Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pinnacles NM - East To West Loop Hike

On the second day of our stay in Pinnacles we went for a 10-mile loop hike connecting eastern and western parts of the park. The loop was made of: Old Pinnacles, High Peaks, Tunnel, Juniper Canyon, Balconies, Balconies Cliffs, and again Old Pinnacles Trails. The first part of it was pretty strenuous as we had to climb 1540 feet over 2.5 miles. The rest of the loop was downhill or flat. It took us around 5h to complete it, but we took a liberty to stop here and there and enjoy the views.

I would definitely recommend this hike to anybody. It is pretty long, but it leads through all major park's highlights: High Peaks and Balconies Area. Most visitors to the park access it from the Eastern side and this hike allows them to explore also the Western part, which, in my opinion, is more beautiful and serene. Sadly, during this trip, we did not manage to visit the Balconies Cave as it was flooded. Maybe that's good, at least we have a reason to go there again.

We got pretty lucky with the weather. Even though the forecast was calling for heavy rains, it only started pouring in the late afternoon, during the last half an hour of our hike. We did not mind it much as by then our feet were wet anyway... The last part of the hike led along West Fork of Chalone Creek, which we had to cross more than ten times. The creek was so swollen with water that there was no way we would manage to cross it without getting wet. At certain point we gave up trying to jump from stone to stone (especially that there were not enough of them) and we adopted a strategy of running through the creek (at it shallowest place, of course). This strategy left me knee-high wet. But it was fun.

High Peaks Trail:

At the end of the climb Anil was a bit tired:


High Peaks:

Balconies again:

Wildflowers on the way:

Balconies area:

More wildflowers:

Anil crossing Chalone Creek: