A few days ago we met a local named Paul who lives adjacent to the public property here where we are camped at. He likes to collect "treasures" on the mountain and this is the time of year when he collects pinion nuts. He has been going for the last week or so to collect them then and we tagged along today.
We drove up the base of the mountain following him on his ATV. At a good parking spot, we left the truck and he gave me a ride to the spot on his ATV. Then I took the ATV back down to pick @scarletreaper up and we drove back up with the dogs running along behind.
The spot we went to had lots of pinon nuts near the base of the trees. The pine cones had just burst recently so many fresh ones could be found. Some areas under the trees you can just pick dozens without moving because there were so many.
To eat them you have to crack them with your teeth and discard the shell. This takes some practing and I still ruin some, but if you're lucky or just good you can get the inner fleshy nut part out unscathed. They taste great, like a piney pecan to me.
After a couple hours we had nearly 3 lbs of pinon nuts. Paul said he sells them for $25 a pound so it sounds like it could be lucrative as well. For now we are just going to enjoy snacking on them and maybe try cooking them like he suggested.