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Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019

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Offline wrangler88

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Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« on: August 30, 2019, 04:31:39 PM »
So it had been a while since I had been to Guadalupe Mountains. Exactly a year. Which when compared to the past 4 years, was a very long time. I was originally planning a backpacking trip around the northern half of the park. However, my wife sold her restaurant recently and my boys were still home for the summer so it worked out that we could all go camping together. I had been wanting to bring my boys to Guadalupe Mountains for a while now but nothing had ever materialized. Olivia had been wanting to go back to as she had not been since our first backpacking trip where we first climbed Guadalupe Peak. (Also was my very first video ever posted on YouTube).

I decided Dog Canyon would be a much better option for us than Pine Springs for this time of year. Middle of summer is a little too hot for me to car camp in the heat of the south side of the park. Dog Canyon daytime temps looked much more tolerable (and turned out in actuality to be even better). I knew Dog Canyon would most likely be vacant or at most have only a few people camping up there. And I knew we'd have a really great chance at seeing some wildlife (which we got more of than we were expecting).

So we left early on a Sunday morning and headed east from the DFW area toward Carlsbad. We stopped by Carlsbad Caverns as my boys had never been in a cave before. They both loved it. Ethan did say that it gave him "da cweeps". But they both were in awe of just how big it was. As were Olivia and I.
 




After the caverns we took Dark Canyon Road to 137, through Queen, and on into Dog Canyon campground. I had expected Dark Canyon Road to be gravel or very rough and it wasn't at all. It was a really decent road and I'm glad we went that way. The store in Queen was already closed by the time we drove through. I had hoped to stop in and let Olivia and the boys get some pie. We had been watching dark clouds and lightning off to the West and could tell it was headed for Dog Canyon. Out of all the days I've spent at GUMO I have never had it rain on me. Well we got plenty right as we started the big descent down into Dog Canyon. It poured very hard for 15 minutes or so. Right before we hit the gravel road section at the entrance of the park the rain stopped. However it looked as though it could begin again at any minute. There was one other tent set up at the campground but no one around. It happened to be at the site I had in mind for us. But we picked another site that would have plenty of afternoon shade and began setting up the tent. As soon as I laid it out, it began to rain again. Olivia and I rushed to get it up before it got soaked and were pretty successful I think.




That evening we walked from our campsite to the Indian Meadow Nature Loop trail. It is a REALLY pleasant and easy trail. Olivia and I enjoyed our adult beverages as we took the nice stroll through the tall grasses of the meadow. The boys pointed out every bug they saw on the trail. And we all enjoyed the dozen or so dear we saw at various times on the trail. The light from the setting sun made this trail the perfect way to end the day.





As we were getting the boys ready for bed, Olivia got her first glimpse of the undoing of our trip. Coming out of the brush between the bathroom and our tent was an adult skunk. It didn't stay out in the open too long but it freaked Olivia out enough that she worried about it all night. (More to come from this storyline)

The next morning I got up and made coffee for Olivia and I. The boys had cereal and Olivia and I had some peanut butter rice crispie treats she made before the trip. After breakfast, we filled up our water at the trailhead and began out hike up the the Marcus Overlook. Now, the boys had never hiked this far and certainly not with that sort of elevation gain. I knew Ethan would struggle to make the 4 - 5 mile roundtrip but was unsure how Caden would do. They loved hiking through the really tall grasses, that to me, make Dog Canyon what it is. We saw deer, a white grasshopper, deer bones, rabbits, and various bugs along our route. The weather was nice. Really not hot at all and the partly cloudy sky gave us intermittent shade throughout the hike. I ended up carrying Ethan on my shoulders for part of the ascent. But overall he did a great job with the climb. The views from the overlook did not disappoint.







I looked up the Manzanita Ridge toward Lost Peak. This was my planned route for the next morning on a solo hike. After a short break at the top, we turned around and headed back down toward Dog Canyon. I carried Ethan on my shoulders off and on for most of the hike back down. Caden made the entire hike on his own and did a really great job. I'm planning on us two going farther up into the mountains on a backpacking trip at GUMO sometime in the next year. It'll be great to have a hiking partner in those mountains and for me to be able to share with my son a place that is so special to me.





