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Fastpacking Henry Coe in April
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Carlos Figueroa
(cfigueroa) - F

Locale: Santa Cruz Area
Fastpacking Henry Coe in April on 04/15/2009 01:32:28 MDT Print View

First, I would like to thank all the people who put up their trip reports because they are such motivating factors for me. Although I made several fastpacking trips last year (Tahoe Rim Trail, John Muir Trail and the Ouachita Trail) and bought a camera, I am embarrassed to say that I did not take a single picture.

I am planning a fastpacking trip (averaging 40 miles per day) along the Colorado Trail at the end of August 2009 and have begun training for it. Looking for opportunities between work and family to get out and test my endurance early in the season, I heard a rumor that Henry Coe State Park is for serious backpackers. Anxious to go, I teamed-up with fellow BPLer Jesse Gibbs and set a date for April 10 & 11. Feeling up to the challenge and ready to get our shoes dirty, I was not disappointed.

We started at 6 am at Coe Ranch and reached our first climb up to Blue Ridge road – we climbed a steep 1500 ft in 1.25 miles! This was one mean climb. As we walk along Blue Ridge we where constantly rewarded with beautiful grass valleys and meadows


and many ridges with fire roads running along them.


We ended up at the beautiful Arnold Camp spring, collecting several deer ticks along the way through the tall grass.


After getting water, we headed off for Bear Mountain which was another solid climb of 1400 feet over 2.5 miles. The mountains around this area had colors I have never seen before – it’s as if one actually painted these hills with splashes of bright green, yellow and orange. A close-up shows that its combination of various wild flowers.



This is the view back from Bear Mountain:


Because of a fire a couple years ago, many trail markers in this part of the park where gone and we missed critical trails. After 10 miles of back tracking and 4 hours of “wasted time” we found the elusive and obscure Chaparral trail. From here on, we started relying on the compass and a very careful inspection of the landscape from the map. We really had an adventure on our hands. Unfortunately, I missed doing the very thing I came for – to climb Mount Stakes.


From Chaparral trail we made our way to Red Creek Road,


which lead us to Jackrabbit Lake for the night. So for day one we walked 36 miles and climb about 7,500 ft.

Day two started at 5 am for Jesse getting breakfast while I attended to my feet’s known hot spots with benzoin, Leukotape and BodyGlidue on both my heels (I usually eat breakfast while I walk). Since I’ve done numerous 40 miles per day, I know my body well enough to prepare for the long miles. It was very cold (under 40 F) but we warmed up very quickly climbing up Mustang peak; a 6 am 1100 ft climb! Here is one of the views up to Mustang Peak where the tiny hump in the middle is Lick Observatory on Mt Hamilton.



Moving along Long Ridge road to the obscure Dutch’s trail (again picking up many deer ticks along the way),


through Center Flats road (which was a series of many intense short climbs)


to Vasquez trail and then back up to Kelly Lake. At Kelly Lake, we stop here to add more BodyGlide to our toes and heels, and collect water. This was our 20 mile marker for the day. Following Willow Ridge we make a significant descent from 2600 ft to 1100 ft and came out of the woods looking at this last climb:


We are now at 1100 ft and our cars are at 2700 ft – for those unwilling to do the math like me at the bottom, it’s a 1600 ft climbing over 4 miles. At the end of the day when I am faced with a long tough climb I always use an mp3 player for motivation and charge the climb. Day two totals where 35 miles and climbed about 11,500 ft. A great second day!

Even though I have spent most of my time in the Sierra’s, I was quite surprised to find how challenging Henry Coe State Park was and it’s a little over an hour away from my home. I now have plans to come back next year around this time (when water is plentiful) to try and do the complete circumference of the park. I expect it would take 3 days to complete about 110 to 120 miles.

If any fastpackers are interested in joining Jesse and I in future adventures, we would love to hear from you.

Edited by cfigueroa on 04/17/2009 03:51:20 MDT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Fastpacking Henry Coe in April on 04/15/2009 01:42:00 MDT Print View


Thank you so much for taking the time to post your photos with the running commentary.

I live very close the Henry Coe and I have been wondering what is out there to see.

Thanks to your photos, I have to get myself out of there!


Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Coe on 04/15/2009 02:47:01 MDT Print View

Tony, you really should! It's much more grand in person; surprisingly so. There were some really steep, wind-swept hills that (totally green this time of year) even reminded me of glacier national park (smaller scale of course). You know, rock-outcroppings on a very green hill and what not. I was really impressed. Certainly don't get that impression from the pictures on their website.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Colorado Trail on 04/15/2009 05:29:23 MDT Print View


You absolutely MUST post a trip report on the Colorado Trail when you are done! I'm moving to Colorado this fall, and I've already started researching the Colorado Trail, hoping to thru-hike it in summer 2010. Given the elevation gains I thought I was being ambitious with a goal of 25-mile days, so, wow, if you can really hike the trail in 13 days I'll be Impressed. Andy Skurka took 16 days, as I recall (at least that's what his article in the guidebook says). "Conventional" heavy hikers take about 30 days, right?

Actually, i just checked his website and Andy hiked the CT in just over 14 days in 2006. The pictures are awesome. I'm getting physically excited just thinking about it...

Edited by acrosome on 04/15/2009 05:56:53 MDT.

Carlos Figueroa
(cfigueroa) - F

Locale: Santa Cruz Area
Re: Coe in April on 04/15/2009 08:03:28 MDT Print View

Thanks Tony - I only hope one day to take pictures like you. I agree with Nathan that it is much more grand in person and the pictures do not give the impression of the sheer size of the place. Then again, I am not a picture taker.

Dean, it is a very ambitious goal to try the Colorado trail at this pace. The three trails (JMT, TRT and OT) last year I was able to complete at a 40 miles per day pace. The question that constantly runs through my mind is can I sustain this pace for a trail twice as long as the JMT or OT? I don't know but I would like to try, assuming my work and family schedule continues to cooperate. I have emailed with Andrew about this and he says that the CT is easier than the JMT, which makes me happy to hear. By the way, I constantly visit Andrew website for motivation and to look carefully at his gear list.

Edited by cfigueroa on 04/15/2009 10:16:18 MDT.

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Nice going Carlos on 04/16/2009 00:37:15 MDT Print View

I was talking with Nick @ down works and he was telling me what a stud you are. Do you like the osprey pack you got? exos 58. I live mine. I would love to hike with you sometime but I think 25 miles is about my max.I also love henry coe. So close to home.

Carlos Figueroa
(cfigueroa) - F

Locale: Santa Cruz Area
Re: Nice going Carlos on 04/16/2009 02:23:10 MDT Print View

Hi Josh,
Nick sure is a great man and the word “stud” is a surprising word – maybe hardheaded or determined is a better word to describe me. Funny you mention the Osprey pack because I have been having a personal debate between which pack works best for me; the Osprey Exos or the ULA Conduit? I love my Osprey Exos pack after I modified it a lot but the pack fits me like a glove. I can wear that pack all day long. However, the design and construction of the ULA Conduit, I my opinion, is superior.

I regularly hit Nisene Marks 3 times per week with 20 mile loops – interested? Email me at carlos dot figueroa at Cabrillo dot edu.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Fastpacking Henry Coe on 04/16/2009 05:24:35 MDT Print View

Awesome stuff Carlos!!! 40 miles a day-WOW!!!!!

wayne aune
(wayne1) - F
Re: Fastpacking Henry Coe in April on 11/02/2009 19:10:52 MST Print View

Hi, Wow! I have done lots of backpacking into Henry Coe and have not reached those kind of distances. You are either going up or down and if not one of those you are probably sleeping in that park. I am thinking of going up and over BearMountain and then going onto Robison (some people say "Robinson") and staying at Sdod Pond. I have read everything and wonder how tough is it to go from Robison creek up to Sdod pond? I know you can go around and go up Robison Trail, but if I can do a straight hike in it would save alot of time. Thanks and I am glad to hear people who are out hiking and backpacking into this park.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Henry Coe in April on 11/02/2009 19:43:07 MST Print View


Spring Time Fun

sean mccutcheon

Locale: East Bay
Henny Coe in April on 11/02/2009 22:18:26 MST Print View

Carlos,I took a group of scouts into Henry Coe last January over the MLK weekend. I have lived in the East Bay all my life and always thought the park would be boring. It was awesome, so many views.I can not wait to get back. Thanks for all the pics.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Henry Coe in April on 11/02/2009 22:33:48 MST Print View

More Spring time fun