Big Bend Chat

Other Parks of the Big Bend Region => Big Bend Ranch State Park Q&A => Topic started by: shavis on January 04, 2016, 04:58:01 PM

Title: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 04, 2016, 04:58:01 PM

This trip started out by way of my wife wanting a sabbatical away from everything for a few weeks.  Initially, BLM land out in Arizona was the target, but that's much too far.  So we decided on BBRSP because it's so remote and plenty of trails to hike.  The plan was for me to take the kids and tent camp a few days while she gets settled into the RV and her routine.  So, with only a few days to plan, we reserve Papalote Encino and Guale 1.

We head out on the 27th along with at least half of the urban population leaving grandma's house after Christmas.  The drive from Houston to San Antonio was excruciatingly slow.  Laura was driving her RV towing a Suburban, and me in my pickup tooling along at a whopping 20mph through even Wealder, TX.  For those that don't know, Wealder is certainly somewhere the traffic should be flowing at or above the posted speed limit.  It's fly over farm/ranch country.  We make it to Junction for dinner and fuel & decide to stop for the night.    The next morning snow and ice are covering everything.

We carry on after some Cinnabon rolls from the Pilot truck stop and are instantly greeted with iced bridges and cars strewn about the far side off in the ditches.  It was a mess.  We would slow to 10mph or so crossing the ice; some bridges sanded, others, not.  It was very slow going again but we reached the park entrance about 4:30 to clear skies.  We separated the SUV from the RV, Jennifer, a new driver, drove that, and we made it to the Ranger Station in about an hour.  That was hustling our caravan along.

Once there, we were greeted by a couple of gracious hosts(Rangers) who, being out of Internet, sent us on our way with a map and instruction to return in the morning to check in.  So off to Papalote Encino for the night.  There was no way we were going to make up a tent site this late in the day.  The haul to Encino was much slower than the previous road.  The RV needed to go slow over the washboards and exposed rock surface.  It took about 45 minutes from the Ranger Station, but we still had some light left.

The next morning, after breakfast, Jennifer & I return to the Ranger Station to check in and, in the process, changed our camp to Fresno Vista to be closer to Laura, and picked up a ball cap and another map.  Back to the RV, said goodbye, and off to Fresno Vista me and my two daughters went.

We pull into the camp, under gorgeous skies.  Instantly, the view strikes us.  It is incredible!!  This definitely has a remote and expansive feel to it.  The picnic table sets right in front of the primary vista; it's a long range vista.  We begin gathering gear out of the truck and first set up the tent.  It's a new tent to me; the last one being destroyed in Taos.  We throw down a couple of tarps, one canvas, the other blue.  The tent is pretty big, and we have a heck of a time driving stakes in to this rock.  The aluminum candy canes that came with the tent just crumpled.  But, luckily, we bought eight MSR Cyclone stakes.  These didn't bend & didn't need to be fully pounded in to be effective.  Overall the tent was easy to assemble even with a little wind.  So, once set up, the girls were tasked with putting together the cots and unpacking their gear (neatly).  About that time Laura shows up.  She walked over from her spot in the desert.

Soon, we were visited by a pair of park staff checking road conditions and camp permits.  Super people!  One of which was the road maintenance guy(can't remember his name to save me),  who does a stellar job specially considering all the road he has to maintain.  As a side note, later this trip we chatted for an hour or so and find he is a very intelligent man, retired, at the park volunteering with his (wife or girlfriend, I don't know which, named Kirsten, I think).  She knows something about everything in the park.  From the wildlife to the archeological sites.  Neat, neat people.

We finish setting up, Laura walks back to her camp, we started a fire and made late lunch.  PB&J and hot dogs.  The rest of the day we hike around our camp discovering a grand vista just one hill away.  That evening, Jennifer, Kate, and I find a good rock on which to what the sunset and the colors change from orange to red. It was certainly spectacular!  Earlier, I set up the telescope for some expected clear, moonless skies.  The seeing was great after the sun had left the sky.  The Milky Way was a great swath across it.  Unfortunately, the good planets were up early AM and I was asleep then.  We could see Andromeda clearly, and some fuzzy nebulae through the scope. 

