17 April 2013

Random No. 1

Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area

Locate the trail head.

This is an entirely random little hike. Some time ago, while taking an initially foolish but ultimately very nice hike, I nearly tripped over a benchmark labeled "Random No. 2". Although it does hint at there being at least one more random benchmark, I was willing to leave it at that. I even thought I'd seen it on a map somewhere, although I'd misremembered which. Then Craig R. Carey decided to help me out with that. Random No. 1 doesn't look that hard to get to, but even this wasn't enough to actually go looking for it. However, in a few more steps I almost tripped over a second survey marker, this one for the Los Angeles and Ventura County border. The small "entering Los Angeles County" sign next to it hinted that Los Angeles County surveyors probably set it. The Random No. 2 mark was set by USGS "in cooperation with Los Angeles County". It looks like these two could be related. The Los Angeles and Kern County line runs near Random No. 1 suggesting that there might be another county marker to be found. Since I've run into only one of those, that was more interesting.

I checked in the National Geodetic Survey database for information about the benchmarks before heading up, and found nothing for Random No. 1. The Frazier Mtn 010 marker nearby was listed and should include two reference marks, all in good condition. It also supplies a ridiculous route for getting there. I checked for Random No. 2 and found it was missing too. Guess that database is incomplete, so not a good test of existence for various monuments. (Maybe there is one on top of the higher Divide Peak after all. Somewhere.)

The plan to get there is simple. The area vegetation is easy to walk through, so a cross country run along the ridge from Tejon Pass should work. Access should be easy by simply parking along Peace Valley Road and crawling though the fence into Hungry Valley. It's been a while since I drove that road and I'd forgotten one detail about the road, though. It is lined with really big "No Parking" signs that would be hard to claim I had not noticed. There is a huge dirt area perfect for the trek start, but there's those signs. There was also quite a bit of traffic going down the road since the Fraizer Park on ramp was closed. Rather than assuming that anything can be legal for a time if you just turn on the hazards, I turned down Falcon Way and parked off the pavement next to a handy road that seemed to be going my way. I followed it initially down a paved left branch that ends abruptly above Peace Valley, probably due to road widening. I decided to take the current road instead, which climbs straight up the various hills along the side of a pipeline right up to a saddle of the target ridge.

road and rift
A look over the local environment in the direction of Fraizer High and the San Andres Fault.

road continuing to Hungry Valley
On the far side of the saddle, the pipeline service road continues to near a gate in the Hungry Valley fence.

A couple tracks head up the ridge to the left. I was sure there would be markers in that direction, so started up the hill along them. At the top, I found it. Random No. 1 does exist, and is in good condition.

benchmark stamped Random No. 1
Another random survey marker that is also set by USGS in cooperation with Los Angeles County. Never mind that it's in Kern.

westerly view
The view back along the ridge to the west.

I continued along the ridge toward Frazier Mtn 010 with the hope that in the saddle between, I would find a county marker just past the Hungry Valley fence. I found a heavily fenced hole with a valve at the bottom of it instead. Another pipeline passes through just about on the county line. Well, it is on the map, meaning the Frazier Mountain quad. No "entering Los Angeles County" signs looked to be sticking out of the low sages anywhere to mark the monument. It was probably dug up when the pipe went in. The pipe looks very old, but the marker would have gone in in 1929. I left Kern and started up the next hill as an ATV made its way along the closest Hungry Valley road.

a few burned timbers
A few burned timbers hint there was something built here once. Very little evidence of fire on the vegetation suggests it was quite some time ago.

Burned timbers at the top were an unexpected find. I wonder what might have been placed here and how long ago. The vegetation doesn't look like it has burned in decades. The benchmark and primary reference mark have poles next to them to help with location. The ground around the primary reference is eroding a bit and the secondary reference is getting a little covered, but they all looked good.

Los Angeles County Survey Control System benchmark from 1969
Another benchmark set by Los Angeles County, but this one is much more recent.

I continued along the ridge a little way before turning back toward the car to climb down one of the hills and eventually out the barbed wire again. As I went, it was difficult not to notice that what looks, at first, like a lot of sage and a few brash bushes of composites is actually blooming with lots of variety.

yellow flowered plant with serated leaves
These stand only a few inches high.

mostly seed pods with hairs
This few inch high bit of yellow seems to be a little faster and is almost ready to stick to whoever brushes by next.

big and yellow
A few of those brash composites, which were a couple feet high.

delicate looking, but still yellow
Something with a little bit more delicate look, but everything out here is hardy.

A coreopsis that grows as tiny singles instead of the familiar bush.

California poppy
The requisite California poppy.

tiny and white
Getting even smaller with these.

purple pitchers in a circle
An interesting specimen of white and purple.

©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 20 Apr 2013

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