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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?

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Offline caleythomas

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« on: July 19, 2006, 02:13:22 PM »
Hello All,

I'm in the formative stage of an expedition for late august, and, be gentle, I'm considering hiking to Elephant Tusk and possibly scaling the peak in august.

The principles concerned are three men (age 24, 22, 20) in excellent physical condition, trained in the not as hot/more humid climate of central texas outdoor summer labor.

Realizing the dangers of overheating and dehydration if not properly equipped, I was inquiring about the possibility of doing this with adequate precautions.

If acted upon, we would be equipped with the appropriate 7.5 topo maps, trail book, and info from you, the experts.

Please respond with your opinions.

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Offline RichardM

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2006, 02:38:53 PM »
Be sure and check out the SummitPost.org info on this, posted by none other than Viper.  He posted a little about it here.  Check out the climb.mountains.com site that Oilcan mentioned as well.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2006, 03:07:09 PM »
Quote from: "caleythomas"
I'm considering hiking to Elephant Tusk and possibly scaling the peak in august.


Sounds like a great adventure, with proper preparation and due respect for the environmental conditions. You will need to be fully self-reliant as help in an emergency would almost certainly arrive too late in such a remote location and extreme conditions as you will experience.

I enjoy hiking the desert in its most harsh setting....summer. Very few folks attempt that and they miss an integral part of the desert experience.

You will need LOTS of water. I would leave camp well before sunrise and get the flats and part of the uphill out of the way before the heat begins to hammer you. No shade out there. Depending on conditions the day you are there, you also might want to consider hunkering down on the mountain in whatever cliff shade you can find and resting until late afternoon before hiking out.

Wear long pants, long sleeves and a boonie hat. Some folks think that wearing long-sleeves in summer is too hot, but it substantially slows the water loss you get from baking unprotected skin (even with sunscreen). I'd also recommend leather gloves for sun, plant and rock protection. Good boots are essential. This is not your typical walk in the park.

You will have bragging rights after doing this one.

Oh, and you MUST take a camera to wow the rest of us.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline presidio

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2006, 03:08:14 PM »
Quote from: "RichardM"
Be sure and check out the SummitPost.org info on this, posted by none other than Viper.


I'm impressed. This is one hike that is a must-do, whatever the season.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Robert

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2006, 06:05:50 PM »
As Presidio says if you are doing this as a day hike I would also recommend getting started well before the sun is up. The lower part of the trail is easy walking so you should be able to follow it without much light. It will get a little trickier as you approach the Tusk.

If you do this as an overnighter you can get a late afternoon or early evening start and get up to the Tusk and camp and then scale the peak in the morning. There's some ok camping up at the second spring. Not such how reliable that spring is but I think the one at the base of the Tusk is more reliable. At any rate, you need to pack enough water for the whole trip.

Don't underestimate the heat. There is no shade until you get up to the base of the Tusk. It will be hot.

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2006, 06:47:59 PM »
I have been to the Tusk several times but never tried to scale it.  Read Parent's Hiking Big Bend Book on this trip and the other posts.  The springs near the Tusk are normally always reliable so if you bring a filter you should be able to resupply but don't count on it 100%.  The drive in on the River Road from Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive can be done with any high-clearance vehicle and you don't need 4WD even though a short section of the road is on the Black Gap cutoff.   Count on 70-90 minutes to get to the trailhead once you leave Ross Maxwell.   Don't be in a hurry or you will not enjoy the ride or have as much fun.  

I would recommend hiking up near the Tusk the first day, making a basecamp, exploring around the perimeter of the tusk for the rest of the day, and then scaling the Tusk and returning to your vehicle the next afternoon.  Otherwise you will have to drive in the night before and sleep at the ET Primitive Campsite and attempt the entire trip as a dayhike.  Driving in and hiking roundtrip in a single day is do-able but you better get an early start.  

If you decide to backpack in and make an overnight basecamp go about 1/2-3/4 mile north past the 1st spring at the very base of the Tusk and you will come to a second spring with much better views of the Tusk and a great campsite near a large rock on the hill above the spring.   Drop your heavy gear, make camp, filter water, and head out for the rest of the day around the NW flank of the Tusk.   There are several scenic canyons with springs on the West and NW flanks of the Tusk and a very nice slot canyon at the base of the Tusk below Spring #1.   That is why I recommend making an overnight basecamp before summiting the next day.  Lots to do and see in this area and it would be a shame to rush up to the summit and rush down again as a dayhike, just to say you made the summit but never had any time to enjoy it.  If you overnight from a basecamp first you will be able to start the climb at 8-9am and have plenty of time and daylight.   TWWG

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Offline Casa Grande

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2006, 07:25:35 PM »
Caley,

All due respect to you and your brothers, you are going to get yourselves in serious trouble. I think you need to reconsider taking it at a different time or take Presidio and TWWG's advice very seriously, as well as the heat!  Your brothers and I nearly killed ourselves just doing the Banta Shut-In in April when we ran out of water long before we were done because we miscalculated the distance AND one didn't even bring any water!

