Two Oaks to Coe State Park HQ via Poverty Flats

At 5 a.m., I got up to make breakfast. The temperature was about 45 degrees — cool enough for a sweater, a jacket, and a warm hat. After eating breakfast and packing up, I spent some time looking at the huge mistletoes growing on a nearby oak tree. Two of them must have been more than fifteen feet long, huge dark masses hanging among the branches of the oak.

I started hiking at 6:25, climbing up and then turning right to hike down the Middle Ridge Trail. In about three quarters of an hour, I passed the junction with Fish Trail, then went up a little knob through a stand of Bigberry Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca). The dramatic contrast between the rich green leaves and dark-red twisted trunks of the manzanitas was quite beautiful. More visual drama was to come. As the trail wound down Middle Ridge, every so often I’d catch sight of a huge bank of white fog filling the valleys beyond Poverty Flats.

Fog in the distance from Middle Ridge Trail, Coe State Park

Walking through such a landscape didn’t leave much room for other thoughts, which was fine with me. I looked at flowers, and walked, and that’s about it.

At about twenty past eight, suddenly I heard the sound of running water, and then rounding a bend I could see the Middle Fork of Coyote Creek. After crossing the creek, I dropped my pack, and spent half an hour resting. An Anna’s Hummingbird buzzed close to my head, and lots of other birds were singing in the brush along the water. A female Wood Duck was startled when I walked too close to her, and flew low along the water to another hiding place.

Middle Fork of Coyote Creek, looking back up at the Middle Ridge Trail

Poverty Flats Road climbs fairly steeply up from Coyote Creek, rising about 800 feet in a mile and a half. I took my time, pausing frequently to look at flowers, or to admire the view of Middle Ridge across the valley of the Little Fork of Coyote Creek. A couple of state park trucks drove down the road; those were the only two people I saw for most of the morning. Then once I got to the junction of Forest Trail and Corral Trail, at about 11:45, I passed several groups of people — dayhikers and backpackers starting the Memorial Day weekend early.

At ten past noon, I arrived back at park headquarters. While I ate my lunch, I talked with one of the park rangers. Then it was time to head home before the Memorial Day traffic got bad. And as I drove north up Highway 101 to San Jose, I could see that it was already stop-and-go traffic headed south.