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48. High Peaks Trail (01/18/98)

Hikers (8): Beth, Cindy, Eric, Eugene, Peter, Ram, Russ, Taylor
Distance: 8 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 10 beauty
Park info: Pinnacles National Monument south of Hollister

Write-up by Peter

This has always been one of our favorite hikes (see Hike #26) and I had been spreading the word all week to ensure we had a good turnout. Despite the imminent threat of rain, we had 8 people willing to cling to a handrail and drag themselves up the High Peaks, so I guess I did a good job.

When we arrived, the weather was cool and overcast, but dry. Good hiking weather! We wasted no time and hit the trail. The first mile was flat road to the turnoff for the High Peaks, and then the uphill battle through the switchbacks began.

Eric set out at a fast pace, followed by Rusty. Ram and myself walked along in the middle, with Eugene and the women bringing up the rear. The difference in volume among the chatter of the front four and rear four was quite amazing (I will leave it to you to figure out which group was louder). Upon arriving at the top of the ridge, we found that the sign marking the lookout spot had disappeared, so we just kept on walking.

Before we knew it, we were at the turnoff for the Condor Trail. Since I didn't want the girls to take the wrong trail by mistake, Ram and I waited for them while Egg and Rusty went on ahead. It was pretty windy up there and we cooled down real fast. Just as we were about to give up waiting for the women, they finally appeared. Onward!

The next stretch was the high point of the day -- the High Peaks trail and the legendary handrail. Ram was pumped! He just ran through there like a kid at Disneyland. By the time we all made it through to the other side, we found he had climbed to the top of the highest rock in the whole place and was looking down on the world. He was having a ball!

We sat on the bench, enjoying the view while we had lunch. Unfortunately, the wind was a little too strong, so we didn't stick around too long and began the walk down to the caves. Every now and then, Ram would suddenly take off and we'd see him on top of some overhanging rock. The man was in hog heaven!

When we got to the reservoir, Rusty initially said he wasn't going to go into the caves with us, but after intense peer pressure he finally caved in (pun intended). However, Rusty must have pulled some strings, because when we got down the steps we found the entrance to the caves was closed (supposedly due to all the recent rains, but we knew The Man was somehow behind it). Oh, well ... we'll just have to try again another day.

As we made our way back to the car, we could see the dark clouds starting to roll in. We made it back in the nick of time -- it started to pour just as we hit the road. Good timing!

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