Date: May 25, 2019
Place: Henry W. Coe State Park, Morgan Hill, California
Coordinates: 37.186638, -121.546984
Length: 7 miles
This backpacking trip had its roots in a request from one of the fathers in my family hiking group about two years ago. He wished to get his family into backpacking and start it with guidance and company for the kids. We had a few discussions before settling on a date that would fit a simple two-nighter for just are two families. It was quicker to decide on the destination - by the time we were good on the date everything that needed prior reservation was already reserved. At Henry W. Coe State Park however, wilderness permits are sold on a first come first served basis. Still, by the time we arrived there on Saturday morning (and we arrived early!) it was just in time to get the last parking spot. And as I entered the visitor office I heard the docent selling the last wilderness permit for the area I had planned for us to go to.
|A funnel spider along the Manzanita Point Trail|
|White Globe Lily, Calochortus albus|
|Dense-flowered Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus var. densiflorus|
|A dead old oak turned woodpecker home and granary|
For Pappa Quail it was an opportunity to look at the acorn woodpeckers that were busy on that landmark tree.
|Manzanita Point Road|
|Larkspur, Delphinium sp.|
There, just below Manzanita Point, I saw the one flower I was really hoping to see - the ground iris. This gorgeous, deep purple flower grows really close to the ground and is easy to miss, hidden in the tall weeds. There were a quite a few irises in that spot but I couldn't linger there for too long because everyone else were already dashing away letting gravity pull them and their weight downhill.
|Ground iris, Iris macrosiphon|
|Bird's Eyes, Gilia tricolor|
|Yellow Mariposa Lily, Calochortus luteus and a checkerspot butterfly|
|Alaska Piperia, Piperia unalascensis|
Third wave spring bloom has many geophytes (bulbous plants) - lilies, irises, brodiaes, and onions too. Wild onions have very pretty bloom.
|Jeweled Onion, Allium serra, and leaves of poison oak|
|Purple Clarkia, Clarkia purpurea|
It was still early in the afternoon but now we were moving sluggishly. It wasn't too hot but with the heavy backpacks and the steep grade of Poverty Flat Road which we were walking on slowed us down to a near crawl. Good thing there were many wildflowers around to brighten my mood.
|Western Larkspur, Delphinium hesperium|
|Poverty Flat Road|
Anyhow, by the time we were sweating buckets up Poverty Flat Road I thought how nice it would have been to walk in the water. that trail would have been almost level too.
|Poverty Flat Road|
|Coulter Pine, pines coulterii|
|Ithuriel's Spear, Triteleia laxa|
A small brown bird hopped on the trail ahead of us. Pappa Quail and the elder chika moved forward with renewed energies. My chika chose to not bring her birding camera (it's heavy!) but Pappa Quail was properly equipped and he followed the bird as it explored a patch of dirt on the trail and then flew back to its perch on a low oak branch.
We were walking some distance along the dirt road without seeing the turn to Shafer Corral Road that was marked on the map I carried. I slowed down, then stopped altogether. Then I yelled to the people on the lead to stop. They started to come back but I yelled to them to stay put until I figured things out. I walked back and forth passing a couple of time the trail segment where the turn should have been according to the map. It seemed as if there should be a trail there, but the weeds had grown all over it. I told the people nearest me that I was going to check it out and that they all should wait. Beating the weeds before me with the hiking poles (I feared rattle snakes) I plunged into the savannah grass and moved carefully over the crest until ... there it was! faint and overgrown, and certainly not looking like a vehicle road, but definitely a trail! I went back and motioned everyone to follow me. They were sceptic, but nearing exhaustion they were too tired to argue and followed me over the hill crest and downhill.
|Clay Mariposa Lily, Calochortus argillosus|
It took us longer than expected to find a suitable camp site. The best spots were already taken - I was a bit bummed to find other campers there but I guess that wasn't too surprising. The spot we eventually chose was too close to the trail to my taste, but it was flat and clean of rocks and thorns and clearly was used several times recently and I didn't want to break new ground. It was already getting late and everyone was tired.
|Coyote Creek, south fork.|
Many thanks to members of the California Native Plants Society for their help in identifying plants!