Our hike started as they all do: trail map in hand, legs stretching for a good stride, eyes darting up to take in the dramatic view and down at the dirt trail ahead.
…and finding ourselves lost inside a (dark!) cave?
We chose to hike the relatively easy Balconies Trail at Pinnacles National Park. What had we read before starting the hike? A talus cave was mentioned. We remember not looking at the photos of the trail because it might ruin the surprise for what we would see. (Just like we don’t read movie reviews because we don’t want the whole story revealed before we see the film.)
The trail had been scenic and easy. Then a hiker passed by and mentioned the cave just ahead. “You’ll need a light,” she said. We hadn’t remembered anything about going so deep into a cave we would need a light. No matter. Joe is always prepared. We retrieved an old Petzl headlamp from deep in his daypack.
We walked further into the cave, trying to use the daylight that filtered in as long as possible. Even when we turned the Petzl lamp on, we couldn’t see any way to continue forward. Was the path to the left or right? We tried to inch along the right wall of the cave, but that lead to a dead end. We retraced our steps and saw that on the left, rocks rose up, as if a rough staircase, to the ceiling of the cave. We decided to climb the rock “stairs” (as it was our last option) and a small hole appeared above us: a way to continue forward.
If we’d remembered that a talus cave is formed “when steep, narrow canyons were filled with boulders, leaving passages between the larger rocks” (Wikipedia), we might have understood that we needed to look for open spaces between the rocks to proceed – not a cavernous walkway.
Was our hike (once lost and then found) telling us something? We were between a rock and a hard place, persevered, and were rewarded with a grand ending. Life should always be this adventurous and fun.