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28. North Chalone Peak (03/29/97)

Hikers (4): Beth, Peter, Russ, Taylor
Distance: 12 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Pinnacles National Monument south of Hollister

Write-up by Peter

We had so much fun at the Pinnacles less than a month ago (see Hike #26) that we decided to go back for more. Out first stop was once again the K&S Market in Hollister -- best deal in town! The Man marked his turf (as usual), and then we headed south to Pinnacles National Monument.

The first part of the hike was a one-mile flat hike to the Reservoir, where we stopped to take some pictures. Then came the main part -- a 5-mile gradual climb to the North Chalone Peak. There were not as many people in this part of the park, which was good.

Rusty took the early lead, with me chugging along in the number two spot, and girls bringing up the rear. Through every switchback, the sound of their chitter-chatter and giggling could be heard echoing up the sides of the hills. Whatever happened to a peaceful hike?

The trail was not very difficult, but for some reason it seemed to be taking a long time to reach the top. By the time we got to the lookout station at the top, I was about to faint from hunger. Food!! After stuffing our sandwiches down in record time, we actually stopped to look out and admire the view -- a beautiful panorama of the entire valley spread out under our feet. The only thing missing was a nice cold beer ....

Our original intention was to take the unmaintained trail from the North Chalone Peak over to the South Peak -- about a 4-mile side trip. However, in looking out from the top of North Peak, we could see that we would have to go way down into the next valley just to hook up with the trail and once we did, there did not seem to be a whole of excitement there, so we voted to skip that part.

We headed back down to the Reservoir and then down into the Bear Gulch Caves. We had not made it all the way through last time, but it was somewhat drier this time around, so there was hope. Muffy had not brought a flashlight and wanted to turn back, and Rusty gallantly volunteered to go with her (we won't mention Canteen Boy's fear of the dark). Taylor and I pressed on ahead. Some spots were pretty tight (especially if someone was coming the other way), but once we got past them, the space opened up and we found a staircase to lead us out of the caves. A nice little adventure!

For some reason, this easy hike had made us ravenous. There was only one solution: In 'N' Out Burger! The Man once again impressed everyone by pounding down the 3-by-3 and then asking when we were going to have dinner. El Presidente!

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