4.25.04 Backpacking Trip in Coso
In November, Brian, Mike and I scouted this area - Upper Centennial Spring in the Coso Wilderness - for a possible 2004 Hiking Club trip, and so this was it. Only thing was, this time we still only got three hikers: me, Mike and Les. (and Les just dayhiked in and out, leaving just us two for overnight.)
The Coso Wilderness (view map) lies in the northern Mojave, against the NW corner of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station - roughly between the Sierras and the Searles / Panamint Valleys. Most of the Coso Range lies within the NAWS, but the northern tip extends out. While a desert range, the higher peaks extend to over 7000', and one, Maturango Peak, is over 8000' high.
For this trip we'll stay overnight at a rock art site at 6800' Upper Centennial Spring. This site is interesting but we found another site on this trip that we were looking for as well....and once we found that we also found many petroglyphs in between. Then we hiked right to the NAWS fenceline. We found that this entire area was rich with lithic scatter - the castoff obsidian tool chips from Indians long ago.
Driving southwest across Lower Centennial Flat from Hwy 190, we can take a good photo of the Eastern Sierra.
After hiking in 3 miles, at Upper Centennial Flat. We'll camp at the old ranch at lower right. That big pieplate-lookin' thing is an old water trough, and the fuzzy green bushes at about center mark Upper Centennial Spring. Most of the rock art lies on boulders in the foreground, just up the slope from the ranch. If you look a half mile up the wash you can see another lava flow, and that's the upper site.
At Upper Centennial Spring, here's Mike and Les in front of the old ranch bunkhouse. This ruin still has rusty old beds in it that ranch hands once slept on.
A representative boulder with petroglyphs on it.
Me standing by a different boulder.
The wilderness' southern boundary is the China Lake northern boundary.
In camp. Mike usually always looks like this by mid-afternoon.
A small herd of wild horses lives on the mesa top above the spring, where they actually have pretty good grazing this time of year. They came down to the spring twice while we were staying there, which I expect is probably their daily routine. Sunday at dawn they showed up again and snorted at us for our intrusion. This was the best picture that I could snap of them.
Sunday we hiked out over the top of this north-south trending range and dropped into the next canyon, which led us back to the trailhead. I stitched together some shots looking west, this is 1500x446 pixels.
A sampling of the stone tool chips that we found. The likely source
of the obsidian was on the NAWS at Sugarloaf Mtn, an obsidian source for
thousands of years. I do not collect these or any other artifacts - it
would be pointless, and illegal anyway. I'd much rather spend my time looting
burial sites for pottery. (That's a JOKE, a JOKE!!!!)