Seen from Interstate 5 on the way south from the SF Bay Area, Mount Oso is a prominent double summit with radio towers sitting on the western horizon. Today there’s a private road to the summit, but 150 years ago when pioneer surveyor William Brewer first visited the area he found it a rugged wild and inhospitable land.

“We tied up our mules and climbed the ridge. It was steep and long, but the summit was gained. We found the mountain to be 3,400 feet high. The view was magnificent. Back of the treeless hills that lie along the San Joaquin plain, there rises a labyrinth of ridges, furrowed and separated by deep canyons. These ridges rise 3,200 to 4,000 feet high, with scattered trees over them… This region is twenty-five to thirty miles wide and extends far to the southeast—I know not how far, but perhaps two hundred miles. It is almost a terra-incognita. No map represents it, no explorers touch it; a few hunters know something of it, and all unite in giving it a hard name.”

Looking past all the communications equipment I found many small details remaining of the rough land Brewer saw, pinnacles, rock formations, twisted synclines and this solitary pine clinging to the rock.