Sunday, March 29, 2009

Henry Coe State Park - 11.5 Mile Backpacking Loop to Kelly Lake

Date: 3/27/2009 - 3/28/2009
Distance: 11.5 miles (approximate)
Elevation: 4,000' total gain (approximate)
Weather: 40s-60s, sunny

On March 27th Steve S. and I loaded up our backpacks and fishing rods and set out for a couple of days in Henry Coe SP. This would be my first time backpacking or fishing since I was a kid. The trip was great practice for both.

Day One - Hunting Hollow to Kelly Lake via Steer Ridge and Wasno Ridge

We picked an ambitious route that had us clearing 7 miles and 3,000' of extremely steep climbing on the first afternoon to get to Kelly Lake.

The camera stayed away for the first day. Just a quick shot on Steer Ridge after the first big climb....

...and a shot of the killer turkey we bumped into when we got to the lake. We gave this guy a lot of room.

Day Two - Kelly Lake to Coyote Creek Trailhead via Wasno Ridge and Grizzly Gulch

The morning mists rolling off of the lake.

I climbed up into the hills in the early morning hours and snapped this shot of our camp.

Morning sun breaking over my tent.

Steve soaks up the golden hours.

One of several species of duck that call Kelly Lake home.

A nice close up of a flower.

Steve looking like Tom Sawyer with his fishing rod and apple.

Our water fill up spot.

After a relaxing morning sleeping, eating, taking photos and fishing we packed up for the return trip.

Looking east into the Henry Coe backcountry from Kelly Lake Trail.

Looking west from Wasno ridge over a wildflower meadow.

My favorite shot of the trip. Taken at the junction of Wasno Ridge Road and Kelly Lake Trail.

After yesterday's extreme introduction to the sport of backpacking I was all for the easiest possible option out. We decided to go around Steer Ridge rather than over it, through Grizzly Gulch to the Coyote Creek entrance -- a day-use trailhead 2 miles up the road from Hunting Hollow where we parked. We figured we could at least drop our packs a couple miles early, and drive back for them.

Steve descending through a meadow into Grizzly Gulch.

A big boulder on the way to Grizzly Gulch.

Turns out we got lucky at Coyote Creek entrance and ran into a few mountain bikers who were just finishing their beers and heading out for the day. They gave Steve a ride back to the car while I waited along the road with the gear feeling happily exhausted.

Mileage for day two was just over 4 miles. Elevation gain was about 1,000'.

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