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644. Giant Wilderness Loop (11/15/08)

Hikers (7): David, Diane, George, John, Paul, Peter, Steve
Distance: 26 miles
Rating: 6 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Pinnacles National Monument south of Hollister

Write-up by George and Peter

26 miles and just under 6000 feet of climbing. Started out very cold, then got quite warm in the afternoon. The first few miles were flat and downhill, then the next few miles were insanely steep along the pig fence. By the time we got to North Chalone Peak it felt like we had done a Level 5 hike, and we had only done 8 miles. We still had to climb over the High Peaks, and then do the Northern Wilderness Trail. Paul was not feeling good, so we urged him to bail out at Bear Gulch (but he's an intrepid hiker, and went as far as Chaparral before taking the direct route in).

Time was running out, and we were going to end up hiking in the dark if we didn't start making good time. The last 3 miles of the North Wilderness Trail we were doing 4 mph. We hiked from sunrise to sunset -- starting at 6:30am and finishing at 5:00pm. Within 20 minutes of the last hiker getting in, it was completely dark. Mexican food at Las Palmas in Hollister was our reward.

Post-hike analysis:

The hike was so difficult, Peter and George each gave it 3 brown leaves (Peter at his home, Hollister Starbucks, and Bear Gulch Visitor Center, and George at his home, Hollister Starbucks, and halfway down the South Wilderness Trail!). Dave also fessed up to taking care of business somewhere along the pig fence. There was some serious exertion on this hike! By the way, the fence took revenge on Dave. He proudly showed off his battle scars from his tangle with the barbed wire after the hike. He seemed especially eager to show me his middle finger.

Honorable mention to Nani, who started out with us, but turned back on the South Wilderness Trail, then did a different 27-mile hike, including visiting North Chalone Peak and High Peaks (but no wilderness trails). Diane was not impressed -- calling both Paul and Nani "weak"! The thing I like about Diane is that after she rips some guy's heart out of his chest, she will smile and show it to him before he dies.

George's pix and videos of the hike, including a moon shot! They capture the day perfectly -- I feel tired just looking at them!

Note from Steve: Sunset was at 4:56pm, which was five minutes after David and Diane came in, but a few minutes before Peter, George, and John finished. We didn't all finish "at 5 pm" -- I was done at 2:47pm, Paul was back at 4:09pm, and leafless Nani came in at 4:33pm. These are the crucial details one tracks when there is nothing else to do (luckily George gave me the carpool keys--thanks George--else I would have been counting acorns or something).

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