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621. Coyote Ridge (06/07/08)

Hikers (19): Carissa, Chester, David, Diane, Eric F, Gerry G, Hans, Helen, Jeff, Linda, Nani, Peter M, Ray A, Ross, Stacy, Steve, Tempe, Tiffany D, Yingying
Distance: 14 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 7 beauty
Park info: Harvey Bear Ranch County Park in Morgan Hill

Write-up by Steve

Although Harvey Bear Ranch feels far away in Morgan Hill, it's less than thirty minutes from the Intel carpool site and may involve the fewest directions of any hike. The hike was picked over neighboring Henry Coe simply because it was (1) new to INCH and (2) would be the fourth INCH entry into Santa Clara County's Healthy Trail (HT) fitness challenge (or sixth, depending on how you count 592 and 594). Almost done. In this case, we converted their nine-mile out-and-back into a 14 mile mostly-loop.

At the car pool was no other than the "original" Linda. Since she hadn't been on an INCH hike in two years, and had only done two other INCH hikes in over five years, pretty much no one had ever met her. Now we have 17 more people who understand why Linda L is Linda L (instead of just Linda).

1-2-3 INCH!

Ray A, a Morgan Hill local who had hiked the north end of this park many times, saved us from walking around the paved horse track at the beginning of the hike. Since it isn't on the map, I was mistaking it for the first left we needed to take. After that, though, the trails were well marked, including one marked junction not on the map (see bottom note). The park was actually pretty nice, with occasional good views of the reservoir. Not much tree cover, so it would be less hospitable on a warmer day. As Eric F pointed out to new-to-CA Tiffany D, the hills are turning to their summer-time golden brown tones.

In other news, this was Carissa's 100th hike, so I lugged up a bottle of tequila (since the normal tequila-bearer Janice was partying with her mother for this hike) and several of us waited for her at the halfway point to celebrate. But she wasn't having any tequila, spitting in the face of (Janice's) INCH tradition. She tried to use Chester as a drinking proxy, but it just doesn't work like that. So the rest of the 100-leafers enjoyed a shot while I pondered whether this was a black-leaf offense.

There was a surprise bit of uphill after the half-way point, where we passed most of the non-revelers. They were wisely enjoying their lunch under the shelter of a big tree. We all finished the hike pretty quickly, although Hans took a bit of a fall on the way down. Harvey Bear is not always a friendly bear, it seems.

The big parking lot was almost full when we started the hike, and there were several volunteers throughout the park keeping track of some sort of equestrian event. Turns out it was an endurance race which had started at 6am, so most of it was over by the time we started. Still, those horses and riders we did encounter didn't seem to be in any big rush (which is a good thing). Ray A said he had never seen more than a few cars in the parking lot. So, looks like I accidentally picked a "crowded" day. . .and it still wasn't very crowded.

Note: While looking up the difficult rating of this hike in the Santa Clara County HT printed guidebook, I noticed a better map than on their own webpage. Most notably, it includes additional trails on the east side of the ridge that we could have taken on the way back to cut out a bit of the repeated trail. Darn! It also shows the mystery junction we noticed along the way.

Carissa's 1st forest
Ray A's 1st leaf

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