Last day at Pinnacles - Thurs, 5/8/14
We picked a good time to visit this nat'l park. Even in a drought year, glorious wildflowers bursting with blossoms, dazzled our eyes with color. I've included photos of three wildflowers I'd never seen before. Meadows sprouting native and (and exotic) grasses were still a vibrant spring green. The weather was accommodating, neither too hot nor too chilly, tho one morning surprised us with a 39° low! Days were warm and mostly sunny.
Pinnacles campground is pocked with treacherous ground squirrel holes. You could break a leg or hip if you made a misstep, or even crack your head wide open if you landed on a fallen log. An entire town of the durn things -- they're everywhere. California quail zipped about the camp, fun to watch them. More than once I noticed the male quail would perch atop a log or fence post while his lady pecked thru the grass for seeds. Sounds good to me!
Two-fer (California quail and ground squirrel)
California condors were re-established in Pinnacles in 2003. The first nest since reintroduction was built in 2010, and Pinnacles now manages a population of 32 free-flying condors. Turkey buzzards are prevalent, but we were told how to identify a condor from a buzzard (soaring way up high) -- a buzzard "wobbles," whereas a condor, North America's largest land bird, well, a condor just soars. When we hiked the High Peaks Trail on Tuesday, we hoped to see a condor, and I'm not 100% positive that I did or didn't, but maybe I did. The bird was simply too far away to be sure. I did see the North America's smallest bird on that hike -- a tiny Anna's hummingbird! And the fella below.
Acorn woodpecker workin' that snag!
A virtual village of Acorn woodpeckers lives in the Valley oaks of the campground. They are noisy, busy, comical, chattering, and never still. It was a contest to hear who got our attention first in the morning: quail or woodpecker. I've seen trees so full of holes (stuffed with acorns) that it's a wonder the trees don't tump over. Or a power pole -- they can do a job on those, as well.
Gnarled, ancient and beautiful
Wednesday morning we strolled along Chalone Creek and the South Wilderness Trail. Nothing strenuous, merely ambling along like two people who have all the time in the world -- what a grand feeling. More flowers, grasses, trees and birds to check out. We laugh when I say I'm actually looking for rusted tin cans, à la the Saddle Ridge Hoard! Very relaxing morning.
That afternoon we hopped on our bikes, rode out of the park on a dirt road. We pedaled easily for several miles, encircled by rolling hills. No one else around, just me and Jimmy on a bicycle explore. Tomorrow morning we depart, head for our Nevada City home. Company coming tomorrow, and the next day -- O boy! Guess who?
Sure enjoyed our Pinnacles National Park visit.
I love California.