The next morning, I get up and start breakfast.  Eggs, bacon, and fried potatoes and onions.  Jennifer follows shortly to help.  She makes the bacon.  Kate shows up just about in time for the eggs to be cooked.  She was cold and didn't want to venture out.  But she got bored, I think.  Breakfast was delicious and only a camp cooked breakfast can!  We cleaned up and Laura appeared over the hill.  Gathering hiking stuff, water, first aid, lunch and extra clothes, we prepared for a hike down Pila Montoya and back around to the main road.  It was quite a hike!  We did run into a javalina, or he ran into us...don't know which.  It sure was exciting!  We also ran across the wild burros.  One was all white, the others brown.  We made a loop back to Laura's camp and drove back to Fresno Vista.  We were BEAT!!  The kids were troopers, though, and not a single complaint except the tired legs and feet.  We made a pot of spaghetti for dinner and ate very bite!  The kids hit the cots and I, soon after.  We had a very full day!

That night was super windy!  I bet we had 40 mph gusts.  The new tent was more than awesome, never flinched and barely made noise.  I have to say the people at Big Agnes have done this tent right.  The wind did blow a box of supplies and a container of lantern fuel off the picnic table.  Easy fix, there.

The next morning, the kids & I get up late, after a very hard nights sleep.  We were all a bit sore from the previous days hike.   It's expected.  We whip up some pancakes for breakfast, then pop tarts to complete things.  Lunch is going to be the camp staple: Foil Packs.  We prep the potatoes, onions, peppers, and spices, wrap them in foil, and make a small stone oven in the fire pit complete with natural charcoal.  This is one of the best camp experiences I know. 

Laura shows up about 11am after a short hike from her camp.  She's talking about either leaving, finding a way to get the suburban out of the park without towing it,  or getting her mom to come out and stay with her after we leave.  We make our way to the ranger station to find a phone.  We get a chance to check out the bunk house...it's nice and roomy.  The kitchen looks commercial grade.  Anyway, after she gets in touch with her mom, we talk a little, she decides to come on back with us.  In the end, I think she just wasn't comfortable being solo so far from anything.  And the risk of getting lost or injured on a day hike is real to her.  We decide to go ahead and pack up.  But only after we break into those delicious foil packs we made earlier.

Then disaster struck.  We get back to camp, unmake the stone oven to find empty foil.  There was nothing left but charcoal!  Overcooked is an understatement.  There wasn't even any good stuff in the center.  ALL GONE!  Burned to a crisp.  I was devastated.  Jennifer was devastated.  Kate really wanted hot dogs anyway.  But Jenn and I had been waiting just for those.  Terrible.  Hot dogs it was. 

We spend the afternoon folding, stuffing and wrapping until there's no more room in the bed of my truck.  We made a last policing of the camp to make sure all traces of our habitation were gone.  It was almost dark when we arrived back at Popalito Encino.  Laura has definitely waffled on whether or not to stay, but decided on leaving after some more pro's and con's.  We would leave first thing in the morning. 

The way out was slow.  She look more time negotiating the road than on the way in since time and sunlight were not at risk.  It was two hours to the park entrance sign and almost another to pavement.  Jennifer drove the suburban again and we hooked it up to the RV at the pavement.  Then began the long, rainy haul back to Houston.

My observations:
This place ROCKS!!  We only saw a tiny bit of the place and I want to see more.  I've always been one to enjoy remote settings and this is that and more. 
The staff is super helpful and friendly.  The police officer flew over our camp, I waved and got the wing wave back.  Was cool!  All we met were eager to tell about the park and it's features.
I will be back with my FJ40 to check out the lesser used unmaintained 4x4 trails and some climbing gear to drop down into and explore some of the sandstone, wind formed caves I saw. 
This place is enormous!  It gives meaning to big sky and remote.  To really get away from it all, this will do it.  Beautiful, too. 

