Continuing the week of family time, on Thursday I visited Pinnacles National Park with them. The car ride from the Bay Area was very reasonable, only a couple of hours, and most of it was through rural areas so the traffic was negligible. Once we arrived at the park, the visitor’s center was rather quaint — Pinnacles only became a Park in 2013, it was previously a National Monument, so it’s still pretty undeveloped — but the ranger at the desk was helpful and pointed us to the Moses Spring trail.
We drove up to the Bear Gulch parking area and had a little picnic before starting out; there were plenty of picnic benches around even if parking had been a little tight. The trail itself was very pleasant; there was some scrambling over rocks including a couple places where I had to actually put my had down to rock to scramble comfortably, but for the most part it was pretty level or just a reasonable slope. And the views were wonderful! My favorite place along the trail was at the Reservoir, but there was great scenery the whole way.
We didn’t opt to go into the cave — my father and I are both averse to confined spaces — but walked a full loop around the Moses Spring and Rim trails. There were great mosses, lots of great rock formations, and plenty of places to stop and look around and take pictures. Since this was during the time of year when days are short we were already losing some of the great lighting towards the end of our hike, but we got a lot of great shots before that. We had started our day kind of late too since my sister had needed to make a conference call and we knew cell coverage around the park was poor.
Most spectacularly though we got to see a California Condor! It was towards the end of our hike, he (or she) was flying all around one of the big formations off to our left. We could see the white markings on the underside of its wings, but it was too far away so we weren’t able to make out any other colorings. We confirmed with a ranger though that a bird of that size around that formation was a condor. So that made us feel pretty connected to the park. As we were leaving the place where we’d sighted him another party came up the trail and we were just enthusing about this great bird that we’d seen.
What a great way to wrap up a year — family and nature. On to 2017!