After the Las Flores Del Osos 50K on Monday, my legs and body had fully recovered by Thursday, but then I saw a cold front moving in. I wanted to take advantage of that to explore the southern part of Henry Coe starting at the Hunting Hollow entrance. This course hit some of the highlights in this section including Wilson Peak, Kelly Lake, Coit Lake and Pacheco Camp. Overall, this section had a very different feel than the northwest. Here’s my Strava activity:
Henry Coe – Hunting Hollow Entrance
Got there around 6:30am and it was super foggy. Plenty of parking space. I did the self registration and headed up Jim Donnelly Trail. The 2,000ft climb right at the start of the run woke me up in a hurry. I couldn’t really see much beyond a few hundred yards which made everything that much more mysterious.
I had read up on Wild Boars of Henry Coe the night before and was definitely on the lookout for “presence of earth that looks like it has been rototilled“, which, by the way, is a perfect description. As soon as I started on Grizzly Gulch Trail, the signs were all over. I went on red alert checking the “freshness” of the tilled soil, listening to the sounds, scoping out trees I can climb on. Turned on Rock Tower Trail and within minutes saw a wild boar, maybe about 50 yards away. We both took off, me sprinting back about 30 yards, while the board had a big snort and I could hear the thumping of the hooves before it disappeared into the trees. My heart was pumping pretty hard, adrenaline full on. I cautiously moved forward. The Domino Pond Trail was gorgeous, but I felt trapped. Really wanted to get to higher ground, away from the ponds. Breathed a sigh of relief when I made it to Wasno road.
Willow Ridge Road
The route meandered towards Kelly Lake and then past Coit Lake. Saw some campers along the lake shores. Willow Ridge Road wasn’t super steep on this side of Henry Coe. Just a gentle roller, but the vegetation was slowly changing to burnt chaparral as I was reaching the fire scorched regions. Passed some backpackers and bikers along the way.
Ran past Willow Ridge Trail, which was the return route on the previous 50K here. It’s kinda crazy that I was 15 miles in and I barely touched the last route. Shows you what a big place this is.
Rat Springs Trail was pretty overgrown and faint. Had to trust my GPS to stay on the path, but also bushwhack in a few places. I was about 17 miles in and was feeling pretty good. From the volunteer water reports, it looked like Pacheco Camp had spring water still flowing in the troughs. And that would be right around mile 20, which was perfect.
Pacheco Creek Trail, though overgrown and faint, was just an absolute stunner with wildflowers everywhere. There were some signs of “rototill” by the wild boards, but it was late in the day and getting warm. So was hoping that there would be no further encounters with them.
Was glad to find running water. Took my time to filter the water with my Sawyer mini, doused myself, reloaded on Tailwind headed out. It was starting to get warm. Started to see a steady trickle of backpackers and bikers. I guess this was a popular route.
I originally wanted to swing by Pacheco Falls, but spoke with some bikers and decided it wasn’t worth the trip. Apparently it was down to a trickle. Oh well, another time.
Got to Wilson Camp (mile 28) in 6:20. Just a few more downhill miles. Both the Bowl Trail and the Lyman Wilson Ridge Trail are absolute beauties. Sprawling vistas of rolling hills and wildflowers.
After the last descent, pulled into the car right around 7:10. It was definitely warm now and was glad to have stashed cold coke (ultra-runners’ fuel!) in the cooler. Between the Wildflowers 50K and this one, I’m so glad to have explored major sections of Henry Coe this year. The conditions were just perfect and looks like I planned the route pretty well to have water exactly when I needed it. It appears that cold front is going to be here through the rest of next week. Good time to tackle some exposed routes before the weather forces me to run laps on trails!
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