Pinnacles National Park, CA

Much belated post, but recently I’ve been getting a lot of these kinds of statements from old and new friends:

“You’re not the type of person that likes outdoorsy kinds of things.”

For me this is a weird observation, as my favorite trips are off the beaten path, along with the constant validation that there exists beautiful, wickedly wonderful things out there that my eyes have yet to grace. Whether this requires being dirty, waking up early, and push my limits, I’m always completely committed to getting the “it” shot once inspired.

Enough of the pre-amble. Late last year Carol and I were discussing what to do in our much belated photo walk session. The last time we attempted a photo walk I suggested this somewhat treacherous hike to a ghost town whereby we may or may not have needed to scale a couple fences, trespass, and perfectly time crossing a live running train bridge. This would have been fine and all, except early on I got completely stuck in fast sinking mud and had to be rescued without ever having gotten any good photos. A good pair of shoes were lost that day.

R.I.P. Rocket Dog Shoes, you were a good soldier throughout the years.

R.I.P. Rocket Dog Shoes, you were a good soldier and served me well.

This time I suggested we go to Pinnacles National Park, a more leisurely and far less dangerous hike of about 5 miles total. I had come across some great cave photos of Pinnacles on Pinterest, and being that it was only 1h30 from where we were that would make for a reasonable day trip.

Packing plan included:

  • Frozen 100oz Camelpak of water
  • Hiking shoes
  • Long sleeve shirt, since the path didn’t have much coverage I didn’t want to get burned.
  • Haribo Gummibears – Can’t do any hiking without these, or any activity frankly.
  • Headlamps
  • Visor
  • Eats

Carol packed us sandwich lunches from our work Caffe. Prior to arrival we had studied the trails and picked the Bear Gulch trail since the other deeper cave hike was closed for the seasonal bat migration, and we both really wanted to attempt a cave hike. Of course, the one day we pick for hiking would be 107 degrees outside. Nevertheless we were committed, purchased our parking pass at the main gate and made our way to the lot closest to the trail.

To be honest the cave portion of this hike is only about 5 minutes long, but we traversed the open air path slowly taking snaps along the way. The real feat was getting to the caves in the ridiculous heat. We trekked along as children in a camping troup scampered by us seemingly unfazed by the ridiculous heat as we savored the brief stints of shade along the way. Later on we would pass them resting in the shade and my internal ego cheered that with mental acquity I can still can still surpass them young whippersnappers.

After crossing a couple mosquito infested pools of water we arrive at the gate that delineates the cave entrance and we break for lunch just beyond this sign. We sit on the ledge because we’re hungry and finally in the cave there is some semblance of cool air. The middle schoolers again catch up with their guide and head deeper into the cave to an open area to break for their lunch.

Cave Entrance

Cave Entrance

Now that it’s so long ago I forgot what we gabbed about I think we talked about friends in general and the usual work stuff. Then we headed deeper to realize that the rocks just looked like a wall that you couldn’t get by. The troop leader, noticing our confusion pointed us to a mid level boulder that had a white painted arrow on it. Dah! A path. I’m not sure if we would have found this ourselves otherwise.

Carol took this photo, but look to my left there is the white arrow that leads us down the rabbit hole.

Carol took this photo, but look to my left where there is the white arrow that leads us down the rabbit hole.

Fidgeting with my new headlamp, and somewhat reading the instructions I couldn’t get it to turn on. Started getting frustrated when Carol came back over and compared it to her own and voila! Let there be light. My friends are always showing their awesomeness in these small but wonderful ways that I appreciate.

Then off we went. There were ups and downs, stairs and areas where I thought if I slipped at all it would be kind of a nasty fall. Clutched onto my iPhone for photos hoping not to drop it down a crevice.

Here's the reverse photo I took of Carol as she took one of me.

Here’s the reverse photo I took of Carol as she took one of me.

Once we came out on the other side we paused to take Atlas-esque photos by this giant rock that I spotted. Then shortly realize if we didn’t do a loop it would be something like 10 miles back to the starting place, instead of 5 total for the day.

Sometimes you just feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

Sometimes you just feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

Stumbling on these adult red briefs in a pile a leaves, we decided it’s probably best to head home, after all some man is running around here underwear-less. Creepy!

Do they call them tidy whiteys if they are red?

Do they call them tidy whiteys if they are red?

On the way back it was so hot I could barely think straight, and when I get focused I am extremely quiet. We paced and paced. You know normally on the way back from dinner how you feel like the journey is that much shorter because you’re satiated? This was the opposite of that. Although our creative minds were satiated this was the worst walk back. We paused constantly, and even mere yards away from my car we took a long break, but then we saw my car in the distance and dashed off path to get to it more quickly.

Afterwards we would stop by the Safeway that we passed on the drive there and get beverages. As long as we were there I decided to pick up condensed milk to make butter mochi later in the day. I’m a weirdo I know, but food is always on my mind.

Pinnacles was a great day trip to take however and I want to go back to explore the deeper bat caves, if them damn bats wouldn’t keep sleeping in them.

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