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Caliente Mountain, Lizard Head, Cuyama Peak (LO)

23 November 1991

By: Patty Kline


Leaders: Patty Kline, Frank Goodykoontz

This was a fantastic weekend. We met leisurely at 8 am Saturday morning, thereby enabling many of the participants to drive out in the morning. When I called the BLM Office in Bakersfield to check on the Soda Lake Road for Caliente, I found out it closes only for the several days required to dry out after a heavy rainfall, and otherwise is open all winter. (Before it was closed all winter.) The reason is because the BLM is helping to manage and give tours on the nearby Carrizo Plain Natural Area. The Carrizo Plain has many endangered species, including the giant kangaroo rat, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, the San Joaquin antelope squirrel and the San Joaquin kit fox. As I had arranged in advance, a BLM officer, Roy van de Hoek, met us for the purpose of joining us on our climb of Caliente. He could thereby share with us some of his knowledge of the archaeology, wildlife, and botany of the area. There were 20 of us on the trip.

Our meeting place was the intersection of the Soda Lake Road and Hwy. 33-166. From here we consolidated into sturdy vehicles to drive up the Soda Lake Road and up to the permanently locked gate on the Caliente Ridge Road. We now had only a 16 mile round trip hike and 2000'+ gain. (as opposed to the 26 mile epic hikes in adobe mud, etc.). It was a crystal clear day with the tan eroded ridges of the mountain ranges standing out in dramatic relief in the low November sunlight. You could see forever, including the snow line down to 10,000' in the High Sierra Mountains of the Great Western Divide in Sequoia National Park. Roy, our naturalist from the BLM who had so generously volunteered his time to spend a day off work with us, showed us Indian artifacts. He found an arrow spear made out of chert between 3000-5000 years old made by a Yokut Indian. It had been tied to the end of a spear years back before they had bows for killing a large animal. It will be studied by archaeological researchers in Bakersfield. It will be analyzed for its protein contents to see what kind of animal it killed via recent technology. I found this intriguing. Austin Stirratt found an arrowhead designed for killing small animals. Roy said this piece was only about 400 years old. All artifacts are to be left on the Caliente Ridge. This area is being studied intensely by the Stanford University and other universities now. We are welcome to take any invertebrate fossils we want such as shells though. The fossilized scallop shells of the area are 25 million years old. They are exposed through uplift after the last sea retreated. Amazing! Many of us took samples from the many shell fossils lying around. We found out a lot from Roy, but he also found out from us he had 25 peaks, enough to join our Section.

We got back at dark. Then we drove over to Aliso Campground where we had a community happy hour and pot luck dinner among the large oak trees. I served green salad, the Eyerly's hot soup and Walia Ringeler and Betty Stirratt fed us chili. The campfire was nice. A word of caution about the grates, which are on a hinge which swings out and rests on the ground. Howard Eyerly and I both caught our feet on them and almost fell in the fire.

Sunday, Lizard Head and Cuyama awaited us as we drove through the temperamental Cox Flat gate. Erik Siering, Roy Stewart, and Jack Haddad had a predawn moonlight hike on Fox before we met them beyond the Cox Flat gate.

We had an 11 mile round trip hike with 3200' gain on Lizard Head. This is a typical ridge hike with the ups and downs. Add to that a ridge that goes down to the peak with a lot of brush in spots. It only got to 85° at the hot part of the day today, which I was grateful for.

Cuyama was a drive up to all but Erik Siering, who walked the road. Erik will complete the list with no drive-ups.

This was a great weekend from beginning to end. Thanks to Frank Goodykoontz for his excellent job of leading while I swept, made the dinner and camping arrangements and planned out Saturday with Roy of the BLM. Thanks also to Roy for taking the time to be with the HPS.

The participants were: Walia Ringeler, Diane Dunbar, Erik Siering, Southern Courtney, George Schroedter, Bob Baird, Dan Skaglund, Evan Samuels, Roy Stewart, Betty Stirratt, Austin Stirratt, Howard Eyerly, Barbara Eyerly, Jack Haddad, Lucy Woodward, Mickey Sharpsteen, and Mike Fredette.

Next year on Saturday, November 7, 1992, I will repeat the Caliente trip. Roy van de Hoek will be there to unlock that last gate on the Caliente Ridge for us for the purpose of studying the Indian artifacts, fossils, animal life and plants and bagging the peaks with us. We will only have a 10.2 mile walk. After bagging Caliente, Roy will then take us to the area we didn't have time for this year: Painted Rock on the Carrizo Plain. This rock contains one of the finest examples of Native American Rock art in North America. That evening, we will probably camp at the nearby BLM "Washburn Ranch House" with kitchen and fireplace facilities. Frank Goodykoontz and David Eisenberg will be assisting me.

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