we went camping. the weather, the wildlife, the outdoors were brilliant!
our adventure began at pinnacles national park, our first time here.
'Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcanic field. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement.
Pinnacles National Monument was established in 1908 by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Pinnacles National Park was created from the former Pinnacles National Monument by legislation passed by Congress in late 2012 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 10, 2013.
most of california's rolling green hills are shades of brown from lack of much needed rain
a view of the high peaks, and our second (big) hike, but first...
a warmup, a three mile out and back hike on the wildflower trail
fairy houses are found here too!
the next day, up early for the high peaks nine mile loop hike, high peaks pinnacles are in the background
a hint of what was to come!
we took the park rangers advice to take the more difficult route, getting most of the elevation out of the way first. the trail was steep and narrow, well maintained and beautiful!
we've reached the top, it's SO cold and windy up here! pinnacles is the site for the california condors re-establishment program, so hoping to see one was high on the list. we saw nine that we were sure of! (they are tagged). here at the top we were treated to the sight of several gliding on gusty thermal winds, circling and soaring, so incredible! impressive, with a wing span of almost nine feet. the small speck on the top left is a condor on the rock, we watched as he flew off
three condors resting
this one was waving goodbye i think
at the top of pinnacles high peak trail it became even more narrow and steep. in the 1930's handrails were
installed, along with small steps in the rock
in many places it was best to not look down
can you see the climber on the rock face?
here he is
heading back down, the wind calmed and the weather warmed
can you see the blue jay?
at the end of the trail we were rewarded with a bouquet of california poppies!
leaving monterey county, on to our next destination
carrizo plain national monument
a place of peace and quiet and never ending wonder
the plains were dryer than we'd ever seen them. blm (bureau of land management) keeps a few small trees at the campsite watered, a blessing for the wildlife. this bullock's oriole found a good place to be
there is always much to discover here, driving slowly helps, most of the roads are unpaved a good thing i think
soon after crossing into the monument, time slows, mobile phones turn off, binoculars and camera gear come out. chuck and i play the guessing game, what do you think we'll see first? this time we weren't even ready, at the boundary, was a herd of pronghorn antelope!
carrizo plain has been referred to as californias serengeti, a very similar experiance to being on safari
at selby camp. we are alone. almost...this tree has a tiny spigot with a wee cup under it, it waters the tree as well as...
wild visitors. this snake slithered into our campsite, and went to the cup under the tree
for a drink
we watched him gulp down the cool water, his cheeks puffing in and out as he swallowed, until he was satisfied
and then we followed him as he slithered away,
i think this is why he is called a gopher snake
he was a beauty!
back out on the plain, there is a lot of this
the best way to see
birds on the fence
we had a tip from our friends at the visitors center, that there was a kit fox den in this area. we looked everywhere, where are you little fox?
a western kingbird
can you see this little one basking in the sun?
then one night, chuck had gone to the bathroom and told me he'd seen a large toad near one of the trees. i put on my headlamp and went for a look too. having no luck i came back to our camp and prepared to turn in for the night. luckily i had left my water bottle on the table near our tree, the one with the small water cup (remember the snake?) and something nearby caught my eye...
the western toad! oh my gosh, he is taking a bath in the water cup. i am sure i embarrassed him because he turned around, looked at me laughing, and climbed out, hopping slowly away
the only wildflowers here this season
a horned lark
the sacred painted rock, where my spirit guide, the white owl, lives
a clever raven's nest in an ancient piece of farm equipment
another visitor to the water dish, this little towhee
a western bluebird! this one flew up to one end of a bench
and it's companion flew up to the other, two bluebirds!
this is not snow
it is salt
this is soda lake, now completely dry, until next winter, or the next big rainfall
we'd never seen it quite this dry and so challenged each other to walk out on the lake
i am glad i am not falling in
this grass hopper was not so lucky
C + L
a western meadowlark, i am getting pretty good at imitating them. chuck calls me jack (from the big year, best movie!)
i found this, chuck photographed it. a huge black widow covered it's poor victim. in minutes she had the scarab beetle wrapped, swirling it around in it's web, and finally when it was no longer recognizable, she pulled it down into her lair.
unidentified raptor with a headless giant kangaroo rat (we think)
morning of our last day
the bench in front of our tent is a perfect place to view the rising sun
and to knit
sleeves are done, joined to body! now to stitch the fair isle yoke
leaving the plains we saw pronghorn not once
but two times more!
thank you for coming along, it is always a pleasure.