Big Bend Chat

Other Parks of the Big Bend Region => GUMO General Discussion => Topic started by: backpacker56 on October 28, 2016, 09:57:42 AM

Title: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: backpacker56 on October 28, 2016, 09:57:42 AM
GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23

1. 10/16 Sunday: Drove to GMNP from Austin; my new used car, a hatchback, proved ideal.
(https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5561/30609950505_d804000760_z.jpg)

2. Camped at Pine Spring, site #15. 
(https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5817/29978176844_9220afd342_z.jpg)

3. Classic Svea 123R in action heating a kettle of water. 
I brought my own bottled water, since the local water is so mineralized.
(https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5499/30609951055_b08fce0648_z.jpg)

4. 10/17 Monday AM: Day-hike to Devil’s Hall.
(https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5768/29978177364_90d47e41aa_z.jpg)

5. 10/17 Monday PM:  Visited Frijole Ranch house, saw some javelina.
(https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5681/30609951925_6317e96dd3_z.jpg)

6. 10/17 Monday PM: A javelina (collared peccary) ambles along at Frijole Ranch site.
(https://c7.staticflickr.com/6/5470/29978178014_887e95720a_z.jpg)

7. 10/18 Tuesday: Day-hiking in McKittrick Canyon; an outstanding day. 
The sight and sound of running water is so refreshing.
(https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5503/30609952575_6fe4fc3c4d_z.jpg)

8. 10/18 Tuesday.  Cool, clear, water...
(https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5715/29978178924_799000362e_z.jpg)

9. 10/19 Wednesday: Hike up Bear Canyon at mid-day to the Bowl.
(https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5614/30609953195_e132db9e79_z.jpg)

10. At Hunter Peak, watching the sunset before returning to Pine Spring via the Tejas trail after dark, using a headlamp. 
A predicted cold front was slow arriving, so the night was calm and mild; ideal.
(https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5575/30521664481_2ec6cefc5d_z.jpg)

11. 10/20 Thursday AM:  The cool front arrived.
(https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5545/30609953745_84fa4b41cf_z.jpg)

12. 10/20 Thursday: Headed into the backcountry via Tejas Trail at mid-day, with about 6 liters of water. 
Camped that evening at Tejas camp, using the new Tarptent.  The flash lit up the reflective guylines:
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5579/29978179704_ebe8f8f2dd_z.jpg)

13. 10/21 Friday AM: The Tarptent at Tejas Camp in the morning sunlight.
(https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5748/30521664701_4ae26b9119_z.jpg)

14. 10/21 Friday: Continued up the Tejas trail, rest stop at Mescalero camp (vacant). 
The backcountry permit tag hangs on the Mountainsmith pack.
(https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5519/29978180474_6e0ab51842_z.jpg)

15. On the McKittrick Ridge trail.  Didn’t see anyone.
(https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5681/30521665021_794545a7f1_z.jpg)

16. Pleasant hiking on McKittrick Ridge trail.  Lots of pine cones.  The weather couldn’t have been better.
(https://c7.staticflickr.com/6/5557/29978181214_d021989aa4_z.jpg)

17. On the roof of Texas near McKittrick Ridge camp, my objective for the day.
(https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5724/30521665451_165eaec51d_z.jpg)

18. By now I was tired but satisfied, and ready to turn in early in the Tarptent.
(https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5817/29978181794_4068a3baf5_z.jpg)

19. Cooking some water on the Primus Express Spider.
(https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5788/30521665681_f2d2d1504f_z.jpg)

20. Deer panhandling.
(https://c7.staticflickr.com/6/5521/29978182374_47cfcc25d7_z.jpg)

21. 10/22 Saturday: Packed up well before dawn and headed down into McKittrick Canyon by headlamp, under a waning desert moon.
(https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5701/30521665941_2204c8d653_z.jpg)

22. At sunrise, a jetliner races eastward.
(https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5762/29978182634_b792c80133_z.jpg)

23. A lone pine greets the dawn.
(https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5784/30521666171_26d4451274_z.jpg)

24. Upper McKittrick Canyon.
(https://c7.staticflickr.com/6/5336/29978183334_a9f2f92cbf_z.jpg)

25.  Hanging forests of McKittrick.  The photo doesn’t do justice to the extensive ledges and substantial trees.
(https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5829/30521666631_8b38650836_z.jpg)

26. I made good time down to the Grotto trail, and was at the Pratt Lodge by 9:20 am.  The Lodge was open, so I had a look inside.  In my haste, I didn’t get very good photos.
(https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5346/29978184124_41605613e7_z.jpg)

