Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 11, 2018 Pinnacles National Park, California

Mid 60's and sunny.

We woke up to fog this am again.  But it burnt off pretty early revealing lovely colors.  The official sign for Pinnacles National Park, and twisty trees. The CCC built the park in the 1930's so the trails are bulletproof. Lots of nice stonework.  

 We hiked the High Peaks-Bear Gulch loop today.6.7 miles and 1,425 of vertical. John is in Bear Gulch.  John entering Bear Gulch Cave which was created when huge boulders formed a roof over the narrow canyon. The park brochure says: The cave areas are narrow and twisting with low ceilings and uneven footing. Passing through may require scrambling over rocks and wading through water. The cave is dark, use a flashlight.  

A few views in the cave of the narrow passages, reflection of sunlight onto the water and John took this one of me going out into the sunlight at the end. There is a spring/waterfall in the cave here by the 5 foot high ferns

 The brochure  says portions of the High Peaks trail are narrow and steep. Very narrow and steep, many spots have tight steep stairs chopped into the rock and handrails. John and I on some of the stairs. The sign going into the cave-flashlight required, low ceilings and slippery when wet. Tourist trap climbers access 12 people total. The park is a popular rock climbing area. The rock is
  mostly volcanic breccia and tuff is weak compared to granite or basalt. Technical climbing only. Pinnacles rock  can be so unstable that even new bolts may fall. Keep the condors wild and free. Please do not approach or feed the condors.  Carabiner sign pointing to climbing access.

Part of the trail is shaded by big trees. Fall leaves still on the trees.

The first glimpse of the actual Pinnacles here.  These are part of an ancient volcano caldera. It sits on the San Andreas fault- one side is going north and the otherside south, so half of the caldera is 195
miles south. 

The pinnacles are breathtaking. You don't expect to see something like this towering over  rolling hills. A multi colored rock wall. Lots of steep ridges and deep canyons. The gray pines which the indians called Ghost trees, are lit up by the sunlight. Back lit ridges.

Design on the rock wall that looks like Mickey Mouse.  We saw a couple dozen condors soaring around in the peaks. Very majestic bird with a 9 1/2 foot wingspan. I watched two on a rock across the canyon, first two of them spread their wings wide, faced each other and rotated around a couple times, then both raised their wings and jumped in unison. A vulture flying over head. They are pretty big too, 6 foot wingspans. A crooked tree in front of more pinnacles. 

I think these mittenlike pinnacles are Hawkins Peak, at 2720 feet high, the highest point in the park. John is in the lower left hand corner in the shadows on one of the narrow steep stairways.  

Looking down to the west side of the park. There is not a road that goes all the way through the park, so you have drive a really long way to visit both sides. 

The Balconies cliff across the valley. The Balconies cliff and a row of pinnacles in the afternoon light.

There are a couple tunnels cut through the rock on the trail. I am coming out of one here. These pinnacles are huge, can't tell in the photo.

Red madrone trunks. Last light on the pines and peaks here.  
Last light on the way back. Rock colors and shapes. A gray pine cone. It is about 8 inches long, really heavy and prickly. You don't want one landing on your head, or your car.
 The gray pine needles are very shiny in the sunlight, colored rock wall and last light on this row of pines at the head of this canyon.  

Monday, December 10, 2018

December 7-10, 2018 Calistoga to Pinnacles National Park, California

High 50's and sunny. Beautiful.

The bus at the Napa county fairgrounds in Calistoga. We scored a tree. I went biking around town and the vineyards today. It is late in the year the only vines with any grapes have raisins. Some of the vines still have some nice fall leaves. 

I rode to Sterling vineyards. They have beautiful fall colors, roses and flowers. The beautiful blue sky and vineyards at Clos Pegase winery. 

Sunset from the fairgrounds tonight. The basket is looking good. I love the colors. The small beads are clear with dichroic turquoise in them, so they are clear, flash bright blue and sometimes are purple or yellow. I had meant for this to be a kind of wide flat basket, but it seems to want to be a kind of taller round one so far.  

The basket is really taking shape. I like the lines and colors in it. A side street in Calistoga, California on my bike ride today.  

 We went to Vincent Arroyo Winery today. It is an appointment only for tastings, also a  mile and a half walk from the campground. They have their xmas lights up. Jeffery our bartender for the tastings. He was very knowledgeable and entertaining. The wine was wonderful. We got a bottle of the chardonnay which was $30 and the cheapest. One of the brewery dogs-they are the brewery ambassadors who are each very skilled winemaker's in their own right. They each make a signature lend each year. They welcome each and every opportunity to share their wines with the guests.  

One of the Vincent Arroyo vineyards in sunset as we walked home. The road was closed on the way to the winery, the bridge was out. We had to climb over the barricade to be on time for our tasting appointment. On the way back we didn't care. 

 After the winery we went to the Calistoga Inn brewery and had brews and a dinner pear and blue cheese  and some more things pizza for dinner. I finished the basket. I really like it. Most I don't like while I am making them, and many not even when they are done. But I really like this one. It is 11 x 6 inches. Glycerine, plain, purple and wine colored long leaf needles. I got the big purple beads on a necklace at the thrift store. The little blue ones are clear glass with dichroic bright blue inside. They and they and the rhinestones in the necklace flash light.  

Redwoods and  bare trees in the campground at sunset. 
One more sunset from the campground. 

We started out in Calistoga under foggy skies. We passed through  the east bay area, also in fog. We passed ships and lots of industry. Then the fog burned off and the sun came out. It is green and lovely. It only rains in the winter in California and when it does the hills turn green. Downtown Tres Pinos, ranchland with rolling hills and oak trees and a couple vineyards. 

We stopped in Hollister for fuel.  Topped off the tank with 47 gallons of $4.04/gal diesel.  The young man in front of us filled up a couple tanks while we waited to go by him . Then his truck would not start. We are waiting, he is futzing with his truck, no one else is there to jump him. So we unhook our car from the back of the bus, jump him, reattach the car and are on our way. Delayed us quite a while.  Our destination is Pinnacles National Park.  The park is 2/3 of an ancient volcano caldera among rolling oak covered hills. Huge pinnacles of rock tower over the rest of the park.  The park sits on the San Andreas fault so the other 1/3 of the park is 195 miles southeast.  here is the bus at the campground among oak trees. 

We hiked 1/2 round trip to the Bacon ranch. The Bacons ranched here from  late 1800- early 1900's. They owned all the land that is now Pinnacles National Park. This is their barn and inside of the garage. They had the first car in the valley. I love these old oak trees. I grew up in the bay area in the rolling hills and oaks. Reminds me of home. 

Wild turkeys under the oak tree in fall color. Pinnacles National park, oak leaves on the ground, Caution Due to an unusual number of tree falls some campsites  have been closed for your safety. Don't park under trees.  deer and turkey under the oaks. Acorn woodpeckers drill these holes in the trees and put acorns in them. They store them so that they can eat the bugs that move into the acorns. Squirrels and blue jays steal some of the acorns and eat them.  California condors have been reintroduced here. The photo shows a condor with a vulture. The condors have a 9 1/2 foot wingspan and are the largest birds in north America. The sliver new moon with pink clouds.

Sunset was stunning from the campground.