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Ascent of Caliente Mountain on 2011-05-13

Climber: Matt Holder

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, May 13, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Caliente Mountain
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:5106 ft / 1556 m

Ascent Trip Report

Caliente write up

May 13, 2011
After leaving Mt. Pinos parking lot I back tracked to I-5 and went over the Tejon Pass and took Hwy 58. I’ve never taken the hwy before and it was gorgeous. It is straight with picturesque views of the hills and then goes up hill on a fast windy road. Super cool and a great experience itself. On the other end of the hills it comes out at 7 mile road which kind of came upon me quicker than I thought but was easy to spot. I took that and it was nicely graded and was not very harsh on my sedan. That dead ends and I turn left onto Soda Lake Road to head towards Goodwin Center and Selby Campground. I picked up my fire permit from the friendly staff there at Goodwin Educational Center (tell them you’re going to Caliente and they have specific handouts to give you) and then headed down to Selby. Selby is down a long nicely graded dirt road. It forks to the left to the campground or the right takes you up the hill to the parking lot trailhead for Caliente summit.
The campground is no longer as primitive as Suttle described. There are maybe a dozen sites with cement tables and overheads along with parking areas and fire rings with bbq grate flop over gizmo. There are also solar toilets and a water spicket. No trash cans however. It has a beautiful view of the Carrizo Plain National Monument and is in a lovely setting. It got very windy in the late afternoon and again between midnight and 3am. I’m sure there is plenty of snake activity during the summer. It was very comfortable conditions as it probably did not dip down lower than 45 degrees during the night.
I awoke at 4:45 am and broke down camp and took some pictures of the sunrise which is perfectly viewed from the campground. I was out of camp by 5:45 and on my way up the hill. It is graded and easy to follow. The parking area is easy to spot as it is a very wide turn out spot about 50 yards before the road deadends. The trailhead is across the road or you can walk uphill to the deadend and turn left and go around the gate. The trail to the antennae is wide and graded. I’m sure it is about 2.5 miles from TH to this point. You can see the summit on the other side of the rounded top hill. It is comfortable going and there are some ups and downs but none too severe. I came across it in about an hour. After the antennae the road deteriorates a bit and continues down hill mostly and then the trail passes a very creepy abandoned sheep corral and crushed mobile home. I’m sure this would make for a good backdrop to some thriller movie.
You continue the ups and downs and come across a man made habitat watering hole – what did the critters do before humans decided to “help” them? From here it’s mostly uphill to the top of round top earlier seen from the antennae. From the top of that it is an easy 20 minutes to the summit of Caliente. About 2:45 minutes from Trailhead to summit.
The lookout shack is now totally destroyed and lies in ruins. Its old rotting timbers unfortunately cover where the high point marker supposedly is. However the old telephone pole is still standing. The views east and west are magnificent and the Carrizo Plain is a true treasure.
I spent about 25 minutes at the top eating, drinking, taking pictures and signing into the register which was located at the base of the telephone pole. I started down with renewed energy at about 9:30am and ahead of schedule.
I spotted two small snakes on the way down – neither was of venomous variety, but I stayed clear anyway. I’m sure there is extreme snake activity in the area and I was very careful about where I stepped. The trail is very grassy at times and I was very uncomfortable for stretches for fear of stepping on a snake.
Summary Total Data
    Distance:14 mi / 22.5 km
    Trailhead:Parking area at trailhead  
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 15 Minutes



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