March 24, 2007 Pinnacles National Monument

The announcement

This Saturday is our annual trek to the Pinnacles National Monument. Check out past hikes on our web blog at http://fomfok.webself.com. Plan on a 2 and a half hour drive down, leaving here at 8. Then the hike is about 5 and a half to 6 miles long, with 1500 feet of climb, or a bit more. This is similar in distance and climb to last week’s Sunol hike. But the scenery is like nothing else you’re likely to see. Definitely worth the all day trip.

The hike is almost totally exposed. Sneakers is a bad idea as some of the hike is up short, very steep slopes—wear hiking shoes. We’ll have a hearty lunch at the top, and probably stop for supper on the way back, perhaps at the Black Bear diner in Gilroy. Plan on arriving back here between 5pm and 6pm, or thereabouts.

The hike

The Pinnacles has to be seen to be properly enjoyed. I know we picked on Alice and told her that she would really regret missing the hike if she decided she couldn’t do the climb, but she was more than up to doing the climb, and I hope she would concur that you really, really need to hike the Pinnacles. I’ll be posting pictures soon, but pictures don’t do justice to the views. And we always meet an interesting set of characters along the way, whether it’s the rangers out tracking condors with GPS receivers, rock climbers, moms who have carried their babies to the top, troops of far too energetic Boy Scouts, or even members of FOMFOK who we thought we had lost forever.

Yes, we all planned to have simple meeting at the trailhead. But nothing is ever easy. As we entered the park, cell phone reception was lost. And you might know that this weekend happened to be the one that a zillion Scouts (Boy and Cub) decided to take over the park, and also all the parking lots. So half of us parked at the trail head, and half of us parked somewhere else. All but two of us managed to find the group. After waiting about 30 minutes, we decided that we might as well just start the hike, not being sure if the missing two even came to the right park entrance.

A mile or so into the hike, the missing two showed up, coming along an alternate trail. This is just amazing. Half of the time we hike the Pinnacles, we take a clockwise route, and half of the time we go anti clockwise. If we had gone clockwise, we would have never met up. And if the two had taken the same trail as us, the chances of them finding us were just about nil. And by taking the alternate trail, there was probably a 10 or 15 minute window where they could have met up with us. And that’s exactly what happened.

It’s a long slog to the top, about 1800 feet of climb. We took ample opportunity to stop and look at the wildflowers and the views. There are lots of places where you want to gape at the scenery. By going anti clockwise, we took the less steep way to the top, but we paid for it with the steepest way down from the top. My toes were crushed against my boots all the way down. It was worth it, by far. I took over 200 pictures along the way, almost all of which were just amazing. Especially the pictures that Kathy and Molly made just for me near the end. I probalby won’t show them on the web site, you’ll have to see them on my computer.

The pictures can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/gp/7941547@N06/yN5926

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