Did you know that most of the land within the boundaries of Pinnacles National Monument is classified as wilderness?
This means, when you step on the trail to the High Peaks or to Chalone Peak or Juniper Canyon, North or South Wilderness or even on the Old Pinnacles trail, you’re hiking in areas protected not just by the laws that created and protect national park areas. These trails and the surrounding areas are in the Pinnacles Wilderness, and under the Wilderness Act of 1964, they are given a greater protection from development and are managed for “wilderness values”.
What is wilderness?
Wilderness is physical landscapes, but can also be a spiritual landscape. John Muir, a 20th century naturalist, described the essence of wilderness as the freedom, solitude and the beauty of the mountains. To other people, wilderness can be likened to a great work of art or an outdoor cathedral. And to other people, it can be a place where their emotional and physical limits area tested as they enter areas where trails don’t exist, where help is hours or days away and the presence of another human being is the exception, not the norm.
Wilderness areas have no roads, no power lines, and no accoutrements of civilization.
Many parks have wilderness areas within their boundaries - - and Pinnacles is no exception, with about 80% of its 24,000 acres designated as wilderness. In this wilderness are the rock spires that give Pinnacles its name, as well as Chalone Peak, the highest peak in the Gavilan Mountains, creeks and canyons that are home to the endangered red-legged frog, night skies full of stars and other qualities too numerous to name.
What use is wilderness?
This is far from the truth.
Wilderness areas provide a wide variety of natural environments - - snow capped peaks, forests of green conifers as far as the eye can see, deserts of bizarre plants and animals, meadows of wildflowers, even coral reefs and other wonders of the oceans. Many of these areas are homes to threatened and endangered species of plants and animals.
Most wilderness areas have been undisturbed by mankind, and therefore are a window into the past. Imagine the thrill of seeing areas as they were seen two or even three hundred years ago!
And on the more spiritual level, places in the wilderness beckon to people as places where they can connect with themselves in solitude, they can reflect as they look into a mountain stream or even if they never set foot in a wild place, people need to know that there are places wild and untamed…