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Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2010, 11:53:56 AM »

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Offline wild.open.spaces

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2010, 01:50:33 PM »
My next question is about water. Starting at Homer Wilson, I plan to make my first night's camp at Fresno Creek where I'm sure water will be flowing. My 2nd night will be at ET, which from a few forums I've read, has some reliable water. In y'all's experience, are there reliable sources at ET?? My 3rd night will be somewhere on Smoky Creek when I finally meet up with again after my cut-through. Anyone know of reliable water sources along the route I drew?? If not, assuming I stock up at Fresno and ET (if reliable water exists), I should be good for the last day's hike until I make it to my car on the 4th day.

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Offline wild.open.spaces

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2010, 10:59:36 AM »
Quicksilver: What happened to the water at ET??

I've attached another map that more precisely shows my proposed route. I redraw it while in Google Earth and tried to follow drainages as much as possible. Google puts the route at about 7.5 miles.


EC to SC_redraw


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Offline Robert

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2010, 07:14:54 PM »
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In y'all's experience, are there reliable sources at ET??

There is no reliable water at ET. I've seen it dry. There are 2 springs that I've seen, the one just below ET and another up the trail a ways, less than a mile. On the route you have drawn up there is no reliable water. Probably the most reliable springs are Dominguez (not on your route) and the spring at what we call "the Black Rock Canyon" which is on the Smoky Creek trail on the western side of Sugarloaf Mtn just before the wash opens up into the Smoky Creek valley.

I have found water on several trips on your route in Fisk Canyon. Sometimes there is a spring that pops up just where the eastern drainage joins the main drainage. Also not on your route but an easy check is just downstream from where the Smoky Creek trail exits the wash as it goes around Sugarloaf. It is the big right hand turn and there is a dead cottonwood lying nearby.

Of course, in wet years you can find water everywhere, a lot of drainages will have running water for long stretches. But since it isn't a wet year you are going to have to plan for worst case until you get better information.

Below is the route I took to get over the divide from the ET trail to Fisk Canyon. Other than where I left the trail it has some overlap with your route. One thing that I did was not take the direct route up to the pass between to two watersheds. Notice I went back a little further north before getting to the top. I did this because it looked less steep and I was concerned that with the steepness of the grade that the wash would be too full of vegetation to be useful as a trail.




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Offline Al

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2010, 08:21:03 PM »
Although I have had good luck finding water in several of the unnamed springs both to the north and south of ET over multiple years while zone camping in the area, Robert is right.  Do not consider these springs reliable unless you have time specific information confirming availability.  Always have enough water to get to a trail head or a reliable source and make water your number one priority.

Al

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2010, 07:54:39 AM »
Robert is right go North of the peak 4233' when coming from ET.  I went down the ravine on the South side and it was very steep and unsafe.  It didn't look that bad from above but once I got into it I had to be very careful not to injure myself because I was solo and carrying a 50# frame pack.   Depending on how much/if it rains between now and your trip ET Spring may or may not have water.  Dominquez, Fisk, and Fresno Springs all seem to have baseline flows of what is probably fossil water (though I can't prove it) and are reliable.  Smokey Spring is not reliable and often nothing more than mud.   The most overgrown sections of your route are the segment near ET headed to Fisk and up and over Jacks Pass.  Be very careful on this trip because you are a long way from help and you will need to be your own first responder so carry some extra safety gear and watch where you put your feet.  Is this is solo trip?  Sounds like a good once-in-a-lifetime adventure!   Please post a trip report when you get back and let us know how it went.  TWWG

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Offline wild.open.spaces

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2010, 12:33:53 PM »
I will take your advice about staying north of the peak and going around that way. I will redraw my map.

In the meantime, however, I have been toying with a second option which is attached. Right now, my route goes all the way around Dominguez Mountain on the southside and then turns north up through the canyon between Dominguez Mountain and Backbone Ridge on my way to ET. This route adds another 3-4 miles as compared to the original one I posted. However, the new route gets me through Fisk Canyon and to Dominguez Springs (hopefully for water).

Another option instead of going all the way around the southside of Dominguez Mountain is to go up and over Jack's Pass. I would likely only do this if traveling west to east, not the other way around (I really haven't decided yet which direction I'll go....east to west, or west to east).

I have labeled Fisk Canyon and Jack's Pass on the map. Can someone confirm that these are indeed correctly marked??


2 routes by jlpeterson, on Flickr
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 12:46:32 PM by wild.open.spaces »

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Offline wild.open.spaces

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2010, 12:43:35 PM »
And no, this will not be a solo trip. I'll have 1 companion. Even still, I think this trip has convinced me to invest in a GPS unit just to be on the safe side. I also have a SPOT, so if worse comes to worse, I can press the rescue button and hopefully help will arrive. This is something I never want to have to do, however. I always try and hike the safest that I can, but accidents can still happen.

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #23 on: November 22, 2010, 01:14:01 PM »
Jack's pass is about 3 lines west from where you have it marked. the arrow is on Fisk, where you have it is just about where my husband and I found a great spring 2 years ago during a 4 night in that area. We weren't impressed with Dominguez spring, very green/brackish water, but it would do if there was nothing else. I have a few pictures of Jack's pass in our trip report
http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/valentine's-get-a-way/msg72099/#msg72099
Hope that helps.

~Cookie

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Offline badknees

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #24 on: November 22, 2010, 01:24:57 PM »
This year has been dry recently, with about average rainfall. Your best chances for water will be south of the junction of the e/w drainage from ET and Fisk Canyon. In addition there possibilities along the Smoky Creek south of Sugar Loaf, and also between the "Lone Tree Pouroff" to the "Black Rock Canyon". If you choose the Fisk/Jack's Pass route, your best chances for water will be in Fisk Canyon, and at Dominguez. Recent reports indicate that Smoky Spring is weak, although you may be able to dig there and find some water.

