Thursday, March 30, 2017

And there are condors!

This past few days is our second Pinnacles visit on this trip. The first was Pinnacles National Natural Monument. This is Pinnacles National Park. Both worth visiting, but Pinnacles National Park is the most fabulous and the roads coming and going splendidly beautiful. And there are condors!
"The California condor is the largest flying bird in North America. Their wings may stretch nearly 10 feet (3 meters) from tip to tip. When in flight, these huge birds glide on air currents to soar as high as a dizzying 15,000 feet (4,600 meters)." ~ National Geographic
Last time we were here, about 15 years ago, it was a National Monument. Now it is a National Park. We remembered it as a sleepy place, although our visit was in the winter, not spring. We also remembered that it was plagued with feral hogs.

This trip the park is not sleepy, in fact the 134 camp sites were mostly filled, even mid week, and the trailhead parking areas were jammed full. Plus, the hogs are gone. The entire park has been fenced, the hogs trapped and then relocated. Restoration of native plantings is underway to repair the hog-ruined landscape.

And there are condors! From Bear Creek we hiked up Rim Trail to see the California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus), and did see them although from afar. We also talked with a man on the trail radio tracking them. He is another one of those fabulous volunteers our parks attract. Interrupting his work, he explained Pinnacles now has about 85 condors all released, marked, tracked and fed. Cattle ranchers donate stillborn calves to the park service which they freeze and then deliver to feeding stations as needed. Another group of condors has more recently been released at Big Sur. The two groups travel between both locations and also have been tracked in Arizona.

Wildflowers were glorious...

Views stunning. In this spot we enjoyed the frogs cheerfully croaking in the pools right below our viewpoint...

Pinnacles, overlooked by many travelers, is now being discovered. We highly recommend it. And there are condors!


"The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder."
~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

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