Hiking Is Not A Crime

Santa Barbara Women’s March Expands Beyond Abortion

Hundreds join 7th annual rally marking what would have been 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade ruling, but speakers emphasize issues are ‘bigger than Roe’


They gathered and marched in Santa Barbara in support of the freedom of choice and personal sovereignty in matters of health and well-being.

One leading lady who spoke cited numerous specific examples to illuminate a larger general point about “an attempt to control us collectively.”

Set aside the specific details of the march here in town and consider the general underlying principle as it may relate to the current 60-day closure of the people’s forest.

Who owns your person?

Days earlier the ruling class had closed Condor National Forest, formerly known on this blog as Los Padres.

For no good reason Forest Service administrators stripped us of our right to walk in our public lands, as if it were merely a privilege all along permitted only at the landlord’s whim.

A special closure, they said. To your health, they alleged.

Christopher J. Stubbs, Forest Supervisor, threatened the common walker with obscene fines and jail time equivalent to that meted out to violent sexual predators.

That’s nothing to smile about, sir.

Proclaimed Mr. Stubbs to 330 million Americans:

A violation of this prohibition is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. 16 U.S.C. § 551 and 18 U.S.C. §§ 3559, 3571, and 3581.

It is to the ignominious shame of Christopher J. Stubbs that his name is so prominently and forever attached to this repugnant historical document.

Six months imprisonment is what they give rapists in Santa Barbara County.

Former UCSB Student Receives 6-Month Sentence for Rape

For sexual assault they’ll let you out in half that time.

Brock Turner released from jail after serving 3 months for sexual assault


Lord Stubbs, brilliant and benevolent ruler of Los Padres shire, always concerned about the health of his lowly subjects, declared all 2700 square miles of the forest much too dangerous a place for the peasants to venture.

Otherwise, without the Lord’s prescient warning, the dumbasses wouldn’t know. The clueless fools can’t be trusted. Trust?

To further guarantee peasant health and safety, Lord Stubbs, ever gracious, promised to confine them in one of his many jail cells if they are found by the Lord’s men “going into” the dangerous untrammeled forest.


We know that what our leaders are telling us is ludicrous.

If we were sitting around a campfire in the woods like ordinary folks what would we say?

Well, we would call it bullshit. Because we are honest, reasonable and plain spoken people. And we know it’s not true.

We believe, for it is plain to see, that our leaders are not acting truthfully. We’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt regarding smarts.

However, we must also mention along with the possibility of intentional deceit, there is the chance that instead they are just woefully ignorant, actually believe the nonsense they are telling us, and so are haplessly incompetent.

We know the forest is not a threat to our health and safety.

On the contrary, the forest is to the benefit of our well-being, as the science continues to show, one study after another, year after year, country after country.

The forest administrators have an arbitrary, bogus edict. It’s based on whim and word. That is all. There is nothing reasonable about it. Nothing.

We have the science. We have the data. We have the facts. We own the truth on this issue.

But so too, and perhaps most importantly, can we see this simple truth with our own eyes outside, out there, as conscious, sentient, intelligent human beings. And we know it intuitively, viscerally.

The forest is not a threat to our health. The forest is a tremendously healthful place to spend time.

Reasonable men and women cannot in good conscience pretend otherwise and we will not pretend otherwise.

We will not go along to get along.

They cannot tell us that what we see and what we experience does not exist without losing credibility and undermining trust. Trust.

We are not fools.

All that any government ever has is the people’s trust in institutions and leaders and so their allegiance, and coercive force backed by violence. That is it.

When trust is lost so too is legitimacy and people stop listening.

Yet, never mind the rank dishonesty of our leaders and the draconian punishments they threaten us with should we not abide. Set that aside for just a moment and consider the larger principle at issue.

What we know most of all, most assuredly, most emphatically, is that it’s our body and it’s our choice.

To walk the public lands or not is our choice!

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17 Responses to Hiking Is Not A Crime

  1. I was thinking at the start of the post that, despite the notice, I’d just go in anyway and keep my eyes open for tree felling or whatever danger there was supposed to be. I was outraged to read on that you could go to jail or be fined huge amounts for doing so.

    The sentencing is the same here – rapists only get around 6 months. Murderers, no matter how pre-planned and deliberate, get classed as ‘manslaughterers’ and only given a year or so. But woe betide anyone who commits an offence concerning money! They get the book thrown at them – years and years!

    I honestly thought the law was better over there and that you had better judges – perhaps not?

    • Chester says:

      Not to mention when it comes to the judicial system, us peasants will have to wait months if not years before we are given a fair trial to this ludicrous “crime” we have supposedly committed. While murderers and rapists will get a right to a speedy trial within hours if not days of committing their crime. It’s utter bullshit.

