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Sean "Miner" Nordeen
Begins: Mar 19, 2016
Date: Sun, Mar 25th, 2018
Trip Distance: 408.9
Entry Visits: 1,087
Journal Visits: 15,127
Guestbook Views: 308
Guestbook Entrys: 2
Condor Trail Presentation (Santa Barbara)
On Friday, the Los Padres Forest Association (LPFA) and the Condor Trail Association (CTA) sponsored a presentation on the Condor Trail. They had some hikers from the 2016 and 2017 seasons each give a 10 minute presentation on their experience (Brian Sarvis, Mike Maki, Justin and Monica Kennedy with their 2 dogs, and myself). Brian Sarvis and I had both completed the entire trail. Mike Maki and the Kennedy spouse team (with their 2 dogs) had hiked most of the trail.
I left work at 2pm in order to arrive in Santa Barbara before 6pm thanks to Los Angeles Friday traffic. Presentations started at 7pm. My friend O’Dark drove over from LA to give his support and throw a few good natured jabs at me. Afterwards, since I had already driven up to the area, for the weekend, I went backpacking along Manzana Creek in the Los Padres NF which was awesome. This area is great spring hiking.
The night started off with Bryan Conant, representing both of the organizations listed above, giving a presentation on the state of the Los Padres National Forest trying to get support for the volunteer trail work that is making the Los Padres more hikeable than it's been in the last decade. Brian Sarvis then gave a presentation of the overall trail and his own experiences from 2017. Mike Maki talked about the trail from the perspective of someone doing it as numerous section hikes with no resupply over the past year. The Kennedy’s talked about hiking it in late spring of 2017 with their dogs while dealing with the heat while not using a GPS. My Presentation was just on my overall experiences from 2016. I didn't use a lot of slides for each section and mainly just talked; only I forgot a lot of great stories. I should have rehearsed more.
At the end of the presentations, Bryan Conant, on the behalf of the CTA, gave Brian and myself a metal plaque of the Condor Trail to honor our achievement in successfully completing the trail. Then Bryan dumped a bomb shell on me. I am no longer the 3rd person to complete the trail. Another person who started section hiking the trail way back in 2000 had recently been discovered who had completed the trail before me. Now I don’t even place. If being third gets you the Bronze, then being 4th gets you nothing. Why did I hike the CT again? Since it obviously wasn’t for the fame and glory (at least anymore :p), it must have been for the trail's social life (oh wait, I hardly met anyone when I hiked), or perhaps the great trail (there was a trail?), or the great scenery (let’s go with that one for now).
What is interesting is no one has managed to complete the trail as a thru-hike except for Brittney in 2015. Everyone else has done it in sections of 2 or more. Though in Brian’s defense, he wanted to hike the Soberanes Fire closure rather than a detour so he stopped his hike short of Monterey County and waited for the closure to be lifted before finishing this past January. There were also highway closures when he hiked in spring of 2017 that limited access to the Big Sur area. 2017 was really a bad year to have hiked. He easily could have done a successful thru-hike if he had waited to hike this year when there are no current fire closures if he had been so inclined. Brian is also in the process of doing research to write a Condor Trail guidebook which means he has spent more time in sections the rest of us rushed through. The trail desperately needs this guide so we all wish him good luck on his endeavor.
One thing has puzzled me though. Bryan Conant and a few others keep referring to the Condor Trail as being over 420 miles, and yet the CTA's GPS track that I used shows it about 403miles (which does have some compounded errors so it's not exact) and their water source spreadsheet had the length at 408.9 which is what I was referencing as the official mileage as I calculated my daily mileage in this journal. So is the 420+ miles the ideal route they want the trail to follow? But they make it sound current for some reason? Can anyone explain where that number comes from?
I wish the hikers of 2018 the best of luck. In some places the trail is in the best condition it’s ever been thanks to recent trail work. Within the Soberanes Fire boundary, parts are far worse than I had. Within it, Brian said the Puerto Suelo Trail was his nemesis of the CT as the burned trees and brush had fallen over the trail for the length of the canyon.
Condor Trail - 2016
The Condor Trail (CT) travels 410 miles through Central Coastal California in the prime habitat of the endangered California Condor. It runs the length of the Los Padres National Forest from Botchers Gap in Big Sur to Lake Piru near Los Angeles. This scenic trail extends through 4 counties and 7 designated wilderness areas.
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