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Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?

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Offline Homer67

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Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« on: October 25, 2018, 01:07:54 PM »
I've perused some reports about the hike from the Smoky Creek trail into Fisk Canyon and learned of the pouroffs on that route.  For those who have been there, would it be safer for a solo hiker to reach the turn east in Fisk Canyon that is north of Dominguez Mountain via this route or hike over the pass west of Dominguez Spring?  I have done the pass twice; going back in to explore some areas of interest, hiking out ET/Dodson via Adler/Juniper/Boot/South Rim/Laguna/Blue Creek.

Any constructive thoughts would be appreciated. I am thinking familiarity with the pass may be the safer route, but only have cursory knowledge of the pouroffs on the other route, and it would be a first hike into Fisk from the north.
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Offline badknees

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2018, 02:38:59 PM »
I've perused some reports about the hike from the Smoky Creek trail into Fisk Canyon and learned of the pouroffs on that route.  For those who have been there, would it be safer for a solo hiker to reach the turn east in Fisk Canyon that is north of Dominguez Mountain via this route or hike over the pass west of Dominguez Spring?  I have done the pass twice; going back in to explore some areas of interest, hiking out ET/Dodson via Adler/Juniper/Boot/South Rim/Laguna/Blue Creek.

Any constructive thoughts would be appreciated. I am thinking familiarity with the pass may be the safer route, but only have cursory knowledge of the pouroffs on the other route, and it would be a first hike into Fisk from the north.

When you say "pass west of Dominguez Spring", do you mean Jacks'?

I have hiked from Dominguez to the north up through Fisk Canyon to Smoky Creek Trail. (1st picture). There are 3 pour offs between Fisk Canyon and the Smoky Creek Trail. Two of them are pretty close together. (2nd picture) Those 2 are where the drainage turns  sharply west then northwest after exiting Fisk Canyon. Neither one of these are particularly challenging. I remember having to climb out of the wash to get above the 1st pouroff. The next one is upstream a short way and also requires a climb out and around. The 3rd pouroff (3rd picture) is about 0.3 mi east of the junction of the wash and the Smoky Creek Trail. It's a small pouroff but also requires a climb out and around.

See the attached
« Last Edit: October 25, 2018, 02:44:45 PM by badknees »
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Offline Robert

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2018, 04:15:01 PM »
Badknees  maps are very useful. Unfortunately they were not available the first time I hiked from Smoky Creek to Fisk Canyon in 2000. I knew there was a pouroff to skirt and heading east it requires a short steep climb out of the wash on the north side but it is not dangerous. If I remember correctly, I think someone had laid rocks across the wash to indicate where to exist. There was some thick brush to get through on the bank. Then you climb up a fairly steep slope and turn and walk parallel to the wash upstream high above the wash until the floor of drainage gains enough elevation for you to easily drop back down into it. 

Coming from the east and heading west it is easier to miss the exit but when you hit the pouroff you backtrack to where you can easily climb out and follow the wash and look for the easiest way down when you get past the pouroff. There might be a cairn marking the exit. I think you end up out of the wash for a quarter mile maybe less as it is slow going due to lots of vegetation to work around.

Pouroff #2 is pretty simple to skirt, you might take a couple minutes figuring out your route but its not complicated.

I think I've done east to west twice and west to east once.

But I'm a little confused on your route question, i know you have hiked east over Jack's Pass and the route from Fisk to Elephant Tusk via Double Spring. But are you asking about hiking Jack's pass west?

« Last Edit: October 25, 2018, 04:44:15 PM by Robert »

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2018, 04:38:19 PM »
Coming in from the North will be easy because you will be going down the pour offs.  The first one in the black rocks is easy because you can slide down the 1-2 foot that you may not be able to reach.  The big pour off has a dirt ramp on the North (river left) side that will be easy to slide down while standing up.  The wall at the big pour off is easily climbed or descended it so desired with good hand holds.  I usually throw or lower my pack down, then climb.  It is a class 4 wall, but like I said, many hand holds. 

Get a sat phone or sat SPOT if it really is a concern.  I would bet a person gets hurt on the easier walking because they aren't paying as much attention when just strolling along.  In contrast to being focused on difficult terrain.   

