Harvey Bear County Park, the high ridge east of U.S. 101 between Morgan Hill and Gilroy, is only the first in a succession of parallel topographic wrinkles that recede into the inner Coast Ranges. Beyond it, Coyote Reservoir, then Timber Ridge, Sheep Ridge and Palassou Ridge line up like an incoming set of seaside breakers.
I have been rethinking Nevada. It took a number of years for me to see the special beauty of the desert. But much of the Great Basin, which comprises most of Nevada, still seemed like a wasteland that held no allure. The state, at least the portion of it one sees from Interstate 80, is a succession of drab brown mountain ranges dotted with dull gray-green sagebrush. It is a landscape I was always anxious to cross as quickly as possible.
I have led visitors on trips into the Orestimba Wilderness deep in the eastern portion of Henry W. Coe State Park on each of the past three weekends. Two trips were overnight backpack outings and the other was a one-day visit. These visits have emphatically reminded me what a lovely place it is.
Would you rather visit Mukuntuweap National Monument or Zion National Monument? In fact, they are the same place. As I researched the origin of the name of Zion National Park (originally a National Monument), I was certain I would find a story related to the history of Mormon settlement in southern Utah. To my surprise, in 1918, the acting director of the National Park Service changed the name from Mukuntuweap to Zion simply for marketing reasons. He felt that the Zion National Park name would draw more visitors.
It always surprises me that so many of us who live in the shadow of northern California's largest state park don't even know it is there. Many others have heard of it, but they have never visited the park.
The names we give our man-made structures often come from the surrounding landscape. But we have so urbanized our environment that those names have often lost their meaning. I confess that when someone says 'Stevens Creek,' I think of a boulevard and not a creek. It makes perfect sense, but I remain a bit skeptical that there is such a thing as a creek with that name. I decided to investigate.
Of all the wonderful things waiting for us at Henry W. Coe State Park, easy access to level going is a rare commodity. The park entrance at Hunting Hollow is the only exception. Three and a half miles beyond Coyote Reservoir on the Gilroy Hot Springs Road, Hunting Hollow is a crease between two ridges that rise quickly on each side. As long as you stay in the hollow, the trail barely crosses a single map contour line over its first two miles.
I placed the $2 one-day parking pass on my dashboard then looked up from the Ohlone College parking lot at Mission Peak looming overhead. Holy cow, I thought, that thing is way up there. It crossed my mind that maybe today was a good day to rearrange my sock drawer instead.
The trail map of Calero County Park resembles an interlocking network of loops that allows a hiker to string them together in any number of ways. Any trail you choose will, at some point, present you with the option of continuing on and circling back or starting a new loop that itself will loop 360 degrees back to the same junction. Since our next Mt. Tallac Challenge prep hike is at Calero County Park, I decided to revisit familiar trails as well as walk some new ground.
I listened carefully to all the do's and don'ts, donned the various pieces of gear, and stepped into my twelve foot kayak. Fueled by a veggie omelet at the Moss Landing Cafe, I paddled my way into Elkhorn Slough.