Monday, February 24, 2014

Wild, Wild World of Animals - Henry Coe Edition

I don't know how many of you remember that show from the 70's called Wild, Wild World of Animals. It had this funky theme song and was my favorite show when I was a kid (other than Dr. Who but that is another story). I was really inspired and even daydreamed about going to the Kalahari to study the big cats. I don't know how I ended up in the world of plants but anyways, they just don't make shows like that anymore. Well, my most recent trip to Henry Coe State Park was kind of like an episode of Wild, Wild World of Animals.

Normally, I don't see much wildlife at Henry Coe, it might be because I am unlucky, or unobservant or maybe I am distracted by all the ridiculous up and downs you are forced to walk. But this time was different.

I was on the trail by 10 am, and it never fails. When I check in at headquarters and tell them my plan to hike out to Mississippi Lake, they look at me real funny. "You know its like 14 miles, are you sure you can make it?" Literally, every single time and its a different person each time. Are we so sedentary that we can't walk 14 miles?

I was hoping for some wildflowers, we had a really nice rain two weeks back and I thought it might bring out some new growth. It was greener than when I was here in January but still not much plant action.

I saw four different kinds of flowers in bloom, this was one of them.
There is a mix of dirt road and trail walking, I tried to stick to the trail as much as possible. Dropped down about 1000 feet and hiked into the Narrows, one of my favorite parts of Henry Coe.

At the other end is Los Cruzeros, where I spotted a bobcat.

It wasn't too concerned about me and was much more interested in some birds sitting in the trees.

After the Narrows, the trail climbs back up that 1000 feet and hooks into a road for a while.

The road gets old pretty fast, there seems to be no attempt at all to follow the contours of the hills, it just goes straight up then straight down, then back up. I take a side trail and drop back down into a canyon to follow a stream (well during a normal year it is a stream, this year it is a series of stagnant pools).

In the shady parts of the trail are hundreds of Newts, migrating towards the nearest water source.

California Newt

I try not to step on them, they move soooo slowly but who wants newt slime on their shoes, and they are cute too. Apparently they are quite poisonous so I guess they don't need to worry about being eaten.

I made it down to Mississippi Lake and had the place to myself for a while. There are a couple of different species of ducks that live here and they have a very nice sounding call. Actually, there were quite a few birds and I really enjoyed listening to all the different sounds.

I was setting up my camera in the dark to try some star pictures when a couple walked by in the dark. A little while later, they came over to say hello. They saw my Zpacks hexamid and figured they would know who it was. Turns out it was Manfred and Michelle, I hadn't seen them since the trip to Fremont Lake back in June.

They hiked in their pack rafts in for a little time on the lake fishing.

They were nice enough to let me try out a pack raft, my first time in one!

The walk out was fine, I managed to get a little dehydrated but I figured it was good experience.

Just waiting

The ticks were definitely out, I could see them waiting on the grasses that hang over the trail. But they seemed a bit sluggish and I only had to pull a few off me. I think in a week or two it will get bad though. I had one of the worst tick experiences of my life at Henry Coe a few years back (and I have had a few) and I would rather not repeat it.

On a more cute note there were also swarms (?) of ladybugs on the trail. Definitely a good time to be a single lady bug, lots of options.

Stumbled across a dead amphibian, anyone know what it is?

As I was hiking out, getting close to the trailhead I noticed a coyote up on the hill above me. Seemed interested in something on the ground, I think it was hunting ground squirrels.

Overall, it was a very pleasant trip. Henry Coe continues to impress me. Although at first glance it looks pretty boring, when you start to explore it, there are wonderful surprises to be found.