I’ve been to Henry Coe’s “Backcountry Weekend” three times now. http://coepark.net/pineridgeassociation/pra-event-list/details/61-2014-backcountry-weekend
During Backcountry Weekend the Orestimba Corral area becomes a buzzing hive of activity, including probably 100 cars, trucks, horse trailers, and tents. I thought it might be interesting to visit BEFORE the mobs arrive!
It was a 27 mile roundtrip from where I parked my car at Highway 152 (Pacheco Pass) http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2029004
I parked at Bell Station, as this is the closest you can drive until the spring/summer when the gate is open on weekends http://coepark.net/pineridgeassociation/planning-your-visit/visitor-centers-and-park-entrances/dowdy-ranch-visitor-center I was also curious to see the water level in the stream crossings (a little higher than the 3 BCWs I have been to) and to see if there were permanent signs against mountain biking north of Orestimba (there were temporary signs last year during BCW. No signs today. Apparently some small parts of the road cross into the Wilderness just north of the Corral area.)
It took 90 minutes to get to Dowdy Ranch, which is similar to my past 2 trips last year. After that, it was just under 90 minutes more to get to Orestimba, at a more leisurely pace and less climbing.
I took some pictures of Tie Down Peak, which was scene of a VERY close rattlesnake encounter back in the fall. I did NOT bushwhack this time! http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1785673
I saw 4 kinds of flowers: Some poppies in a sheltered spot, some large fields of Shooting Stars which are peaking now, plus some 4-petaled white ones and multi-petaled yellow ones
Also visited the James Spring for the first time, which is on the map. Peaceful spot just off the road. The spring was barely trickling and full of algae. I also visited another spring about a mile north of Dowdy on the east side. It’s not on the map, but there’s a marker post there. That spring was also trickling, though with alot less algae and crud in the Rubbermaid trough.
The Pacheco Creek undercrossing was full and lightly flowing
The last water crossing, right at the edge of the Orestimba Corral, was a bit lower than usual.
…and here we are! The corral area!
Empty, quiet, and the trees barren in the winter!
Nice trip, except for the steep hill on either side of the Dowdy Ranch HQ. The weather was perfect! About 65 degrees when I finished, and I only required a minimum of water to be comfortable (1.5 liters)