Henry W. Coe State Park has been like a good friend to me ever since we moved to San Jose. This is the closest state park to where I live, and it is the second largest in California with hundreds of miles of trails, amazing views, challenging hills and quiet, secluded camping spots. It get quite hot and dry during the summer and some trails are impassible during winter but that never stopped me from visiting. This is one of those places I cannot get enough of.
Last election when California voters voted down a small fee to aid state parks, they showed that they do not care much about nature and the environment. The money the state will save by shutting down 70 state parks will add up to 1/10th of a 1% of CA budget hole, but since the thinking in Sacramento is that a penny saved is a penny earned, our math challenged politicians decided that this was the way to go. The idea is not new, they've been talking about closing state parks for years now, and I have always thought that given a choice between closing battered women shelters or state parks I would probably close some state parks, only that many shelters got chopped too. Allow me some sarcasm here, maybe those cuts now add up to 1/9th of 1%... I won't ramble more about what closing of those parks means.
A few days ago I went to say good bye to Henry W. Coe SP, and my dear friend, shared 20 miles of its trails with me. This was the longest day hike I have ever enjoyed there and still it did not feel like I had enough. It was unusually cold day for this time of year in CA so I was able to go pretty fast. I visited some of my favorite places there wishing I had more time to stay and enjoy this gem of a park.
I enjoyed talking to groups of kids who, poor souls, have heard of poison oak but had no idea what it looked like though they were on poison oak infested trail.
I felt a bit self important by giving intel on The Narrows, a trail that one has to negotiate with a creek that likes to flood it over this time I managed with dry feet by some not so gracious rock scrambling.
I was happy to chat with some elderly hikers about my upcoming JMT trip.
I was glad to share that park with others who seemed to love it as much as I do.
Castle Rock Park, another casualty of budget cuts, is a marvel I loved to visit too. It is most famous for its amazing rock formations and stunning views of Santa Cruz Mountains. Again, this was one of my favorite destinations for hikes with kids. This was the park where kids begged to skip hiking in favor of rock scrambling. While most moms would get exhausted after a short time on the rocks, and just sat down to talk mothering, kids would spend hours climbing, jumping, hiding, playing, exploring without a sign of getting tired. I do not like city park playgrounds, so as often as I could, I would take even the little ones to this park for the best play structure ever, not rubberized, rough, hard and challenging. Sure, there were scraped knees and cuts here and there, kids did not seem to mind that much and I see those as an integral part of childhood. As kids got older, they still loved that place and even now, when I ask, and some are 15-17 years old, Castle Rock State Park is their first choice for an outing. None have ever asked for a city play structure.
For me this park means the end of an amazing 30+mile trail from the ocean to the most eastern ridge of Santa Cruz Mountains. It is almost like climbing to the top of a mountain when one starts at the beach and then keeps on going up and gets rewarded with astonishing vistas. I know I will have to do this trail again before the park closes.