#24 Pinnacles National Park, CA
Pinnacles was originally a volcano and believe it or not, started out in the Los Angeles area. But the tectonic plates carried it to its present day location. Who knows maybe millions of years from now it will be in Oregon? The San Andreas Fault lies directly to the east of the campground and visitor center, which is a little creepy when you are exploring the rare talus caves that are found in Pinnacles.
Talus caves aren't true caves like Carlsbad Cavern and Mammoth Cave, they are formed by large rocks, some the size of houses, tumbling down and wedging into each other to form caves. As you travel through these "caves" the creepy part becomes more clear. These caves were formed by giant rocks falling mostly from earthquakes; what's to keep them from falling on a person if an earthquake happens while you're in there?!? Nothing, dear friends, nothing at all.
The approach to the Talus Caves
Lest you think Talus Caves have light peeking through the rocks all the time...they don't. In parts of the cave it is pitch black. This is where I turned around and left the cave.
I forgot to bring my headlamp and couldn't see a thing.
My last visit to Pinnacles was in the late 80's when it was still a National Monument. In 2013, it was designated as a National Park. It's a beautiful park with rugged features, but it's claim to fame is the California Condor. The California Condor numbers were at 22 known birds in 1987 and were considered extinct. But with great effort at breeding in captivity the species was brought back and today there are about 400 condors, of which about 200 birds in the wild flying on their great wings from the park to Big Sur on the coast. Pinnacles continues to be a prime release site and natural habitat for the Condor. I didn't see any but am happy that the efforts to bring this giant bird back continue to be successful.
Other animals in the park are many species of bats, mountain lions, coyotes, fox, and the bobcat, with which I had a very up close and personal encounter. I was sitting by the fire in my campsite as dark was fast approaching. As I went to the tent to retrieve something, I heard a mountain lion type roar, but smaller, come out of the hedge on my left. In an instant, the bobcat was running right in front of me through my campsite and through some other sites. It terrified many and exclamations of "what was that?!?" and people jumping in their cars and slamming the doors were heard all along "Bob's" chosen path. So that was my interesting story that happened in Pinnacles.
Here are some more scenic shots from my hikes.
These kind young men were trying to get a snake off the trail so it wouldn't get hurt...and I wouldn't scream.
Where I highlighted with orange is the trail. There are no handrails and it drops off a long ways. Also, you have to walk bent over as to not hit your head on the overhanging rocks.
Flowers and plants of Pinnacles