  2. Loren says:

    Thank you for you post and the passion with which it has been delivered. I have taught my sons that when the government says they are doing something for “public health and safety” it almost always means they lack justification and authority to do so. Often times you see the words ‘Out of an abundance of caution’. They are playing the “safety card” to over come any opposition because who can be faulted for using safety to support a decision? By the way, it is not only the forest that is closed but Goleta Beach park and front country trails too.

  3. Andrea Fischer-Ortiz says:

    Agreed! This is the price we pay for expecting our government to come to the rescue every time we stub our toe.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lighten up, there’s a reason, have you seen Gibraltar road? Do you know what happened to Colson Canyon Road, it’s the worst road damage and USFS road engineer has ever seen in his career, if you owned a home up there you can forget about ever driving up to your house again, or driving up to access the La Brea Canyon area. The same may be true for Paradise Road past the first crossing, every low water crossing was buried or damaged, apparently the third crossing is gone and the sandstone parking area in in pieces down the river. All it takes is a couple tweets or Instagram posts and a flood of knuckleheads inundate the place, chaos and rescues follow. Once the assessments are completed some sections will re-open.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      Nonsense. We don’t need roads to access the forest, so that argument is bogus.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the roads damaged or impassable, you should still be allowed to hike into the forest at your own risk no matter the conditions. The forest is never safe. Always enter at your own risk, but don’t restrict it anymore than a warning.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We don’t need roads to access the forest? Perhaps, locally in your neighborhood, go see the damage to the 33 you’ll be reminded it’s a long walk from Ojai to get your daughter to Rose Valley and the Piedra Blanca trailhead.

    You can go into the forest legally right now, sign up, help out and be part of the solution.


    • Jack Elliott says:

      “We don’t need roads to access the forest?”

      That is correct. That is a demonstrable fact.

      That a road may be destroyed is an insufficient argument upon which to base a forest closure, because it is not illegal to walk to, into or within the forest without a road.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      “You can go into the forest legally right now, sign up, help out and be part of the solution.”

      That’s yet another outrageous example of the elitism at play. Those people who sign up with such civic organizations, as wonderful as they all may be, are no more competent at walking within the forest than anybody else, necessarily. And yet if they join the proper clique they’re allowed in. That’s BS.

      You’re telling me that a combat veteran returning from wars overseas will be told it’s too dangerous for him to walk in the forest, but that whoever signs up with some group will be allowed in. That’s insane.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      I find this to be such a peculiar comment in several ways.

      We should close an entire forest of 2700 square miles because some of the roads within its bounds are washed out or destroyed? What sense does this make? Just close the broken roads until fixed, not the entire forest most of which remains unaffected by any road wash out.

      In mentioning Piedra Blanca Trailhead you seem unaware that the forest abuts Ojai and is accessible in many locations much closer to towns.

      “be part of the solution”

      There is no problem with the forest that needs to be solved in order that a person be able to walk within it. What are you talking about? That the forest remains a rough, raw and rugged place–“untrammeled” in the language of the Wilderness Act–is not news nor reasonable grounds for closure for that is largely the point.

      You don’t appear to have a reasonable argument why the forest should remain closed for 60 days. This is the problem with the people that want the closure; they don’t have an argument that makes sense. Only a whim and empty words.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps you’ve just under estimated the true scale of what has really happened in the Los Padres. On normal weekend common folk are routinely rescued from the most at tame places like hot springs trail, many times even flown out by helicopter. It’s not about your extensive skills and experience, “public safety” has a low threshold. It’s a blanket closure for assessment purposes, there’s a need for teams with heavy equipment to initiate and to complete their work, without people in the way taking selfies, those roads are the key, the sooner it’s done the more likely the closures will start to come off. The basic issue is the USFS does not have adequate funding for even basic trail maintenance let alone a disaster and millions of dollars in road and facility damages, or enforcement.
    There a lot of opportunity to volunteer, you could be out there right now, all spring and summer using your skills and knowledge to do assessments and helping to expedite the lifting closed areas and there won’t be any ya-who’s around.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      “Perhaps you’ve just under estimated the true scale of what has really happened in the Los Padres.”

      The big problem with the opinions of those people advocating for closure is that, in addition to the inherent condescension, they do not have logical arguments. Their arguments are senseless. Your comments here are illustrative of both the insult and illogic.

      The scope of change in the forest brought by the storms is irrelevant.

      It does not matter what nature has naturally done to the natural environment in the forest. The forest is a place that is by law and management policy, as per our national consensus, supposed to be left mostly untouched and in its tumbled raw and unrefined natural state.

      That the forest is a forest is not a reasonable nor sufficient basis for closing the forest.

      That the land has changed due to the fall of rain–that there are loose rocks and mud and ruts and wash outs and slides; that the place is, you know, a forest–is not a REASONABLE basis upon which to justify a blanket closure of 2700 square miles of National Forest and Wilderness, the latter by definition supposed to be by the letter of the law left “untrammeled” and virtually untouched.