After lunch we hung around the campsite for a while. Then we drove up to Queen to look around. We also drove to the overlook in the National Forest. We were headed to 5 Vistas Overlook. I passed it according to Google Maps on my phone. But I don't think we ever made it there. I never saw the sign and an overlook but did stop at a couple other smaller overlooks whose names I have forgotten. The views from the road looking down into the canyon were still great. We headed back down into Dog Canyon and got to experience the view on the descent that we missed the day before when it was raining so hard.




Back at the campsite, we got another visit from our skunk friend. Only this time momma had a baby with her. They came out of the bushes a few times which made Olivia nervous. Then after a while, either another skunk, or the same mom without baby, came out and hung around our camp for 15 minutes or so. It walked right around our tent, under our table, through our chairs, etc. We all watched from closed up by the road. Olivia was afraid all our stuff was going to get sprayed. I tried to convince her the skunk would leave eventually and everything would be fine. But for the remained of the evening and night, thats all she could think about. She had an anxiety the skunks would return and we wouldn't notice and would be sprayed. So I had to make the decision to forego my solo hike to Lost Peak the next morning.



We decided to leave a day early. I felt bad that she was so worried about the skunks to the point where she couldn't sleep. It was supposed to be a fun relaxing trip. And I didn't want her to be stressed the remainder of it. So we packed up the morning of Day 3. Everything went pretty well packing up. Olivia and I are a really good team when it comes to setting up and taking down camp. We got everything done fast and after breakfast, with the truck loaded up, we headed north toward Sitting Bull Falls.



The falls were a REALLY awesome way to end the trip. We arrived on a weekday morning. There was only a couple other small groups there and then us. And with everyone spread out, it almost seamed like we had the place mostly to ourselves. The water at the falls was absolutely freezing but still enjoyable. Olivia wouldn't try it out. The boys did for a few minutes but decided it was much too cold. The area around the falls had a ton of wildlife that we all really enjoyed. I wish we had more time to explore because I would have loved to do the hike to the top or check out the cave. But we still had a long drive back to DFW.







We stopped in Carlsbad to eat and then headed home. Overall I'm glad we went on the trip. I was super disappointed to be leaving early. But I knew that was the right thing to do. I hate that I had to miss out on my solo hike to Lost Peak. I still have yet to do the Manzanita Ridge Route. It keeeps eluding me. But, one day soon, I'll get my chance. I was so excited to share the mountains with my family. My boys still aren't old enough to understand what the Guadalupe Mountains mean to me. But it was special to introduce them to the mountains on what is hopefully the first of many family trips out there.

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Offline Slimkitty

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2019, 07:40:08 AM »
Great trip report!  Is that a Kingdom  6 tent y’all have?  How do you like it?

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2019, 09:00:01 AM »
Great trip report!  Is that a Kingdom  6 tent y’all have?  How do you like it?

It is. We love it. Has worked great for us. It's starting to get really worn out. We will probably get a new tent next year and itll be another Kingdom 6. The garage attachment is 100% worth it.

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Offline Dale Norte

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2019, 02:38:00 PM »
Awesome trip report and as always great videos. 

It looks like you will be making the transition from primarily solo adventures to having two great backpacking buds in the near future.  How cool is that?

Thanks for documenting and sharing your trips with us.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2019, 04:35:46 AM »
Awesome trip report and as always great videos. 

It looks like you will be making the transition from primarily solo adventures to having two great backpacking buds in the near future.  How cool is that?

Thanks for documenting and sharing your trips with us.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat

I am beyond excited to take them backpacking for the first time.

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Offline Flash

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2019, 04:37:44 PM »
Enjoyed the telling of your family camping trip. As for the skunk, perhaps bring along a package of mothballs for next time? My aunt used them around the edge of her cabin to ward off the local skunks. Just take them home with you afterwards...

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2019, 05:54:31 AM »
Enjoyed the telling of your family camping trip. As for the skunk, perhaps bring along a package of mothballs for next time? My aunt used them around the edge of her cabin to ward off the local skunks. Just take them home with you afterwards...

