Milpitas Camera Club Field Trip
Field Trip: Pinnacles National Monument
Trip Date: April 13, 2008
Report Author: Scott Hinrichs
Report Date: April 15, 2008

Pinnacles: Vying for last place on the trail

Three club members and two assocates rose early, breakfasted at our favorite hash house and caravaned to the Pinnacles National Monument west entrance on Sunday, April 13, 2008.

In the case of this particular outing, the earlier we started the better it wasbecause all the forecasts for a hot day were correct. Upon our departure from the park after concluding our little hike that afternoon, temperatures in Hollister and Gilroy were soaring in the mid- to upper-nineties.

Arriving at the traihead at about 9:30 a.m., we packed our day bags and pointed our toes up the steep Upper Pinnacles trail. The five camera-laden hikers began an earnest competition to take and hold the position of last hiker on the trail. (Unlike some of those testosterone-infused hiking groups that gallop to the summit of the trail, this camera club group began employing a clever strategy to bring up the rear.) My efforts to take and hold the rear of the group were thwarted by others who lagged even better than I could. Soon I found myself forced to the front of the pack, like the toothpaste hiding at the bottom of the tube-squished to the top and out of the container.

As we lumbered along at a barbiturated snailís pace, scads of hikers passed us by. Itís a good thing we had our cameras because the best thing about slinging a camera over your beer gut is that it provides you a good excuse to stop, catch your breath and take five. In order to cop a rest break, all you have to do bring the viewfinder to your eye and pretend that you are composing an award-winning image. Hell, you donít even have to squeeze off a shot-just get that pained, creative grimace on your face and wave the others by with quick, impatient motions. They donít notice that youíre slacking and will actually feel guilty about not being as creative as you. They will tend to look at what your are pointing your camera at and begin squinting their eyes in hopes of seeing the perfect composition that nature has just handed you on a silver platter. Some get jealous and just shoot what you are shooting to make sure they can say that they took that shot, too. Some of your colleagues may even be presumptuous enough to ask what you are shooting at. You can answer them with a slightly angry side glance and wave them off with a dismissive gesture of your hand-of course, concealing your heaving chest as you pant desperately to regain your breath.

I admit it, Iíve had to resort to such measures on many an occasion. (All those years of smoking like a stove, drinking like a fish and eating like a feeder hog have taken their toll on my constitution.)

Soon our climbing party began crowding into the shaded spots on the trail and composed their masterpieces from there. The shade is a good place in which to shoot-I think it is one of those "Rules of Good Photography" the so-called "Experts of Photography" blather about. "Shoot from the shade with the sun over your shoulder while exposing to the right..." From the looks of our group crowding into small scrapsof shade, dismissively waving each other on and squinting intently into our view finders, panting with excitement, we all obtained at least one perfect picure on that hike.

I know itís there on my card-I saw it!-but I just canít remember if it was before the out-of-focus wildflowers or after the over-exposed lizard. Damn! I canít find "The Perfect Shot!" Damn camera! I need a new one that doesnít loose images!

One of the Canon shooters said that he was pretty sure that Canon now makes the perfect camera-for about $38,000 (and thatís the sale price). He said he thought it was probably called the Canon Omega-"The last camera youíll ever have to buy!"

The Omega start s like a lawn mower and all you have to do is just send it up the trail on its own. When it comes back, you take the memory card out, download it on your notebook by merely waving it over the USB port and then enter the pictures it takes into competition and watch proudly as your images (actually, the cameraís images) sweep all honors in club, regional and other print judging events. Each Omega picture you enter would be like the Secreteriat of competition prints, winning the coveted triple-crown: MCC home competition, MPPA competition and the annual show competition. In fact, Omega prints would just keep winning every competition in which you entered them-even repeats of previous competitions. The Canon software used in the Omega series features "Mezmo-Technology," which makes judges forget that theyíve ever seen anything more beautiful than your print before. Mezmo-Tech makes them believe your image is something entirely new every time they see it! Unfortunately, studies have indicated that some Omega images causebrain damage in three out of ten judges-thatís why itís so undetectable!

Donít rush out and try to buy the Omega just yet, because word on the street is that Canon is coming out with the Omega II that costs three times as much, and is planning to team up with Microsoft and introduce Mass-Mezmo-Technology (overpriced world mind-control software that can only be licensed to one camera-and becomes obsolete in three weeks!) If this rush to the top of digital technology continues, humans will only be needed as disposable camera batteries.

Oh, Iím off topic here! Sorry. We had a great hike, but it was a bit short and steep...and hot. Someoneís GPS device said that we went something like 5 miles, but the wooden sign at the park said that the trail junction was 1.7 miles up the grade, and I figure we only made it halfway to the trail junction... You know, they ought to throw those old-fashioned signs away and just put in technological thing-a-majiggers. Yeah, that would make things much better! I'm sticking with technology!

Yes, we DID hike five miles up one of the meanest trails at the Pinnacles, and we did it completely lugged down with camera gear and with our bellies full of biscuits and gravy!

© 2008 S.R. Hinrichs