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massive rock cairns

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Offline gotpaper1981

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massive rock cairns
« on: August 17, 2009, 10:56:21 PM »
Ok. I was in Big Bend Ranch about 12 years ago. I have no idea what trail we were on or how long it was. What I do remember is getting on top of the mountain and it was flat like a plateau. There were these huge rock cairns marking the trail. They were about 8 feet tall and we could see about 5 or 6 of them in the distance. They were so big around, one person could not reach around them. I can't find any pictures of these to give me an idea where we were at. This was before the digital age so we didn't take cameras. We were also having to pack a lot more water. I do remember getting to a spring or something that we fitered water from. Can anyone point me in the direction of this trail? It was pretty much just a goat trail going up, but was more of a road on top, then a goat trail back down. I can't remember if we had to hike down to our vehicle or if we came out at the same spot. Thanks for helping. I'll try to remember anything else that would help. If anyone has pictures of these cairns, I'd love to show my hubby, if they are even still standing.

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SHANEA

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Re: massive rock cairns
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2009, 12:33:08 AM »
Back 12 years or so ago, very little of BBRSP could be accessed by the public as it was pending development.  So, unless you were going off trail, you were probably on one of the major trails.  Did you access this trail from within the main park boundary - ie. going down Casa Piedra road, past the locked gate, and then into the main ranch property - the bunkhouse, big house, etc.?  - Or did you access the trail from over off of River Road? 

You might check out the maps @ http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/big_bend_ranch/ and see if anything looks promising.

Back then, 12+ years ago, there were very few trails within the main park itself.  You could go to the Palo Amarillo pour off which is near the entrance to the park - but it's pretty much a driving trail.  This would have been before the Contrabando trail was opened. 

Then, over off of the River Road there is the Closed Canyon trail - but you'd remember that and I know there are no huge rock cairns there and it is nothing like the area you describe. 

My guess would be it the Rancherias trail accessed off of the River Road - both the start/end trail head are on that road.  I covered a couple of miles of it several years ago, but didn't run across anything you describe.

Now, there was/is a road over off of the Oso Loop that goes to the south.  Back then, it was a closed and locked gate.  I could fathom that the area you are talking about might be past that - but I have no way of being sure.  If you look at the map @ http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/big_bend_ranch/media/images/map/map_overview_nld.pdf it might be on the road going from the Oso loop down to campsite Los Cuates or Las Burras 1. 

That's all that I can think of off the top of my head.  You could always contact the park and ask them.  If you find out, please be sure to post the right.

Our own resident Geology expert, AC1Viper has covered a lot of the area out there and might have some input.

 

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Offline Robert

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Re: massive rock cairns
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2009, 10:41:49 AM »
Sounds like the Rancherias trail. We hiked this in '96. If you started at the western trailhead from the River Road you would have had an immediate climb of 1,500 feet (according to Parent's Hiking Big Bend National Park). We did this in reverse so got to come down this. Once of top you on are on Lower Mesa de Guale which is pretty flat and on a old wagon road.

The trail that climbs up is also a part of the old road but you might not have recognized it as a road as it is in bad condition. Eventually you come to Rancherias Spring and would have had the opportunity to filter water. The rest of the route is a mix of old roads and trails and you end up at the eastern trailhead on the River Road.

I don't remember the big rock cairns but remember seeing other relics from the ranching era.

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Offline gotpaper1981

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Re: massive rock cairns
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2009, 04:57:03 PM »
I guess those cairns aren't standing still. It was something you would definitely remember seeing. I don't remember much about the night before we started. We camped somewhere with a lot of sand. I remember that because we didn't take a tent, and just wrapped our sleeping bags in army ponchos to protect from moisture. The wind blew like crazy that night and woke up the next morning with sand all in our bags. Can't tell you much else. It was a long time ago. One thing, we didn't have to get any kind of permit to go in the back country. We just headed out. The Rancherias trail might be it. We did an immediate climb starting out. I don't remember the way back being anything like that. It was an old road on top of the plateau that we followed. The second day we made it to a water source. Came back down the third day. It was the middle of summer(crazy in my mind now) and very hot. One reason I haven't been back since. I would go during late fall, winter, or early spring. That's what we are planning this coming winter. I do not hike in the desert in the summer. I just wish those cairns were still there or I had pictures of them. One thing I love about the digital age.

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Offline gotpaper1981

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Re: massive rock cairns
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2009, 04:41:53 PM »
It was the Rancherias Loop. We went in the opposite direction of what is recomended. We started at the west point and came out at the east one. I looked at some pics I googled. The cairns were standing along the road on top of the mesa. It's sad they aren't still there. They were unlike any I have seen. I would love to do that trail again, but should wait until my kids are a little older. I didn't know they were improving trails at the park at the time. All I was told is we are going backpacking, let's get ready. We made our own food packs to carry and I plan to do that again. Should be a lot of fun.

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Offline RichardM

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Re: massive rock cairns
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2009, 05:04:01 PM »
Could it be that the cairns were actually just big piles of rocks that they were going to use to repair the road? :eusa_think:

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Offline gotpaper1981

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Re: massive rock cairns
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2009, 07:04:27 PM »
I don't really know why they would stack them in columns if they were just going to use them on trails. They were large at the base and tapered off to the top. I'll ask my aunt to make sure that was the trail we were on. We could have been off somewhere else. They are very familiar with that area. Apparantly my uncle worked down there and told me of some interesting places they had found. I'll ask to make sure that was the right trail. Planning on picking their brains some anyways.

 


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