Dec 14, 2010 at 12:23 pm #1266574
Joshua SBPL Member
@joshualee101Dec 14, 2010 at 1:57 pm #1674222
@climberslackerLocale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Looks fun. I'd like to volunteer to go build some trail. Is there anyway to do that?Dec 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm #1674227
Hikin’ JimBPL Member
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
That would be cool if they can pull it off. The problem is keeping the trail open in the Los Padres. It's such a huge National Forest, and it's (mostly) chaparral which eats trails quickly. So many of the existing trails are essentially gone, relclaimed by the brush.
HJDec 14, 2010 at 5:01 pm #1674267
The idea of the Condor Trail has been around for a while. Bryan took up the reins a couple of years ago, I think, and has really been successful at getting the word out, helping to develop the possible route(s) and ground-truthing it out in the field.
It's a lot of work and will be years in the making… It's great that the Forest Service lends it's support to the idea, but they don't have sufficient funding to maintain all the trails they have, let alone pay for adding more. Thus, the Condor Trail will likely need to rely on donations, grants and volunteer effort to make it a reality.
It will be a neat opportunity for hikers, as the "hiking season" for the Los Padres is more of the winter/spring as opposed to the summer season of the sierras, etc. That's the only time the temperatures aren't scorching, the water is more plentiful and reliable and the ticks/rattlesnakes are less numerous.
I think Bryan does occasionally set up small groups to go out and either clear trail or scout new routes. I think he's mainly working in the southern Los Padres and is looking for folks to help head up the northern sections. If interested, you could probably reach him through his website for the Condor Trail– http://www.condortrail.org Some of these trips tend to pretty major bush-whacking affairs. Our entire backcountry burned in '07 and between heavy post-fire rains, mud slides and intense re-growth, some of our trails are in bad shape.
Oh, and +1 for anyone looking for a map for the southern los padres (Dick Smith and San Rafael Wildernesses), Bryan's maps are great!Dec 14, 2010 at 5:05 pm #1674270
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Ticks, rattlesnakes, and poison oak.
What's not to love?
–B.G.–Dec 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm #1674273
Ha! Forgot to mention the Poison Oak! I paint such a pleasant picture of the Los Padres…Dec 17, 2010 at 10:47 am #1675080
I've been on a few of Bryans trips. It's always a lot of fun. It's a little heartbreaking to see how bad the trails are. But if you don't mind that, the country is beautiful and remote. Were you to thru-hike this trail it would say a lot more about your stamina and wilderness skills and tolerance for solitutde than hiking the PCT or JMT.Dec 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm #1675108
Hiking MaltoBPL Member
Rather than start into new trails I would love to see the existing network of trails cleared. I had a trip two weeks ago in Big Sur cut short when the trail I was on disappeared. And as far as poison oak, two trips two cases of poison oak. But absolutely lovely area.Dec 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm #1675144
FWIW, I think probably about 85-90% of the Condor Trail will use "existing" (I'll use the term loosely) trails, the remaining 10% or so would be where new connections need to be made between those various existing trails.
But yeah, a lot of our trails see little use and alternately get blasted by fires, doused with heavy rains and then enveloped in rapid re-growth, so they can be hard to find and/or follow at times.
NickMar 16, 2016 at 10:29 pm #3389708
Last year, the first person managed to complete a thru-hike of this incomplete trail. We talked about it a little in the thread: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/104189/
However, this thread seems to be more appropriate to talk more generally about the Condor Trail.
This weekend, I’m going to use my 23 days of vacation to try to hike it going southbound. Fear over poor trail conditions actually managed to scare me into buying a real GPS receiver to carry after resisting for many years (garmin Etrex 30X at 5oz and 25 hrs of battery life). That and a Gen 3 SPOT device, that my resupply support person insisted I carry (it’s his so he paid the subscription price for that brick) so he’d know when I’d be near the resupply point so he can time meeting me, has caused my base weight getting awfully close to going over the 10 lbs mark. :-( I thought of taking my 40F quilt instead of my 20F one to help compensate, but with the storms we’ve had recently, especially up near Big Sur, has me thinking the extra down might be useful if it gets damp or we get some snow where the trail goes up to 7000ft. Due to just how little information there is on this trail from someone who has actually done it, I think I’m starting to pack my fears instead of for likely conditions. I, at least, manage to convince myself to leave the 15″ loopers home though I think they might be useful for 2 or 3 days when bushwhacking. ;) And yes, other then when doing the road/beach walk along PCH to close the gap between the Los Padres North and South sections, I’m having a friend from the PCT bring me my food instead of trying for a ride to town to resupply. It’s to save time since I can’t take anymore time off and due to the poor conditions of some sections of trail, I’m concerned that I may come up short somewhere between Hwy 33 and Lake Piru at the end.
My friend and I drove up the length of the trail and checked out some of the trailheads this past weekend, and the area is gorgeous right now. Everything is green and I see flowers blooming. So I’m getting pretty excited despite my nervousness over the unknown. Funny that I wasn’t nearly as nervous when I started the much longer PCT or other trails I’ve done.
When I get back, whether I’m successful or not, I’ll post some information of what I’ve discovered on this mostly unknown trail. I have a trail journal, but I’m not likely to update it til I get home afterwards.Mar 17, 2016 at 12:13 am #3389730
Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
Good luck, have an awesome trip, and tell us all about it when you return.
Especially if you wish you’d taken those carbon-fiber/titanium ultralight loppers!
— RexMar 17, 2016 at 12:47 am #3389733
Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Sean, be mindful of animal trails vs. the human trail. On a faint trail it can be hard to tell the difference. In my experience that’s the easiest way to get lost. Often times the trail will fork and the animal trail is the one leading downhill towards a water source while the human trail is supposed to parallel the drainage.
