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Oh hail no

GEO hikers experience unexpected weather and adventure in the Pinnacles

Mail men aren’t the only people who will work through sun, rain, sleet, hail and snow. In fact, for members of the PRHS Global Environmental Options, (GEO) that weather is just a walk in the park. Pinnacles National Park, to be exact.

During one of their roughly monthly hikes on Jan. 31, 12 GEO students, along with government teacher Geof Land, biology and GEO teacher Mark DiMaggio, and engineering teacher Alisa Bredensteiner, hiked 11 miles through Pinnacles National Park. Upon arrival to the park, students noticed something rather foreign to the average Californian: the windows of the school vans were being pelted with an odd slush that wasn’t quite snow, otherwise known as sleet.

The hike featured a climb up a 1500 foot peak. During the ascent, the intrepid adventurers spotted some California Condors flying overhead, an endangered species with a nine foot wingspan and only 435 remaining birds. Towards the top of the peak, snowflakes started drifting down and the path was lined with small patches of icy wonder.

“When we got to the peak there was this incline and I just ran up it. I stood [on the highest point] and the wind just hit me and I looked out for miles and saw the snow on the mountains and was just like, ‘Wow, this is beautiful,’” senior Sam Nevosh said.

With the descent down the peak came the trip’s descent from a rather typical hike to insanity. It began with a seemingly innocent stream crossing, then another, and another among rain and even hail. With each crossing, the water levels seemed to rise and the available rocks and logs to walk across were getting scarce.

One by one, each hiker felt the icy water penetrate their soles, at first only ankle deep but eventually up to their knees and even waists. In an attempt to keep just one person dry, Nevosh carried senior Isabella Marziello across the streams on multiple occasions, but eventually even she fell victim to the frigid water and wet socks.

One of the Pinnacles most famous features is their caves. On this particular day, the caves were largely flooded, with waterfalls streaming onto the heads of the already rather wet students. The climb out of the pitch darkness and towards the light beaming in from the top had an overall very cinematic feel to it and was reminiscent of something out of “Indiana Jones.”

Once out of the cave, some misdirection led three of the hikers down a rather steep waterfall that was not meant to be descended. While experienced Eagle Scout senior Andrew McGuffin was able to climb out on his own, Nevosh came to the rescue of the other two who were unable to scale the slippery rocks, earning himself MVP of the hike.

After a final walk through a ravine where some had to crawl through water underneath overhanging rocks, the adventurers let out cheers of joy and celebrated in their mutual cold sogginess as they finished what was truly an exploration for the ages.

Photos used with permission by Taylor Bedrosian

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