Snow on Togowakahni
Bobby Wood took this photo in the Tehachapi Valley of a layer of snow on the mountain known to the Nuwä people as Togowakahni, which means “House of Rattlesnakes” or “Place Where Rattlesnakes Are.” The same landmark is recorded on maps today as Black Mountain — not a particularly creative name. It is one of three different Black Mountains found in Kern County alone.
It is also referred to by some as the “Sleeping Indian” mountain, because when viewed from some angles, especially from Highline Road and the hills to the south above Highline, there can be seen the silhouette of a sleeping Indigenous man with his arms folded on his chest.
Andy Greene, a prominent Nuwä elder, said this about that aspect of the mountain: “My grandmother told me that the Creator put that sleeping Indian there for us, for the Indian people. And she said that it will still be there when all of us are gone.”
The summit of Togowakahni, pronounced toh-goh-wah-KAHN-hee, is at an elevation of 5,686 feet, so it gets snow more frequently than the Tehachapi Valley floor, which has an average of about 4,000 feet.
Snow also lingers longer on Togowakahni than on the valley floor, especially in spring, as this image depicts. The snow is this photo appears in a band that begins about 4,800 feet and continues to the summit.
The grasses and forbs germinate, sprout and turn green long before the oak trees lose their leaves. In fact, ground level plants start to show green with the first significant storms of autumn, even before the oaks have lost their drying leaves.
So grasses and most forbs have a head start, and green appears on the ground before it shows up in the trees.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.