Caley, you need to be in charge of this and if your brothers don't take you seriously about this hike, you will all surely die.

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Offline presidio

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2006, 08:24:56 PM »
Quote from: "David Locke"
Your brothers and I nearly killed ourselves just doing the Banta Shut-In in April when we ran out of water long before we were done because we mis calculated the distance AND one didn't even bring any water!


Hmmm.....David perhaps has a better take on the group's capabilities. No matter who does this hike, it is one serious endeavor this time of year. Beware.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Al

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2006, 09:02:24 PM »
Be sure you are hydrated before you hit the trail.  If you day hike be sure you have at least a gallon and a half of water apiece even then I wouldn't day hike it if you have the gear to camp over night.  If you don't have the gear do the day hike and start buying camping gear.  I'd pack a water purification pump in case you need more water.  The springs are not hard to find and if anyone knows their reliability it's TWWG.  

Making a 2 or 3 day deal out of it will be more enjoyable.  Camping below Elephant Tusk is real nice, great views and sunsets with several day hikes and if you want to be away from it all you are guaranteed to be on your own.  

So if you scew up it will be many hours before you'll have help once you buddies go get it.  I'd be amazed if you see anyone else once you start hiking.  

If you do stay overnight bring a tarp to make some shade.  Follow TWWG's advice, hike in, drop your stuff and set up a camp, then go explore and pump some water.

It's a great area of the park.  Enjoy and be sure and let us know how it went as well as feedback on any bad advice . . .

Is David right about y'all going half ass out into the desert with him?  What's the other side of THAT story?   :-$

Al

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Offline caleythomas

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2006, 10:58:05 PM »
Well, first of all, allow me to thank you all for your advice.  It's very nice to be able to get such well-informed advice so quickly after posing such a question.  

Before I decide to do the trip with my two younger brothers, it will definitely have to be agreed that it's done right: camping overnight at the base of Elephant Tusk, plenty of protection from the sun, and water filtration devices coupled with camel packs, etc.

As far as the failed desert trek, I wasn't on that trip but the two younger brothers in question were....TBD

 :)

Thanks again for all of the info!

Caley

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Offline caleythomas

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2006, 11:31:48 PM »
Shea....(The Other Other Brother)

Dave we all know what really happened out there at the Banta Shut-in.  U drank the standing water....went desert crazy....and dumped our water out.   :shock:  I told you one Iodine tablet wasn't enough.  :lol:

*JK*

Anyhow, thanks for the advise guys. Dont worry Dave...you're coming with us.....wouldn't think of dragging butt for miles through open desert in 100+ degrees temperature without our buddy at our side.  :twisted:


We'll make time for NiRvAnA also!

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2006, 11:45:29 PM »
Quote
Be sure you are hydrated before you hit the trail.


Irrespective of any other advice in this thread, I'm a big believer in this piece of advice. I drink water until I think I'm gonna barf, and then I drink another 32 ounces. I hurt a lot less that night, the next morning, and any subsequent time on the trail when I've waterlogged myself before taking off.

I also won't EVER hike more than 3 miles again without a hydration bladder and a tube connected to the front of my pack. It makes all the difference in the world.

I hope this is helpful, jb
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Joe

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hyponatremia
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2006, 12:26:22 AM »
Quote from: "jeffblaylock"
I drink water until I think I'm gonna barf, and then I drink another 32 ounces.


I'm also a big believer in hydrating before, during, and after a hike, but be aware of hyponatremia.

It became a big problem at the Grand Canyon.  The rangers were telling everyone hiking the Canyon to drink lots of water, and the message was getting through.  However, some people were drinking massive amounts of water and not eating.  This diluted the sodium and other electrolytes in their systems, and resulted in hyponatremia.

Now along with telling hikers to drink lots of water, they are also told to eat salty snacks, use an electrolyte-replacing mix, or drink a sports drink like Gatorade in addition to plain water.
The real desert is a land which reveals its true character only to those who come with courage, tolerance and understanding. - Randall Henderson

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/el-saloacuten/joe-a-memorial/

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Offline Casa Grande

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2006, 07:37:08 AM »
Quote from: "caleythomas"
Shea....(The Other Other Brother)

Dave we all know what really happened out there at the Banta Shut-in.  U drank the standing water....went desert crazy....and dumped our water out.   :shock:  I told you one Iodine tablet wasn't enough.  :lol:

*JK*

Anyhow, thanks for the advise guys. Dont worry Dave...you're coming with us.....wouldn't think of dragging butt for miles through open desert in 100+ degrees temperature without our buddy at our side.  :twisted:


We'll make time for NiRvAnA also!



yeah, yeah, yeah

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Elephant Tusk in August via Black Gap?
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2006, 09:34:24 AM »
Quote
However, some people were drinking massive amounts of water and not eating.


Good advice: be sure to eat while you're filling up with water.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

 


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