There are a few pics below, but here is a link to them all if you want to look.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/138235429@N07/albums/72157663110798346/with/23547524983/

Cheers!
Scott

 









Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 04, 2016, 04:59:50 PM
Ice on the truck on the way there....
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 04, 2016, 05:03:30 PM
Kate setting up camp.
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 04, 2016, 05:05:35 PM
Jennifer goofing off.
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 04, 2016, 05:08:28 PM
A pano, because a square frame just can't do justice to the big view.
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 04, 2016, 05:10:13 PM
Papalito Encino with an RV in it.  Hard to see, but it's there....
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 04, 2016, 05:11:14 PM
All for now.  I hope this long story persuades someone to make a visit to BBRSP.  It is that good...

Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: RichardM on January 04, 2016, 05:52:09 PM
Sounds like a memorable intro to BBRSP. One of these years I'll make it back out there...
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: Andreas on January 04, 2016, 06:08:29 PM
Scott, thank you so much for this detailled and informative trip report & the nice photos. I can hear your enthusiasm in every single sentence, in spite of all the adversity you were facing! Also want to congratulate you on doing this trip with your children, they seem to have "true grit". Excellent write-up, thanks again for sharing, and glad you all had such a great time!  :eusa_clap:
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: Casa Grande on January 04, 2016, 07:31:42 PM
Excellent report. Felt like I was there.  Nice

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Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: Ranger Tim on January 05, 2016, 08:26:56 AM
I'm glad that you had a good inaugural trip into the heart of the park! With that said, I typically DO NOT encourage people to haul RVs or travel trailers into the interior. While we do not prohibit such an action it is imperative that you know what you are getting into if you so choose to do so. The road in is graded but is still quite rough with only a limited few places to turn a large vehicle around. Further, once you do get in there are only a handful of campsites (e.g. Agua Adentro Pens, South Leyva, Papalote Encino) that can even start to accommodate an RV or travel trailer. Further, there are no hookups of any kind anywhere in the park and there is no place to dump your waste until you get well outside the park itself. We have had numerous folks bring RVs out and most have experienced near disasters in the process, leaving sheared fragments of their adventure scattered along the road back to civilization. Like I said, I'm glad it worked out this time, but this trip sounds like an outlier from the pattern based on what I have seen.
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: Don H on January 05, 2016, 10:47:06 AM
Nice report and pics!  Having not been to the State Park before it makes me want to check it out.  What kind of Big Agnes was that - did the awning hold up well in the wind?  Thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 05, 2016, 12:17:55 PM
I'm glad that you had a good inaugural trip into the heart of the park! With that said, I typically DO NOT encourage people to haul RVs or travel trailers into the interior. While we do not prohibit such an action it is imperative that you know what you are getting into if you so choose to do so. The road in is graded but is still quite rough with only a limited few places to turn a large vehicle around. Further, once you do get in there are only a handful of campsites (e.g. Agua Adentro Pens, South Leyva, Papalote Encino) that can even start to accommodate an RV or travel trailer. Further, there are no hookups of any kind anywhere in the park and there is no place to dump your waste until you get well outside the park itself. We have had numerous folks bring RVs out and most have experienced near disasters in the process, leaving sheared fragments of their adventure scattered along the road back to civilization. Like I said, I'm glad it worked out this time, but this trip sounds like an outlier from the pattern based on what I have seen.

I have to agree.  We were prepared for this and if prep isn't made, this could easily end with 1) pieces of RV scattering along the road and 2) most of the interior stuff, accoutrements, and even the contents of the fridge laying all over the floor.  Broken.  And once parked, for a dry camp, it's conserve, conserve, conserve.  Plus it's a long, slow drive in and out.  Patience was a requirement.

That all being said, if we were to do that again, one of the camp sites (much) closer to the entrance would be mandatory.  It's just too far in and, even with care, the drive is hard on the equipment really designed for paved surfaces.  (I greatly underestimated the enormity of the park!  And just how far 25 miles is.)  Next time, it's going to be just the tent.  I prefer that.

You have a great park.  Thanks for making it so!

Scott
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 05, 2016, 12:36:32 PM
Nice report and pics!  Having not been to the State Park before it makes me want to check it out.  What kind of Big Agnes was that - did the awning hold up well in the wind?  Thanks for sharing!

