The California Condor “Firebird” and Mount Diablo.

There is a mountain in our neighborhood, a member of the oldest Mountain Range in California. The Diablo Range stretches from the Cartinez Straits South to Fort Tejon along side the I-5 Grapevine. It meets the Sierra Nevada Range which from there extends North far into Canada. It’s a range that does not recieve very much attention partially due to it’s being squeezed between the Coastal Range and the Sierra Nevada’s. On the Western side lies the famed Salinas Valley while on the East is the vast San Joaquin (Wa-Keen) Valley.

Mount Diablo from the East, on it’s shoulders lie the Diablo Mountain Range extending North a few miles and to the South 400 miles.

The clouds have mostly scattered into mere patches, one patch has settled as if it is a halo around the Peak of Mount Diablo shaping a plume resembling an erupting Volcano. It seems a wind speed 15+ mph would quickly disperse the plume but for reasons unknown to me they cling to the apex of that dominate Geological creation.

The Diablo Range is dry lacking a single river or creek cascading from it’s low lying peaks for the entire 400 miles. There are some dry creek beds recognizable by the deep erosion’s of the hillsides along it’s length. Some of the washes are over 100 feet deep, (30.48 meters). During heavy rainfall the water flows into the surrounding valley’s as runoff then onto the Valley floors to be directed away from the fallow fields. Using highways as channels the water is directed into the West Side Bypass then carried to the Kesterson wildlife refuge near Los Banos. Some of the water is directed into the San Joaquin River for diversion into our Delta, then mostly out to sea. There is one water storage reservoir along the entire length.

The famed California Condor’s habitat lies among the Range, it is from there they will fly hundreds of miles a day in their search for carrion. It is from there they were also poisoned by DDT during the 1950 and 1960’s. The carrion they fed upon would consume small rodents contaminated with the toxin, being killed by it the Condor’s then consumed the predators. DDT caused the shells of their eggs to become very thin and brittle, unable to support the weight of the chicks growing inside they would burst ending the life of the chick before it began. Today there is an attempt to change history with the claim lead bullets caused their near extinction, they didn’t it was agricultural poisons.

Turkey Vulture.

I was fortunate during the Spring of 1970 while riding a motorcycle through the Mountains following State Highway 33 towards King City. There were two of us traveling on a beautiful spring day to the Pinnacles National Monument, a series of deep caves produced in ancient times by flowing water. Rounding a curve we were stopped due to the road being blocked by 15 California Condors, we stopped never considering attempting to shoo them away. We did not realize at the time it was the last naturally born and raised flock in existence, another would not form until after the turn of the century. It was one of those scenes so natural a camera was not needed, the sight is burned into my mind in vivid living color. I will never forget it and I’m sure my partner hasn’t as well.

Although there are countless Turkey Vultures in the surrounding sky, I have not yet seen an airborne Condor this far North. Highway 33 is 250 miles South. Their now established hunting grounds remain among the Diablo’s, the habitat is protected and held close to the chest of the people responsible for re-establishing the population.

A Vulture flying low.

It’s a historic range of Mountains as well, I am familiar with the history of the Spanish Explorers following them from the Los Angeles basin North, or South from here to L.A. I will write a blog describing it when I research and know exactly what took place. There is a local legend when the Spanish Soldiers were following them during the summer, temperatures of 110°+ F (38° C) are not uncommon, a soldier reportably exclaimed “surely this is the Mountain Range of the Devil.” When they came upon Mount Diablo and heard the deep rumbling of the extinct Volcano a similar refrain was heard “surely this Mountain is the home of the Devil.” Hence the moniker “Mount Diablo” became it’s legendary name.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

5 responses to “The California Condor “Firebird” and Mount Diablo.”

  1. Nice pictures. Have driven through that general area myself quite a bit over the years, though not so much now that we live near Santa Cruz.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, it’s out of the way for sure. Coalinga is the lone town between I-5 and King City. An interesting fact is it was established at the end of a Railroad spur line where the Train would load coal, hence it’s name Coaling Station A. I don’t know where Coaling Station B is. Thanks for commenting

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember my father reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring when it came out. Yet he never talked to us about it. Later in the 1980’s I found something in the porch cupboard with DDT and wondered what I could do with this poison. Always those early crusaders. I look forward to someday seeing the places you write about.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read silent spring in high school long before I even knew where the San Joaquin valley is. I read it again while in the Navy, then it was contraband along with Johnny got his gun. It is a powerful book I don’t like that the political people are attempting to change history by blaming extinction on lead bullets. It would take an unbelievable number to drive the Condors to extinction. Thanks for commenting

    Liked by 1 person

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