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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (updated June 14, 2020) 

Effective June 14, 2020 virtually all trails in the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest are OPEN. 

The following trails remain CLOSED:

- The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Terrace Creek, Barlow Flat, Sykes and Redwood Camps remains CLOSED. 

- The Terrace Creek Trail from Coast Ridge Road to the Pine Ridge Trail remains CLOSED. 

Most Developed Recreation Sites are now OPEN as are most US Forest Service roads in the Monterey Ranger District. 

The following roads remain CLOSED:

- Palo Colorado Road from "the Hoist" to Bottchers Gap remains CLOSED

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- No open fires, campfires or charcoal fires

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- Stoves are allowed with a valid California Campfire Permit

Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

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Re: Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby zenko on Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:01 pm

I told Leslie James (a Tassajara old-timer) about my sighting. In '96 a young black bear investigated the compost shed at Tassajara, but was warded off by some monks clashing pot lids. Never came back.

The bear I saw seemed like he was at home, not wandering through... here's the clawed-up tree picture, as promised.
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Re: Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Sat May 30, 2020 7:49 pm

Should not have used "eyeball-to-eyeball" in my last post, since the interest was really in whether this was the first in-person sighting by a human eyeball, regardless of whether the bear saw the human.

Appears so far that this is indeed the first in-person Ventana/SilverPeak wilderness sighting, which I find exciting and likely the first of others to come. Zenko had an exceptional experience.

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Re: Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Fri May 29, 2020 7:09 pm

By "sighting" I meant an in-person, real-time eyeball-to-eyeball event. We knew they are out there without photos, etc.. But I've not heard about a live human meets live bear far from human population and how the bear reacts when meeting a human there.

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Re: Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby pantilat on Fri May 29, 2020 4:13 pm

Ventana Wildlife Society condor streaming cams caught a big black bear dining on a free meal. Note that the location of this cam is immediately over coast ridge from Pelon and their facility is located within the wilderness (might be an inholding?).
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Re: Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Fri May 29, 2020 3:14 pm

Is the first actual bear _sighting_ in the Ventana/SilverPeak wilderness areas? Does anyone know of one earlier?? I've not heard of one before actually inside the wilderness, only sightings outside and scat, etc inside.

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Re: Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby pantilat on Fri May 29, 2020 12:28 pm

While probably still a relatively small population, there's reason to believe the population is on the increase. I have observed an uptick of bear scat from Pine Ridge/Bear Basin down to Lost Valley in recent years. I also heard something large thrashing through the brush near the upper part of Carrizo Trail (but no sighting). San Clemente Rancho adjacent to the north border of the wilderness has excellent trail cam photos of a healthy looking bear hanging out there this month.

Now the question is whether black bears have established a breeding population in the Ventana. At least initially it's likely bears arrived from the southern part of the Los Padres forest (where sightings are regular), expanding north to reclaim their historical range. I have seen a bear in the Santa Lucia Wilderness near San Luis Obispo, which is very close to where a bear would have to make its first and only crossing of 101 on its journey north.
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Re: Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby Hydro-Logic on Thu May 28, 2020 5:33 pm

That's awesome! Must be a small population as sightings are super rare. We just a few miles away on May 20 heading up Carrizo. Two days later we were in Lost Valley. Super cool!
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Re: Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby AaronP on Wed May 27, 2020 10:44 pm

Picture or not this actually makes me very excited for the area. The last time a friend and I hiked the Marble Peak Trail (last fall) we encountered a fair amount of scat near the connector trail and there was a point here I had my headphones in and came around a ridge where I heard some fairly loud rustling and found an area of brush that seemed to be trampled along a fairly steep ridge line. I saw no evidence of a bear but I had a strong hunch that something large was nearby which made me pack my headphones away for the remainder of the hike out.
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Bear Sighting by Pelon Camp (Lost Valley Trail)

Postby zenko on Wed May 27, 2020 5:19 pm

I've lived at Tassajara for the past 5 years, so I've heard a few stories about bear scat in Willow Creek and sightings along the coast. I feel lucky to have a story myself to share with other Ventana enthusiasts.

On May 20th, I hiked from Tassajara to the junction of Lost Valley and Indian Valley trails. I set up at a use camp there and slept like a log. I woke up pretty dewy under an epic canopy of stars. After some trail vitals I headed out, around 6:30. Higgins Creek was deep and green, the trail easy enough to travel. Coming up to the bend right before Pelon Camp, I saw another early morning hiker. He (I assume by his size) was cinnamon colored and watching the trail just like me. We met eyes and both startled back. He took a sharp right and ran up the hillside, while I waited for a spell. No bolt of adrenaline struck me. I knew we understood each other's intentions. I hiked on an kept up a little patter with myself. Happiness spread through me at my luck, and at the benefit another apex predator could provide for the wilderness. About three-quarter mile from Pelon (after the big ford) I found my friend's scratching post- a great charred Coulter pine, marked from the earth to 8 feet up with deep rows of scratches.

I have a picture of the tree and am curious if this is worth reporting to the Forest Service. Happy to hear suggestions and to post the picture later.
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