|2007/05/28 2007/05/26-28: Hiking Henry Coe State Park
π 2007-05-28 23:59 by Merlin in Hiking
This time, the point was to do a hike closeby and something that would be a good exercise/practise run for our upcoming 10 day hike on the Jon Muir trail. Jennifer remarked that the Henry Coe was rated a difficulty 8 out of 10 and therefore would be a good trail to try take. I agreed.
On top of that, I also ended up with a backpack/fanny pack combination of about 50 lbs, which there again was more weight than necessary, but was meant to be practise for John Muir where we'll have to lug around around 15lbs of food.
We had a little bit of a late start on Saturday, and it was interesting finding the new but badly marked entrance on hwy 152. It's actually here .
But before I start, here are the stats for the 3 days:
(sorry the first day is missing data due to the forerunner 305 deleting its first day's worth of stats when it ran out of internal plot memory)
The planned hike (not actually matching reality quite due to the Topo! maps not being up to date compared to actual trails) is shown on this picture and this is the actual hike as shown on mapsource (incidently, the mapsource maps were even more inaccurate than the Topo! ones).
While I'm at it, you can get the GPS track here and the Google Earth track (kml) used to make these pictures (make sure to select size original for full res pictures))
I brought my Garmin Etrex Vista Cx at my Forerunner 305 to get a better track recording (since Garmin didn't see fit to put a Sirf III chip in the Vista Cx unfortunately).
On top of that, the 3 day hike overflowed the Forerunner buffer and I lost the first day's worth by the time the 3rd day was over :( (so the resulting track I have has bad quality points for the 1st day as those come from the crappy Vista Cx's reception. Update: Garmin just came out with a Vista HCx with apparently has a GPS receiver at least as good as Sirf3, which could make this problem mostly go away).
On the toy section, I brought a solar panel generating 6V USB power (yes, USB is supposed to be 5V, but they overvolt it to charge cell phones like the nokias that require at least 6V). It came in handy right away as my forerunner turned out to have dead batteries when I started the hike (apparently, it got turned on after I charged it)
Later during the hike, I used the solar panels to recharge the forerunner as I went along, and the Vista Cx ran the entire 3 days on a set of AA NiMh 2200mAh batteries.
The last tech piece was a multiband radio that we would only have used for emergencies, and that thankfully stayed mostly unused
Anyway, we were on the trail by 12:45 and I made the mistake of thinking that about 2l of water would be enough to carry until we hit the next water point. The only thing is that the next water point ended up being much further than expected. We really should have carried 3l each, if not close to 4 (all the creeks except the one 1m down the trail from where we started), were effectively dry).
Actually, if it weren't for a remnant of creek which we were barely able to pump water from (after a scum pond that looked so bad that it was unclear we could get usable water out of it), we could have been in trouble I think. Moral of the story for Henry Coe outside of the winter: bring plenty of water (3-4l per person for a day hike with a full pack).
In hindsight there was one watering hole a bit off the trail that we should definitely have filled up at (picture below)
Anyway, after a long walk (13 miles, a bit more than planned due to us not taking the main roads), we got to Mississippi Lake soon before sunset and setup camp by the lake.
It was a bit windy that night, but we otherwise were able to get a decent amount of sleep. The bad part is the blisters I got on my first day, especially on both pinky toes which scored double blisters (one on each side of the toe). That's what I get for my feet being too wide: they don't even fit in a wide boot.
Since we had more time to hike a somewhat shorter distance on Day 2, we figured we'd first hike around Mississippi lake. We didn't quite realize that it was actually a 3.5 mile hike around the lake, but eh, we were there, and hiking without our packs wasn't too bad. We also found a nice alternate camp site with a picnic table.
Day 2 was going to be a somewhat shorter hike but we missed a turn somewhere due to trying to climb a hill a little too hard, and ignoring a path that actually would have ended up taking us a slightly shorter route.
After that, the next shortcut we could have taken, just didn't exist, and looking at the topo map, the 0.1 mile shortcut would likely not have been able to exist.
We just took the longer route around and eventually ended up at Coit Lake in time to find a nice camp site (sheltered from the wind, and with water access). For Day 2, we ended up carrying way more water than needed, but better safe than sorry this time (we actually passed by a house at Pacheco Camp for park rangers and volunteers with running water, a fridge, and even a shower outside!)
The second night meant more blisters to heal, but we had a great night at that site.
Day 3 was supposed to be an easy short day, but it was actually a gruesome hike in the baking sun. In order to not needlessly carry even more weight, I left with only 2.5l of water instead of a total possible of 4.5l (as 2.5l had been more than enough for the previous day). It turned out not to be a very wise decision, as the short hike too much more water and energy than I had planned for.
We went up some pretty steep climbs and descents that were even steeper (and quite dicy to walk in pebbles and dirt), Jennifer started to overheat (heat exhaustion), and we had to stop to let her body cool off a bit, as we were already hydrating pretty well. I ended up picking another 5-6lbs from Jennifer's pack which in addition to the extra water I had, brought my pack up to 60lbs I think.
I was still doing reasonably well with the weight, but I was worrying that I'd run out of water before getting to the end.
Turns out we got back to Dowdy Ranch with enough water left (a bit more than 1l combined between us), but considering the hard walking and weather, I was still nervous about it until it was clear that we'd make it, and 1l isn't just that much to have left for that terrain and weather.
The last picture shows the elevation gain/loss. It's not that much until you see how steep some of those descents were, and on gravel no less... (check out around mile 4 to see what I mean)
And on the way back we saw some wildlife on the road, including a mountain lion (probably not a bobcat)
The hike went reasonably well considering. The GPS and maps did help, we got lucky with water on the first day, and saw very few ticks considering (we were told they were very abundant).
The park was not the most scenic place ever, but it was decent, and made for a good exercise/proving grounds that was close by
The good part is also how google earth had 3D info for the park, and does a good job showing the trail in the mountains. If it weren't for the bad blisters which I hope to avoid with sock liners next time, it would almost have been a perfect trip
To end, you can look at all the pictures of the hike at Henry Coe Park
Oh yeah, and if you go during the summer, assume that the only water you'll see are the lakes (which is close to being accurate), so carry up to 3-4l of water per day to be safe. Running out there does suck...