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Elephant Tusk

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Offline photopam

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Elephant Tusk
« on: November 13, 2017, 02:26:48 PM »
I am seriously considering coming out next week to hike/backpack the Elephant Tusk area and possibly the rim.  I know it is a crazy busy time out in the park, so I am soaking up as much information as I possibly can.   I don't know why I am hesitant to plan this trip.  Perhaps it's the unknowns about having a campsite for the night.   :icon_redface:  This will be my 5th time out here, and I am ready to be back.  My first time to backpack it. 

I was thinking of parking at Sotol Vista and Hiking the Dodson Trail to the Elephant Tusk.  I am not sure how far down I want to go down the ET.  I am considering going a bit down to camp, then turning around the next morning and continuing East on the Dodson trail up to the Rim, to make a loop back to my car.  I am thinking that might take three days or more.  If more is correct, then I would just do an out and back further down the ET. 

I would love to hear from others that have done it, or thoughts about it.  I am thinking I might be too ambitious.   :eusa_think:
TIA!  8)

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2017, 05:07:06 PM »
What you are describing, at least the long version - parking at Sotol Vista, hiking east along the Dodson, then up to the Rim, and back down (I'm assuming you'll come down Blue Creek) to your car - is a modified OML.  Which, yes, would take you about 3 days.

If Elephant Tusk is the ultimate destination, I would recommend driving out to the ET trailhead and hiking up (north) from there.  You can take in Glen Springs and Mariscal Mines.  Zone camping along ET trail would be less crowded than up in the Chisos.

I like the original idea of hiking east along the Dodson, then down ET.  I've contemplated doing the same thing.  You may want to start at Mules Ears, though.  Others with more experience in this part of the park will chime in, I'm certain.

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2017, 06:39:51 PM »
Hello photopam. What's your level of backpacking experience, in particular land navigaton skills? The ET trail is not maintained much if at all, and can be hard to follow in sections, so land navigation skills are essential. Also note that the trail shown on the USGS quad maps (recommended in some form) differs from the actual trail in a couple places (as I learned earlier this year), so it helps to study the satellite. If the goal is to get down to the mountain itself, follow Jalco's advice, or set up a base camp perhaps where the ET trail first hits Fresno Creek (in which case, plan for a four day loop). As an easier option, you can just hike down ET to Fresno Creek (1+ miles) then hike up the Fresno drainage back to the Dodson. It's very scenic albeit with some tall grass to wade through. Then plan a second backpacking trip that gets deeper into the Sierra Quemada -- there are several trip reports here to leverage.

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Offline kevint

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 07:13:50 AM »
Hello photopam. What's your level of backpacking experience, in particular land navigaton skills? The ET trail is not maintained much if at all, and can be hard to follow in sections, so land navigation skills are essential. Also note that the trail shown on the USGS quad maps (recommended in some form) differs from the actual trail in a couple places (as I learned earlier this year), so it helps to study the satellite....

Seems like I recall one of the pretty experienced regulars got into some trouble in the Elephant Tusk area a few years ago.  I searched for the post but can't find it.  I believe they hiked in from the Fresno side.
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Offline elhombre

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 09:10:20 AM »
Spend some time in the trip report indexes at the top of this page http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/

It sounds like you may want to do the shorter OML trail without going down to the Basin, starting at Homer.  Pick out a trip from the reports and copy it.  We all like to help, but you need to decide what you are up for first.
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Offline presidio

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 09:20:35 AM »
Hello photopam. What's your level of backpacking experience, in particular land navigaton skills? The ET trail is not maintained much if at all, and can be hard to follow in sections, so land navigation skills are essential. Also note that the trail shown on the USGS quad maps (recommended in some form) differs from the actual trail in a couple places (as I learned earlier this year), so it helps to study the satellite....

Seems like I recall one of the pretty experienced regulars got into some trouble in the Elephant Tusk area a few years ago.  I searched for the post but can't find it.  I believe they hiked in from the Fresno side.

That would be this one:

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/warning-initial-trip-reportelephant-tuskdecember-3031-t2695.0.html
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Offline mule ears

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 11:50:44 AM »
Hello photopam. What's your level of backpacking experience, in particular land navigaton skills? The ET trail is not maintained much if at all, and can be hard to follow in sections, so land navigation skills are essential. Also note that the trail shown on the USGS quad maps (recommended in some form) differs from the actual trail in a couple places (as I learned earlier this year), so it helps to study the satellite....

Seems like I recall one of the pretty experienced regulars got into some trouble in the Elephant Tusk area a few years ago.  I searched for the post but can't find it.  I believe they hiked in from the Fresno side.

That would be this one:

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/warning-initial-trip-reportelephant-tuskdecember-3031-t2695.0.html

That was the guy who got stuck on top of ET.  This is the one that got off track hiking up the ET trail (mostly because he was counting on his cell phone).
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Offline photopam

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 03:26:22 PM »
Hey thanks everyone!

I am deciding on doing the loop more and more as I look through the options.  I've always wanted to hike the Rim, but know it is very popular, that's why I was considering the ET.  But, I don't think I want to go that far down that trail. 

This is what I am considering:
Day 1 Hike East on the Dodson to the ET Trail and possibly camp a little ways down that trail.  Or skip the ET and hike further down the Dodson. 
Day 2 Hike to Juniper Canyon, find a camp
Day 3 Hike the Rim and hopefully get a spot on the SW side.
Day 4 hike back to car and camp somewhere?? 

I might try combining Day 2 and 3, and getting a site along the Rim somewhere if I can. 
I really don't know what to expect with it being Thanksgiving and site availability.  I am arriving on Monday. 

I'll take a look through the trip itineraries.  Thanks for pointing those out. 

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 05:16:48 PM »
Just remember that all sites in the Chisos Mountains have to be reserved as part of your backcountry permit. If the ones you want are not available, that's where plans b & c, etc. come in.

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Offline photopam

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Re: Elephant Tusk
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2017, 02:27:36 PM »
Okay, I am now going to make my ET a backup plan.   8)

Still starting from Homer's, going to get to Juniper junction night one.
Hoping and crossing all fingers and toes to get a site somewhere along the rim.  (Do people share sites ever?  Ha!)
Then finish up and hopefully get a roadside site before heading out the next night.  If not, it's back to stillwell. 

Thanks for all the help everyone!  Now to get out there and see what we can make happen. 

 


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