Pinnacles National Park, that is.
It’s been a busy summer.
Last week we camped and hiked at Pinnacles, south of San Fran, and made our way up to Angel Boy/DIL for a few days.
This weekend we’re off to Providence, Rhode Island to get all physical and dirty helping him prep his house to sell since he starts his tenure track professorship at University of Washington at the end of September.
So much to do in not much time!
Back to Pinnacles…which was one national park I had never before heard of until my son hiked there a while back.
Pinnacles, Muir Woods, and the Grand Canyon were all set aside as national monuments in the span of seven days in January 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt.
The night before we left, I got a concussion by doing something really stupid. I’m accident prone on the best of days, but this was stupid even for me. I was trying to show tugboat man that I could get in his truck without his help –being so short, it’s a big step UP to get in — but I failed to factor in the fact that he had parked on the street which means the door is at least a foot lower ‘cos of the curb. So I opened the door and proceeded to jump in, and promptly smacked my head HARD on the car. I mean HARD.
As in seeing stars hard.
As in smacking my teeth against my lip hard.
As in feeling a bit dazed and confused hard.
My pupils were round, equal, and reactive – and I didn’t fall asleep, but I had a lump, a horrible headache, and was sorta nauseous, so I figured it was a mild concussion and didn’t tell hub how bad it actually hurt cos he would have wanted me to go to the ER and get a CT scan and I wanted to go on the trip.
I’m a tough girl like that.
Pinnacles National Park is a United States National Park protecting a mountainous area located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California, eighty miles southeast of San Jose.
People come to Pinnacles to hike, rock climb, watch and study wildlife, view wildflowers, and experience nature. Pinnacles offers solitude, challenge, and escape from the urban interface of both the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas.
Unlike many national parks, Pinnacles is most popular in the cooler months. During the spring, when the grasses are green and a variety of wildflowers can be seen along any trail, hiking is at its best. Fall and winter are also excellent times to visit.
During the summer, extreme temperatures can make hiking uncomfortable at best, and possibly dangerous for those who are unprepared. If you plan to visit Pinnacles from late May through early September, please check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
We knew it was supposed to be HOT, but arriving in the afternoon, the heat of the day was already starting to abate and we got our campsite all set up before heading out to hike.
There was extreme fire danger; all campfires were outlawed, but we had a propane stove to cook dinner, so we were all set.
Our first hike was pretty easy, to Bear Gulch.
My head was pounding from what I felt was probably a traumatic brain injury but I persevered.
The cave is closed part of the year to protect bats raising their young, but was partially open and not to be missed. You need a flashlight cos parts of it are pitch black and kind of scary, but the steps are well maintained and there are handrails, too. Even if you’re claustrophobic, you should go – it’s that amazing.
Back at camp, we made dinner and discussed going to bed early. Without a campfire, there’s not much to do at night but sleep.
We had been warned about aggressive raccoons with cautions to secure all food and aggressively shout to deter them, but NOTHING could have prepared us for what happened as the sun set.
I was relaxing, nursing a cup of tea, swallowed another acetominephen (don’t take real aspirin if you even think you have a concussion or a brain bleed) and watched hub clean up after dinner. The back of the truck was open and he was half inside the camper, securely packing up the food.
Peregrine falcons and California condors took advantage of the cooling afternoon breezes to circle high above the treeline.
This is when a gang of six to eight raccoons ran under the truck and started to jump in right where hub was!
I simultaneously screamed at him to shut the tailgate and grabbed my hiking sticks, proceeding to smack them together and yell, “get out of here!” as loud as I good, which is pretty loud and they deffo got the message.
The gang ran off into the bushes for a minute, regrouped, and returned.
This went on for what seemed like forever.
These raccoons were on a rampage.
Then the raccoons split off into two groups; a couple of them were the decoys that tried to lure me away while the others aimed for hub and the food.
Hub continued to put things away and I banged the sticks together and ran interference; blocking their access to our vehicle — on their final attack, three of the little hooligans hopped on the picnic table and were figuring out a way to run off with our propane stove.
I was so involved in defending our food that I wasn’t able to take any photos of the invasion.
But I took lots of pics of deer. Deer were everywhere, casually walking by our campsite; moms with fawns, family groups…it was beautiful.
We were awakened a couple of times during the night by coyotes singing, howling, and yipping so close it seemed they were right outside our tent.
We felt they were communicating approval of the way we handled the raccoon “situation” and our efforts to foil their looting.
The next morning we woke up early to beat the heat and hike before it got too hot.
Condor Gulch Trail is only about three miles round trip to the Overlook, but with a moderately steep 1,100 foot elevation. We ate lunch at the overlook, and it was a truly spectacular view.
This trail offers spectacular views of the High Peaks, whether you hike just a few minutes or the entire trail.