And what a lovely gem of a park it is. We started with a short hike up to Bear Gulch Cave, which is a different sort of a cave than anything we had seen before. It was created from large boulders covering a narrow gulch. I wasn't sure that even qualifies as being a cave, but the posters in the nature center claim that yes, that counts.
An intriguing little trail up through giant rocks:
Checking out a climbing wall - with all the little rocks jutting out, it's almost like a manmade wall in a climbing gym:
Up through the various twists and turns of the cave, popping out to this sight near the top:
Thank you for the stairs! The CCC built much of the infrastructure here, including the little dam at the top:
The pretty reservoir above the cave gulch:
An interesting mix of gray and red through the trunk of this (manzanita?) tree - we guessed that it is partially dead:
Frog rock on the ridge as we headed up the High Peaks trail:
More wonderful rock formations - and here's where we saw three condors come to land! We had seen some large birds soaring high overhead when we first arrived but didn't get a good look at them to be sure they were condors.
We stood for a while with binoculars, watching the birds hang out, getting a close enough look to see the red heads. Not close enough for a good picture. But now we were sure they were condors. One by one, they spread their wings and flew off, very cool! I'm so glad Mom got a good view of the condors.
I continued up and around the High Peaks trail while Mom and John backtracked to the truck.
More scenery on the other side of the ridge:
The very-cool trail winding around the high pinnacles:
Little steps built into the rocks:
As I was taking the picture of the steps, I heard the whoosh or saw the shadow of a large bird. Whipping around, I managed to catch a photo of a condor soaring right overhead - awesome!
Even better - it landed on a nearby rock! I was thrilled to get a closer look. And my camera was finally in range:
I stood for a while, watching it preen itself as I slowly zoomed in and snapped pictures:
Hello, condor #2! Thank you so much for hanging out with me. You may be quite ugly, but you're an amazing bird.
Finally I had to get moving again.
Ravens circling overhead:
More fun on the "steep and narrow" section of the trail:
More great views of pinnacles:
Not so much a "trail running" trail, more of an adventure:
Coming down the other end of the ridge:
Lots of stopping and admiring the rocky views:
Thank you, Pinnacles, we will certainly be back.
One more bit of excitement, an excellent lunch with Kip at Google - thank you Kip!
Mom was here :) and we were happy: