Pinnacles has started a photography fire in me

March 10, 2008 at 10:19 pm (hiking, photography)

There are a number of great hikes in the Bay Area, but I think a lot of them start to look the same after you’ve been on a few of them and covered the range of landscapes. So I thought that I had exhausted the geography and flora that the Bay Area has to offer. I was wrong! I went to Pinnacles National Monument near Hollister and had an awesome day of hiking! I went with a group of 8 people, all of them happy and funny and wonderful. We had such a great time that we all applauded after we emerged from our hike. The landscape is a little like parts of Arches National Park, but it’s got Californian vegetation. And they have caves, though they are actually more like crevices between rocks that have been filled with other rocks. The light filtered in between the rocks and it was a really beautiful and cool experience to walk through the caves a.k.a. crevices between rocks that have been filled with other rocks.

Swedish Fish took this photo of
(The Group – Swedish Fish + Some woman going down the hill):

Speaking of light, I’ve been thinking more and more about investing in a digital SLR. There are a lot of photos that I would like to take, but I know they won’t come out because of the limitations of my camera – difficulties w/ low light, slow response time, etc.. I can control the aperture and exposure time, but that’s difficult to navigate through the menus. And the range that I can cover and the lens are still limiting – I can never get the depth of field that I’d like to get. A bunch of the happy, funny, wonderful people had digital SLRs and they seemed to be happily snapping away, and I kept wondering how much more I could do if I had different camera equipment. I found this website that has a buying guide for beginner digital SLR users… I wonder if it’s sound advice. It all seems reasonable, but the monetary investment would be so huge that I don’t want to make a decision lightly. I’ve determined that the camera body is not so important and the lens(es) that you use matter much more, but I have no idea what sort of lens(es) I’d need to cover the photography situations that I will encounter. Any words of wisdom out there for me?

Here are some of the photos that I was able to take with my camera. I wish I could show you all the other photos that I was imagining. The theme of these photos is “Optical Illusions.”

These are actually large rocks and a regularly sized tree. It would have been pretty disappointing to see a puny pile of rocks:high peaks

Don’t they look like they’re really high up? They did do a good job getting up, but the height at which they appear to be in the photo is mostly from the camera angle:climbers

This is a photo (taken by Swedish Fish) of me and Laughing Ophthalmologist, who does not usually tower over me like this. Also, notice how she has a huge smile on her face. Maybe it’s because her digital SLR gives the illusion of a huge smile. Actually, the smile is not an illusion, she actually is like this in person!:
two people

For anyone interested in going on this hike, we started at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center.

We started on the Condor Gulch Trail (across the road from the Visitor Center and the trail starts at the little bridge), which has a constant but moderate uphill climb and a good view of High Peaks. (1.7 mi)

When we hit the T-intersection with High Peaks Trail, we took a left. This part of the trail went up and down through the High Peaks. Very good views of the hills and valleys surrounding the peaks. Since it’s March, the hills were really green. I would imagine that it wouldn’t be as nice of a view in the summer or fall. (0.6 mi)

We then stayed on the High Peaks Trail for the Steep and Narrow section. This is a decent description of this section, but it’s not more strenuous than other parts of the route. There’s a bathroom at the end of this section. (0.7 mi)

Taking the “left” option at the bathroom, we continued on the High Peaks Trail (1.5 mi).

We took a small detour loop (go left) on the Rim Trail which takes you to the lovely surprise Bear Gulch Reservoir. (0.4 mi)

You can then take the Bear Gulch Cave Trail through the previously described “caves” or you can take the high road and bypass the caves on a parallel route. Sleepy Weasel and Runs With Head Down say that you can hear everything that is said in the cave very clearly. Watch what you say. (0.7 mi)

We merged back with the Moses Spring Trail… (0.2 mi)

That takes us back to the Bear Gulch Trail on which we walked along the road back to where we had parked our cars at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center. (0.3 mi)

The whole route was 6.1 mi and it took us about 4 hours. I wasn’t actually really keeping track of time so the this is a huge estimate.


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