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Mule Ears Peak Hike

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Offline RedBuffalo

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Topo
« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2007, 08:11:32 AM »
Richard: Thanks for the link.  I finally worked with that site and got a good view.  DesertWalker mentioned the USGS map directs north when it should actually head east / southeast (see post of page 1).  I can see where it goes pretty far north before dropping in to Smokey Creek so I'll be on the lookout for signs / cairns after a 1/2 mile or so past MES.  

Picacho: Knowing that you did the Picacho summit trek, I'll take your advice any day (sticking to the Smokey Creek trail vs. traversing those canyons)!  Also, the route to the saddle on the left of the above photo does look a little more stable.

All this is starting to making a good case for me to go GPS?  Maybe when Canon offers one built in to the 5D....(or have they already done that?).  That would be cool to take a pictures and have the GPS data recorded on the memory card.

Bobcat: I really like the rock formations to the right of MEP in your photo - looks pretty tricky getting over there though.

Once again, thanks for all the post and information shared on this thread.  I'm sure someone out there is saying "If RedBuffalo has to ask so many questions maybe he shouldn't be going out to MEP."  To my defense, I still recall my desert wandering from my 1991 trek out there.  And, I did read a news article where they found some fella from New York - well, the remains of him anyway - some seven years after his disapperance....

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Offline RedBuffalo

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Google Markup
« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2007, 08:22:24 AM »
Anyone want to take my first Google image and mark up the trail from MES to MEP?  Yeh, it's another rainy cold day in Lufkin with not much going on.

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SHANEA

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Re: Google Markup
« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2007, 09:47:55 AM »
Quote from: "RedBuffalo"
Yeh, it's another rainy cold day in Lufkin with not much going on.


Wonder what it will be like in 12-24 hours  :shock:

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Topo
« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2007, 09:54:29 AM »
Quote from: "RedBuffalo"
Once again, thanks for all the post and information shared on this thread.  I'm sure someone out there is saying "If RedBuffalo has to ask so many questions maybe he shouldn't be going out to MEP."  To my defense, I still recall my desert wandering from my 1991 trek out there.  And, I did read a news article where they found some fella from New York - well, the remains of him anyway - some seven years after his disapperance....

And more recently, Peter Bastien:

Quote from: "BIBE News Release Digest 2005 (cached by [url=http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:yXR5Mnrom0wJ:www.nps.gov/bibe/parknews/upload/NRdigest_2005.pdf+%22Peter+Bastien%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=10
Google[/url])"]REMAINS FOUND BELIEVED TO BE THOSE OF MISSING HIKER AT BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

On March 24, 2005, visitors hiking in the Mule Ears found a muddy backpack and brought it out to rangers. Rangers returned to the site with the hikers, because the area was the focus of an extensive search in June, 2004, for Peter Bastien of Dallas. Rangers later in the day located the skeletal remains, clothing, and identification of Bastien. The family has been notified of the tentative identification pending the results of dental record examination.

On June 3, 2004, patrol rangers noted a Ford Taurus parked at the Mule Ears parking lot. Overnight backpackers routinely use this area for extended hikes and thus on June 7, 2004, when the vehicle was still in place, an investigation and lengthy search was begun.

The investigation revealed the vehicle owner to be 37-year- old Peter Bastien. Search operations were expanded several days to include ground search teams, helicopters from Marfa Border patrol and the Department of Public Safety from Midland, the park’s own aircraft, horses, and tracking dogs. The operation was managed under the incident command system.

As of June 14, 2004, all likely areas, clues, and leads had been followed as far as possible without success. The search effort is continued in a limited extended capacity with ground searchers having searched approximately 5,600 acres, and 33,000 acres searched by air.

“The discovery of the remains believed to be Mr. Bastien after a long and exhaustive search effort will hopefully allow the friends and family of Mr. Bastien to find closure, as it will for park staff who committed their time to the search effort,” said Superintendent John H. King.

There were reports that his skeleton was "disarticulated" and found in a cave on the side of Mule Ears Peak.  Some folks speculated that a panther may have been involved, either before or after his demise.  Don't forget to leave a note on the dashboard of your car stating where you're going and when you plan to be back.

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Offline RedBuffalo

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Repeat
« Reply #34 on: January 15, 2007, 10:02:20 AM »
Man, that's scary - one badly spranged ankle or snake bite on a solo could end anyone as dinner for a panther / mountain lion.  Wonder if he was taking that route that Picacho mentioned and that I had marked up?

Repeat request: "Anyone want to take my first Google image and mark up the trail from MES to MEP?"

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Offline Picacho

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Re: Repeat
« Reply #35 on: January 15, 2007, 01:36:55 PM »
Quote from: "RedBuffalo"
Man, that's scary - one badly spranged ankle or snake bite on a solo could end anyone as dinner for a panther / mountain lion.  Wonder if he was taking that route that Picacho mentioned and that I had marked up?

Repeat request: "Anyone want to take my first Google image and mark up the trail from MES to MEP?"


