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To the bat cave…

Bear Gulch Cave

Bear Gulch Cave (a photo of the lower portion is above) at the Pinnacles National Monument provides a home to a group of Townsend’s big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii) as they raise young in the summer and hibernate in the winter. Corynorhinus townsendii is a member of the Vesper bats, the largest and best-known family of bats.

I may write more about the Pinnacles National Monument at another time, and include more photos. The geology of the place is fascinating! Read ahead in the references above if you don’t know and you can’t wait! :-) Now is not the optimal time to visit the Pinnacles, as the result of high temperatures that occur in summer. If you choose to go, take plenty of water.

Bear Gulch Cave is along the Bear Gulch Trail, which is accessed from the Eastern Pinnacles, off Highway 25 (just follow that San Andreas Fault! :-) ). The trail has many interesting rock formations. An important thing to know is that the Eastern and Western parts of the Pinnacles National Monument are not connected directly by roads. They ARE connected directly by trails. Bear Gulch Cave is a talus cave, formed by fallen debris. The cave is very dark, and flashlights are required. The photo above is an “existing light” shot taken from a tripod standing in a shallow stream, in what seemed to me to be almost total darkness at the time. In the lower middle portion of the photo, you may be able to see a handrail along stairs that ascend part of the cave. One upper portion of the cave, housing the bats, was inaccessible (as in “a locked door”) when we visited, as it is right now (according to the National Park Service link above). The trail through the cave ascends a metal staircase and crosses a metal bridge, with a very low ceiling (as in “crawling works, if you take off your backpack”). All in all, Bear Gulch Cave might be a good way (especially the tighter part toward the top) to see if you would really like “spelunking,” since you can always back out of the cave easily, if you don’t! :-)

Bear Gulch Trail ascends to Bear Gulch Reservoir, with views of its own, including those of rock climbers. I was amused to see that a long railing along a carved rock stairway (lower left in this photo) was manufactured a long time ago in the steel mills of Youngstown, OH, near where I grew up. The descent back to the parking/picnic area has wonderful views (1, 2, 3) as well!

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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