Trail Painter’s Kit

More and more, I want a connection to the things I interact with from day to day. The connection lies in knowing the people who make these art-objects – as I believe that is what they are – I don’t believe the line between art and craft is necessarily relevant in the emerging post-superpower world, where nationalist entities require dominant branding over top/down corporate structures; I am fascinated by the backlash against that, the bottom/up approach to doing things from beginning to end – the thing, the passionate process that flies in the face of “good business sense.” The witness that I so enjoy to bear before the hearing/knowing of the stories behind this subtle movement, this joyful retaking of all things made with love and vision, fills me daily with great love. Below is a record, in photography and website links, to some of my favorite objects and the people who live by their creation. #trailpaintings on instagram.



Storytellers depicted (above):








Storytellers depicted (above):




Storytellers depicted (above):










Maps of the Southern Sierra

In these lands of the Southern Sierra Nevada, under the tallest peak in the lower 48, and beside the most massive tree in the world, among the first national sanctuary to protect migratory bird diversity, and in the air about the 1500 of constant human habitation by the Tulare and the Kawaiisu, is a prismatic wonderland of granite and forest unlike anything else.

<<< all drawings/writing by @coyotethunder >>>

click on each map to enlarge


Southern Sierra Nevada – Key to Natural and Human history

  1. Audubon Kern River Preserves – One of the country’s first to receive “Globally Important Bird Area” recognition. Freshwater riparian and cottonwood-willow riparian forests provide habitat for over 250 species.
  2. General Sherman Tree – Nearly 275 feet tall and as much as 36.5 feet in diameter at the base, the world’s largest tree by volume and estimated to be nearly 2000 years old.
  3. Mount Whitney – 14,494 feet, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. The tallest point up from sea level 100 miles to the west and only ten miles to the east.
  4. Trail of 100 giants – Long meadow grove of Giant Sequoia
  5. Nuui Cunni Native American Intertribal Cultural Center – a museum that features the stories and artifacts of local tribes including Shoshone, Paiute, Tubatulabal, and Kawaiisu.
  6. Tomo-Kahni State historic Park – the ancestral home of the Kawaiisu people . 1500 years of cultural residence.
  7. According to the Koppen system of climate, to the east of Bakersfield is one of the few spots in California designated (BSh) as Semi-arid steppe (hot) – a unique climate pattern in the state and one that deviates greatly from the Mediterranean climate that dominates the area.
  8. The geology of the southern terminus of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is anomalous in that while most of the range is composed of granite the southern spur between Tehachapi and Red Rock Canyon is several thousand acres of granitic soil from a the early days of the range.
  9. Where most of this map describes a vegetation system made mostly of Oak woodland, and coniferous forest, the vegetation topography changes south of Chimney Peak where Sagebrush scrubland begins to dominate towards the Mojave to the Southeast.
  10. There are between 1,400 and 1,700 different native plants in the Golden Trout Wilderness




The Way Water Moves in California

The Rivers of California

Networks of River systems, watersheds, ecosystems that have been tracing the land of this golden place long before the coming of all life – forever eroding their canyons, forever the same – individual spirits who prints in light define this place as much as any other piece of its topography.

Within California’s rugged borders, approximately ninety major rivers claim nearly a quarter of a million miles of running water. Ancient Rivers of Gold, those of which originating in the Sierra Nevada hold mysterious origins in volcanic narratives, millions of years ago. Others, directly reaching the sea, hold the home waters to historical runs of Steelhead and Pacific Salmon, seemingly infinite in their capacity to remember their lineage. Whatever their peripheral cause and bounty, the rivers of California, veins for the larger, living entity, sustain all life here in the land of fire forests, sage mountains and ranges of light. click map to enlarge


Key to the above map

  1. Scott River through the Marble Mountains
  2. Water systems of the Modoc Plateau, including Goose Lake and the Clear Lake Reservoir
  3. The Trinity River, The Mad River, and the Van Dureen River
  4. The three forks of the American River
  5. East of the Sierra – the Great Basin River systems: The Walker River, The Carson River and Mono Lake
  6. Lake Tahoe and The Truckee River
  7. Lake Berryessa and Putah Creek and the Yolo Watershed
  8. The San Joaquin River from its source in the Sierra
  9. The Kaweah-Tule River network
  10. The Los Angeles Watershed, including the Los Angeles River, The San Gabriel River and the Santa Ana River
  11. Colorado River Wash network
  12. San Felipe Creek network
  13. The Mojave River from The San Bernadino Mountains to Soda Lake the Afton Canyon
  14. Cadiz Valley intermittent river systems through the Old Woman Mountains
  15. The Colorado River, the southeastern border of California

The Hydrological regions of California – How the rain falls

click map to enlarge


a map of the ten hydrological regions of California, showing percentages and measurements of average annual surface rainfall.

There have been nine major droughts in California since 1900. Each major droughts lasts an average of three years.

Water Storage & Distribution in California

California’s interconnected water system serves over 30 million people and irrigates over 5,680,000 acres of farmland; it manages over 40,000,000 acre feet of water per year.

