Big Bend Chat

Other Parks of the Big Bend Region => GUMO General Discussion => Topic started by: wrangler88 on March 18, 2018, 10:57:51 AM

Title: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 18, 2018, 10:57:51 AM
Hey guys im starting to put together some ideas for a Guadalupe Mountains backpacking trip. And I'd like some input. I'm basically wanting to know any spots at GUMO you'd like to see in a video or know more about. I'm especially interested in off trail sections for this trip. I sort of have in mind about 70% on trail/30% off Trail.

I'm not wanting to stay at Pine Springs at all.

If there are any spots you've been to that are especially worth seeing, I'd love to hear about them. Anybody explored South McKittrick Canyon off trail? I thought I had read some about it a while back but not sure where I saw it.

I'm also interested in the 4 Peaks route.

And the plane crash site near Bush Mountain.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: backpacker56 on March 18, 2018, 07:54:09 PM
How about Bone Spring, above the Williams Ranch? 

Also, the northwest ridge route to Guadalupe Peak, from just below Devil's Hall.  This was the route to summit GP back when the park first opened.  I hiked it, back in 1978, but when I recently tried to relocate the trail down in Pine Spring Canyon below Devil's Hall, I had no success.

Here's a link to a report by Paul Bloland in 1978, but he seems dyslexic about his compass points, going "east" up Pine Spring Canyon instead of west, and winding below the "southern, then eastern shoulder of the peak", when he means the northern, then eastern.
http://desertpeaks.org/archives/dps02255.htm

And a report from 1979 by Jerry Keating, following in Bloland's footsteps.
http://desertpeaks.org/archives/dps02281.htm


Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 19, 2018, 08:07:02 PM
Cool old reports!

I really want to spend time out at Williams Ranch and explore Bone Canyon for sure. I definitely have that in mind for a winter or late fall trip. I'm not sure exactly how hard it would be to explore more West/Northwest around that side of the mountains. I'd love to see any kind of stat on how many or if any people ever hike or explore the western side of the Guads. Pretty far out there.

I'm considering something like ...
Day 1 - Drive Out, Up to Summit of El Cap, and camp at Guadalupe Peak Campsite

Day 2 - 4 Peaks from Guadalupe Peak Campsite, across Shumard, Bartlett, and Bush. Camp at Bush Mt or Blue Ridge

Day3 - Manzanita Ridge Route to Dog Canyon for water and camp at Tejas

Day 4 - WWII Plane crash site, explore Bowl off trail, camp at Pine Top

Day 5 - Down Bear Canyon, Drive home


My other idea is to do much of the Guadalupe Ridge Trail from the Caverns to Guadalupe Peak but the logistics of that are a lot harder with no second car.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 19, 2018, 08:10:14 PM
I'd also love to do the northern part of the Bush Mountain trail again. I thought it was pretty tough. And I know hardly anyone goes out there. I want to go past the site of the Cox cabin. I heard it burned down during the fire. I'm pretty sure I was one of the very last people to get to see it before the fire. Can't imagine there were too many more people that went that way.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: Solo on March 19, 2018, 10:43:10 PM
When the road to Dog Canyon re-opens and weather permits I'm going to explore the NW corner of the park, which is virtually unvisited.  I'll trail hike the upper portion of Bush Mountain Trail that you mentioned, then a big off-trail triangle to Coyote Peak, Cutoff Mountain, Pk. 6950, and camp at Marcus.  The vegetation is a lot more sparse there than some of the Type II and Type III Fun routes I've done around the high peaks.  That whole Brokeoff Mts/Cutoff Ridge/PX Flat area seems really interesting, solitary, and an easier prospect for bushwhacking. 

If you were really wanting to be adventurous, it would be cool to search for the old trails that didn't make the cut for official NP trail status, like Old PX Trail that went up the west slope of Cutoff Ridge.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: bitter_melon on March 20, 2018, 01:01:26 AM
One thing I'd say about GuMo: PREPARE FOR WIND!

We had three people planning to car camp at GuMo for a night on 3/15 after a few nights of backpacking in Big Bend. The wind was so strong that two of us didn't even bother to set up our tents, we just slept in the car, which shook violently all night. The third person set up a tent, tried to sleep in it, and made it a couple of hours before taking down the tent and banging on the car door begging us to let her in. We're experienced campers/backpackers, the wind in GuMo was by far the worst that I had ever tried to camp in. Maybe you're more prepared than I am, maybe your gear is better,and maybe you'll just get luckier with the weather, but I would personally not feel comfortable backpacking out there. Had we not had the car... it would have been a very unpleasant night.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 20, 2018, 03:39:19 AM
When the road to Dog Canyon re-opens and weather permits I'm going to explore the NW corner of the park, which is virtually unvisited.  I'll trail hike the upper portion of Bush Mountain Trail that you mentioned, then a big off-trail triangle to Coyote Peak, Cutoff Mountain, Pk. 6950, and camp at Marcus.  The vegetation is a lot more sparse there than some of the Type II and Type III Fun routes I've done around the high peaks.  That whole Brokeoff Mts/Cutoff Ridge/PX Flat area seems really interesting, solitary, and an easier prospect for bushwhacking. 

If you were really wanting to be adventurous, it would be cool to search for the old trails that didn't make the cut for official NP trail status, like Old PX Trail that went up the west slope of Cutoff Ridge.

Awesome. Thanks for the input. I really like the openness of the North side of the park. Especially the grassy meadows. Marcus is one of my favorite sites at GUMO. I didn't, however, enjoy all the leftover materials the NPS left at the site. (Trail building/campsite supplies including buckets, and trash.)  I don't know if it was just the trip or what but that side of the park was very challenging to me.

