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Caliente Mountain, Fox Mountain #1

6 November 1993

By: Patty Kline

Leaders: Patty Kline, Frank Goodykoontz, David Eisenberg

A crowd of 19 people met at 7:00 am at the intersection of Soda Lake Rd and Hwy 166 for the climb of Caliente. This is our only peak in San Luis Obispo County. We consolidated into 4x4 vehicles for the ride past the locked gate on Caliente Mountain. Arrangements were made many months in advance to have a Bureau of Land Management ranger there to let us through their locked gate and drive within 3-1/2 miles of the summit. The climb was a mere 7 miles round trip; the summit being 5106 feet.

This year Judy Weaser was our ranger. Judy talked at various points during our climb of Caliente about the wildlife and vegetation. She was very informative on the subject of land use and purchase for the BLM. Caliente Mountain is located on the Carrizo Plain. This plain is the best remaining example of the historic ecosystem of the San Joaquin Valley. Native Americans were hunting the abundant game on the plain at the time the early explorers arrived. Today there are many endangered species on the Carrizo Plain including the giant kangaroo rat, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, the San Joaquin kit fox. There are also endangered and threatened plant species on the plain.

After climbing Caliente, Judy gave us a guided tour of Painted Rock to observe one of the best examples of Native American rock art in North America. The art is between 100 and 1000 years old. Defacing the rock began about 100 years ago when the horse shoe shaped rock formation was used as a corral. It is now protected by the BLM and other agencies. Unfortunately vandalism is still going on to a lesser degree. It is believed Chumash Indian witch doctors painted the cave. It depicts the Chumash cosmos, which consists of a earth world and a sky world. One makes the transition to the sky world on Mt Pinos, the high point of the area. The colors are done in red, black and white. I have visited this cave twice and have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it each time.

Saturday night we camped at Aliso Campground. I love this campground nestled in a grove of oak trees at 3,200 feet. We had a great community happy hour and garbage bag salad.

Sunday morning we left at 8:00 am to drive over to the roadhead for Fox in nearby Santa Barbara County. We started hiking at 9:00 am, summited at 11:00 am. We took 1/2 hour for lunch and were back to the cars at 1:00 pm. It was 5 miles round trip and 2000 feet of gain. Fox Mountain is 5167 feet high.

The participants were Carleton Shay, Hanna Shay, Theresia Glover, Miles Runyan, Cyndi Runyan, Devra Wasserman, Vi Grasso, Joel Goldberg, Dave Welbourn, Peter Doggett, David Jensen, Terry Flood, Carol Snyder.

This was a very nice weekend. Thank you so much to Frank Goodykoontz and David Eisenberg for leading with me. Next year for those of you who missed Caliente as a drive up and Painted Cave with a BLM ranger, David and I will lead it on Saturday November 5. On Sunday November 6 we will do Lizard Head and Cuyama.

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