An acre-foot is a unit of volume commonly used in reference to large-scale water resources. An acre-foot is defined as the volume of one acre of surface area to a depth of one foot. As a rule of thumb, in U.S. water management, one acre-foot is taken to be the planned water usage of a suburban family household, annually. One acre-foot/year is approximately 893 gallons per day.

Groundwater is a critical element of the California water supply. During a normal year, 30% of the state’s water supply comes from groundwater. In times of intense drought, groundwater consumption can rise to 60% or more. Over 850,000 acre feet of water is stored in California’s 450 known groundwater reservoirs. click map to enlarge


Map including the nine major water storage projects, all of which are in Northern California, each of which house more than 1.5 million acre feet of water. Map also includes major canal networks. note: There are over 1,400 named dams and 1,300 named reservoirs in the state of California.


California’s Ecosystem Network

The story of California is a spiral of conifers and sages around huge pockets of granite and serpentine. A folded piece of jeweled earth composed of millions of networks, patterns and living systems.

Click here or downloadable PDF: ecosystems

Regional eco-network patterns irrespective of human overlay by Obi Kaufmann @coyotethunder. click to enlarge


The Five Sacred Peaks of the Bay Area

The Five Sacred Peaks of the San Francisco Bay Area

<<< and their old names >>>


  1. Mount Saint Helena in the Mayacamas Mountains  <<< Mount Mayacamas >>>touches the Napa, Sonoma, and Lake counties 4341’
  2. Mount Tamalpais <<< támal páji, literally “west hill” >>> is the highest peak in the Marin Hills. The elevation at the East Peak, its highest point, is 2,574’.
  3. Mount Diablo is a mountain of the Diablo Range, <<< Tuyshtak >>> It is an isolated upthrust peak of 3,849’.
  4. Mount Montara <<< Camino Pedro Cuesta >>> 1898’ Due in part to its biologically isolated location near the end of a peninsula, the mountain has an extensive and unique biodiversity, especially on the serpentine soils of the lower slopes. A number of plant endangered species are found on this mountain, including the rare endemic manzanita Arctostaphylos montaraensis, named for this mountain.
  5. Mount Hamilton <<< Sierra de Santa Isabel >>> 4216’ and two other peaks along its ridge: Mt Copernicus – 4263‘ Mt Kepler – 4213’

According to Miwok and Ohlone narrative history, Mount Diablo was the point of creation. In one surviving story, Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais were surrounded by water; from these two islands the creator Coyote and his assistant Eagle-man made Indian people and the world. In another, Molok the Condor brought forth his grandson Wek-Wek the Falcon Hero, from within Mount Diablo.

About 25 independent tribal groups with well-defined territories lived in the East Bay countryside surrounding these mountains. The Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone from Mission San Jose and the East Bay area, called Mt Diablo, Tuyshtak, meaning “at the dawn of time”. The Nisenan of the Sacramento Valley called it Sukkú Jaman, or as Nisenan elder Dalbert Castro once explained, “the place where dogs came from in trade”.

bay area

The Bioregions of California

Written and mapped by Obi Kaufmann @coyotethunder


California is a patchwork of dynamic ecostates and bio-republics whose seams are defined by large geomorphic expanses, water and soil courses. To understand the bioregions of California is to understand the story of how California works and how it is assembled.


  1. The conifer forest of the North Coast extend to Southeast Alaska, although the tallest tree in the world, the Coastal Redwood reaches its maximum height near the border of Oregon and then the species stops its northward push.
  2. The Cascade Mountains extend up into Canada and find their southern most progression in Northern California. Defined by lonely, steep volcanoes, the Cascades in California are best defined by Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen, two volcanoes that are not part of the Sierra Nevada.
  3. The Columbia Plateau extends from Washington and Idaho down into Northern California in only a couple of isolated points in the desert. These Basin and Range ecosystems, as they are called are defined by no water course that leads to the sea, but rather, find terminus in the deserts of Nevada.
  4. The historically rich Diablo mountains, home to the missionary road of the Calle Real in the eighteenth century are historically perhaps the most fecund of all California. Home to more than ten thousand people at the time of conquest.
  5. The Santa Lucia Mountains are home to some of the rarest conifers in the world, including the Santa Lucia Fir and the Big Cone Douglas Fir.
  6. While the whole of the Sierra Nevada is approximately four hundred miles long and about sixty miles wide, the High Sierra, the roof of California, is about two hundred miles long and twenty miles wide. This high alpine ecotype is one all its own, subject to its own
    rules and systems: different than the montane envirotypes of the rest of the Sierra Nevada.
  7. The Grapevine. Mount Pinos, where the Transverse, The Coastal and the Sierra Nevada meets, at its terminus at Tehachapi, near the Tejon Pass.
  8. The Wall. Mount Whitney, highest point in the lower 48 states. The Sierra Nevada rises out of the high desert with a straight elevation increase of fourteen thousand feet in just a few miles.
  9. The highest peak in Southern California, Mount Gregornio lies just a few miles north of another 11 foot plus peak, San Jacinto. Together the two peaks represent a gate of sorts that defines the end of the the Transverse Ranges and where the Low Desert meets the High.