California May 2010

I spent several days in May 2010 in California, mostly visiting my folks in Ridgecrest and checking out the reptiles. I flew into Las Vegas and took the scenic route to Ridgecrest. Here are some of the sights, in more-or-less chronological order.

You don't get views like this in Ohio!

A large scorpion.

Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei), as found.

Same animal as above, as found.

I roadcruised nearly every night while I was there, although most of the nights were colder than I would have preferred.

Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes). This one is a baby. These were by far the most commonly-encountered serpent on this trip. A nice change from Ohio, where rattlesnakes are few and far between.

Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus). I was very happy to see these; I had not seen a live one in a long time.

Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus). I always enjoy seeing these.

Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes), as found.

Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus), just a few miles from my parents' house.

A hill with a nice carpet of small yellow flowers at the base.

More scenery.

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii). This photo was taken from a good distance away and was the only one I got. The b*tch disappeared when I had my head turned.

Shovel-nosed Snake (Chionactis occipitalis).

Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes), another baby.

Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes).

These trolls were mocking me because I could not find any rosy boas...

I took a long hike up this canyon. The following two lizards were seen in the wash habitat shown above.

Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos).

Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides), a male. The rare "three-bar" morph...

Farther up, the canyon narrows and there is water. I turned around at this point; the bushwhacking and scrambling around waterfalls got old.

Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans).

Lyre Snake (Trimorphodon biscutatus). Unfortunately it had been hit and was most likely on its way to DOR-dom.

One day I met up with a couple of friends and did some hiking in the mountains. It was great to have some quality company. It was also nice to have them along because they found all the snakes!

Sierra Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata multicincta).

Sierra Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata multicincta).

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus).

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus), as spotted in a crack.

Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii).

Night Snake (Hypsiglena), I don't know about the taxonomy of these guys...

On to the next day.

The southern Sierra skyline, as seen from the Indian Wells Valley. As a result of growing up in Ridgecrest, this image is deeply ingrained in my memory. It shows up fairly frequently in car commercials these days. The peak at the center of the photo is Owens Peak, which tops out at 8453' and is the highest point in Kern County. On my last day in California, I hiked up to the top of it.

Looking southeast down Indian Wells Canyon from the end of the road at 5400'.

Looking down the same canyon, from the summit of Owens Peak.

Looking west from the summit, one can see the South Fork Valley and Lake Isabella.

Looking north from the summit, one can see the Kennedy Meadows valley and the high Sierras beyond, including Mount Whitney. There was still some snow on the north slope of Owens Peak.

I could also see the Panamints and the San Gabriels from the summit.

Here is a link to a panorama I put together (6000 x 550 jpg, 507 KB).

The conditions were a bit hazy, but the views were still amazing. I'd been here before. I noted several familiar names in the summit register and also two of my previous visits:


1998, with my two brothers. My brother Chris and I had been up here one other time, in a March somewhere in the mid 1980s, but the older register entries weren't there any more.

Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus graciosus). Many of these were seen along the way. I can confirm that they range all of the way up to the summit...

One the drive out of the canyon I experienced a flat tire. Just after getting underway again, I came across this:

Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), as found.

Cruising later that night I found this:

A young Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus). Not a bad note to end on.

Another thing I did while I was in Ridgecrest was get together with some old high school friends and a couple of teachers. That was a lot of fun.

As I was driving around the area, sometimes I couldn't help but think of things that used to be, but are no more:

Time marches on, I guess...