burned. It’s amazing how much easier trail restoration is within the areas that didn’t burn. The tread is usually there and in good shape, it’s just buried by brush. After our 10 days, the trail is looking great…
For those of you ‘purists’ who like the Deck for what it is, don’t worry, we haven’t brushed it all yet and there is plenty of trail that still looks brushy. That being said, we are hoping to lead a volunteer project based at White Ledge Camp April 7-12 to continue the effort out towards White Ledge. If you are interested in helping for some or all of that time, please email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org and we’ll get you on the list.