Monday, September 20, 2021

Sequoia Wildfires & Closures

Looks like most of the National Forests in California are back open for late September 2021, although many have fire bans in place for campfires and BBQs. 

Certain campgrounds are allowing campfires, but it is on a per forest, per campground basis. Check the links or call rangers to find out what exactly campgrounds are allowing campfires.

More Sequoia Groves are burning this year, as the lightning strike wildfires are burning inside the Sequoia National Park, Giant Sequoia and Sequoia National Forest.

listed below are CLOSED

Giant Sequoia National Monument 

due to wildfire Windy Fire

Sequoia National Park

due to wildfire KNP Complex Fire

Kings Canyon National Park

due to wildfire KNP Complex Fire

Sequoia National Forest (portions closed)

due to wildfire Windy Fire

Eldorado National Forest

due to wildfire Caldor Fire

Lassen National Park

due to wildfire Dixie Fire

Plumas National Forest (portions closed)

due to Dixie Fire & damage from wildfires

Mountain Home Forest

due to wildfire damage from 2020

Sierra National Forest (portions closed)

due to wildfire damage from 2020

Plus these Southern California National Forests listed blow are still closed due to the threat of wildfires:

See what else is still Open in California for Camping

autumn camping
Camping with Fall Colors in California 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Baja Atlas - Baja Maps - Baja Almanac

Benchmark Maps has a brand new Baja topographic map for 2021 - 
The BAJA CALIFORNIA Road & Recreation Atlas

Baja Atlas

This Benchmark atlas showcases the diverse recreation opportunities found along the full length of the Baja California Peninsula. Regional maps provide a wider view of the region and Recreation Guides list an array of attractions for trip planning. Publish May 2021. ISBN: 9781734315059

Finding good, accurate maps of Baja California Mexico used to be a daunting task. Online searches produced the same, old results with broken links, out-of-date forum postings where travelers exchanged information on where to obtain a decent topo of Baja California. lists some of the original Baja Almanacs - used or new copies - outrageous priced around $600 

Ever since cartographer Landon Crumpton died, Baja lovers have had a hard time locating quality, topographic maps of the famous and popular Mexican peninsula.

However, things are again changing. 

Not only has Benchmark Maps come to market (with the new atlas featured above), but now we can download a detailed file of the last Baja Almanac that Landon was working on. 

Baja Almanac

Summer 2021

BAJA ALMANAC: the best-selling Baja California Almanac is now available in PDF form (for free)

Bay of Los Angeles, Baja California

Nothing beats a hard copy! A real map, a physical map... when traveling way down into Baja, the wild west. No internet, no cell phone coverage for miles, no wifi anything. When you have a good map or two, you give yourself more options and freedom when traveling - and less stress. 

Baja Map NorthBaja Map South

National Geographic Baja Maps: 

A few years ago Nat Geo came out with some mighty fine, colorful, gorgeous, waterproof, topographic, recreation fold out maps. One covers Baja Norte (north) and the other Baja Sur (south). Buy them individually for $12 each, or the 2-pack set for $25 
NatGeo Baja Maps


Saturday, September 4, 2021

What's still open in California?

Last week the USFS announced a dismal end to summer: California National Forests are closed due to wildfire dangers, which is the majority of the mountain areas on the inland side of California.

Total Escape is here to show you what areas are STILL OPEN.

With most California National Forests closed for the month and the wildfires still burning, camping options narrow considerably. 

Where to go?

California Deserts are still too warm, so we will be featuring a few other locations. All forests and parks listed below offer camping and additional outdoor recreation opportunities. Campfires may be banned in some locations.

Only ONE National Forest inside California is still open - the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in the Eastern Sierra.

Toiyabe National Forest 

[Mono Lake to Topaz Lake]

Autumn Aspens began showing fall colors in mid to late September at higher elevations, lasting into October when the first snow falls:

Redwoods North Coast

Redwoods Coast Parks

One National Park, and numerous State Parks showcase the redwood forests of the Northern California Coast.

