Friday, January 20, 2012

Caliente Ridge Rockhounding Recon

This morning I drove out to the Carrizo Plain with my friend and hiking buddy Mike. En route there I noted more traffic than usual on Highway 58 and once the highway burst out onto  the plain I saw all the construction activity relating to the new and controversial Carrizo Energy Solar Farm being constructed there on private land. The location of this facility is actually at the northwest end of the plain in the most populated and man-altered sector of the plain and not near the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

It felt weird seeing all the activity after spending so much quiet time there in the 1990's and 2000's healing my soul and my mind. That period of my life was followed more recently by then not visiting the area hardly at all the past few to several years due to profound changes (albeit mostly positive) in my life. I hope the new activity out there does not spoil the spirit of the place. It certainly was pleasant renewing my acquaintance with my old friend the San Andreas Fault which certainly won't be in any way changed by anything Mankind does out there.

We turned off Highway 58 at Soda Lake Road and passing through California Valley (originally Simmler) and CalFire Station 42 located there we headed into the national monument. We drove up onto Caliente Ridge and parked at the trailhead and then proceeded to head east and up the ridgeline toward Caliente Peak which is actually relatively high for the area at over 5,100 feet in elevation. However, the threat of impending rain turning the road into a quagmire forced us to turn around before reaching the summit and head back and down off the mountain. Along the way I did my usual rockhounding and photography bit and found the following images... and rocks. 
Caliente Ridge Road with Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain in background.
Soda Lake with approaching Winter storm.
Eastern Soda Lake with dirt road to Selby Campground and Caliente Ridge Road leading up the mountain from the paved Soda Lake Road.
Soda Lake in middle background with Caliente Ridge Road visible on spur ridge in middle foreground.
Selby Campground as viewed from atop Caliente Ridge. Note the linear rock formations.
Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain and the Temblor Range in the background.
View looking west and downhill along Caliente Ridge Trail. Note: no vehicle traffic allowed on this segment.
Carrizo Plain in middle foreground with Temblor Range in background. San Andreas Fault surface trace visible at far edge of valley at base of the hills appearing as long, low scarp parallel to the hills running left to right.
Southern Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi Mountains, and San Emigdio Mountains in order left to right in background with Temblor Range and Carrizo Plain in middle foreground and Caliente Ridge in near foreground.
San Andreas Fault trace runs along the linear low hillock in middle foreground running up the Carrizo Plain.
View looking east and uphill along Caliente Ridge Trail.
Detail of cluster of interesting rocks exposed by blade of heavy equipment that graded this fire road.
More interesting rocks were found in this other cluster of exposed material in the near foreground.
View of the Cuyama Valley from Caliente Ridge.
Although relatively high up above the surrounding terrain Caliente Ridge is by no means steeps with a few exceptions.
My biggest discovery of the day: a platy nodule of quartz and calcite.
Detail of my quartz-calcite platy nodule showing quartz at left with calcite at right.
Slickenslided sandstone material
All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved)

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