Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pinnacles National Park

Apparently we hadn't been busy enough our first week in the San Benito Valley (San Benito is Spanish diminutive for Saint Benedict).  Bill and Diane and we decided to take a hike in Pinnacles National Park.  Pinnacles had been a national monument since 1908, but only made national park status last year.  It now emcompasses over 26,000 acres, 16,000 acres designated as wilderness.  It was formed by volcanic activity, tectonic plate movement, faulting (the whole area we have been exploring the last month lies along the San Andreas Fault) and erosion resulting in talus caves formed when boulders fell into deep, narrow gorges and lodged between the rock walls.  The Elevations range from 825' to 3304' with not only caves and spires but lots of rolling hills. The park boasts of a healthy and diverse range of animals.  It is especially proud to be a nesting area for the California condor, a year-round abode for a colony of Townsend's big-eared bats, the protectors of a reviving colony of California's largest native frog--the red-legged frog, and home to one of the largest diversity of bees in a single place in North America.   

Besides the fantastic views, visitors can take advantage of rock climbing cliffs

caves to explore

peaks to conquer

a variety of trails to wander (from strolling to hiking capabilities)

odd natural formations of rock and living things (this tree literally went to great lengths to survive!)

things to awe you

delight you (this open-ended cave had a little stream of water gurgling through it)

and make you glad you weren't there when something happened.

Bill and Diane led us on their favorite hike on the Bear Gulch Cave Trail which loops around the end of Bear Gulch Reservoir, the home of the red-legged frogs.  They are nocturnal so we didn't see any, but we did see 

this beauty with its vivid yellow and black stripes.

This was a fairly easy hike but took us through some very interesting terrain.

After our hike we enjoyed our picnic in one of the many picnic areas.  The park is used mainly by daily visitors but does offer one campground with tent, rv, and group sites, showers and a store.

Next up, another bike trip.

Louise and Duane

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