Monday, April 9, 2012

Pinnacles (I)

Two Saturdays ago, the predicted all-weekend downpour slacked off (at least in the city) around noon, and my brother, Matthew, and I wasted no time escaping the city. Our destination was Pinnacles National Monument, a little-known monument (I sure hadn't heard of it) about two and a half hours southeast of the Bay Area. After a slight Google Maps related miscalculation, we got to Pinnacles around 6 had a dinner of fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and bread, spent two hours trying to get our (very) green wood to catch fire, and then hit the tent around 9 PM just as a full night of rain moved in.

For any potential future visitors, don't let Google Maps fool you- Pinnacles Campground is on the East side of Pinnacles not the West side. While this may not seem to be a big deal, the lack of a road through the park means that this miscalculation can add about two hours to your drive. We did get to see some beautiful rainbows in the process, so all was not lost.

We woke up around 8 AM and were on the trail by 9, heading for the tallest thing in the park (just like our father taught us). The trail started out meandering its way through some caves- awesome!

We squeezed through some narrow rocks first.

Then climbed some stairs inside a cave.

And finally emerged at the base of a dam which we climbed up and over to a reservoir.

About an hour later we had climbed the 2000 feet to the summit of North Chalone Peak at 3304 feet. Here's Matthew modeling at the summit.

We had great panoramic views, including across the Salinas River Valley to the back of Big Sur,

And back toward the Pinnacles themselves:

Two hours later we were back at the trailhead, two hours after that we were enjoying pizza and beer in Santa Cruz, and by 6 we were back home in San Francisco. It was only a 27 hour trip or so, but definitely worth it, even though we didn't see the area's prized resident (the California Condor). Maybe next time...

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