I dropped my pack at Pratt Lodge to do some day-hiking.  There were lots of day-hikers about, it being a Saturday.  Completed my hike out by about 3:00 pm, feeling very strong.  Total mileage for the week was something like 53 miles.  The first party I asked were happy to give me a lift for the 12 miles back to Pine Spring.
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: RichardM on October 28, 2016, 11:23:10 AM
Nicely done. Glad to see you mastered photo sharing.  ;)
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: backpacker56 on October 28, 2016, 01:03:45 PM
Thanks, Richard.  Like brain surgery or rocket science, it's easy, if you know how!
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: Lance on October 28, 2016, 01:57:39 PM
Nice trip report! Headed to GUMO in a few weeks. Can't wait!
I like that tarptent, who makes it?
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: RichardM on October 28, 2016, 02:36:23 PM
I like that tarptent, who makes it?
Is it the MoTrail?
https://www.tarptent.com/motrail.html
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: backpacker56 on October 28, 2016, 03:39:30 PM
Yes, the Tarptent MoTrail, a fairly new model, made in USA.  It supposedly weighs about 2 lb, not counting your trekking pole which is used as a tent pole.  My other tent, the Eureka, weighs about 5 lb.  I wanted to reduce my pack weight when hiking solo and having no one with whom to split the tent weight.  This time, the Tarptent wasn't really put to the test for stormy weather, since conditions were so mild.
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: House Made of Dawn on October 28, 2016, 03:57:40 PM
Great report, BP56.  You covered some ground! And thanks for the beautiful  photos, they really put me back in GUMO. I'm jealous. I've never had the pleasure of actually getting INTO the Pratt Cabin, that must have been fun. Nice Tarptent, too. What did you think of the bathtub floor? Is it removable, if desired?

Also: SVEA!!!!   :great:
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: Talusman on October 28, 2016, 05:05:08 PM
Great report sir! Love the picture of the car below El Capitan. McKittrick Canyon is a really cool place (especially if you sneak deep into the back areas!). Glad you had a good trip. You really covered some ground. Well Done!
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: backpacker56 on October 28, 2016, 05:56:19 PM
Nice Tarptent, too. What did you think of the bathtub floor? Is it removable, if desired?

Thanks, House.

The bathtub floor worked fine for me, but weather conditions were not really challenging.  A real rainstorm would put it to the test.  However, based on reviews I've read, I have confidence that the Tarptent folks (Henry Shires) know their stuff when it comes to tent design, and their tents have been tested in real conditions all over the world.  The Tarptent seems very lightly built compared to other tents I've used, but that's the price of lighter weight.  If you take care of it, it should prove reasonably durable and strong. 

The MoTrail is all sewn together, so the floor is not removable.  Tarptent makes designs with separate inner tents and flys, but they cost more and weigh a little more.

It could be argued that on this trip a tent served no real purpose, and in fact at McKittrick Ridge I briefly considered not setting it up.  However, I valued the protection from crawling things, mice, and the odd mosquito, plus the sense of enclosure and privacy.  As it turned out, three backpackers showed up at sundown and camped right nextdoor, so the privacy thing was somewhat real.  And there's always a chance the wind will rise, or the rain or dew will fall.

I have to say in favor of the National Parks, that the backcountry camps with the nice level tent sites have certain advantages over the makeshift wilderness campsites I've been more accustomed to.  A prepared site helps a tent like the Tarptent, that is not freestanding, and needs to be staked on a nice level surface to be at its best.

Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: House Made of Dawn on October 28, 2016, 06:32:25 PM
Nice Tarptent, too.
I have to say in favor of the National Parks, that the backcountry camps with the nice level tent sites have certain advantages over the makeshift wilderness campsites I've been more accustomed to.  A prepared site helps a tent like the Tarptent, that is not freestanding, and needs to be staked on a nice level surface to be at its best.

So true about the tent sites. I use an old Integral Designs Silshelter - a floorless tarptent. It requires a HUGE space and staking can often be a pain depending upon the substrate. But, still, I love it. Here's a shot of my daughter and me using it at the Guadalupe Peak campsite several years ago. Love me some nice flat NPS tent sites. Thanks, NPS!

Keep up the great trips, BP56.
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: mule ears on October 29, 2016, 03:20:34 AM
Nice report backpacker56!  Looks like great weather.  I might have to bust out my SVEA for old times sake.  I have a friend who used the first version of the Motrail (the Contrail) on an AT through hike and found it weather worthy even in winter

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Big Bend Chat mobile app

Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: backpacker56 on October 30, 2016, 08:31:18 AM
I might have to bust out my SVEA for old times sake.

I used the Svea 123R exclusively while camped at Pine Spring Sunday through Wednesday.  It worked really well.  I just bought it on ebay this year. 

Finally got the Colin Fletcher experience with the roaring sound.  I found that when sitting in camp near the stove in the very quiet outdoor world, the roaring of the stove seemed deafening, and the silence when I shut it off was profound.  The sound doesn't carry far, however, so when you walk away from it, it doesn't seem so loud.  I don't think it disturbed the neighbors.

I took the Primus stove backpacking, to save weight and space.
Title: Re: GMNP Trip Report, Oct 16-23
Post by: RichardM on November 01, 2016, 02:45:33 PM
Moderator Note: Discussion on Colin Fletcher has been moved to http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/gumo-general-discussion/colin-fletcher/