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Message #2816 of 4034  *NEW*
Carrizo Plain National Monument
2/27/06, 1:46pm (Last Edited: 2/27/06, 1:49pm)

This weekend Todd and I went to Carrizo Plain and there we met my friend 4wheelbob and his wife Gina. We hiked out to Painted Rock which is one of the most significant rock art sites in North America. The native Chumash people painted the rock between 200 and 3,000 years ago. Painted Rock is near the Goodwin Education Center but access is limited between March 1 and July 15 because of nesting birds. All of my previous visits to Carrizo were in March so I had never seen the rock.

Painted Rock is part of an outcrop area of Miocene-age cross-bedded marine sandstone (about 20 million years old) that sits in isolation along the western side of the Carrizo Plain. It is a large U-shaped amphitheater-like outcrop (about 55 feet high and 300 feet in circumference) with an east-facing alcove in its center. The pictographs are mainly red and black and have been damaged by natural erosion as well as graffiti but are still considered world-class examples of native art. No where else is there such a large collection of Chumash pictographs.

After our short hike to the rock (1.4 miles round trip) we ate some lunch then moseyed on over to Selby Campground. Selby Campground sits a little ways above the Plain and so there are great views. There were only two other groups camped there, one of which was a party of wild pig hunters. They reported that they'd seen no pigs, just coyotes.

Bob, his dog Tasha, and I took a pre-dinner hike up a trail towards Caliente Peak. We didn't get too far, however we did start up a small hill we dubbed "Little Caliente Peak." Tashia's fur was a magnet for all the stickery bushes and since she got some chia flower heads stuck on her I gave her the trail name "Chia Dog."

We made dinner and had a great fire and conversation that night. Once we heard coyotes far off in the distance and as it got dark it got cold. But it seemed to warm up during the night as a cloud cover moved in.

In the morning we ate breakfast and packed up and then headed separate ways. Todd and I drove up to Caliente Ridge and a little beyond. Here there are great views of a huge chunk of mountains and valleys with not much of anything else. Gotta love that

Then we drove back down to the Plain and south to the Panorama Road. This road is not for those that don't have at least high clearance if not 4wd. We crossed the Plain then continued east on the Hurricane or Crocker Springs Road and went up and over the San Andreas Fault and the Temblor Range. On the backside we found a few ancient cottonwood trees in a draw and there we ate a picnic lunch. A little further on we saw pronghorn antelope! The first antelope that I've ever seen in California and the first I've seen since leaving Wyoming

Then we went by Taft and on down into Bakersfield. The flowers on the way were spectacular! Since we saw next to none in Carrizo Plain it was nice to see huge carpets of goldfields near Buena Vista Lake.

More pics here http://www.tarol.com/carrizo2.html

The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com

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