I took a trip to Pinnacles in 2010 (link here), and was so pleased when we actually had a group of six ready for another trip to see spring wildflowers this year. We left the Bay Area at 7am and drove to the east entrance this time. As we drove down south, It was foggy and 52 degrees along the coast and, with shorts and short sleaves we started getting nervous. But then we turned inland toward Soledad. Suddenly the clouds lifted and the temperatures were in the high 60s at 9 a.m., with higher temperatures forecast. After a delicious breakfast, we decided on a route and were on our way.
Being in a larger group, I tried to refrain from stopping too often for photos. But I couldn't resist the Cirsium occidentale (cobweb thistle) with its beautiful bright red flower, and then I needed to photograph the close-up right next to the manroot.
It's such a delight to see these beautiful flowers, unfortunately difficult to proparate and, unlike some of their thuggish cousins, not at all invasive.
There were other delights. Would you believe this little manzanita growing right out of a crack in the rock?
Would you believe the stone crop flowering so abundantly that whole rock walls are yellow? I believe this is Sedum spathulifolium (pacific stonecrop), but I'm really no expert in succulents.
Another surprise was a winecup clarkia (Clarkia purpurea) that really was a deep purple.
And I was very excited about the
I also saw a beautiful low-growing plant, mostly flowers with very few leaves, that I have not been able to identify. Any idea?
But I'm saving the best for last: Yes, we're pretty sure we saw two condors, sitting on a rock outcropping quite far away. Almost extinct but returned to the wild, these magnificent birds are so big that it's hard to confuse them with something else. And they do live here (see California Condors at Pinnacles)
Sure, the head looks a bit like a turkey vulture's, but these birds were just too big to be vultures. I just didn't feel like taking photos and only got one. Of course the bird moved as I clicked the shutter, and besides, we were really far away. But I'll never forget that special view of a bird so close to extinction, and now sharing the wilderness with us in Pinnacles.