Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grizzly Gulch

I seemed to have some renewed vigor after last weeks sunny roaming at Sunol. I couldn’t help feeling a subtle excitedness about getting back out into the wild lands this week. At the risk of being too sappy, the full manifestation of springtime unfolding along the trails of our parklands and open spaces draws me every year like a magic song. As a coincidence, we have a Yosemite camping trip planned for the middle of May, before the throngs of tourists storm in on Memorial Day weekend. Needing to update some of our camping gear we had made on online order from Wal-Mart out on Monterey highway, so we needed to plan a stop there. So it was that, plus that "magic song", that drew Sue and I back to Henry Coe. Actually the Wal-Mart purchase (cheapest price we could find), and the combining of the pick up with hiking somewhere south, was Sue’s idea (magic song), but Coe is always ok with me.

I decided we should head to the Coyote Creek entrance because I thought the timing would be just right for finding Chinese houses in bloom. They’re one of my favorites, but they don’t just bloom everywhere. I’ve seen many along various trails in this area of the park, and last week at Sunol a few were just starting. We made our pickup right at opening time 8:00, and then quickly stuffed our new gear in the trunk, and headed south on 101. We arrived at the trailhead just as the morning chill was lifting.

We passed through the gate and headed up the road leading to the first junction. This is actually the very end of Coit Road. We hadn’t been hiking five minutes before it became apparent that my plan was right on the mark. Along the hillside adjacent to the road, we saw the first blooms of Chinese houses. Not just a few, but clusters of them. In this area they seem to grow almost pure white. Most of the time a fully blooming Chinese house will have purple and white pedals layered in rows, but these had very little color. As you progress further into the park you begin to see the more traditional looking blooms, with varying shades of deep purple to pinkish pedals layered in rows with white pedals in separate rows. And sometimes they have subtle patterns.

We hiked up Coit Road to the Anza trail. Our route consisted of a loop around the Grizzly Gulch zone of the park. I was not using GPS so I do not have a track log. I plan to incorporate track logs in my blog entries soon, but for now, I only have boring text entry trail lists. We used the Anza to the Jackson, Elderberry, Tower Rock, and Jackson Road to wind up on Wasno Road on top of the ridge. These trails are graded fairly well, and this is actually a much easier way to climb this ridge than going straight up Grizzly Gulch, but we chose the route for the flowers. We then followed Wasno Road to Tule Pond trail and from there to Grizzly Gulch trail, and back to Coyote Creek.

I chose this route specifically because I was looking for Chinese houses, and was not disappointed. I found profusions of them at the bottom of the Anza trail, and on the Jackson and Elderberry trails. We also found some ground Iris, and lots of Blue Larkspur. Lots of deep purple lupine was everywhere, and we found many Blue Dicks, Ithuriel’s Spears, and a host of others. Plenty enough to keep us smiling, and make for a really interesting hike. Wild flowers have an indescribable effect on my psyche. Cultivation doesn’t impress me, but nature makes my heart glad.

We had stopped to have some lunch right near the top of the Dexter trail. There are usually nice open views from this point on a clear day, but we sat just down the lee side to get out of the chilling wind. While we were just finishing, some people were hiking up the Dexter and asked us to take picture of them. I said “sure” and used their camera to aim and take a shot. I then realized that I had my first sighting of Rambling Rebecca Bond in the wilds of Henry Coe. It was nice for us to meet her and two companions as they were on their way out for a backpacking trip. Coe may be among the largest State parks, but sometimes it’s still a small world.

Click here to see my photoset from this hike

No comments: