Henry Coe Park: Camping Redfern Pond

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Trip Mileage: approximately 10 miles round-trip

June 17-18, 2006

Our group of four set off along Hunting Hollow Road from the entrance at 8:30 am. The road crossed over the creek several times as we chatted and took in the pleasantly warm sun. Turning onto Wagon Road and laboring up the steep hill hampered the chitchat, but we took lots of breaks to cool off, reaching Redfern Pond around 11 a.m.

I was delighted to find the lake teeming with life. Bullfrogs lined the perimeter, plopping into the water lightning-fast as soon as a human approached. Bulbous-headed bullfrog tadpoles at least 5 inches long filled the pond, and swaths of black frog eggs were spread in the reeds. Red-winged blackbirds called and flitted among tall patches of reeds in the pond. Dragonflies swarmed near the water, some brilliant red-orange, some periwinkle and others black and white.

Greg and Jeff had brought fishing poles and caught a few bluegills on lures with names like "prince nymph" and "wooly bugger". In the afternoon, as I lay half-napping on my sleeping mat under the canopy of a shady oak with bits of sunlight filtering through, I heard noisy rustling nearby. Sitting up, I startled a group of wild turkeys – two adult females and at least five young ones. They hurried off into the brush.

At dusk, after we'd set up to sleep under the stars, mosquitoes bothered us only for a few minutes. The bullfrogs began singing a deep-throated chorus, to which we fell asleep under a clear night sky. I woke up sometime past midnight and walked under a half-moon too bright to look at. I smiled to hear the bullfrogs continuing their slow song.

We woke to another cloudless blue sky and a cool, dry breeze. I walked up the ridge along Redfern Trail to take in panoramic views of the wilderness beyond. Back at Redfern Pond, we watched a brownish dragonfly repeatedly dipping her rear end into the surface of the water—presumably, laying eggs. I was surprised to see other species of dragonflies dive-bombing her. A white-and-black dragonfly hovered a foot or so above, apparently defending the egg-layer from the swooping paths of other dragonflies. She jumped out of the way a few times, but stuck to her task.

After a wonderfully serene second day relaxing in the shade, listening to birds and observing pond life from a little inflatable boat, we packed up and headed west along Phegley Ridge Road and Trail, eventually meeting Hunting Hollow Road. Hiking down the steep ridge trail was the tough part. Even with my poles and lightweight pack, my knees and quads complained more than I expected. Breathtaking views of the layers of rumpled hills, blanketed in green and gold against a brilliant blue, compensated for the brutal angle. Back on flat Hunting Hollow Road, we spotted a bobcat or lynx trotting along the trail ahead of us and excitedly reached for the binoculars. The kitty, however, slipped silently into the woods.

Almost back at the entrance, we paused at a stream crossing to watch a mule deer wander into the water just a few yards away. She took a leisurely drink, looked around unconcernedly and moved into the grass to graze. As always, we are privileged and humbled to be visitors in the wilderness.

Last updated: 07/03/06
Copyright 2006, Gillian Zaharias