1217. Hunting Hollow to Dowdy Ranch (02/29/20)
Hikers (23): Adam, Alan, Brad, Chinyet, Christina, Gela, Hailong, HaJo, Hong, Jeff, Jim, Manfred, Megan P, Mihail, Neil B, Pal, Peggy, Peter, Sarbinder, Steve, Tony, Yipeng, Yiqiong
Distance: 24 miles
Rating: 5 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Henry Coe State Park near Morgan Hill
Write-up by Adam -- Pictures by Adam, Chinyet, Hailong, Hong, Megan, Pal, Peggy, Yiqiong, and Peter
Doing a level 5 INCH hike was probably a dumb idea given 4 months of near-inactivity. Then again, this hike is always a dumb idea, and I'd never done HH 2 DR 2 HH even though it's become an INCH classic, as the dumbest ideas inevitably do.
The cool breezes and early spring color made it pleasant, and taking it slow on the many steep climbs made it possible. I visited Burra Burra East Peak after climbing its western neighbor & getting hopelessly stuck in the chaparral while trying an ill-advised bushwhack.
After breaking at Dowdy, I felt pretty good but my heart sank as I dropped down the "20% grade, 1 mile" to Scherrer Trail junction, knowing I'd have to climb right back up, only to repeat the process in even steeper fashion with Vasquez Hole! I was tempted by the freedom to take easier ways back (Center Flats off Kaiser-Aetna, Bowl Trail from Willson Camp) but I stuck with the official route to get over 7k. (Peter's note: About the same mileage as Grand Canyon R2R, but with 1000 feet more elevation than going S2N and 2000 feet more than going N2S!)
I was probably too conservative speed-wise, as I still had my legs for the final push up Steer Ridge, but I wanted to be sure I'd finish. I paid for that certainty with icy winds at sunset, lengthy searches in the gloom for the rock hops along Hunting Hollow, and an empty, beer-less parking lot at the end.
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