Pinnacles National Park was the first camping trip Brian and I have ever taken with friends, which is a milestone in and of itself. However, it was also the first big trip we did with my Southbay friends after Brian moved up, so it was our hallmark “We made it!” moment.
Friday, August 22
On Friday night, Brian and I drove down to Anh’s apartment after work to meet up with Brian Lin (henceforth referred to as BLin), Anh, and Jessica for the drive to Pinnacles. We got lost while trying to find Anh/Jessica’s apartment, so we ended up arriving much later than we meant to. Luckily, the other cars, which were supposed to leave much earlier than we did to set up camp, were running even later than we were. This meant that we not only were early, on their clock, but that we even had time to stop in San Jose for a slow and luxurious dinner.
By the time we got to our campsite, it was past 10pm. We were sure that the other 2 cars had already arrived and set up our camp, and we would just show up and relax. To our dismay, they hadn’t set up anything. We spent the next hour unfolding tents and staking down flaps and assembling poles.
And then, it was alcohol time.
This was the first time I’d ever been camping with just friends, which means I was absolutely not involved in the planning of camping supplies. Imagine my surprise when they rolled out two coolers with, like, 2 or 3 cases of beer / smirnoff ice / mike’s hard, as well as 2 boxes of Franzia.
Now before you get the impression that we like to spend our time sitting around drinking shitty boxed wine, let me clarify – we don’t. We sit around and drink sangria made out of shitty boxed wine. Here’s a picture of Nima making said sangria:
And of course, you can’t booze without snacks! Enter the giant 24-pack box of Shin Ramen that some incredibly intelligent soul decided was a good idea to bring:
We made ample use of that box over the next few days, as well as the cheap $10 gas burners that my friends picked up from a korean supermarket. I’d gotten used to having to start fires (from the twice I’d ever gone camping, ha), so imagine the luxury! Not having to coax baby flames into catching, or despairing when theres not enough dry tinder to start the fire. You just stick in the gas tank, and poof, flame! It makes eating ramen a lot more appealing, to say the least.
We sat and chatted and drank and laughed until way past quiet hours. Nima got really really wasted and entertained us all by spewing nonsense about Astronomy. Then suddenly, we heard a shuffling sound coming from the direction of our tents. The dogs started whimpering and barking, and the laughter died instantly.
The picnic area was separated from the tent area by a small grove of trees, so we couldn’t see what was making the noise from our vantage point. A few brave souls had to pick up their flashlights and investigate the noise. Seriously, I was scared stiff – every California camper has heard the warnings about enraged bears in search of sustenance! Luckily, they turned out to be just a few curious raccoons.
After that excitement, we all decided it was about time to turn in so we wouldn’t be too tired to hike the next day.
Saturday, August 23
Since Pinnacles is famous for their caves, we decided that our one long hike of the day would be to the Bear Gulch cave. Early in the morning, after munching on various snacks around the campsite, we piled into our cars and drove to the trailhead.
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting the caves to be, but there was actually a bit of climbing, which was quite exciting! Some of the dogs had a bit of trouble with all the scrambling, but in their end their humans lent a hand to help boost them up. We didn’t see any bats though (which wasn’t surprising – they probably all retreated to the upper half of the cave, away from locations with heavy tourist traffic).
And then, Brian being Brian, he did a bit of climbing on his own as we were exiting the caves. I of course followed suit, but there’s only a picture of him standing above 10 ft off the ground.
The next part of the trail lead us to a short climb, resulting in the following view! I’ve seen better looking valleys, but for a short 5-miler this isn’t half bad! Anh and Jessica pictured for size reference 😉
Our group only had one hike in them before everyone got tired, so we headed back to camp around 4pm.Allen, Brian Lin, Brian, and I (as well as some other people floating in and out) sat in Allen and BLin’s tent for a while, trading stories about our exes, and discussing how relationships work in general. This is my favorite part about camping I think – getting to learn more about your friends, because there’s so much downtime to just sit and chat. We sat around and drank, ran around playing volleyball or football, and in general just killed time until our hunger started setting in.
Brian and I busied ourselves with cooking the giant pre-marinated Costco steaks on our cast-iron, and then doled out slices of delicious delicious meat to everyone.
Bonus picture of Bao Bao, being happy about steak! Yay, steak!
The night quickly settled in. Soon it was time for more ramen parties!
Brian and I got tired pretty early, so we turned in before everyone. Before we headed to our tent though, we reminded our friends, who were all pretty new to camping, that all the food needed to go back into the bear boxes, or racoons would tear our trash apart. With our friends’ assurances, we went to sleep.
Sunday, August 24
They forgot to put the trash away 😦 The first thing we saw the next morning, when we wandered out to the common picnic area, was that our trash was strewn all over the picnic tables and the floors, ripped to shreds. I was honestly a bit frustrated, since we even reminded everyone to put the trash away, but given that everyone was exhausted I guess we couldn’t sling too much blame around. Gritting our teeth, Brian and I set about cleaning up the mess.
Soon, everyone was awake and getting ready to set out. Tents were torn down, the last batches of ramen were cooked, and cars were loaded. Soon, we were on the road and on our way back home!
Of course, we had to stop for food. The first restaurant we tried was closed, so we headed to a strip mall nearby for sushi. Why anyone thought sushi in a strip-mart in the middle of nowhere would be any good, even if it was 4-stars on yelp, is beyond me… but at least it wasn’t absolutely terrible. Afterwards, we discovered that the plaza also had a Yogurtland! Pretty much made up for the unsatisfying sushi, and was the best ending ever to a great weekend 🙂