Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pinnacles National Park

This is not an article about the government shutdown. Occasionally I share pictures or video when we go out to a National Park or Bicycle Rail Trail that we'd like to recommend to others. My wife, Sheila, and I just happened to visit Pinnacles National Park in California on the day before the government shutdown. We were blissfully unaware that the park would be closed the following day. Please be aware that the best source of information about this park, is the National Park Service website at However, the website is unavailable during the federal government shutdown, as is the park. :-( 

We searched the sides of the canyon all day, but there was no sign
of the elusive creature.
Pinnacles is one of our newest national parks, but it has been around forever. (That's a joke, get it? Been around forever?) Actually President Theodore Roosevelt established the area as a National Monument on January 16, 1908. The monument boundaries were expanded over the years. A Civilian Conservation Corps camp was located there during the Great Depression in order to improve the trails. Pinnacles received National Park status on January 10, 2013. The park is very popular with hikers and rock climbers. Birders can spot up to 181 different species in the park at different times of the year. However, you've hit the jackpot if you happen to spot a California Condor. The Condor is an endangered species and reportedly 32 of the elusive creatures live in and around Pinnacles NP. The Park is one of three release areas for rehabilitated Condors. If you can't visit the National Park Service website because of the shutdown, try a rather good Wikipedia article for more information on the history, geology, climate, flora, and fauna of Pinnacles National Park.
Sheila: photographer, birder, adventurer.

While it's true that Sheila and I went to Pinnacles for an enjoyable day hike, we really wanted to see a California Condor. (Sheila is a "birder" and this was a perfect opportunity to add to the life list.) Unfortunately, the day was pleasant and cool, the first real fall day here in Central California - weather-wise. What that meant was without some heat there were no thermals rising up the sides of the canyons. That means pitiful conditions for soaring, and nothing was, no regular buzzards, no eagles, nada. Oh well, maybe some other day, because we really will go back. The hike was a lot of fun. We chose to go up the Bear Gulch trail to a small reservoir that was created when the CCC built a dam across the top of the canyon (gulch?) in the 1930s. The hike took us through some talus caves that in some spots required not only a flashlight, but for this big guy to get on hands and knees. All-in-all a great place to visit if you are every in the neighborhood.

I've included some pictures of our day at Pinnacles, but also a video from YouTube that shows you what the park has to offer:

This sign warns you before you go in...
And eventually come out through here...

To see this, and hope we don't have an earthquake right now.

At the top of the canyon you find the Bear Gulch Reservoir.

We have to assume that this is how "Pinnacles" got its name.

Perfect big black bird habitat, but none to be found on this day.

After a wonderful day, Jim and Sheila leave Pinnacles National Park, with
a photo-bombing buzzard, the California Condor that they never saw. ;-)

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