Pinnacles

by

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Thinking about tarantula season reminds me of the Pinnacles, about a hundred miles south-ish. Haven’t been there for a long time, 2010 I think. With a break in the hundred-degree heat, now is a good time to renew auld acquaintance. Jacky came along; we hiked Bear Gulch and the High Peaks trail.

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The view from the parking area. We’re going up there. Well, actually, we’re not. These are more or less the near-ground. Where we’re going is further up and further back. But it gives the idea.

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Zoom view to the top of a cliff. I have the impression that there is some kind of wilderness ethic among climbers, not to leave ironwork behind. Some climbers may be more into that ethic than others.

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First stop on the trek, the Bear Gulch reservoir. The water appears a bit green, probably from algae. We’ve seen it clear and blue, but in springtime.

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Yes, there’s where we’re going.

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Pretty tough environment, pretty rugged trees. They play the hands dealt them.

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We entered from the east side of the park. When we reached the crest and were able to look across toward the west side, the bare rock on that side was more monolithic, less broken up. I predicted into my own head that the old volcano whose split remains are the Pinnacles had split on the east side, the broken rock through which we’re hiking. Sure enough, when I checked the map later, the other half of the old volcano was once east of this part, having now moved along with the San Andreas fault almost to Los Angeles.

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There is a choice to take the High Peaks trail or an alternative. The sign warns that the High Peaks trail is steep and narrow. But pretty. So we did it. Amongst other steep and narrow bits, there are several almost vertical sections with steps carved into the stone and grab railings for stabilization.

I had remembered the difficult down from previous visits, so we went the other way. Guess what! There were difficult downs in both directions; I had just forgotten about the comparatively much easier up routes from before. Jacky swears she will never hike this trail again.

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As well as interesting rock shapes, there is quite a bit of color, both in the vegetation and in the lichen growth that adorns much of the rock.

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As we came off the High Peaks, there were two routes back to the parking lot, and I chose the extra bit, descending through open grassland, where I hoped to find a tarantula.

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No tarantula, but I did see probably the biggest gopher snake I have ever seen. Six-ish feet long, and big to match. Unfortunately, it didn’t hang around long enough for a full-face photo.

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