I've been wanting to do the High Peaks Trail in the spring since last fall, when I read about how spring is the time to go there and enjoy all the wildflowers. This Saturday's forecast looked perfect, in the low 60s, and Jeremy was able to go with us! We parked on the West side for the first time. Our 9 mile loop was Juniper Canyon Trail to Tunnel Trail to High Peaks Trail to Bench Trail to Old Pinnacles Trail (Jeremy split off onto North Wilderness trail a little ways in to get an extra 7 miles of running, then he met up with us after the cave) to Balconies Cave to Balconies Trail.
There are still sections I want to go back and do! Finish Juniper Canyon Trail up to where we made it last time; High Peaks Trail from the Tunnel Trail to where we made it last time; and we have yet to go on the Condor Gulch Trail.
It was neat to drive to the West side, see land we had seen on one trip before (to the central valley), and have a new starting point. This was the ranger station before the parking sections:
Unbeknownst to us, it was free National Park week. We would have saved $15 anyway with Hayley's free pass that all 4th graders got for the year. Parked in overflow parking and got started.
Younger 3 & Dad started off with much vigor; Hays and I were a bit slower getting our hiking legs warmed up!
Tunnel Trail, aptly named.
Blake was going hard up that mountain, and he started to wear out near the top, so he ended back with Hayley & I at some point. He said, "This new Pinnacles is crazy!" with aggressive hand motions, it was hilarious. He had a couple of falls, one uphill, one downhill. Jeremy was a huge help and carried him for awhile! This 9 mile loop took us 6 hours; would have been a good amount longer without Jeremy carrying him here, and then I carried him a little less than a mile when Jeremy went on his run. At 40+ pounds, he provides some good cross training for sure.
A lot of black fuzzy caterpillars out!
These things were neat; shiny and almost plastic looking.
The tops were sooooo soft, but don't let your fingers get poked by the rest of the plant!
No idea; some kind of vine thing.
Attempts at getting a family pic...
H's masterful photo bomb, haha!
Entering Balconies Cave. Before this entrance, you have to climb over a rubble pile of rocks; both times we've gone here, I've questioned whether we got off trail, but we didn't. That's just how this one rolls.
Balconies Cave is different than Bear Gulch, and Seth was almost in tears afterwards because he was so disappointed that that's all the caving we got to do, and after all that hiking too! I told him next time we'd go to Bear Gulch. BC wasn't all the way open today anyway.
While I was taking a picture of this corner, Jeremy accused me of being Shimrad, LOL. A character in the 4th book of the Wingfeather Saga, The Warden & the Wolf King.
Overall, a very good trip, and I'm glad Jeremy was able to go with us!
Tips for hiking Pinnacles if you go:
~Take a lot of water, more than you think you'll need if you plan to hike up into the hills. It's hot, dry, dusty. Even on a cool day, it feels a lot warmer than it is. Can't imagine what summer is like!
~Head lamp for the caves.