New Year's Weekend Explorations

December 31, 2006 - January 1, 2007
The view west from Bird Spring Pass
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On New Year's Eve Todd and I drove up to Lake Isabella to spend the evening with a
bunch of his friends.  Mike and Rhonda run their own karaoke business and they had
the VFW Hall that night packed with a bunch of folks.  We had a few drinks and Todd
sang a few songs but we didn't make it to midnight!  I think I'm getting old :p

On New Year's Day we slept in, ate a late breakfast, then drove out to his mom's
place out near Weldon.  After visiting for a little while we then took a drive south out
the Kelso Valley Road.  This is a beautiful remote area of the southernmost Sierra
Nevada Mountains.  Really it's where the Sierra and the Mojave Desert merge.  We
took a drive up the Bird Spring Pass Road (BLM Route SC106) and there I hiked about
1/2 mile north on the PCT just over the boundary into the Kiavah Wilderness.  Then
we drove to the top of Wyleys Knob to see the view (BLM Route SC28) which was

Bird Spring Pass's claim to fame is, "In March of 1854 on his fifth expedition to
California, John Charles Fremont, finding Walker's Pass blocked by snow, made the
first known passage by white men via the Bird Spring Route." This is according to a
marker placed at the intersection of the Bird Spring Road and Kelso Valley Road by
Boy Scout Troop 47.

According to the BLM website, Wyleys Knob and the surrounding area is an excellent
place for raptor-watching. I can attest to this as we saw two hawks on our short visit.

"Migrating turkey vultures and other raptors from September-October. Golden
eagle, prairie falcon and a variety of hawk species are commonly seen from this high
rocky knob. Up to 30,000 turkey vultures pass through Bird Spring Pass, north of
Wiley's Knob each September on their way south into Mexico."

I also saw a Raven and a dozen or so Mountain Blue Birds near the aptly named Bird
Spring Pass. Vegetation here consists of Joshua Trees, Pinyon Pine and Juniper
Woodland, Yucca, Mormon Tea, and Sage. I want to go back and visit this area in the
spring because from the abundant dried chia flower heads I saw this area no doubt
puts on quite a wildflower show!
Who is Patrick Dalton and why is this memorial to him
constructed near Bird Spring Pass?
The valley along which the PCT travels north of Bird Spring Pass
I'd like to hike this 17 mile section of the PCT between Bird Spring Pass and
Walker Pass through the Kiavah Wilderness...  Wanna come?
That's Wyleys Knob up there with the radio towers
The PCT heads south and skirts Wyleys Knob to the east
The almost full moon is rising
The view north to the higher mountains of the Sierra Nevada
The view northwest looking at the road we drove up
That is a strange lookin radio tower
In the foreground, one of my favorite plants - ephedra or mormon tea

In the background, Skinner Peak and the valley north of Bird Spring Pass
along the PCT which I started to hike up
Moon rising over Skinner Peak