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Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?

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Offline travii99

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Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« on: October 03, 2008, 08:43:00 AM »
I am planning to come out for a quick two nighter backpacking trip and have hiked this area before.  Last time we started at Blue Creek ranch, took the dodson trail to Smokey Creek and back to the highways via the Mule Ears trail.  I am scheming another trail that starts at Mule Ears Look out, follows the trail past Mule Ears and back into the Smoky Creek wash, then south to an unnamed trail that heads west back to the highway.  This portion of the trail is one some maps and not on others and has no name that I can find.  I was just wondering if anyone had by chance hiked it before and could offer any thoughts about it.  It looks like there is some good camping about .5 miles south of the trail (near Triangulation Station) overlooking the Rio Grande Valley.  See attached image, the red is the entire trail, the trail of interest is the one shaded in blue.


Just curious if anyone had done this before.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 14, 2009, 01:49:07 PM by RichardM »

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2008, 10:24:21 AM »
Hi travii99,
this is a trip report from billh from March '08 to that area http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/trip-report-mule-ears-t5439.0.html . They didn't go as far south as you are thinking but might have some good info. TWWG and Robert might chime in too. My experience with that area south of Mule Ears is that those trails shown on the maps really don't exist any more (other than the Smoky Creek trail itself) but the cross country walking is pretty straight forward and easy to do. That "pack trail" that you hightlighted in blue comes out on the RMSD at the place that has a good view of Mule Ears Peaks (the shot in my avatar). It would be a nice loop.
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Offline travii99

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2008, 11:17:39 AM »
I figured the trail might be almost gone until I began looking at it on Google Earth, you can actually see the trail still there in places, I was amazed.  Plus, the desert takes a long time to regenerate itself.  Either way, like you said, I am sure it would be easy going even without a trail.  Seems like (the southern portion marked in blue) would be a good hike. 

There is also a spring in Smokey Creek at the southeast corner of the hike, Google Earth shows the area to be wet, you can actually see a color change in the sandy wash.  I am also wanting to know if anyone has visited this spring, it would be a good place to replenish water..  I doubt there is much info on it though...

If nobody has hiked it, I'll have to post pics and a trip report when we are done. 

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oldfatman

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2008, 12:07:13 PM »
Even if someone has hiked it, post please.  The most recent information is very important to folks like the OFM.

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Offline Robert

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2008, 02:29:05 PM »
I know the route you are talking about. The map on the cover of the Hiking Trails of Big Bend booklet that has been around since the 80's that has the "blue" portion on it. But the route is not described inside. I've never seen any other maps with it. I've always had this route on my list of hikes but I've yet to do it.

Bill H. reported that he came across a good spring that pops up where the Smokey Creek drainage narrows before you would be turning back towards the northwest. This may be the one that you are talking about.

That should be a fairly easy hike. While I don't doubt that portions of the trail may still be visible, I wouldn't consider this anything less than a cross country route. There are lots of old trails, old roads, routes, and game trails that criss-cross the area that can lead you astray. You'll need to be fairly comfortable reading a topo map to do this safely. Since you've come down the upper Smokey Creek portion, you should be OK.

I think I remember Drifter talking about doing something similar with the difference being that he would not end up at Ross Maxwell Drive as you indicated but instead cut back north and walk back to the Mule Ears parking lot.


« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 02:30:49 PM by Robert »

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Offline Drifter

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2008, 03:52:26 PM »
Hey Robert, you have a great memory.  Yes, I've done this loop as a day walk but in fact did turn north up a flat drainage back to the Mule ear parking lot.  I was introduced to this little stroll  by an off duty park ranger and his girl friend who were trail running this route.  They could do it in a couple of hours (he said, she looked dubious) The walk after the turn to the north is gravely but navigation is a snap with Trap mt. looking at you all  the way home.  For those that have hiked the Mule ears trail, it starts at the parking lot , goes vertical for a couple hundred yards and then drops down into a small drainage and then back up.  It is this drainage that is the terminus of this route.  Good luck, be careful, live in the present
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Offline billholston

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2008, 05:57:16 PM »
yes, indeed, I've hiked to the spring, which was a great one. You basically walk down the Smokey Creek Drainage. I don't recall seeing cairns or a trail. the hiking can be a bit slow, because it's loose sand. it was easy, but I could imagine being easy to get lost. As I stood looking south, where the topo shows a real narrowing, it's a fairly obvious spot on the map, where the spring comes out, looking south, it looks like the drainage runs due south for a long ways, we did it as a day hike from mule ears, where we camped. Love to hear more.

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Offline billholston

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2008, 06:01:28 PM »
http://www.flickr.com/photos/14890552@N06/2307845474/

here are the photos. One of the shots shows the drainage south, as it goes through what is basically a mini-canyon, which is where the spring begins to flow

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Offline Txsandi

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2008, 09:07:53 PM »
so how many miles would that trek be...out of mules and then out to the road...

Thanks,

Charlene

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Offline badknees

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2008, 10:06:39 PM »
so how many miles would that trek be...out of mules and then out to the road...

Thanks,

Charlene

About 11 miles + another 2 miles by road back to the Mule Ears Overlook parking area.
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Offline trekker314

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2008, 06:30:14 PM »
How safe is leaving a car at the Mule Ears Overlook overnight?  Is it likely to be their the next day?

Thanks.

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2008, 06:34:15 PM »
How safe is leaving a car at the Mule Ears Overlook overnight?  Is it likely to be their the next day?

Thanks.

I think you'll be able to leave your car there without a problem....

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2008, 06:39:32 PM »
How safe is leaving a car at the Mule Ears Overlook overnight?  Is it likely to be their the next day?
Most problems with breakins of vehicles have historically been at sites close to the river. The Mule Ears Overlook lot should be quite safe, assuming you don't leave any obvious temptations...

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Offline badknees

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2008, 07:06:58 PM »
How safe is leaving a car at the Mule Ears Overlook overnight?  Is it likely to be their the next day?

Thanks.

I've left my truck at Mule Ears Overlook for up to 4 days, with no incident.
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline travii99

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Re: Anyone hiked this hike south of Mule Ears?
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2008, 10:57:17 AM »
Thanks for the info everyone!  I appears that the spring in Smokey tends to stay somewhat wet.  I wish there was better information on springs.  I really don't want to carry a ton of water and also don't really want to run out.  The park will never suggest to rely on a spring either especially one like this.  Anyways, we  will do this route over the new years.  Its about 12 miles or so.  We are taking it leisurely and camping by mule ears for a night and then again once we pass the spring and leave the wash (hopefully on top of the cliffs overlooking the Rio valley to the southwest).  We have done Smokey and several other obscure trails so I am not too concerned about wayfinding.  We will come prepared with topos and orienteering gear including simple GPS too. 
Should be a nice leisure trip.  I'll post details when we are done.  How is the cross country back to the overlook parking lot? Seems pretty straight forward..

 

 


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