I wasn’t sure if I was up to it — 6 miles, in the heat of the day (and it was hot!), 3000 feet elevation change (up and down), narrow, twisting staircases at elevation, and of course, not enough water. But the old lady made it, with energy to spare.
The Pinnacles are the eroded remnants of an extinct volcano that has been sheared in half by the movement of the San Andreas fault. Its other half is located 150 miles to the south, in the desert of southern California, while the part we climbed now resides within the coast range bordering the Salinas Valley. The area is composed primarily of exposed lava flows, paler volcanic rocks called rhyolite, and a type of conglomerate rock (breccia) that looks like you threw rock chunks into cement and then stood the mass up on end to weather. Actually the breccia here was probably formed in the same volcano that spewed out all the lava.
The Pinnacles are home to 30+ California Condors, whose home range encompasses not only this park, but much of the coast range from the Pinnacles south to Santa Barbara. We looked closely at every Turkey Vulture we saw, just to make sure it wasn’t something a little more spectacular. Prairie Falcons nest on the cliffs on the High Ridge trail, and we did see lots of whitewash on some of the rocky ledges, but no falcons stooping on luckless prey.
And, as they say, it was all down hill from there – the biggest incentive to hurry along being our lack of water. Next time, maybe we’ll heed the warnings of the park personnel.