      How is it you can advocate for the principles of the Wilderness Act and recreation afoot in those designated areas, and at the same time allege that the forest is too dangerous for people to “go into” after a heavy rainfall? It’s absurd. That’s a senseless, incongruous, confused policy that sends mixed messages.

      “On normal weekend common folk are routinely rescued ”

      You’re pointing to accidents and suggesting some people’s mishaps justify closing the forest to all people?

      Indeed, with or without any closure people get hurt. And so by your own stated standard here, following the logic of your public safety argument, the forest should be closed because it’s to dangerous for “common folk.” Is that what your suggesting? If not, what’s the point in referencing rescues?

      That people get hurt recreating in the forest is not a reasonable argument for banning recreation in the forest.

      “It’s not about your extensive skills and experience, “public safety” has a low threshold.”

      This is an arrogant, elitist view often argued by those in positions of power and their subordinates, and echoed by some in local media, who advocate for special entitlements and exclusivity for certain people in the forest. They tell us: We are smarter than you and we know better than you how you should live your daily life. The forest is too dangerous for you to “go into” unless you sign up with our clique, then we’ll allow you to enter. It’s a view from a tower looking down on the common folk in a condescending manner, dumbing the law down to the lowest common denominator.

      “It’s a blanket closure for assessment purposes”

      Ray Ford says it was “designed” to keep the public safe. Yet as you note here, it’s a blanket closure for assessment, which means there is no design, by design. It was a knee-jerk reactionary closure. What Ford says is not true. Just like when he repeats the company line and tells us the forest is a threat to our health; it’s not true. After telling us it’s of special design Ford then quotes the Forest Service spokesman confessing to utter ignorance, “We simply don’t even know what we don’t know at this point,” Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen said.

      How can they know that the forest is too dangerous to “go into” when they admit they don’t know and admit to closing it so they can find out?

      “The basic issue is the USFS does not have adequate funding for even basic trail maintenance let alone a disaster and millions of dollars in road and facility damages, or enforcement.”

      This an irrelevant distraction.

      This is not a new story. That has long been the case. Closing the forest does not follow. You cannot actually, in point of fact, close the forest. The forest is always open. All you can do is post a sign and string up yellow plastic caution tape. So there is no need of any funding whatsoever so that a person can “go into” the forest. We don’t need a single dollar to be able to walk in the forest.

      That the American people choose not to sufficiently fund the Forest Service does not mean we should then close the entire forest.

      “There a lot of opportunity to volunteer,”

      That’s the typical elitism and exclusivity we too often see from the self-declared gatekeepers, tendered in the form of a big yellow smiley face. Good people, I’m sure, and I have nothing bad to say about such helpful folks, but signing up with a clique of volunteers should not be a requirement in order to walk the Public Lands.

      “you could be out there right now, all spring and summer using your skills and knowledge to do assessments and helping to expedite the lifting closed areas and there won’t be any ya-who’s around.”

      I am out there right now. Because the forest is one of the most healthy places to spend time, a fact deeply rooted in science. The tall tales told by Forest Service administrators and local media columnists telling us the forest is a threat to our health are obvious falsehoods.


      You suggest the common folk are fools and advocate closing the forest because you believe they cannot be trusted. And then you finish your comment with a slur about them.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Today I went to the Santa Ynez river. It was beautiful, then a ranger yelled at me to come back and that I was not allowed to be here. I asked why is it closed. She replied “Because it is destroyed”.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Have you not considered you may be part of the problem. People like you who engage in dangerous treks regularly are those who tend to get hurt and require rescuing. You’re clearly feeling under attack because those of us who want to RESPECT those who actually tend to the forest are in the majority. We all know they have limited resources and those that exist are working to assess problems / try to fix access issues which makes them less able or unable to respond to emergencies. Landscapes have changed quite a bit and many of those landmarks which we all use are going to be different. You’re right, it is a forest and things cahnge, but some major changes need surveys to help all of us have a safe journey into the forest.

    In short, you, much like my father, get snarly and short tempered when they’re told what to do and start crying like babies. Grow up, deal with the fact that things close for periods of time and stop acting like it’s the end of the world. We have other natural areas available to us for forest bathing, hiking, mountain biking, and all of the above; all for free.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      “Have you not considered you may be part of the problem.”

      Twelve years of content on the blog speaks for itself. I think you sound silly when you suggest that the person who created all that is part of the problem.

      “We have other natural areas available to us for forest bathing, hiking, mountain biking, and all of the above; all for free.”

      That’s yet another bogus argument. That other avenues are available doesn’t somehow make a senseless policy sensible. It does not follow that you close 2700 square miles of forest because the local park is open.

      You’ve conveniently sidestepped every argument made against the closure. That doesn’t go unnoticed.

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