Much better route in my opinion than Jack's pass.  Water at Witch, and water right below Dog Spring every time I have made the trip.  But Dog is only an hour from Dominquez so you can make it to Dominquez before stopping.  Also, you are mostly in creek beds most of the time, instead of bushwacking up and down Jack's Pass.
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Offline Homer67

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2018, 05:54:39 PM »
Thank you for the info. I will go this route instead of hiking east over the pass west of Dominguez Spring. I do indeed have a spot. My entire route is Mule Ears/Smoky Creek/Fisk/ET via Double Spring/Skip-and-Jump/ Dodson via Adler Spring/Juniper then out Blue Creek by way of the South Rim.

If I had someone to join me, I would do the pass west of Dominguez Spring; I love the area around Smoky Joe’s old place up to the pass, but I am excited to explore a new route. Again, thank you for the info and the confidence boost! Thank you BK, Robert, El Hombre - nothing beats first-hand knowledge!

Homer
Ah Big Bend, we will soon return to reacquaint ourselves in our ritual of blood, exhaustion and dehydration. How can we resist the temptation to strip ourselves of the maladies of civilization?

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Offline badknees

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2018, 06:24:02 PM »
One caution.....

The last time I was there, the northern end of Fisk Canyon was lush with a tall grass that was full of very annoying grass burrs. Socks, boot laces, and fleece jackets are burr magnets. I ended up trashing a pair of socks and ny fleece was never the same again.  :eusa_doh:
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline Homer67

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2018, 08:27:17 AM »
Oh man! I recall the burrs! We experienced the same hiking in from the South in a few spots.

I am excited about this hike. I did a solo last Nov and it was simply divine. I am coming in ahead of a group and taking 5 nights for this one. I will be spending a little more time than usual in some areas I have some new info on. After my hike I am meeting up with StingRey and Quicksilver for a fun hike then a river adventure; I’ll miss the river adventure as my wife Sandi will join the group for that (we’ll then have two vehicles in the park) while I roadside with my little girl, who has outgrown her carrier. After the river adventure, it’s still me and my daughter Faith roadsiding while Sandi does a short solo. I get a couple of weeks in the park - it is going to do wonders for me, I need the Wilderness time.

My hope is that while I am on my hike the Chili Cookoff mess will have come and gone. I also am using gaiters for the first time, in the dense spots. I saw a recent photo of the Quemada and it is very green. My thinking is more water, more critters and more critters that eat the smaller critters. I even have a tentative title for my blog post: “Fear and Glory through the Heart of Big Bend.” We’ll see if the hike fits the billing, I think it will.
Ah Big Bend, we will soon return to reacquaint ourselves in our ritual of blood, exhaustion and dehydration. How can we resist the temptation to strip ourselves of the maladies of civilization?

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2018, 10:05:07 AM »
One caution.....

The last time I was there, the northern end of Fisk Canyon was lush with a tall grass that was full of very annoying grass burrs. Socks, boot laces, and fleece jackets are burr magnets. I ended up trashing a pair of socks and ny fleece was never the same again.  :eusa_doh:

We dubbed that burr "Satan's Spur"  :evil: :evil: At first we couldn't figure out where it was coming from. After investigating a particularly heavy dousing of them it was on a very innocent looking bunch of tall grass. Once we knew where it was coming from it was a little easier to avoid. It would burrow into your clothes and a real pain to pull out, especially on our silk long sleeved shirt.

This is a beautiful area and one of my favorites in the Quemadas! Enjoy!

~Cookie

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Offline Homer67

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2018, 09:54:56 AM »
This was a great hike. I spent 6 days solo and the water in the Sierra Quemada was simply unbelievable. Once I was about 2 miles north of the Smoky Creek Overlook water was everywhere along my route. It ended when I took that last right once I passed Adler toward the Dodson trail.

« Last Edit: November 23, 2018, 10:04:08 AM by Homer67 »
Ah Big Bend, we will soon return to reacquaint ourselves in our ritual of blood, exhaustion and dehydration. How can we resist the temptation to strip ourselves of the maladies of civilization?

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Solo Hike: Mountain Pass or SmokyCreek/N Fisk?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2018, 07:54:17 AM »
Excellent, Homer! Thanks for the video. You’re certainly “wetting” my appetite. How were the temps while you were out there?


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