A group of 15 people met at 7 am at the intersection of Hwy 166 and the Soda Lake Road. Saturday was led by Patty Kline, David Eisenberg and Carleton Shay; Carleton led only on Saturday. We arranged ahead of time for a BLM ranger, Kathy Sharum, to meet us and be our escort and guide for the day. She works out of the BLM Office in Bakersfield.
We consolidated vehicles at this point and drove west to the turn off for the Caliente Ridge Road. Here we turned left to the Selby Parking Area. At this point we did further consolidation into 4x4 or high clearance trucks to drive on the ridge itself. Kathy had the key to the locked gate which let us in several more miles. This road is very rain sensitive because it is adobe. Any heavy rains, even 5 days ahead of the anticipated travel date make this road impassable. In a spring such as this El Niño year it could be a sea of peanut butter for up to 6 weeks and therefore a no go.
Kathy pointed out many flower specimens. This was a road walk the entire way with many animal tracks on the road. There are many endangered or threatened species that live on the Carrizo Plain Natural Area where Caliente Mountain is located. Examples the giant kangaroo rat, the bluntnosed leopard lizard, the San Joaquin antelope squirrel and the San Joaquin kit fox. Kathy caught a snake for us (not endangered) for us to touch and photograph.
During lunch on the summit we determined that among us were the following celebrities: 4 SPS Past Chairs, including Paul Lipsohn (1973), Duane McRuer, (1976), Bob Hicks, (1979), and Gene Mauk (1980); and 3 DPS Past Chairs, including Paul Lipsohn, Duane McRuer and Patty Kline. There were also 3 HPS Past Chairs: Carleton Shay, Dave Eisenberg, and Patty Kline. The other participants, not to be slighted, were David Zalewski, Kathy Price, Jim Adler, David Wells and our ranger Kathy Sharum.
After our 7 mile round trip with 700 feet of gain, we went back to the Selby parking area where we hightailed it over to Painted Rock. It is a 1/2 mile hike to Painted Rock from the Visitors Center. This is one of the best examples of Native American rock art in the country. It was getting dark as we toured the Visitors Center on our way back.
David Zalewski joined Dave Eisenberg and me to camp on the plain near the turn off from the Soda Lake Road. Everyone else drove home. The next day the 3 of us bagged Reyes and Haddock in 8 miles and 1200 feet of gain. Just after we turned off for Haddock the use trail became indistinct, so a little time was wasted to get up to the ridge for Haddock. Don't forget your Adventure Pass to park where the trail starts off from the dirt road for these 2 peaks. This road closes after the first heavy rain at Hwy 33 and doesn't open until the following spring. It is suitable for any high or semi-high clearance vehicles when open. 4x4 vehicles are not necessary.
We all had a great weekend under great weather conditions.