Astro 27: Field Astronomy at Pinnacles National Park

Apr 8-10, 2016


For the first time in any field astro class in 28 years, we had rain both nights, and even pretty much non-stop the whole weekend. Bummer for doing night time astronomy. Our usual crew of telescope people abandoned, so no great shots from Kirk B this time. We had to make do with lectures under the umbrellas. The rain on Saturday was very light and didn't interfere with the hike for the geology class, nor for my solo run through the mountain trails. The misty conditions made for some nice day-time photography.

About a mile and a half up the High Peaks trail

bizarre other wordly shapes in the mist

A lone Sticky Monkey Flower growing out of a crack in the volcanics

Lupine, dappled in rain drops

Monkey flower and Indian Paintbrush

A beautiful stand of Indian Paintbrush

Bear Gulch Reservoir

A pause before resuming my run, up to Chalone Peak... SCTC cap recovered as you see. Last year I saw several of the rare reg-legged frogs which had been re-introduced here. This year, none.

Looking back toward the High Peaks. Actually, I discovered at the reservoir that I was missing my Santa Cruz Track Club felt cap. I was sure I must have had it fall out of my CamelBak somewhere back up the trail, and decided to run back up to the High Peaks in hopes of finding it. I did! A couple from San Francisco had it and knew I'd be back for my prize.

Forms from formlessness

I just loved this run... these otherworldly shapes half hidden in the foggy mist put my mind into a timeless place

The extra run back to the High Peaks had me worried about whether my CamelBak's water would last me, and so I took every opportunity to get natural moisture by eating miner's lettuce along the way, dripping with rain drops.

Halfway up the Chalone Peak trail is a spectacular view to the High Peaks in the far distance, where I was an hour ago.

From the ridge, looking down into the Salinas Valley and the Big Sur mountains

At the abandoned fire lookout on top of Chalone Peak

campfire lecture on cosmology, the origin of the universe, and how the anthropic principle argues for a multi-verse

Sunday morning, Molly was first in line for the bacon

The Big Burrito

Walk softly and carry a big flashlight, was the Word

Molly couldn't wait to get into the talus caves in Bear Gulch, and down-climbs to get an advance look while Dave does one of his lectures above

At the creek bottom, about to encounter some serious cavage

Staring at the underground waterfalls


Re-entering the Real World from the nether world


zzA nice moment

Final lab; searching for examples of the different rock types washed into the Chalone Creek canyon - Molly's proud of her stratigraphy assemblage.