As always, remember, most of the springs are ephemeral, and the water is meteoric, not fossil. Always carry enough to get you out and back to your last water source. The only springs I would consider reliable are Ward, Oak, and Mule Ears, and Fresno. The rest are best viewed with caution. Contrary to belief, Boot is only reliable in the rainy season. The up-canyon pools in Boot Canyon hold rain longer the the spring itself flows, but it hasn't rained in a few months and this water is best left to the wildlife.
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Offline badknees

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #25 on: November 22, 2010, 01:30:34 PM »
Another question...where is Jack's Pass that several have mentioned in this post?


Quote
Another option would be to follow Fisk Canyon south, turn west, and cross over Jack's Pass (between 5030' and 4660'), then follow the drainage to Smoky Spring... linking up to Smoky Creek and the Mule Ears trail. The view from Jack's Pass is superb and the hike from there to Smoky Spring offers complete solitude.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 05:49:38 PM by badknees »
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline wild.open.spaces

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #26 on: November 22, 2010, 01:41:34 PM »
Sounds good. It looks like I'll never need to go over Jack's Pass if I follow my proposed route.

And yes, water will be critical. I'm not planning on starting this hike until December 28, so I will just have to watch for water reports leading up to the trip. Regardless, I'll pack more water just in case the springs are dry. Let's hope for some rain between now and then...

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Offline badknees

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #27 on: November 22, 2010, 06:36:07 PM »


As always, remember, most of the springs are ephemeral, and the water is meteoric, not fossil.
Is that like seasonal, from rainfall, not from the the ancient aquifer? Does that mean there are no permanent springs in the Chisos, including Mule Ears and Oak Springs, no fossil containment?
QS

Not necessarily from the same season, however  mostly rainfall.

"Information collected from drilling and from hydro geologic observations indicates that the water discharging from Oak Spring originates as precipitation in the Oak Spring area west of The Basin with possibly a component originating as discharge from The Basin. The rhyolite boulder field with its numerous crevices, including the talus apron from Vernon Bailey Peak (on the east side of the Oak Spring area), is an effective receptacle for rapid recharge of precipitation and storage of ground water. This water could then be efficiently routed into the underlying Oak Spring aquifer at places where the aquifer is in direct hydraulic connection with the boulder field and talus apron. The most favorable area for such recharge probably is between monitoring well TB 7 and the steep slope of Vernon Bailey Peak to the east, an average distance of about 1,500 fl from Oak Spring. From here the general direction of ground water flow is probably westward toward Oak Spring. Interpretation of water chemistry data, including hydrochemical facies and isotopic data, also indicates that ground water discharge from Oak Spring originates principally from recent precipitation in the Oak Spring area. The hydrochemical facies for Oak Spring are intermediate in composition between those for Cat  tall Falls and Window Spring. Oxygen 18 and deuterium data indicate that Oak Spring discharge originated as meteoric (atmospheric) water. This indicates an origin for Oak Spring discharge as meteoric water that has been altered to its present composition by rock water interaction. Tritium isotopic data show that Oak Spring discharge is modem, indicating an average date of recharge within the last 14 years. This relatively young average age of ground water estimated from tritium data, the magnitude of discharge observed from Oak Spring, and the generally small amounts of precipitation in the area indicate that flow through the aquifer is rapid. If the most favorable area for recharge is an average distance of 1,500 ft from Oak Spring as postulated, and if the average age of Oak Spring water is less than 14 years as indicated, then the minimum rate of water movement in the Oak Spring aquifer is about 100 ft per year."

In addition even the Hot Springs are meteoric,  these are thermal springs that are fed by deep circulating meteoric water heated as a result of the local geothermal gradient
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline Al

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #28 on: November 22, 2010, 07:36:17 PM »


As always, remember, most of the springs are ephemeral, and the water is meteoric, not fossil.
Is that like seasonal, from rainfall, not from the the ancient aquifer? Does that mean there are no permanent springs in the Chisos, including Mule Ears and Oak Springs, no fossil containment?
QS

Yes.  It's "young" water, which from a geologic perspective, could mean 100's of years old or more.  14 year old water is very young which indicates rainfall infiltration travels relatively quickly through the subsurface to the spring. 

BK is the pro from Dover but was perhaps a little unresponsive to your question, young water does not mean that a spring isn't "permanent". A spring with young water does mean that there isn't a large storage capacity in the aquifer feeding the spring but even a spring with young water can be permanent so long as it rains enough to keep the aquifer sufficiently recharged to an elevation that provides gravity flow from the spring. 

(That is unless you're a geologist in which case a century is but a blink of the eye.  The quote used by BK points out that even the hot spring is likely from meteoric water although it is from the bowels of the Earth!)

Al

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Offline jave

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Re: Elephant Tusk to Smoky Creek?
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2010, 08:06:18 PM »
Jacks is immediately west of Dominguez Springs and the associated ruins.  We were there a few weeks ago and followed the wash (good water for awhile) as far as we could to the NW before heading west up Jacks.  I have to say, compared to the easy hiking east of Upper Smoky and below the Sierra Quemada, Jacks kicks your butt with a pack on your back even though only a half mile of climbing.  After that stay with the fence line into the "zone of solitude" before Smoky. Yet another alternative is crossing south of Dominguez Mtn and then north up the flowing creek just to the west, where there is abundant bear scat.  Pouroffs are not insurmountable.  Good luck.

 


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