We left late (around 9:30) Saturday morning after a long work week at our desk jobs.
After an hour our of driving we reached the exit off Highway 101 for the park. It took about 30 minutes to go 8 miles, this is to get to the Headquarters entrance. The road was very windy and narrow, but the scenery was beautiful already. We knew we would be in for a treat.
We went to the park with no plan so we were happy to talk to the rangers at the headquarters. The rangers were very knowledgeable and seemed to know most of the park like the back of their hand. They seemed to know much more than the average ranger at other parks we’ve been to. I definitely plan on picking their brain some more the next time we go.
The park is really a gem. Its like a time capsule. I feel the park is like hiking in Bay Area like it was before all the roads and people moved in. Henry Coe State Park is made up of a network of old ranch roads and trails covering 87,000 acres. It is a great place to have close by because it is the 2nd largest state park in California.
Our first day we did 13 miles of mellow hiking to Coit Lake. It was mellow because it was mostly an elevation loss from ranger station. Large oak trees roamed on large grassy hills. Blades of grass were dancing in the wind, and the sun was warm on our faces.
As we arrived at Coit Lake, Dormouse set up tent on her own to gain experience. Setting the tent up together isn’t a great plan until we both know how to set it up on our own. We found that our polycro ground sheet already had a tear in it, and we are really bummed about that. How do people exactly use it for a full thru-hike with one sheet?
We tried one of our go-to cookless meals, good old instant mashed potatoes and stuffing mix, mixed together. We found it overly salty because potatoes were flavored. I think in the future we are going to mix stuffing with unflavored potatoes. We hit the hay shortly after deciding our route for the next day to Mississippi Lake. We closed our eyes and listened to the sound of croaking frogs and chirping waterfowl.
That night was the night daylights savings changed over. We set our alarm to wake us up at the crack of dawn. This was not a good idea. FYI, Phones even on airplane mode auto reset time set time during the daylight savings change over. The alarm ended up going off at 4:00 AM. Not fun waking up two hours before you wanted to. Somethings you just have to learn the hard way. We got up early, and started our hike.
The hike back was a really difficult roughly 19 miles. We decided to take old ranch roads back because the trails in the park all go up and down 1000′ between hills. The old ranch roads reminded us of the “roller coaster” on the Appalachian Trail. Up and down, up and down, and never flat. Dormouse’s feet really hurt by the end. She is experimenting with different ways of changing her gait to hopefully help with this reoccurring problem. By the time we got back to the car, we were exhausted.
Dormouse was bummed after this hike and wondered how on earth she was going to average over 20 miles a day if less than 20 miles destroys her feet. The GPS claimed that the second day was closer to 17 miles, and we wonder if the GPS accounts for vertical gain as well as map miles. This made Dormouse even more upset. What if it was only 17 miles, and her feet were dead..?