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87. Mt. Sizer (09/26/98)

Hikers (8): Beth, Jamie, Miwako, Peter, Russ, Steve, Taylor, Wei-Kai
Distance: 10 miles
Rating: 5 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Henry Coe State Park east of Morgan Hill

Write-up by Steve

Henry Coe is a great park, and Mt. Sizer is an excellent day hike within the park. Although we've done Mt. Sizer a few times in the past (Hikes #29, #43, #61), it is always a little different. This time, in late September, it was cool and overcast, very much unlike the summer scorcher that drains the life-blood out of you during the relentless climb from the creek crossing to The Giant Bench.

Because the hike has been discussed at length before, let's talk a little about that bench. The Giant Bench occurs immediately after a long, challenging climb from the Middle Fork of Coyote Creek to a nice plateau. The Giant Bench derives its name from its impressive height, which allows a seated full-grown adult to dangle his/her feet like a kindergartner on a (normal sized) park bench. The Giant Bench is about a mile and a half short of Mt. Sizer's Peak. Although only an additional 150 feet elevation change over the remaining distance, The Giant Bench should not be confused with Mt. Sizer, as it is just a waystation for the weak and infirm to rest before the last spurt.

Crystal clear as this differentiation is, on this particular hike the normally die-hard I.N.C.H. declared that the hard part of the hike was over by The Giant Bench, and seven of eight turned back at this point. Considering the drizzle and the cold winds at the top, this was a wise decision.

But going on turned out to be an adventure! We had been previously informed of the existence of a 'hidden' hike log. Upon reaching the peak, a determined effort was made to re-discover the lost journal. After about five minutes of tromping around the antenna station near the peak, I happened across the secret stash. Inside a plastic bag, inside a bigger plastic page, inside a sealed PVC pipe, inside a bigger rock-covered PVC pipe, was the log: a small ring-bound notepad with little entries and drawings from previous visitors. Very cool. I scrawled in my information quickly (as it was drizzling) and was off to make sure I could catch up to the Bench hikers (after completing the elaborate packaging procedure).

On the return trip I ran into a guy I had previously passed on the long uphill climb. He was excited to show me the power-steering fluid cap he had picked up, amused that someone was driving around in the mountains slowly losing steering control. He was wearing a white raggedy glove on one hand, so I queried him about his apparent Michael Jackson fetish. "It's for medical reasons." Whoops. Probably for a prosthetic hook or something! Normally I would run away, but the guy was doing an even longer loop, so I figured we were brothers of the land.

The return trip back was fairly typical. We all agreed on the way down that Mt. Sizer was no longer the killer hike we had all remembered. As usual, we spoke too soon and weren't so high-and-mighty as we hiked back up toward the ranger station. Several of us (somewhat independently) took a detour near the end to visit Henry Coe's monument. I was surprised that we all had not done this before considering the deep appreciation we have for California's second largest state park. A small fenced-in headstone was there to tell Big Henry's story. Seems like this should be located at some remote location (like Mississippi Lake) so that only the truly devoted (and worthy!) can visit it.

After the hike we were off to Beppo's for Eric's birthday party. (The Man, ex post facto, used this as an excuse for why he did not hike to the top--probably trying to save his strength for any potential mooning opportunities)

Miwako's 1st leaf

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