20140514

Pinnacles -- a real peak experience! Tues, May 6th


Pinnacles isn't simply a beautiful place, or a fine area to explore, hike and camp.  Rising out of chaparral-covered mountains east of California's Salinas Valley, Pinnacles is the spectacular remains of part of an ancient volcanic field. Here it gets really interesting:  One-third of this field lies 195 miles to the southeast! You can thank the San Andreas Fault Zone, which runs just east of the park and the geological forces that have shaped this landscape for millions of years.  Fault action and earthquakes account for Pinnacles' talus caves, formed when boulders fell into deep, narrow gorges and lodged between the rock walls -- which Jimmy and I experienced yesterday on our hike.

Pinnacles isn't all spires and crags; tho our pictures mostly show these.  While elevations in Pinnacles range from 824 ft along Chalone Creek to 3,304 ft atop North Chalone Peak, much of the park consists of gentle rolling hills.


Today we picked a different hike, up Condor Gulch Trail, a 1.7 mile (one way) strenuous trail.  That's what we decided initially, but when we junctioned with the High Peaks Loop trail, we opted to return to our start point by way of this different (but longer) trail.  The elevation gain was 1,300 ft, which is why the whole durn thing was rated strenuous.  Altogether the hike was approx 6 miles.  And it was truly awesome!

Our route.  Hiking this loop enabled us to see 360°  worth of Pinnacles' special scenery.

Jimmy is eyeing the bird nesting hole on the rock face, left.  It looked well used.  Tomorrow I'll talk more about the birds.

On the Condor Gulch Trail, at the Overlook.

Alone on the trail, silent, all I could do was breathe.

Skies were partly cloudy; without sun we didn't get overheated trekking uphill.

Break time!  Lunch at Condor Gulch/High Peaks Loop junction.  We were actually cold up here.

Looking back on our trail.

"Balconies!"  Pinnacles is famous for this formation.

Spires and crags.

Jimmy is smack-dab in the lower center of the trail in his yellow shirt.

We discovered what the brochure meant by "steep and narrow," on the High Peaks Trail.  It wasn't a typo.

Did I sign up for THIS?  ("steps" continue at the top of the pic, and on, and on!!)

Of course, what goes up, has to come down.  Steep and narrow, uh-huh....

I am actually perched on the edge of the rock, that falls away behind me.  Hard to determine from pic.

Oh yeah, that's our trail down there.  Down!

Encountered this fella (maybe 8"?) sunning itself.  We got right up next to it and it did not move.

Down, down, down.

Amazing adventure.

OK, we were tired when we wrapped it up.  That's all right.  Better to wear out than rust out!  We stopped often to take pictures.  We paused frequently to gawk... and on this trail we couldn't gawk and walk at the same time! How could we not stop to look?  Dinner was ready for us after showers.  I make meals before we leave on trips and all I have to do is hot 'em up.  I'll finish by saying, we were early in the sack!


3 comments:

  1. What a great adventure. Those steps remind me of a hike we did where we had to use chains embedded in the rock face to pull ourselves up.

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  2. Ooooh, this one is going on the list, thanks for the heads up! It reminds me a little of the Devil's Tower hike we did near Sylvan Lake in South Dakota. We want to do that one again because it was so good!

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