Caliente Mountain, Peak Mountain, McPherson Peak
By: Patty Kline
Leaders: Patty Kline, Frank Goodykoontz, David Eisenberg
As planned a year in advance, this was a deja vu trip with BLM Ranger Naturalist Roy van de Hoek taking us up the Caliente Ridge Road. As an added attraction, several months ago, Jennifer Lambelet told me this would be her HPS List Completion. This time, rather than driving to the locked gate on the ridge and walking the 16 miles round trip and 2000+' gain, we went through the gate. Roy has the authority to open the gate for special groups arranged in advance.
Our route was only 6 miles round trip with 1000'gain.
Roy explained why this area is unique and worthy of preservation for future generations in its natural state. The nearby Carrizo Natural Plain is what the San Joaquin Valley looked like before it was "discovered by the Spanish." Caliente Ridge is a part of this wilderness area which has many endangered species. These include the giant kangaroo rat, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, the San Joaquin antelope squirrel, and the San Joaquin kit fox (the smallest fox in the United States) Also, some of the best pictograph rock art in North America is at Painted Rock, located on the Plain. Many examples of Indian artifacts lie on the ground. These are not to be removed. This area is being studied extensively by Stanford and other universities.
The 56 people on this trip met at 7 am at the junction of the Soda Lake Road and Hwy. 33/166. There was a lot of driving from here to get to that locked gate. This became a major event of epic proportions with the large crowd, Jennifer's List Completion, and all the knowledge to be gained from the Ranger.
After leisurely walking the undulating Caliente Ridge Road, we reached the summit about 12 noon. There were the usual champagne and sparkling beverage tops popping and munchies to eat. Jennifer received gifts and may hugs. Now she finally got to join the picture in which all the people had completed the list, 22 people in this case. Is there life beyond the list? I ask myself this question as a list completer. Yes, only if you do it a second time, which is what Peter Doggett did the next day.
Jennifer gave all these people a wonderful gourmet sandwich buffet back at Selby Parking Area. There was great luncheon meat, cheeses, slices of sandwich fillings, and many kinds of bread. Roy was whisked away by some participants who were afraid to miss out on Painted Rock because of the lowering sun. This was about 1h hour drive away, plus 11h miles round trip walk to see one of the best examples of Native American rock art. It has been extensively vandalized, but Roy filled in the missing parts. The most outstanding part of Painted Rock showed a mural. Mt Pinos was in the middle, the earth world was on one side, and the sky world on the other. Mt Pinos was the Chumash Indian spiritual high point before leaving the earth. Pinos was picked because it was the highest point in the Chumash territory. Roy retold his story for those who had the full buffet.
About 25 people joined us at camp that evening at Aliso Campground where we celebrated some more over happy hour among the large oak trees.
The next morning, to prove there is life after 1 List Completion, we drove up Mcpherson and then Peak Mtn, where Peter Doggett celebrated his second list completion. About 25 in all were there to cheer Pet on. On top of Peak Mtn. several bottles of champagne were uncorked to compliment a brief luncheon including green salad.
This drive was done via Cottonwood Canyon Road. This is easy dirt road driving except for stray rocks on the basically long and flat Sierra Madre Ridge Road on top. It is easy to get going to fast as one of our participants did and ruptured his gas tank with a rock. With about 'A gallon remaining, he was able to make it to the beginning of the pavement, where Peter Doggett generously towed him safely to the intersection of Cottonwood Canyon Road and Hwy. 166. From there, the Auto Club took over.
Those attending this great weekend were: Flora Johnson, Carol Smetana, Fran Rushie, Tom Neely, Terri Astle, Pam Walker, Karen Stewart, Greg Jones, Pete Yamagata, Rose Certini, Ed Sutor, Terri Sutor, Lucy Woodward, Mickey Sharpsteen, Betty Sterrett, Phill Reher, Helen Thompson, Dotty Sandford, Wayne Norman, Bruce Peterson, Paula Peterson, Jeff Koepke, Theresa Ebeling, Peter Doggett, Jean Hermansen, Gordon Lindberg, Maria Giles, Matt Mcbride, Joy McKinney, Barry Holchin, Ron Zappen, Bob Beach, Gail Hanna, Ed Cokeley, Ruth Lee Dobos, Frank Dobos, Barbara Pedersen, Robert Cmelak, Al Frigone, Laura Webb, Mike Sanfford, Jennifer Lambelet, Alan Wright, Norma Pedersen, Alan Coles, Barbara Cohen, Tom Moumblow, Carleton Shay, Jim Raiford, Pat Russell, Bill T. Russell, and Roy Stewart.
Thank you to all who came to one or both days of this outing. Also, thank you to Frank Goodykoontz for your expert leadership in assisting me. David Eisenberg was our 3rd leader on Caliente on Saturday, and thanks are due to him too.
Next year, Frank Goodykoontz and I will again lead Caliente Mtn, going through the same locked gate with BLM Ranger Roy van de Hoek. The next day, Sunday, we will lead nearby Fox Mtn #1.
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