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Wicked Dark
05-24-2010, 02:14 PM
One of the first things we did (besides go wine tasting) in California was hike at Pinnacles National Monument. I have no idea what the differences are between a national monument & a park, but whatever. We totally lucked out in a couple of ways. First hiking on a Monday and on the West side of the park which has no services and as a result we were the only ones there for hours. Second it was cloudy and threatening rain; very unusual for Soledad in May. Usually rains stop in April and nothing falls all summer. Normal temps in May are the 80s and 90s which I'm glad wasn't the case. It's dry, chaparral country and that would have been brutal. As it was it actually sprinkled on us a bit and made colors really pop despite the low(ish) light. Here's a few from that hike -

Pinnacles and all the rock formations are the remnants of an ancient, extinct volcano -
http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/P5177370/876239337_qnbio-XL.jpg

Golden Yarrow on the steep slopes -
http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/P5177391/876239839_rHh5W-XL.jpg

Pretty faces -
http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/P5177432/876250962_JrEwe-XL.jpg

A favorite winery near Pinnacles is named for the Chalone indians who used the area around the park as a seasonal gathering location. When it got too hot, they moved back into Salinas valley where the now famous Monterey fog cools things down.
http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/Chalone-memories/877210689_3NS6A-XL.jpg

Anyway...thanks for checking it out. I'm still processing stuff from this hike and may add to this thread later. I think our hike took twice as long as it would have if I didn't stop to take a shot of just about every one of the million wildflowers or the terrific scenery. Ah well, luckily the husband is used to it.

Marko
05-24-2010, 03:56 PM
As usual I like the set and the text that goes with it :)

Mad Aussie
05-24-2010, 05:42 PM
Ditto Marko

Bambi
05-24-2010, 06:52 PM
nice set indeed. I love the close up of the striped flower. it's beautiful!

Wicked Dark
05-25-2010, 10:14 AM
thanks three amigos.

Here are a few more...the wildflowers in California are amazing. The sheer number of them is mind-boggling. May is a great time to visit there if anyone is planning a trip.

This is where the trail started to get steep. It got worse and handrails had to be installed - also a bridge jammed under an overhang spanning a chasm, but this is the best composition and also shows my favorite flower (if only for the name) - sticky monkeyflower. I swear, that's the official name, ever after known as stinky monkey-butt to me and my husband.
http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/P5177364/876240037_RjPvP-XL.jpg

Here's a closer view of stinky monkey-butt -
http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/Monkey-business/878518599_9bG4V-XL.jpg

Valley view below the treeline -
http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/Mountains-Misted/878523845_HNvBZ-XL.jpg

Crinkled onion (you can see this is touched with sun as the clouds started to break up) -
http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/Allium-crispum/877407662_6NtGB-XL.jpg

Lovin
05-25-2010, 11:13 AM
Wow, beautiful colors and bokeh effect on those flowers.

Hillbillygirl
05-25-2010, 11:14 AM
Excellent shots in all of them WD. Really enjoy the narrative with it also.
Thanks for sharing your trip.

Wicked Dark
05-25-2010, 04:31 PM
thanks you two. there's more to come.

Richard
05-25-2010, 04:38 PM
very nice set, The last shots got something good going on.. love the vivid purples.

Mad Aussie
05-25-2010, 05:51 PM
The flowers definitely stand out. Think I see why 'monkey-butt' was ad-libbed :)

What sort of animals live in this region?

Wicked Dark
05-26-2010, 11:21 AM
We're doofuses (doofi??) - that's why they became monkey-butt.

Animals...well, the area is well known for its bat population - several caves were inaccessible because of newborn pups (as were many beaches in Big Sur up to Monetery - seal pups though, not bats). Pinnacles also has several species of raptor including the ultra-rare California Condor, although we didn't see those when we hiked, just hawks up in the thermals. They're nesting now and were vigilantly flying. We saw tons of song birds we couldn't identify - probably wrens and similar birds. Many hummingbirds - they were very attracted to my husband's red windbreaker. Quail are ubiquitous and we narrowly avoided running over several. Lots of scrub jays, too. Pinnacles has rabbits, coyotes, mountain lions, deer, badgers, gray foxes, bobcat & various rodents, too - but we only saw rabbits and ground squirrels. Lots of lizards (skinks mostly) and snakes, but we didn't see them either. We did see these little stink bugs. I call him Gary -

http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/Gary/879705394_JAHB2-L.jpg

And here are a couple more shots, one is where it got a bit narrow and canyon-y and the other is up high - that bridge is jammed under the overhang and you have to crouch down and sort of duckwalk across. It's really tight in there and looking down over made me dizzy.

http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/P5177297/879705240_35jqc-XL.jpg

http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Travel/California-trip-May-2010/P5177378/879705113_Hqi6G-XL.jpg

I think I'm done w/the Pinnacles photos for now and will move on to something else...probably the beach and some hilly stuff.

Mad Aussie
05-26-2010, 05:58 PM
Mountain lions! See that always makes me wonder. This is a predator that would have no trouble bringing down a human ... and feeding off you. How safe is it to go hiking in country where there are Mountain Lions?

I like those shots. Very cool section of walking trail indeed.

Gary looks like a Ben to me.

Wicked Dark
05-26-2010, 07:21 PM
eh, the thought that one would actually attack and eat me never crossed my mind. I've hiked in California wilderness before (Panamint mountains that make up one side of Death Valley) and never had a problem. I don't think we're high on their to do lists.

I just noticed on the bridge shot that you can see raindrops. Just after this was a very steep staircase...so steep it was a ladder, really, and that steel handrail got very slippery.

JAS_Photo
05-26-2010, 07:31 PM
Very cool set! Love the color of that canyon.

Wicked Dark
05-26-2010, 08:29 PM
Thanks. The rock has a really wide range of colors & it seemed that almost every time we came up a new switchback, there was a new shade.