Pants, long sleeve shirt, eye protection, a buff to protect your face, and light work gloves.Mar 17, 2016 at 12:35 pm #3389855
Sean, I have the Gaia GPS data that Britney used for her successful Condor Trail thru-hike last year (because I have the phone she borrowed). I think you can get the data from Bryan, too (and he would probably put some corrections and other stuff) but if not, I think I can figure out how to send them if you want them. Send me a PM if you need them.Mar 17, 2016 at 7:49 pm #3389954
Piper thanks for the offer. Bryan put up *.kml files of the trail on the CondorTrail website about 2 weeks ago that I was able to convert into a GPX format.Mar 19, 2016 at 9:04 pm #3390482
I am excited that another person is attempting this hike. There is so much fantastic back country here between Los Angeles and the Bay area. I have lived here for 30 years and have only scratched the surface of it. I know you will out of contact but if anyone gets updates from Sean please post them here, or where they will be located. I know Piper runs a forum for Santa Barbara Hikes, but I did not see anything there about his attempt (yet)Mar 21, 2016 at 7:19 pm #3390947
Sean, if you have a blog I can post a link on my site. Otherwise I’m sure Bryan will post to Facebook as you go along.Mar 21, 2016 at 8:44 pm #3390963
Piper, are you refering to the Condor Trail facebook page, or a different one? I just went to the Condor Trail facebook page and don’t see anything about Sean Nordeen, but another person claimed to be hiking the trail starting on March 5 and having 14 days to do it. Guessing that post was a bit wish . . .Mar 22, 2016 at 7:04 pm #3391210
I have my own website for hiking in Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Hikes). It’s not as elaborate as some of Bryan’s websites. Bryan does have a condor trail facebook page but I’m not sure how often he keeps it updated. I don’t look at facebook much.Aug 7, 2016 at 6:44 pm #3418835
Sorry it took so long to come back and post an update of my Condor Trail experience. I was a bit depressed about not finishing so I was ignoring anything related with the CT for awhile. I hiked southbound just a little more than half the trail (230 miles out of 410) before getting off at Hwy 166 due to some medical issues in early April. My vacation time ran out before I fully recovered.
I plan on returning to the Condor Trail to finish either this November or next spring, depending on the water situation.
I found the Condor Trail to be a strenuous trail to hike due to the navigation issues and sometimes poor trail conditions. At the same time, it was often very scenic (at least in Spring when I was hiking).
I’ve finally finished updating my Condor Trail journal. The last entry contains links to the ~475 photos I took along the trail.Aug 18, 2016 at 9:48 am #3420984
Hi Miner, thanks for posting this. I would have responded sooner but I was out on a trip. While I have not read your journal yet, I will definitely be doing so.
Interestingly enough, on my recent hike I met Brittney Nielsen at Crabtree meadow. We chatted for awhile, and we ended up giving her and a couple other ladies we met a ride from Whitney Portal to Lone pine, 10 people in a mini van. She was finishing the JMT, and we were near the end of our High Sierra Trail hike. Small world . . .Aug 22, 2016 at 12:17 pm #3421752
Just finished reading your trail journal. Sounds like you really got put through the ringer. I hope your continuation hike goes a bit more (OK a lot more) smoothly than the first part.Aug 22, 2016 at 1:15 pm #3421765
Well Miner, sort of off topic but I could not resist. During my hike last week Brittany invited me to join her and her friends next winter to hike from the Salton Sea to to Torrey Pines. I started researching this and the first account I came across was your 2010 through hike. These paths just keep crossing. . . .
Looks like a hike much more suited for me than the Condor Trail is presently. Besides I am San Diego native and would really enjoy seeing many areas of the county which I have not explored previously.
Edit – just realized the Salton Sea to Torrey Pines trip journal was not written by Miner, but another hiker on the same website. Sorry for the thread drift . . .Jan 30, 2017 at 10:02 pm #3447903
I went back in late November and completed the Condor Trail. According to Bryan, I was the 3rd to finish. The 2nd being a section hiker who hiked it over a 5 year period and finished several months before me. I updated my Journal (link in my post above) with the rest of my trip. The Pine Mtn Fire Closure was still in affect so I had to hike around it. They opened it exactly a week later so I had bad timing.
I typed up a PDF file with information on the trail in case anyone was interested in hiking it (Condor Trail Overview and Planning.PDF). Between that and the last entry in my journal where I give some supplemental info and my opinion on various things, I hope I covered a bit of everything. If anyone is interested in knowing more, feel free to ask some questions and I’ll try to answer.Jan 31, 2017 at 12:14 pm #3448000
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Good trails require good switchbacks (stone buttress walls in many places), good tread (2 ft. wide minimum), well-placed water bars, good signage, and even bridges where absolutely necessary.
So at the least trail builders need to have a trail building manual, which are available online or through bookstores.
I speak from my experience as a professional trail builder both in Pennsylvania and on the 9 mile Snow Creek section of the original PCT. (We, Bell Bros., built the Snow Creek section in virgin wilderness in 1980 for the US Forest Service.)
Donations of money as well as labor are needed for building this trail but it will be well worth it. And of course continued maintenance is very dependent on volunteers.Feb 5, 2017 at 10:53 am #3448867
I really enjoyed reading the second half of the trail report. I read the first half earlier this year. Too bad you missed out on hiking through the Pine Mountain fire area. Not that the fire area itself is spectacular, but just an extra hassle. They must have opened the area up shortly after you went through. My friend and I hiked it shortly after you went through, we started at Piedra Blanca on Dec 17. Hiking through the light snow on top was fantastic. No other people, deer and mountain lion tracks, tons of water, nice waterfall shortly off trail. Also came across a recently killed deer at Haddock camp. Probably best of all for you, if that was your intended route, is a very clear trail.
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