It's been more than eight years since the Wyman family clamped down on people walking half a mile across their private property on the way to Tehachapi Peak. But hikers keep coming.
Recently members of a club from Los Angeles that used to make the trip regularly decided they would try to summit despite signs they were trespassing. They were met by people they described as armed security guards — hunters, to hear it from the Wymans.
Now the hiking club that was forcibly turned back on Tehachapi Mountain is considering whether to try and retake the trail, starting with a search for evidence.
Having hiked there by its own records since 1974, it's looking for photos or other information showing the public made the trek in the years between 1967 and 1972.
The mountain records and access chairman for the Hundred Peaks Section of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, George Christiansen, said he's hoping for a reasonable, negotiated solution, not a lawsuit.
"The Pacific Crest Trail has negotiated numerous easements, 10 feet wide, across private property," he said by email. "This would involve 10 feet wide for one half mile, not free access to 8,000 acres!"
A representative of the Wyman family said she had no knowledge of any effort to establish public access to the trail. She declined to elaborate.
The family has previously said its restriction of public access protects people from getting hurt from activities like hunting and logging, and that trespassers interrupt commercial activities planned on the property.
The topic has been a touchy one for the community. In years past the county has tried to negotiate a settlement that would open public access to the trail, but no agreement was reached.
The Kern County supervisor who represents the area, Zack Scrivner, did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did an official with the Kern County Parks and Recreation Department.
Legal observers have said a case might be made that public access was established long ago when the Wymans allowed people to cross their property without actively enforcing restrictions or specifically granting access.
But these observers also say it would be hard for outsiders to establish a legal easement on the private property. It would require proof of five years of continuous use before the passage of a state law in the early 1970s, they said, and that challenging the status quo would require a lawsuit.
Christiansen said that's not the idea and that his group's efforts to reopen access should not be viewed as part of a plan by the Sierra Club to take legal action against the Wymans.
Outdoors blogger Christy Rosander sees the situation as a sad one. She misses the nearly 8,000-foot summit offering views of the Central Valley, the Mojave Desert and the southern Sierra Nevada.
She started climbing the peak 23 years ago to introduce people to hiking. She called the excursion a "tradition and training ground for so many."
Rosander said by email some people are still making the hike against the property owners' will.
"Currently, there is a clear trail/path all the way to the top that is used daily by hikers," she wrote. "I worry what message we are conveying to young people that they are just blowing by the signs without thought or respect."