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43. Mt. Sizer Loop (09/27/97)

Hikers (4): Peter, Ram, Russ, Steve
Distance: 18 miles
Rating: 5 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Henry Coe State Park east of Morgan Hill

Write-up by Steve

When INCH was started, the primary interest was for beautiful hikes in the great outdoors. After a while, it shifted to beautiful, difficult hikes. Mount Sizer is what remains: an unattractive, difficult hike. Don't let the beauty rating of "8" fool you -- in the summer Henry Coe Park is a dusty hellhole, which is why we keep coming back.

We were pleased to discover upon entering the park that it was tarantula mating season. The freaks were out in full force (tarantula freaks, that is). After trying to sell us a bright-yellow commemorative tarantula-mating-season T-shirt, one of the park rangers told us a little about the tarantulas. Turns out the Coe buggers aren't very aggressive, and if they do bite, it's no worse than a bee sting. Nothing better than pre-hike education!

Speaking of education, your humble author was in town taking a break from the university grind by attending a conference. It was clear that the months of Gainesville flat-land had taken their toll, as even Peter the Gimp passed me on the shadeless Short Cut trail toward Mount Sizer's peak.

Note by the Gimp: College Boy did not even mention the fact that I gave him a 100-yard head start up the hill!
Note by the College Boy: Peter is a wanker!
Note by the Gimp: Your mom!

After meeting up at the top, we broke off again. Peter and Ram kept to the rear and Russ and I struck out forward. We were warned to look closely for "Jackass Trail," which would be the shortest path to our next meeting point. Russ and I missed it; Ram and The Gimp found it. After a grueling stretch along Miller Trail, I was somewhat dismayed to find Ram and Peter lying in the shade like a couple of newlyweds. I waited a short while for Canteen Boy to catch up, but he never showed. The Slack Couple were in no rush to get off their duffs, so I got the directions to China Hole from Peter and set off.

The China Hole Trail (off of Coit Route) was nicely shaded, but was an arduous two miles. I took a break to eat lunch and what happens next? Does Russ show up? Peter? Ram? Nope. Some septuagenarian who had been out hiking for two days came out of the woods. He was in a rush to get home to "have a good steak, some good wine, and see his (I would guess, good) wife." Luckily, he knew the way to China Hole and confirmed that I was on the right path (wasn't entirely sure at that point). So, invigorated by the food and chat, I set off with visions of taking a siesta at the 'hole waiting for everyone else to catch up.

China Hole was a big disappointment: It's not a deep hole (I thought it would be akin to a hole to China); it's just a bunch of whitened rocks that don't look much like a China pattern. As I was tiredly scouting out somewhere shady to rest, I saw a white napkin pinned on the China Hole sign. It read:

2:30 pm

Esteban,

We shortcut
through the
creek to here.
We're heading
back to Ranger
Station now.

Peter

It was about 2:50 pm and they had not only ditched me, but cut a mile off the hike and 620 ft of elevation gain (and loss). I immediately started up the path to try to get back at a reasonable time relative to my cheatin' group. To make a long, long story short, I eventually caught up with Ram and made it back to the main camp not too long after Russ and Peter. We were all very worn out from the hot weather and long, boring trail (Russ had managed to hobble himself and hadn't even made it to China Hole, opting to take the Pacheco Route back to Coe Headquarters). We sat around and imbibed a few choice beverages, trying to watch our language in front of the kids visiting for the Tarantula Fest (the hike was expletive-worthy, so that was no small chore).

I spotted a massive tarantula, which would normally be pretty creepy, but was cool in this case. A fearless little girl walked by and scooped it up. Her parents watched with glee, so I decided that it was probably pretty safe. I walked over and let it climb into my hand. Couldn't convince the rest of my intrepid hiking pals to join in the fun, however.

All in all, this was a tiring and educational hike. Not only did we learn a lot about tarantulas and such, but I learned that my hiking partners are a bunch of accident-prone arachnophobic short-cutters.



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