We are delighted to have been able to reopen our summer guest season following the forest fire that swept through and around Tassajara in July. We have done our best to clean and repair Tassajara as much as is possible at this time, and are rededicated to offering the tranquility, hospitality and spiritual nourishment for which Tassajara is known.
If you are interested in the efforts to protect Tassajara, we have posted the latest installment of David Zimmerman's detailed account: The Day the Fire Arrived. We've added photos from Mako Voelkel's Flickr album and a map of Tassajara to support the story with visual references.
For those of you considering coming to Tassajara this summer, please be aware of the following:
Fire is still a Presence in the Forest: According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Basin Complex Fire, which started on June 21, was declared 100% contained as of 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, after having burned 162,818 acres. However, there are areas within the containment lines that are still burning, particularly around Miller’s Canyon which is approximately 10 miles north of Tassajara, (closer to Jamesburg). You may also notice some smoldering, particularly stumps and logs as well as occasional trees on fire within already burned out areas. While the Forest Service does not consider these a serious threat to the safety of people traveling along Tassajara road, everyone is advised to be attentive, and not to venture off road.
Road Condition: All voluntary evacuations and road closures have been lifted by the Monterey County Sheriff's Department. Residents and visitors traveling through the area should continue to use caution though, as fire equipment and personnel may still be in the area. While the Tassajara road itself is in very good condition as the County has graded it, drivers still need to watch for fallen rock and other debris. While unlikely, there may still be occasional "spars" or burning trees/stumps near the road. And to visually prepare you, know that the mountains look fairly barren from the Mira Observatory on the ridge all the way down the road until you reach Tassajara, which is an island of green.
Air Quality: The air quality in the valley has been steadily improving and is generally very good at this time. However, occasionally the winds will shift smoke from the areas of the forest still burning toward Tassajara. At these times there can be a more noticeable smoky haze, especially in the mornings and evenings when the inversion layer settles in the valley. People with asthma or other lung conditions should be aware of this and take whatever precautions they feel necessary for them to feel comfortable. People with asthma or other lung conditions should be aware of this and take whatever precautions they feel necessary for them to feel comfortable. The smoke will likely dissipate within the next week or so.
Wilderness and Hiking: While the Los Padres Forest is still closed to public entry, hiking is permitted on the Tassajara property per the USFS District Ranger. While the terrain around Tassajara is mostly burnt, a number of oak and other trees and bushes still flourish near the lower elevations, especially near creek beds. Many trees have been “stressed” by the fire and have prematurely turned brown. The trails on the Tassajara property are safe for hiking as long as one takes some precautions due to occasional falling rocks and scree. These include the Overlook, Suzuki Roshi Memorial/Hogback, Narrows trails and the lower portion of the Church Creek trail. The Horse Pasture and Tony trails are closed to public entry as they are extremely unsafe due to landslides and scree, and so we strongly recommend not venturing on these trails. As shade is greatly reduced due to the lack of foliage, guests are advised to use sunscreen and wear protective clothing. We also recommend wearing sturdy, ankle-supporting shoes, using a walking stick and carry drinking water. Please be conscientious about not disturbing the ash on the ground as it creates a protective sealant for the wilderness' regeneration. Before venturing on a hike, please check in with the Stone Office before and after returning from any hikes, including to the Narrows.
(8/6/2008, 7:15 AM PDT)