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First trip of 2010!

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First trip of 2010!

Postby balzaccom » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:05 pm

So this weekend was a three-day weekend, and we decided that we had spent enough time at home. It was time to get out into the woods.

The only problem was that our favorite haunts were covered with many feet of snow, and we have yet to contract the snow-camping bug. So we looked for something warmer, along the coast. After a lot of research, phone calls, and even a trip to a couple of stores, we decided on the Los Padres National Forest, south of Monterey. We bought the maps, charted our route, and then, at the last minute, decided to go to Henry Coe State Park instead.

Why? It's a shorter drive for us, and and we'd always wanted to see the park. And once P called the ranger station, and got a great recommendation for a trip, the die was cast.

Sunday morning we drove down to the park, and watched the fog disappear as we drove. By the time we got to the entrance, it was sunny and even a bit warm. And as we climbed up out of the canyon into the park, it got positively steamy. whew!

For those of us accustomed to the High Sierra, this trip was different in many ways:

The elevation was lower, so while we were sweating up a storm, we weren't breathing so hard---and our recovery time was a lot shorter.,

The humidity was a lot higher, so while we were sweating up a storm, it just dripped down our faces and covered our bodies. ugh.

The trails in this park have their own unique logic: most of them follow old ranch roads, so they tend to follow the tops of the hills and ridges. If they ran along the side of a hill, the old trucks would have rolled over sideways. So they go straight up and straight down--rather than going around. Steep grades, sometimes only to lead to an equally steep grade on the other side, going down. Up and down, over and over. oof. The trail we took had about 2500 feet of climbing in five miles, and we counted a total of two switchbacks. Why go around when you can go straight over the top? We know why.

Did we mention the humidity? Daytime temperatures were in the high 60's so it was hot, going uphill in the sun. Evening temps dropped quickly into the 40's---and eveything was covered with dew. Everything--even in the inside of our tent. Luckily, it didn't drip on us all night---just soaked whatever touched the inside of the tent.

Finally, we have to talk about those short days. One of our concerns about snowcamping is that we would have to spend a lot of time sitting in the dark in the cold. Night came at 6 p.m., and we finished our dinner by headlamp. A quick cleaning up, and then we looked at the stars until our clothes started getting wet from the dew. By 7:30 we were in the tent, reading. By 8:30 it was lights out---and we were only mildly concerned that we might wake up at 5, unable to sleep longer.

Dream on, literally. We slept until 6:30 or 7, in our cozy new down bags. And by the time we made breakfast and broke camp, it was almost 9 a.m., and the sun was out, drying things quickly (except for the tent, which was in our pack by then!).

Still, 10 hours of sleep?

Felt lovely.

here's a link to the photos:

http://picasaweb.google.com/balzaccom/H ... StatePark#

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

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Re: First trip of 2010!

Postby Cloudy » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:53 am

Interesting. I've driven past the Pacheco Pass entrance numerous times (just a couple of weeks ago in fact) and wondered exactly what the park looked like. I suspected rolling foothills and your photos tell me that this is the case. I think it would be OK to visit in the spring but would probably be the wrong choice in summer... Thanks for the photos.

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Re: First trip of 2010!

Postby SkagetMuir » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:15 am

Great... Looks like a good place to dust the gear off and do a little stretching of the legs before the High Sierras. Get rid of the cabin fever. NIce views to.
"Everyone is different, likes doing different things, but we all go to the back country for a reason, it's what we do with that reason that counts."
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Re: First trip of 2010!

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:47 pm

Great place in the spring time when there is still water, and the wildflowers
are like carpets of color.
Also as mentioned a good warm up for the Sierra, lots of up and down, but avoid
after May, big distances between water sources, and very hot.
My favorite is Mississippi Lake, I also enjoyed Kelly Lake, Coit Lake, and Paradise &
Robinson Lake in the Orestimba Drainage.
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Re: First trip of 2010!

Postby copeg » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:03 pm

Thanks for posting the report and photos! Given all the times I've told myself I need to visit the area, I'm surprised I've yet to do so.
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Re: First trip of 2010!

Postby SSSdave » Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:10 pm

Great time to be out at Coe. Go to my Feb 15 post near the bottom of this thread that in part just visited the same trail you did:

http://www.bahiker.com/cgi-bin/ikonboar ... &topic=196

Been doing a lot of local weekend day hiking this winter. Notice the pic near the end is at the creek crossing in Grizzly Gulch. Really like the green landscape in the lower areas of Grizzly Gulch. That is where I wrote about the tree frogs that are in a pool a bit downstream. Be returning to a nearby zone this Saturday.
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Re: First trip of 2010!

Postby Cross Country » Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:17 pm

From 1975 to 1981 beginning in about Jan-Feb I would pull out the topos on a regular basis and study the maps for hours at a time. I would do this until the last weekend in April. First I'd head to the Forks of the Kern, repeat that 2-3 weeks later. Memorial Day I'd go to Laurel, Kibbie or somewhere else I could hike to, avoiding snow (when possible). Mid June I'd go to Edyth, Granite (Mineral King) or other, avoiding snow (again if possible). By July I'd be off and running (backpacking) for half the days of the next 2 months. Those summers were heaven but those winters drove me nuts (I'm a really hyper person). Maps don't really cut it. In 1981 I took up skiing (downhill). This saved my mental life (and emotional stability). For the next twenty years I was in triple heaven (I played thousands of softball games. That's where the third part of "triple" came it). Believe it or not I rode a bike regularly and went surfing too. I did give up playing basketball regularly by 1985 and golf by 1988. I actually wrote this to express the frustration that winter might bring.
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Re: First trip of 2010!

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:08 am

Coe is a great spring destination; one of the things I love about it is that it's big enough for multi-day trips. I'll have to get up there this spring...
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