May 11, 2008 Henry Coe

The announcement
It’s a leg burner at Henry Coe. It’s only about 6 or 8 miles, but its 1600 to 1800 feet of climb. Look on our website for the November 5, 2006 hike for a description of where we’re going.

This is almost totally exposed, except for a bit at the beginning and end. Tennis shoes ARE NOT allowed if you want to hike with us. This is a very steep hike in places and good ground-gripping shoes are a must. We’re not going to carry your broken bits back to the car just because you wanted to wear your white ten-ees. Hiking poles should definitely be brought to save your knees on the downhill.

What we’re hoping for is a stunning display of flowers, since we’ve never seen this place in the spring. And bragging rights about the climb, of course. And tales from Joanne about how the other parts of the country are living. Those who did the Priest Rock hike will be expected to hop on one leg to the top so they will also have something to brag about.

We leave here at 9 and begin the hike about 10-ish, maybe a few minutes later. Plan on about 4 hours for the loop, the last 60 minutes of which I’ll be whining my heart out. We’ll eat a meal on the trail, with a slight chance of stopping at the Black Bear aferwards.

The hike
I said it was a leg burner and I meant it. Fortunately, the Governator has, at least this week, decided we can keep hiking Henry Coe for another year. After last week’s hike, I’m not as sure that’s such a good thing.

We did the trail in the opposite direction from the last trip there, figuring we’d get the hard climbing out of the way first. Actually, either way gets the hard climbing out of the way first—it’s all hard climbing until you turn around, then it’s a hard descent.

Of course, most of the group decided to take the existing trails, cleared of vegetation and with horizontal surfaces that provided good foot traction. Those trails were tough enough for them. But for three of us, that just wasn’t hard enough.

Sure, Peggy and Ron went searching for the Temple of the Springs, looking for the Diamond Soled Idol, with no luck; at least they returned safely. But three of us went to the Valley of the Many Butterflys to look for the Snake People. We found a butterfly convention (surveys showed about equal support for Hilary and Obama), but no Snake People. From there, the only way out of the valley was a nearly vertical climb up seemingly endless ravines of bull thistle, fox tail, and some other thorny plant.

Thankfully, the first group came back to pull us up the last few feet of the cliff face. Exhausted, we just flopped down on the rocks to rest and eat lunch. Kristen gave us lessons in Olympic-style singles trail resting. We are now much better equipped to flop down alongside any hot, rocky, California mountainside and reenergize before completing a hike. One the way down, the walking wounded in the back got a lesson in Sherpa Descent Techniques from Peggy. Now we know how to save our knees while working on a fine shaped tush during steep mountain descents.

We were wondering if the southern end of Henry Coe would have any spectacular flowers. It’s hard to say, as none of the flower places we went to this year were anywhere near their best.

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