I'll look into that. I haven't had much dealings with a skunk before. But if that works, that would be awesome. Thanks.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 12:09:43 PM by wrangler88 »

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2019, 08:19:06 AM »
Moth balls for skunks: hard to believe there's anything a skunk would mind smelling!  :icon_lol:
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2019, 03:03:02 PM »
Moth balls for skunks: hard to believe there's anything a skunk would mind smelling!  :icon_lol:

Yeah you wouldn't think so!

Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2019, 05:48:06 PM »
Nice report! I notice you took the site by the restrooms, sink and light. I usually take the one farthest (#6) but I guess with kids those things may be amenties.
I've never been there in August; how were the temperatures?

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2019, 08:47:20 AM »
wr88,
Beautiful report, and a beautiful family, if I may say so.  I love a landscape, but the human element makes it complete.   Good job laying down your ambitions to invest in the family; this kind of thing never stops paying dividends, I've found. 

For some reason I can't see your still shots, but enjoyed the videos greatly.  Wish I could learn that art. 

Sitting Bull Falls: what a neat spot!  It must be that the waterfall acts like a giant evaporative cooler!  It would be interesting to measure the water temperature above and below the falls.  As to the "cave on top", would that be the one behind the falls, that you reach from below?  I didn't know there was one on top.

I've been looking at rainfall reports, and this looks to have been a dry year, although the spring was a little wetter than usual.  What was your impression?  Maybe the rains fall in places other than where the rain gauge is located.  Stream flow at McKittrick might be a better metric for overall moisture conditions.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to post your report.  Like water in the desert, trip reports on the GUMO forum are somewhat rare, but so refreshing.  :eusa_clap:
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2019, 09:04:27 AM »
Nice report! I notice you took the site by the restrooms, sink and light. I usually take the one farthest (#6) but I guess with kids those things may be amenties.
I've never been there in August; how were the temperatures?

I've stayed at 6 before. I wanted the one next to it which was the most shaded but it was occupied when we arrived and we didn't want to move everything the second day.
We did stay at the one closest to the bathroom because of kids and shade. Did unscrew the lightbulb on the back when we went to sleep and put it back in the morning on suggestion from the other camper at the campground. Normally wouldn't do that but there was no one else there.

Temperatures were great. After we arrived and it had rained it was really pleasant. Got into the 60s during the rain. Probably didn't get back above 80. 60s at night. Was in mid to upper 80s next day. Was over 100 in Carlsbad those same days.

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Dog Canyon Car Camping - Aug 2019
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2019, 09:18:13 AM »
wr88,
Beautiful report, and a beautiful family, if I may say so.  I love a landscape, but the human element makes it complete.   Good job laying down your ambitions to invest in the family; this kind of thing never stops paying dividends, I've found. 

For some reason I can't see your still shots, but enjoyed the videos greatly.  Wish I could learn that art. 

Sitting Bull Falls: what a neat spot!  It must be that the waterfall acts like a giant evaporative cooler!  It would be interesting to measure the water temperature above and below the falls.  As to the "cave on top", would that be the one behind the falls, that you reach from below?  I didn't know there was one on top.

I've been looking at rainfall reports, and this looks to have been a dry year, although the spring was a little wetter than usual.  What was your impression?  Maybe the rains fall in places other than where the rain gauge is located.  Stream flow at McKittrick might be a better metric for overall moisture conditions.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to post your report.  Like water in the desert, trip reports on the GUMO forum are somewhat rare, but so refreshing.  :eusa_clap:

Thanks for saying so. We had a great time and I always enjoy any camping trip more when I'm with my family.

As far as the cave at Sitting Bull Falls; you are probably right. I didn't see it so I don't know exactly where it is. I do want to hike to the top to see the area from the top and the springs/flow of water on top. I've seen pictures and it looks neat.

And I'll have a much bigger trip report from the area to post here in a few weeks. A 6 or 7 day trip if all goes as planned. But you're right, we need way more reports than we get. I think I've seen just about every video and read every blog about trips at GUMO. I get excited to see new videos (that aren't Guad Peak (seen way too many about it to get very excited)) from GUMO on YouTube. Trip reports here or that I find searching on Google are fun also.

 


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