|On the way down to China Hole.|
|Joanne likes this pic.|
|My favorite pic.|
|This is classic Coe.|
|Time to bag our last peak for the day.|
We made it back up to the trail and made our way towards the ultimate destination for the day: Wilson Peak. The sun was just going down and we decided to sit down and have dinner and then do a night hike up the peak and camp at the top. I warned Toshi about the exposed ridges at night, how the wind can be pretty miserable, but I had a tent to test out and Toshi was really set on the idea, so Wilson Peak it was.
It was a full moon, so we didn't even need our headlamps. A peaceful, beautiful night. We located the peak and set up camp only to spot a line of lights smoothly cruising some trails in the distance. They kept getting closer and eventually made it up to our peak and then kept going. Just some mountain bikers out for a night ride. People know how to have fun! It turns out there was some pretty good wind during the middle of the night, but Toshi said it actually worked pretty good to keep condensation down in the bivy setup.
|I think Toshi likes this place.|
The hike to Mustang Peak was a long, exposed fireroad. The views were quite spectacular, but the sun was making us pay. The Peak is worth it though. It isn't nearly the tallest point in the park, but the view-shed is terrific.
|Strange creatures lurking.|
|Playing on the Rooster Comb!|
|Can you spot the Toshi?|
|Can you see him now?|
|From top of Rooster.|
|More from Rooster.|
|Another interesting rock formation near the comb.|
|There are plenty of these at Coe!|
|Getting ready to climb Stakes!|
After rooster we kept heading north along the creek expecting to fill up on water at the confluence of Robison Creek and Orestimba just as the sun was going down. There we had our dinner and prepared for another night hike. This time we were going to be climbing from one of the low points in the park at 950 ft to the highest point at Mount Stakes at about 3800 ft. It was another incredibly bright moon lighting the way for us, and this trail picked up elevation FAST. It was definitely one of the longest, steepest, most sustained climbs that I have ever done. And I was glad that we did it with the sun gone. This is another hike that is exposed and the sun will get you fast, especially considering there really is no water around once you leave the creek. Last year I tried to take something called the Pinto Creek trail to get up there. But that was a mistake. I ended up bushwhacking to the top and taking up most of my day doing it, all the while getting pretty dehydrated. The trail we took this year was 100x better. We got to the top of the ridge (not quite the summit yet) by about 9:30 I think and set up camp. I was having some terrible issues with my nose bleeding on the way up and would end up making a mess of things that night, but it got better the next morning. That night was a peaceful night with hardly any wind.
|Next morning on the ridge.|
The next morning we followed the dirt road on top of the ridge to Mt. Stakes. We then had a debate about how to get down the mountain, eventually deciding on following a dirt road that we could see plainly following the ridge down towards the red creek valley, It was the road that matched up pretty good with a map that Toshi had (we were no longer in Henry Coe, so that map wasn't really that useful). We followed it down, but then reached a four way intersection. Toshi decided we should go straight, but then after following it down for half a mile it pretty much fizzled out into the manzanita brush. We decided that it was too much work to go back to the intersection where the next pick might just dead end us as well, so we bushwhacked from this point. This was really unpleasant for me in my shorts, but I did it before and knew it would heal up just fine. The legs did look pretty gnarly afterwards though, and I did step on something sharp that went all the way through my shoe and punctured my foot. Oh well.
|Red Creek road, way above red creek.|
|Best lizard ever.|
|There's Red Creek.|
Toshi and I followed the "Narrows" back to China Hole and made our way back up to the car right as the sun was going down. Perfect timing.
Post trip it turns out the Poison Oak, that I probably got on the first day scrambling around the waterfalls and such was really bad. As in it is probably the worst I have ever had it. But I am surviving. Going to Henry Coe does not assure you poison oak reaction, I was just stupid. You can avoid those off trail sections, or you could wear more cloths and be really careful with the cloths once you take them off. I have not yet learned. I am not totally sure why I come back to this park. It has to be the combination of it's sheer size and ruggedness, along with it's proximity to where I live. There really is a lot to explore and it is not easy hiking. Your skills definitely get tested. It is also amazing to me how few people actually get back into the park. Toshi and I saw no one on Sunday until we were within 5 miles of headquarters. The park just seems very underutilized. But that makes it like a cool secret and secluded getaway.
The waterfall pics:
|This is called a vestibule. Keeps my stuff dry.|
|On the ridge at 3600 ft.|
- Clear boundary between your realm and natures realm. This is really nice. The different rustling sounds you hear, the bugs buzzing, etc. Doesn't matter as much when you know there is a barrier.
- Don't worry about bugs.
- Shields from wind and rain.
- Nice enclosed, clean space to put your stuff. I could lay out my stuff sacks, map, etc, and just fall asleep and not worry about putting it all away somewhere.
- Good ventilation keeps stuff dry. Less need for a "dry out" break during a sunny day.
- Clear boundary between your realm and natures realm. I really enjoy being out in the open. I really enjoy falling asleep under the stars. Being a little exposed is kinda nice sometimes. It is just a different experience with a tent.
- One to two pounds heavier base weight.
- Takes up a ton of volume in your pack. I barely fit everything in. There is no way I could fit it in with a bear canister, which would be tough for the Sierra.
- A little more setup and tear down time.
- Wind causes a lot of noise.
Overall, I think it has a place in my fastpacking gear lineup. It just depends on what conditions I think I might face and what kind of experience I am looking for. And it will be great if I get to take the wife or a kid out on an adventure...
Other Gear Notes:
- The pack sustained some more damage on this trip. The bushwhacking really takes it's toll on the mesh pocket, but a little sowing job ought to fix it. The Gossamer Gear Gorilla is still kicking!
- I had to buy new black diamond ultra distance z-poles. They were fantastic of course, I just hope they last longer this time...
- Everything I usually bring worked like clockwork. The jetboil is about as efficient as they come. I was hoping to finish off the remnants of the last two canisters of fuel that I had, and cooking for Toshi and me, we only finished off one of them.
- Food: A couple of backpacking indian dinners, Jerky, some vacuum packed salmon, assorted dried fruits, "Joanne Bars", chocolate. That was about it. I think I have my backpacking food dialed in now.
- Bandana for neck. Worked great. My neck suffered after last years trip, but it was fine this time, and if you wet it down whenever you get the chance, it really does help keep you cool.
- Toshi borrowed Marc's SPOT for this trip. It was a handy thing to have around, just in case of emergency, but the best part about it was when we got back and could see our tracks through the park. Definitely a cool gizmo.