I too am in Love with Henry Coe State Park. I was introduced to backpacking, 24 years ago, by a group of friends who did a yearly trip to the Sierras. Well, I wanted to go more than once per year, so I discovered Coe Park and started going on solo backpacking trips every month. On one trip I was hiking on a fire road, in the backcountry and a truck pulled up alongside me and the man inside asked; "Are you doing fine?", Yes, I said. "Do you have enough water?", Yes, I said. "Did you enjoy the Park?" Yes, I said. He then said something to me that I (as a Black Man) had never heard before — he said "Tell All Your Friends About Our Park". That Man was Ranger Barry. I love that man!!
I've had so many adventures and mis-adventures in the park. One of my mis-adventures landed me on the front page of the Gilroy newspaper. My girlfriend and I were trapped on the other side of China Hole after a major rain storm. We finally got out 3 days later via Coyote Creek. We got a ride to the local Police Dept and bumped into the writer of the Police Blotter. He overheard our story of being stranded in Coe Park, and decided to do a write-up.
I never let that incident deter me from coming back. I love the park and will come back as much as I can.
Edward J. Mack
Bass Fishing at Coit Lake
I first started visiting Coe back in the 1980s. I was in the Boy Scouts, and we would do at least two trips a year to Coe, usually staying at the Manzanita point campsite. I have found memories of the place, and our treks down to China Hole and Poverty Flat. Later, after leaving Morgan Hill to go to University in Los Angeles, I would come back to Coe a few times a year for solo backpacking trips. I could have gone to places closer to LA, but nothing had the beauty and indeed the challenge of Coe. There is a saying that goes, "People don't train in Coe for the Sierras. They train in the Sierras for Coe." Those ridges in the park always provided a tough challenge, especially in the middle of Summer when the heat and scarcity of water might deter the less determined soul.
I moved to the United Kingdom with my wife about twelve years ago, and before I left I made sure I visited Coe, "one last time", doing a loop up to Frog Lake, down to China Hole and back to the Park Headquarters. It turned out that it was not the last time I would visit. Every time I return to California for a visit, I make the time to come and visit. I was horrified to hear that the park faced closure. It gives me great pleasure to adopt a few acres today to help keep this great natural resource open for everyone. Thank you all the the Coe Park Preservation Fund for all the hard work you are doing to keep the park open.
Ascot, United Kingdom
I am so very upset about the planned closing of the park in July 2012. It's hard to explain, but I have a deep emotional attachment to that place. I just can't accept that my hike in Coe Park late last month may turn out to be the last time I can replenish my spirit there. I have made a donation to the Coe Park Preservation Fund. I hope enough individuals, foundations and corporations feel strongly enough to donate the necessary funds to keep the park open.
Jack Hollender — Chicago, IL
Jack Hollender and Lynn Weitzke enjoying a hike on the Hartman Trail.
Photo by Heather Ambler
I first came to Henry Coe on a very warm mid-September day in 2006. ...
When I arrived I went to the visitor center where I found the staff both friendly and helpful. They suggested an easy introductory hike, and I followed their suggestion, which took me up the Monument Trail to the Ponderosa Loop and then over to the Henry Coe Monument, before circling back to park headquarters.
As I went on that first hike, I really wasn't sure if I liked the park. It was by then, very warm, bordering on hot, and dry and dusty. And while it didn't fully register in my mind, underneath, I was hearing that magical sound of a gentle breeze blowing through the ponderosa pines and majestic old oaks and rustling through the long golden sea of wild oats covering the open meadows. It was, and is, a very peaceful sound that reaches into your soul and creates a mood of serenity, no matter what stresses you carry. And it reached into me.
And then I as I wandered over to Hobbs Road, which had deep dust from all the use, I couldn't help but notice all of the animal tracks in that dust. The road was loaded with animal tracks and I realized this park might be hot, dry and dusty, but it was also alive. Very alive!
And I was taken by the wide-open views I saw, with views deep into the park, and I realized this park was big, really big. And as I finished my hike, I resolved to come back the next weekend and do a longer hike, which I did. And then I came back the weekend after that, and then the weekend after that, and the weekend after that for more and more hikes and I kept coming back. I hiked till I hit the wall, challenging my ability to do the hikes. And I learned from that to respect Henry Coe. And out of my respect I came to love Henry Coe. And out of my love for the park, I became a uniformed volunteer, helping others to discover that "something about Coe." Why? Because there really is something about Coe. Something that reaches into you and makes you fall in love. I LOVE HENRY COE!!!!
