May 01

Coe Back Country Weekend Report

I headed down to the Coe Back Country Weekend Friday with Patty Ciesla. Despite the heavy traffic on 152, we rolled in about 6:30. We quickly set up camp near Brian Warkintine and set up the ROMP tent at Kaiser Aetna and County line Roads. Early the next morning, Philip Strenfel and Ligaya Yrastorza showed up, followed shortly by Paul Nam and Chris Vocinam. We hung out and Phil tried to outsell our neighbors, the Pine Ridge Associations’ uniformed volunteers in the new 2006 issue of the park map. Phil managed to sell 8 or 9, and I doubt the PRA sold half that many.
That was about when Senor Tomas Oshima arrived. He parked at Hunting Hollow and rode in to the back country. For mere mortals, those 15? miles and 3500′ would be more than enough, but for Tom is was just a little warm up.

Tom fueled up on fig Newtons (Where’s the bread?) and joined us as Paul Nam led a challenging ride for us up some crazy Coe ridge to Mississippi Lake, across the dam, and then up to Bear Mountain, and back. I think were headed towards Mississippi ridge when we ran into Ross Finlayson. It was a leisurely 3800′ and 21 miles – mellow for Coe.

After the ride, we pounded some chips and salsa, at some real food. Phil and Ligaya stopped by after a long day of working the tent. Ligaya managed not to get any Poison Oak, but did get a nice sun burn falling asleep in the sun. That night we were serenaded by the frogs and crickets, and reprimanded by a screech owl.

Brian joked about a night ride. . . Tom was serious.

The next morning we were woke by a most loquacious turkey, yoddling in the valley that Kaiser Aetna Road runs through.

After a nice breakfast, and a few hours in the booth, Ross led us up passed the Orestimba Corral and up the creek all the way to the border of the Wilderness and hiked out on the Rooster Comb Trail. I had spent most of my time in the tent meticulously cleaning and polishing my bike. I carefully lubed each link of my chain. By the 3rd creek crossing, I had incredible chain suck, and was stuck in my middle chain ring. I poured on the lube and it got better. The creek was stunning with wild flowers, and the Rooster Comb was an impressive rock outcropping, few ever get a chance to see. This ride was an amazing 15 miles and l500′ of climbing. How often does that happen in Coe?

On the way back, we rode up and over the Orestimba Creek Trail, and back into the Corral. At one point, I chose the high line over a boulder in the trail bed and my front shock bottomed out, shooting pain through my recently healed wrist. Ouch ouch ouch. Ouch.

After the pain subsided I headed on down, in stealth mode. I rode behind a few hikers really slow, until the trail switched back, and they saw me and let me by. I caught up with a group of hikers, and I was really sorry when their llama was the first to hear me and bolted in its master, who was thrust forward about three steps. It is amazing how easy it was to startle a draft animal. Master’s silence made it clear that being sorry is not enough. We all need to remember that bikes can be amazingly quiet, and we need to be vocal, ring bells, or put cow bells on our bikes when riding anywhere near our hoofed friends.

Brain Tom and I packed up the ROMp booth, and then packed up our camps. Brian helped Tom pick out a nice route back to hunting hollow. It included Willow Ridge and Grapevine, as I recall, and I was envious of spending the rest of the day riding. I wonder if Tom has made it home yet. Probably just barely. . .

It was a beautiful weekend. I had no idea how wonderful it could be to volunteer at an event and still be able to enjoy some great riding that is too far out for most of us to see from Hunting Hollow. I recommend it to anyone.