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Smoky Creek / Mule Ears questions

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Offline stevebo

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Smoky Creek / Mule Ears questions
« on: November 29, 2015, 10:00:37 AM »
Having hiked the OML a few times, I'd like to branch out and try something different.  I'd like to do an end-to-end from the Chisos Basin to the Mule Ear Overlook in Nov 2016.  So, a few questions:

  • Which direction would you recommend?  It's overall downhill if I start in the Basin, plus I read that the Smoky Creek trail is hard to follow upstream.  Is this true?
  • It's 3.5 miles from the Mule Ear Overlook to the Smoky Creek Trail.  How many miles from the Smoky Creek Trail to the Dodson trail?  And how many miles from there to Homer Winslow?
  • Is there extended parking at the Mule Ear Overlook?
  • Is the water more/less reliable on the Smoky Creek Trail than Fresno Creek?  I've never seen Fresno Creek Dry (admittedly it's only a few times, but still)
  • Are there any obviously good campsites along the Smoky Creek Trail or near the Mule Ears?
Many thanks,
Steve

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Smoky Creek / Mule Ears questions
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2015, 01:52:51 PM »
I would do it from Basin down to ME.  Question would be if you want to do the Dodson via Juniper, or down Blue Creek?

There is extended parking at ME parking lot.

No reliable water along the Smokey Creek trail except for ME springs, which is 1 hour from the parking lot. 

The campsites are not as obvious like the ones on the Dodson.  You have to really look for the older ones.  They are usually identified by flat patches with dried up (dormant ) wild flower areas along the trail.  Looks like low dead grass. Here are 2 I have used before.  There is another popular one in the black rock section, but I have never stayed there, and I know others can tell you about it.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=29.18206,-103.34022&z=15&t=T&marker0=29.17334%2C-103.34582%2C9.0%20km%20SxSW%20of%20Emory%20Peak%20TX&marker1=29.18816%2C-103.33661%2C7.2%20km%20SxSW%20of%20Emory%20Peak%20TX
There are plenty of good spots once you get up above Smokey Creek on the ME trail all the way to the parking lot.

You need to be able to read a topo.  The trail is there, and is pretty worn in in most places, but the grass is high.  You need to know when and where to start looking for exits out of creek beds.  But most importantly, you will need to recognize when you have gone too far.

I would suggest that you look some of the "trip reports Index" for the area at the top of this page http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/.  I have found that I am one of the slower hikers out there, so maybe you could get an idea how long it would take you by reading others trip reports. 
« Last Edit: November 29, 2015, 02:17:45 PM by elhombre »
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Offline Robert

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Re: Smoky Creek / Mule Ears questions
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2015, 06:27:55 PM »
  • Which direction would you recommend?  It's overall downhill if I start in the Basin, plus I read that the Smoky Creek trail is hard to follow upstream.  Is this true? There is a net decline coming from Homer WIlson, however, there is a big climb going east on the Dodson trail to start your hike. There are lots of ups and downs so you don't feel as if it is all downhill. I'd say that most people go from HW to Mule Ears but I don't think any one way is harder to follow than the other.
  • It's 3.5 miles from the Mule Ear Overlook to the Smoky Creek Trail.  How many miles from the Smoky Creek Trail to the Dodson trail?  I  And how many miles from there to Homer Winslow? I'd say around 8.5 miles between the junctions of the two trails and another 3.4 on the Dodson trail between the ranch house and the SC trail.
  • Is there extended parking at the Mule Ear Overlook? You are allowed to leave your vehicle overnight at trail heads if you have a Backcountry permit. Make sure you get you vehicle license # noted on the permit.
  • Is the water more/less reliable on the Smoky Creek Trail than Fresno Creek?  I've never seen Fresno Creek Dry (admittedly it's only a few times, but still)  Water is less reliable on the SC trail. There are no springs as reliable as the one below where the Dodson trail crosses Fresno.
  • Are there any obviously good campsites along the Smoky Creek Trail or near the Mule Ears? As elhombre said, no obvious campsites but I've camped in the wash many times.



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Offline stevebo

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Re: Smoky Creek / Mule Ears questions
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2015, 02:17:10 PM »
Gracias elhombre and thanks Robert.  I am also a very slow hiker, so if it's just a matter of finding a spot in a wash, no problem ... as long as the trail is sufficiently marked.  My plan is to take the shorter route by Homer Wilson in order to make sure to have water for the extra day in the desert -- although I suppose I could also get water at Fresno if I took the longer route.

Thanks!
Steve

 


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