A January Day On Steer Ridge
I enjoyed riding my horse, Nick, on trail rides and horse camping at Henry Coe for many years. One of the highlights (or moonlights) of those years was the first time I rode him on a Moonlight Ride at Henry Coe in the fall of 2002. I was new to the area and had not ridden at Henry Coe before. I saw the flyer about the upcoming Moonlight Ride and decided it sounded like fun. It was fun and that was the start of many, many, wonderful trail rides with Nick out at Henry Coe.
What I remember about that ride was coming down the steep trail into Hunting Hollow at the end of the ride. The moon was behind the clouds and we were under trees. The night was so black I could not see my hand in front of my face. Literally — I remember holding my hand up to see if I could see it, and nope, not even an outline! I remember thinking, "This is when you learn to trust your horse. At this moment, you are completely at his mercy. If he chooses to take care of you, good for you. If he doesn't, there is nothing you can do about it!" I put my left hand on the saddle horn, leaned back in the saddle, loosened up the reins and let him pick his way — perfectly, securely, carefully — down the mountain into Hunting Hollow. I rode with my eyes closed part of the way, because frankly, it didn't make a bit of difference — everything looked the same with my eyes open or closed.
That ride was a real turning point in my relationship with that wonderful horse, who is now running free across the Rainbow Bridge. It took a pitch black night on a steep downhill trail at Henry Coe to show me what a trustworthy horse he was. I'm working on some new horse partnerships now and hoping Henry Coe remains available to help me build some new horse partnerships!
San Martin, CA
As I understand, Coe Park will remain open, at least for three years, due to the efforts of your organization. I would like to give a huge thank you to the Pine Ridge Assoc. and the Coe Park Preservation Fund for all of the work in putting together the mechanism and subsequent donations to make this possible. The Teri Davis Patane Memorial Horse Camp for Kids is small non-profit organization which puts on a one week long horse camp each summer for disadvantaged kids. As part of that week we spend three days and two nights with the kids and horses in Coe Park. On behalf of our Board of Directors, our volunteer staff, and our kids, your efforts are greatly appreciated. My daughter, in whose memory our camp was started, was a member of the Pine Ridge Assoc. and I know she would have been a great supporter of your efforts. Thank you again! !!!
The Teri Davis Patane Memorial Horse Camp for Kids
A New Friend!
... When we got transferred out of Alaska and sent back to California, we just didn't know where to start. There are so many things to do, so many opportunities to be had here! Since we had a 2 year old and I am a photographer, it was only natural to us to be outside all of the time. We started visiting all of the beaches and as many California State Parks as we could as fast as we could — we never know how long we will be in one location and didn't want to miss anything.
When we got to Morgan Hill, we started looking around and soon I noticed that almost every day on my daughters nap drive (only slept in the car) I was ending up at Henry Coe. I cannot even tell you how many times we have been there. We have taken many little day hikes, met lots of great people, and seen tons of neat things.
The very first time we saw Henry Coe State Park was 8 years ago. We were working in Gilroy, and one Sunday morning, on a nice quiet drive looking for something to do, my husband and I found ourselves on the long drive up to the Visitor Center. At the bottom, it was crisp and clear and quiet, but about half way up, there was the most beautiful line of fog. When we got to the top we could see over the fog line and watched the fog moving and dancing about and it was so wonderful!
Now, at least once a week, we still go to one entrance of Henry Coe or another, sometimes just sitting while my daughter sleeps and watching the fog, listening to the birds and hearing the 'calm'.
It breaks my heart that this lovely place may not be around to change other peoples' lives as it certainly has changed mine. Please save Henry Coe State Park from Closure!
Lora Parks & Family
Hobbs Road Hike
Coe Park has been an integral part of DreamPower Horsemanship's Equine Journey Program. At least twice a year for the past 3 years we have taken groups of at-risk or developmentally delayed young adults into the backcountry as the culmination of 4-6 weeks of teambuilding and therapeutic riding lessons at the DreamPower barn in Gilroy. This October will be our 7th trip in the park, and I hope it is not our last.
The change in our students begins during the drive to the park. They leave the world of streetlights and street crime behind, pass through the world of ranches and isolated homesteads, and arrive in the world where nature reigns. Depending on which area is reserved for our group, we sometimes leave even the cars themselves behind and ride our horses or hike to our campsite.
On the drive to Dowdy Ranch one spring, I stopped the car to move a large gopher snake that was sunning on the road. The teen girls who were coming on that particular trip piled out of their cars and came to watch me gently pick up and examine the snake. Comments of "eew, gross" became "wow, cool" as they nervously extended a finger to feel the smooth scales and looked into the bright eyes of this beautiful creature. Later that weekend these same girls came excitedly back to camp carrying a CA king snake they had found on the trail so that I could admire it, and they then returned it gently to its home.
This was the first glimmer of compassion that these girls had shown in my work with them at DreamPower, and the weekend at Dowdy allowed this part of their character to blossom. The isolation of the site forced them to work out their resentments toward one another and their life situations; and the wildlife of Coe were our co-teachers. A mother turkey sitting on her nest, a litter of kangaroo rats, a black widow spider, deer and coyote were all instrumental in providing these girls opportunities to show concern for someone other than themselves.
Self-reliance and living in community are other lessons that many of our students take home from their time at Henry Coe. Each student is responsible for his/her own tent, and many choose to help one another put them up and take them down. Because of our backcountry location, they get to be immersed in a group of adults who take responsibility, work hard, and enjoy one anothers' company. Many students are so attracted to the warmth and cheerfulness of our leadership team that they volunteer to help in the kitchen without having to be asked. It is easy to convince students of the need to take responsibility for themselves and that their actions affect the community on these trips, because the remote location of Henry Coe strips away outside influences and distractions and forces us to rely on one another.
I consider Coe park to be almost part of our program staff. It provides character education that I could not teach students in a year of lessons at their school. It gives us unforgettable experiences that draw us together and provides stories to tell - ice on the tents in June, a 6am coyote wake-up-howl, the woody texture of dried deer bones, seeing the milky way for the first time, and the "SSHHHHing" of a barn owl reminding us that Coe is her home too are all indelible memories that our students have taken home from their trips to the park.
As you can see from what I've written, Henry Coe is an invaluable asset. The Equine Journey trips and the life lessons learned by our students would not have been nearly as impactful at a suburban, manicured campground. Please keep Coe park in business — the business of changing lives!
Melissa Abbey — DreamPower Horsemanship
I am a volunteer and on the board of directors with DreamPower Horsemanship. I have gone on four camping trips and my husband has gone on two camping trips through our Equine Wilderness Journey Program with developmentally delayed young adults and at risk teens. The experience these young adults have on our trips far outweighs anything they receive from a clinical therapy session or anything they learn in school. These trips forever change their young lives and ours. With the developmentally delayed kids, this may be the first time they have ever been away from their family. They learn independence and a sense of self confidence that no other setting can provide. They put up their own tents, wash their own dishes and learn about "leave no trace". The at risk teens are removed from all the "e" stimulus and get to experience the gifts only nature can provide, they also learn about "leave no trace" and empathy for others. If you were to come upon a group of our at risk teens while we are camping at Henry Coe, you would never ever guess that these kids have been in juvenile hall, committed crimes, have drug or alcohol or anger issues, they are just kids having the time of their lives in one of the most beautiful settings in the world. The recidivism rate is miniscule for the kids that participate in our Equine Wilderness Journey program. Henry Coe has been instrumental in positively affecting the lives of many young people struggling to make changes in their lives. Cameron, one of your excellent rangers, has been a great role model for the young men and women that participate in our program. He has donated his time to give informational talks about the park and his journey to become a ranger. The closure of Henry Coe would adversely affect our ability to make positive changes in many young people's lives. Please take this into consideration when making your decision.
Julie Whelan — Director/Secretary, DreamPower Horsemanship
Headed Towards Kickham Ranch Headquarters
I took my first hike in Coe park in 1974 after running out of new places to go in Castle Rock State Park. I went to China Hole via the Mile Trail and back by the old steep China Hole Trail. I knew I had found a new hiking home!
Shortly after this hike, I was introduced to Bob Patrie by ranger Joe White. Bob and I became every Sunday hiking partners. In the next 10-15 years we did actually cover almost all of the original 13,000 acres. Fortunately the park had grown to some 87,000 acres by then. This was something Bob and I and worked with others to accomplish. Along the way we also helped start the Pine Ridge Association and led it for the first 10 years. I was also a charter member of the Trails Advisory Committee working on more and better trails. Coe Park had truly become a second home.
This is not the first time Coe Park has been closed. Once during the drought year of 1977 it was closed for a summer due to extreme fire hazard. Then there was the year Dunne Ave slid down the hill. Last was the 1984 Morgan Hill Earthquake that destroyed the Cochrane Bridge. None of these closures really kept me out of the park as I found ways in with the rangers help.
This impending closure is different - the park will be unprotected and exposed and unsupervised. A lot of our work on trails and roads will fade away. The lesson of the 2007 Lick Fire reminds me of a greater danger.
In the last 5 years I have seldom able to get to Coe Park for various reasons but I still hope it will still be there when I need it.