OK, back to nature.
Last weekend I went along with the FOMFOK hiking group on its annual Pinnacles National Monument trek, which is always great fun amid good people (or good fun among great people, depending on how muddy the trails are). This year we picked the weekend when half the Scouting population of California was camping out in the park and hoping for a condor sighting (condors are as rare as silent Scouts; I wonder if there’s a connection.)
We saw no condors, which were reintroduced to the park a few years back. Used to be the condor was the biggest, most butt-kicking carrion eater in all of California (which is saying something, considering how many big black evil-looking vultures we have), but men with guns showed up and started making their lives miserable (the lead in bullets rots their innards). They were all but extinct a few decades ago, till the last of them were taken into captivity and nursed back to health. Now a smattering of them have been returned to the wild, where they can eat feast on rotting carcasses to their hearts’ content.
Now for some nature pictures.
Along with huge carrion eaters, California enjoys many huge pinecones.
The ol’ get-the-sun-behind-the-rock trick.
Cool rocks abound, because the Pinnacles formation was created by the forces of continental plates crashing into each other and destroying a whole volcano in the process. Millions of years of seasonal rains have softened the edges on all this busted-up rock.
Dig the cause-and-effect: broken branch lying just below where it used to be attached to the tree. Wonder if a condor tried to sit on it. (Hey, they’re very big birds).
Lots of nice pine trees at the Pinnacles’ higher elevations. It’s about 1600 feet of climb up to the High Peaks Trail, which is one of the coolest trails in all the Bay Area.
Greenery’s plentiful in the springtime. A few wildflowers are sprouting, too.
Dave takes a picture of me taking a picture. Donna wonders why guys act this way.
Getting near the High Peaks Trail. Always a fine breeze up here.
Trees, rocks. All that’s missing is the condors.
I thought this looked like a petrified elephant seal.
These yellow flowers were putting on quite a show.
Nice view on a sunny day.
People who know where the condors are get treated like rock stars up here. Unfortunately, the young woman from the Park Service had to tell everybody the condors were off somewhere else today.
The most fun you can have on the High Peaks Trail is negotiating the steps blasted into the rock face up one way and back down the other.
There go those yellow flowers, making a fashion statement again.
More of those impressive rocks on the way back down to the park visitor center.
Gimme a V!
Keep moving guys, the condors will wait till you’re dead (the hawks, harriers, falcons, coyotes and bobcats, however, have no such patience. This is why despite the way, way coolness of having your skin change color to match your surroundings, it kinda sucks to be a lizard).