Driving northwest along Soda Lake road, entering Carizzo Plain National Monument from the south. The cumulus clouds on this day were just perfect for seeing the curvature of the Earth.
Lots of early-season wildflowers in spots along the way. The guide at the visitor center said these were "Golden Monkey-Flower."
Flowers, clouds, and the trace of the San Andreas fault off to the east.
Once we started up the road to the Caliente Mountain trail there were great vistas of Soda Lake and the wide plain to the north.
Another view of Soda Lake and the plains below, from the parking area at the northern end of the ridge trail.
The flowered plain below, with the approach road in the foreground and a hawk soaring in the middle distance.
Along the trail; it's an old jeep road atop the ridge, with views down both sides.
Wildflowers and vistas, looking southeast along the ridge.
Sam's dog Sheila, a mix of Australian Shepherd (check out her eyes) and Great Pyrenees. She was a bit under a year old, and this was her first major hike.
Master and dog, tuckered out. Is this far enough for today? SPOT satellite locator beacon (orange device) and my Golite Gust are also seen.
Ridgetops can be windy, so we nestled our tents amongst some sheltering junipers.
Next morning, preparing to take to the trail again. Overnight temps around 37 degrees inside my tent, so a bit chilly. There was also a brief bit of rain just around sunrise. Sheila was ready to go!
Looking west to early-morning clouds and ridges.
Sheila amidst the flowery slopes; where'd that bird go?
Sheila Is A Good Dog. Yes, She Is.
Approaching the rounded top of Caliente Peak, with its WWII-era lookout on top.
Sam, and the view back to the northwest. Look, I've converted him into wearing running shoes rather than hiking boots!
Lunchtime and water break by the old crumbling lookout post.
Sheila getting a nice cool drink. She also enjoyed having water squirted into her mouth from our water bladders while on the trail.
Sam and the ready-to-collapse lookout post. A hiker the previous day apologized for having broken one of the rungs of the ladder which goes to the upper deck. There was no way I was even going to go inside that rickety old thing, much less climb the ladder inside!
Lounging Sheila, guarding my pack (or was she waiting for me to drop a tidbit of trail-mix?)
Panorama of New Cuyama Valley to the southwest of Caliente Peak, taken from just southeast of the old observation cabin on top of the peak.
Sheila walking back our way; she easily covered twice the distance that we did, running ahead and then circling back around us only to zoom out ahead once again.
Fleurs, lots of fleurs.
A cute little Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum.) This was the larger and more placid (colder?) of two we saw this day.
Another photo of our spiky reptilian friend, taken before returning it to the gentle flower-fields.