Oh man,  I nothing but good to say about the tent.  It's the Flying Diamond 8. The awning was staked down as a vestibule over night when the wind really picked up.  During the day it was fine, though.  Over night the wind howled, one time blowing stuff off the table, but the rain fly barely flapped.  Other tents I've had would have been too noisy to sleep.  It's huge inside.  I'm 6' and have plenty of head room when standing.  Ventilation is good.  The only underwhelming point I'd give is the floor seems thin.  I use a canvass footprint, and glad I did, over the sharp rocks.  I think the standard Big Agnes footprint would have been perforated.  I have not had her set up on a strong storm yet, and am anxious to see how she performs in blowing rain.  I have high expectations!   Great tent.  Highly recommended.  Now I am looking at other BA camping gear just because this tent is so well put together.

Cheers!
Scott
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: BlindWilly on January 05, 2016, 12:58:25 PM
FJ40????
I'm planning an "overland" trip next year between XMAS and NYE.
I'll be driving your FJ's Grandson, HAHA.
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: shavis on January 05, 2016, 03:46:06 PM
FJ40????
I'm planning an "overland" trip next year between XMAS and NYE.
I'll be driving your FJ's Grandson, HAHA.
Here's the grandpa(Jennifer's car)...We have some fix'n to do.  And my old Beater(she's gone, miss her).  Now that the 'newness' has worn off the FJ Cruisers, they are very capable offroad vehicles!  I still have an affinity for the old metal.  Cheers!
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: maketo on January 25, 2016, 08:58:27 PM
I'm glad that you had a good inaugural trip into the heart of the park! With that said, I typically DO NOT encourage people to haul RVs or travel trailers into the interior. While we do not prohibit such an action it is imperative that you know what you are getting into if you so choose to do so. The road in is graded but is still quite rough with only a limited few places to turn a large vehicle around. Further, once you do get in there are only a handful of campsites (e.g. Agua Adentro Pens, South Leyva, Papalote Encino) that can even start to accommodate an RV or travel trailer. Further, there are no hookups of any kind anywhere in the park and there is no place to dump your waste until you get well outside the park itself. We have had numerous folks bring RVs out and most have experienced near disasters in the process, leaving sheared fragments of their adventure scattered along the road back to civilization. Like I said, I'm glad it worked out this time, but this trip sounds like an outlier from the pattern based on what I have seen.

Tim, can you elaborate on this?

The State park does advertise horse camping in a few locations that have corrals etc. Generally people drive their horses in trailers. We are in the area now and have been doing day trips on the trails around the Barton Warnock center but were planning on camping out with the animals. Our trailer is a 25 ft living quarters 3-horse setup - reading the above makes me think you would not want us there....
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: Ranger Tim on January 26, 2016, 10:23:28 AM
Maketo, I think that you could manage Agua Adentro Pens without too many problems provided that you just take it very slow and easy. There in plenty of room at the pens for your rig to turn around. You will want to call over to Sauceda (432) 358-4444 and check to see if they can provide water,  which we have in the past by water truck.  If the pends a re available we can probably set you up out of the BWVC or you can drop your trailer at the pens and drive the six miles to Sauceda and settle up there.

I think you were in yesterday,... do you have a strawberry roan named Flippee?
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: dprather on January 26, 2016, 11:01:01 AM
Many thanks.  Better luck next time with the foil-wrapped meal.
Title: Re: Camping report. Fresno Vista
Post by: maketo on January 26, 2016, 09:26:30 PM
Maketo, I think that you could manage Agua Adentro Pens without too many problems provided that you just take it very slow and easy. There in plenty of room at the pens for your rig to turn around. You will want to call over to Sauceda (432) 358-4444 and check to see if they can provide water,  which we have in the past by water truck.  If the pends a re available we can probably set you up out of the BWVC or you can drop your trailer at the pens and drive the six miles to Sauceda and settle up there.

I think you were in yesterday,... do you have a strawberry roan named Flippee?

Yes, that was us! We went to the West side of the contrabando trail system and had a blast. Right now we are in Terlingua until Feb 8 but planning on camping at BBRSP for a few days at least with the horses.

May I just say that you folks are doing an awesome job in the State park? Everyone is so friendly and the park is just very well run and organized.