This week I discovered an SD stick with all of my photographs from last year! So exciting. 🙂 Last year I was quite the globetrotter. One trip that I hold near and dear to my heart is my trip to Pinnacles National Park in California. I’ve been traveling to California for work since late 2012. Each time I fly out there, I try to visit a different spot. I never thought in my life I’d ever get to explore California. It’s been a great state to explore with an abundance of great memories I won’t soon forget. Pinnacles National Park was my greatest challenge, physically – but worth it!
I had to laugh at my experience after visiting this park, however. Most of my trips are a result of spontaneity. Therefore, not much research is put into my trip prep. In fact, trip prep does not exist. I scoped the park’s website just for a map to see if there were trails. I saw that there were some trails as well as a cave. Sweet, I thought.
Being in California, I knew the weather would be hot. I bought a bottle of water. NOTE: do not bring anything less than a gallon of water.
I’ll have to post additional photos later of my descriptions… The hike started out innocent enough. Trees. Grass. Squirrels squirreling around. Some rock formations. Then I came upon the cave. I assumed it would be a tourist cave – lined with ropes and lights, maybe some placards describing the stalagmite. Nope! It was a real cave. The cave grew darker and darker. I highly debated turning around. The walls slowly closed in. My phone had no reception, so I couldn’t even call anyone to let them know how much of a dummy I was.
I had just gotten a new phone a couple days prior and didn’t realize there was a flash light feature. So, for what seemed like forever, I just kept taking photos with the flash to light up the area. Entertaining. Never a dull moment with me.
I finally reached the other side, where there was a small body of water and some wildlife. I photographed them for a moment while pondering my mortality. No more going into caves without a flashlight.
I had a hard copy of the map of trails. If you’re smarter than me, which you probably are, you will navigate to their site and check out the trail information. It gives you approximate times on completing the trails. I didn’t do that. The sun hung heavy in the sky, it’s heat beating down on me. Did I wear sunscreen? No. I totally get an F in preparedness.
I drank all of my water rather quickly. About an hour or so in, I needed a break. I took shelter under a shade tree to take selfies and again question my mortality. I was already sore. While sitting under that tree, an elderly couple walked briskly by me with their smiles and walking sticks. “Great day!” They chimed as they walked past. Yea, yea, yea. I figured if these old farts could hike this, so could I!
I started hiking again. The sun just did not want me to live another day. Hot. Thirsty. My breaks became more frequent. Pinnacles is a HUGE park! And the maps online did not show the topography of the park. Some of the trails were difficult to navigate – definitely wear appropriate shoes. I actually wore tennis shoes that day! When I visited Point Reyes I wore 6-inch platform sandals. (I ended up taking them off and walking barefoot – so painful).
Eventually, I made it to the top of the park. I celebrated by taking an obligatory selfie. With an overpowering sense of victory, I started walking again. But I was still going up. I wasn’t at the top yet! Grrr. What seemed like an eternity (but was probably less than a half hour), I made it to the real top of the park. THe sight was breathtaking. SO amazing. It definitely felt incredible to have hiked such an amazing feet.
Going down, however, was no easier. I was fighting against gravity. At one point something funny happened. I soooooooo wish I had video footage proof of this. I was walking and these California Condors kept circling me, well not me… but the area. I’m hunched over a rock and yell, “Leave me alone! I’m not dead yet!!!” And almost immediately after, a family of four or five rounds the corner. Initial awkward eye contact. They ended up being really nice. I chatted with them for 5-10 minutes.
By the time I made it to the bottom of the hills, my fitness app said I hiked over 97 floors. That is a lot of movement! I hadn’t eaten enough and definitely wasn’t properly hydrated. So, if you want to visit go check out their site and check the current conditions and recommendations. The park is very beautiful and very much so worth a visit. What I liked most about the Park is that it wasn’t crowded at all. I saw maybe less than 10 people my whole hike until I got to the bottom.
Visit the park for yourself and tell me what you think!