Your trip sounds awesome. I'm sure you're right about virtually no one traveling out that way. I've wondered why they never had trails leasing out to this section of the park. Too hard to build and maintain I guess for something that'd only get used a few times a year.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 20, 2018, 03:43:11 AM
One thing I'd say about GuMo: PREPARE FOR WIND!

We had three people planning to car camp at GuMo for a night on 3/15 after a few nights of backpacking in Big Bend. The wind was so strong that two of us didn't even bother to set up our tents, we just slept in the car, which shook violently all night. The third person set up a tent, tried to sleep in it, and made it a couple of hours before taking down the tent and banging on the car door begging us to let her in. We're experienced campers/backpackers, the wind in GuMo was by far the worst that I had ever tried to camp in. Maybe you're more prepared than I am, maybe your gear is better,and maybe you'll just get luckier with the weather, but I would personally not feel comfortable backpacking out there. Had we not had the car... it would have been a very unpleasant night.

Sounds like you got the full Guadalupe Mountains experience. I've had trips out there where there is almost zero wind for days and I've had trips where I feel like I'm going to get blown away for days straight. Been woken up constantly throughout the night wondering about the integrity of my tent. And I'm a heavy sleeper. Backpacking is actually a lot better as a lot of the sites are actually blocked from the wind. Unlike Pine Springs which is very open. I think most of my windiest nights have been at Pine Springs.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: backpacker56 on March 20, 2018, 08:35:37 AM
How about Goat Spring?  I'll bet it gets little to no visitors.  Just beyond where the El Capitan Trail turns to go down Shumard Canyon, the old USGS map shows the trail used to carry on northward over to Goat Spring.  Before reaching Goat Spring, the trail crosses a shallow saddle in the ridge descending from Shumard Peak, which might afford a flat spot for a bivouac, although it could be very windy.

In the old reports linked earlier, the writer mentions "well-ducked trails".  This puzzled me until I remembered a Sierra Club book called "Going LIght with Backpack and Burro" (1951) refers to trail ducks as "two or more stones piled on top of each other in a way nature could hardly duplicate."  In other words, "cairns".
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 21, 2018, 11:12:58 AM
How about Goat Spring?  I'll bet it gets little to no visitors.  Just beyond where the El Capitan Trail turns to go down Shumard Canyon, the old USGS map shows the trail used to carry on northward over to Goat Spring.  Before reaching Goat Spring, the trail crosses a shallow saddle in the ridge descending from Shumard Peak, which might afford a flat spot for a bivouac, although it could be very windy.

In the old reports linked earlier, the writer mentions "well-ducked trails".  This puzzled me until I remembered a Sierra Club book called "Going LIght with Backpack and Burro" (1951) refers to trail ducks as "two or more stones piled on top of each other in a way nature could hardly duplicate."  In other words, "cairns".

Thanks a lot for this. I had considered Goat Spring before but only from shirttail canyon. It looked too steep on the map. I hadn't considered carrying on from the elevation of the El Capitan trail. I've never seen an old map. That would be interesting to look up.
Thanks for the suggestion.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: Solo on March 21, 2018, 05:09:24 PM
If you use Lists Of John, one of the map layers is "Hist 1915+", which shows it.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 21, 2018, 08:06:12 PM
If you use Lists Of John, one of the map layers is "Hist 1915+", which shows it.

I had no idea what you were talking about. I had to look up that site. I finally found my way to a map and tried it. Very cool. Thanks so much for the tip. I'll be looking around these maps more for sure.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: backpacker56 on March 22, 2018, 08:32:26 AM
I tried the suggested website, but couldn't make it work.  I never could navigate to the map.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 22, 2018, 10:25:19 AM
I tried the suggested website, but couldn't make it work.  I never could navigate to the map.

I was using my phone and had to view the full website. Then just clicked on map and drug around until I got to Guadalupe Mountains and then zoomed back. It'll definitely take me some time to figure that site out. I'd never heard of it before. It'd be a lot easier for me to look at a physical hard copy of the map. But still a neat tool.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: Solo on March 22, 2018, 04:01:33 PM
I tried the suggested website, but couldn't make it work.  I never could navigate to the map.

It's one of the worst-designed websites in existence, but many climbers swear by it.  They have one or two neat features that I utilize. From the home page you can get to the map in 3 clicks. Here's a direct link:

http://www.listsofjohn.com/mapf?lat=31.877&lon=-104.858&d=y&t=t&z=13
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: backpacker56 on March 22, 2018, 05:09:20 PM
Thanks.  And then you click on the little drop-down box at the upper right and choose Hist.1915+. 

Notice the old trail leading to the high country from Pine Spring.  I backpacked it in the early 1970's, and I think it was harder than the Bear Canyon trail. 

Notice the trail from just east of Bush Mountain, heading northeast to the Camp in the center of the park, in upper South McKittrick.  This trail, and the Camp, and the trail leading from it back up to the Bowl, and the trail leading down S. McKittrick and exiting north up a side canyon, are all off the grid today.  They are probably so dim and overgrown that you couldn't find them.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 22, 2018, 07:14:32 PM
I'm definitely getting excited looking at the old map. Think I have Guadalupe Mountain fever.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: TexasAggieHiker on March 22, 2018, 10:55:25 PM
I've always wanted to hike the old Kincaid Trail
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: wrangler88 on March 23, 2018, 12:48:21 PM
I've always wanted to hike the old Kincaid Trail

I had to look this one up also. I was able to find it by looking through various maps. Very cool. I love that there is a way to link the lower western side of the park. I'll definitely look into this one for winter as well. This thread has opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities at GUMO.
Title: Re: Late Summer/Early Fall GUMO Backpacking Trip Ideas
Post by: nathanr on March 29, 2018, 08:40:56 PM
looking forward to hearing what you decide. Lots of great options.