Redwoods National Park 

Redwood State Parks:

More North Coastal State & County Parks:

(listed from north to south)

San Francisco Parks

Big Sur & Central Coast

[Santa Barbara to Monterey]

NOTE: Inland coastal mountains of Los Padres National Forest, plus Ventana & Silver Peak Wilderness are closed to the public. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Closed Due to Wildfire

California National Forests, State Parks, Campgrounds, Trails

What is Closed off this Summer?
Last year it was multiple disasters on top of a pandemic. News about lightning caused wildfires was almost unbearable for me to watch. I knew the areas, the very best camp sites and the dirt roads. 
I studied the headlines daily, scoured maps, each new area, every forests, every acre of grove in flames. The Santa Cruz redwoods burning. The helicopter rescue at the lake campground.
My head was reeling with the destruction, the toxic smoke, when it hit home - hard! We were evacuated and on the run from flames. #BearFire
Now that all smoke has cleared and I am living in the aftermath of the 6th largest fire in state history, I am trying to make a tally of what is burnt. What campgrounds and dirt roads are open, what forests were affected by wildfire and what is actually closed. 
expect tighter campfire restrictions this season!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Water Well Tips - from a homeowner

 Mastering the Well

Adjusting Your Water Well

Pressure Gauge needs to be mounted vertically to prevent water intrusion. If it gets very cold and water freezes inside the gauge, the Bourdon tube will be damaged. This can cause it to add an extra 30 psi to all readings, which is confusing. Having the gauge upright is better to read and keeps the water out. Oh yeah, if it freezes, it's best if the plumbing is insulated with pipe wrap, or the like. 

I learned these lessons the hard way.

Well Cap should not be loose. The cap is a sandwich of steel plates with a rubber seal that gets squished and becomes wider, sealing itself in the well tube. It is possible for the cap on a new installation to become loose after the rubber forms to its new shape and takes a set.
The fasteners on top (4 nuts on mine) should be evenly tightened. Don't over-tighten it, think valve cover gasket, not lug nuts.

Bladder Tank Pre-charge needs to be set correctly. Properly pressurized bladder tank is adjusted to 2 psi below the pump switch cut-in pressure. This is done with the system at 0 psi (open). Using a 40/60 pump switch setting and a 38 psi pre-charge is a typical setup. This setup ensures that the system pressure doesn't drop off and make it difficult for the pump to restart.

Checks and Adjustments - here is a safe procedure for the mechanically inclined individual. Note, strong fingers may be required for manipulating the pump switch lever.
Read entire procedure first, make sure you are comfortable with it. Water and electricity don't mix well. Have a clear head.

A) You may want to turn off the electrical power to the well.

B) Turn off pump switch. It's a small lever on the side. Mine goes up to switch from the auto to off positions.

C) Drain the bladder tank. You should have bib on the plumbing. Connect a hose and drain it somewhere good.

D) Make any plumbing repairs, such as mounting your gauge on a nice, vertical riser tube.

E) Check and adjust the bladder tank pre-charge pressure. It should have a Schraeder valve on top.

F) Close the bib.

G) Turn power back on and restart the pump switch. 


Pump Switch 

There is a little trick for restarting the pump switch. Basically, you hold it in the halfway position while the pump restarts and then move it to auto. This is necessary when you are restarting from 0 psi. You have to overcome the diaphragm spring pressure since the switch operates between 40 and 60 psi. There will be some resistance.

I like to remove the pump switch cover and watch the contacts when I do this but I said safe, so, wear some leather gloves once you get it open - as there will be exposed 240V AC.

Move the small pump switch lever slowly from the "off" towards the "auto" position. It will feel like the resistance of an eccentric cam. About half way, one of the two pairs of contacts will close, you may see a small blue spark, hold steady. The pump will start audibly and the resistance in the lever fades as the pressure builds. Now, push the lever the rest of the way to the "auto" position and carefully replace the switch cover. Smile.

H) Watch the pump cycle on the pressure gauge. You can open the bib to drain it after it clicks off. Watch and listen. The gauge should move between the 40 and 60 psi set points. When the well restarts, there should be a click followed by a hum, maybe some gushing sound and slight vibration. It's pretty smooth if setup correct. Otherwise you can have a big clunk or no restart.

I) The pressure switch can be adjusted, if necessary. There are two nuts. One changes both settings. The other changes just the lower. Details for this are printed inside the switch cover, usually. Do wear gloves around the live, uncovered switch and take care when draining the system for restarting.

rural wells

mountain well

mountain water

see the current drought map for California

 Drought Map US West - May 2021

Watering Sprinkler

Mountain Homestead Living  w/ Total Escape