I'll do it.  Just waiting on my computer to defrag.  :-)

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Offline RedBuffalo

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Mule Ears Peak Topo w/ Trail
« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2007, 05:52:18 AM »
Well, I finally got my Hiking Big Bend book back from being on loan and a Mule Ears Topo borrowed from my cousin.  Along with Google Earth and references from you guys experience posted here we were able to mark up the topo to, hopefully, correctly display the trail.

Check out this mark up and let me know what you guys think.


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Offline Robert

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Mule Ears Peak Hike
« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2007, 09:44:10 AM »


The trail is a little north of where you marked it. The trail descends through and to the left of a narrow rocky notch in the escarpment via a section of switchbacks. As you get closer to the canyon floor the trail goes down a fin to the "creek".

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Offline RedBuffalo

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Thanks
« Reply #38 on: February 05, 2007, 12:31:05 PM »
Thanks for the clarification!  All this data is surely to cut down on any bushwacking.

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Offline RedBuffalo

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MEP; Monday March 12, 07
« Reply #39 on: March 08, 2007, 05:13:47 AM »
All set for hiking MEP.  After consulting Laurence Parents' Hiking Big Bend National Park it looks like a 9 mile round trip going out to the actual peak.  We'll be heading out early with lots of water and lunch.  I'll post a report later on this month hopefully with some decent photos.

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Offline RedBuffalo

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MEP Saddle Trip Report
« Reply #40 on: March 24, 2007, 09:15:14 PM »
I'll preface this report by saying the hike was everything I had hoped it would be; challenging, rewarding, and a sweet ending to four full days in Big Bend.

Moose58 and myself Left the trail head at approximately 8 am.  There were at least three camping groups off trail from the trail head to Mule Ear Springs.  The last group was huddled around a fire and if I hadn't been so focused on the task at hand I may have yelled out a Big Bend attitude at them (Most of my thoughts are all bark and no bite in my older age - they seldom make it to the audible stage.)

Reached Mule Ear Spring at 8:50 registering 1.88 miles on the Garmin 101 (Notice to all the GPS gurus - don't laugh at my little Garmin unit - it does just what I need it to do).  There were several yuccas blooming along this stretch of the trail.

I reached the switchbacks at 9:20am at 3miles, while Moose58 stayed at the spring.  We lost radio communications after about the second up and down past the spring.



Met a group of three guys coming back from the east side of Smokey Creek to refill their water at MES for another two days out.  There's something special about the view through the switchbacks.  You descend in to the vast openness of Smokey Creek - the view is awesome.  At the end of the switchback is the first full eastern view of the famed Mule Ear Peak, which looks much different than the western view.



I left the Smokey Creek trail at 9:30 am and 3.35 miles because the trail took an easterly turn and I bushwhacked various stream beds towards the base of MEP.  Actually, it was pretty easy walking, but I couldn't help using bushwhacked - it sounds so, well, Big Bend.  I placed a waypoint where I left the trail, which later proved to be very helpful.  My distance at the base was 3.68 miles.

Picacho's information was very helpful in making it to the saddle.  I went the south shoulder route and slowly made my way up the two slopes.  I would caution "trail hikers", which I fit in to, wanting to make it to the saddle because these scree slopes are difficult to climb - there is no trail.  You will be on all fours, you will need work gloves, and you will slide.  I was gratefull I didn't kiss a snake. For me, it was surely challenging being solo and the only reason I didn't turn back was because of my experience the previous day of making it to Casa Grande Peak.  Without that behind me I truely believe I would have turned back.  Folks with rock climbing skills like Picacho probably call it a piece of cake.  I'd call it a 45 degree angle with mucho loose rocks....  Oh, and the elevation from base to saddle is 2,920 ft and 3,591 ft respectively - that's over 600 ft. or 60 stories as my cousin Joey puts it. My distance at the saddle was 4.3 miles, which is .62 miles from the base.



I reached the base of the south ear and traversed around the western edge of the saddle to see a rendition to Picacho's image of the "shadowed" Mule Ears.  I know I must have dreamed about that image for weeks leading up to this hike.  At no time did I ask myself "What in the world are you doing?"  If you do try this and ask yourself that question then that may be a good sign to turn back - just a thought.



While at the saddle, I enjoyed relief, rest, and accomplishment - in that order. Here are two shots of what I am calling the north ear and the south ear.





I was considering hiking out to the south of MEP for a better shot of the MEP w/ the Chisos Mtns; however, I knew once at the saddle that I would be good to finish out the hike back.

Here is Smokey Creek w/ the south rim of the Chisos.  The drop off from the eastern side of the saddle is basically down.



I did have lunch on the western side of the saddle in order to soak up the shade, but I had to dig my heels in to secure my seat.  While at the saddle, I tried to ping Moose and was greeted by a female spanish speaking voice - she kept talking on-and-on like Tokyo Rose (I almost turned it off....).

Coming down was just as difficult as trekking up.  I had flash backs of the Casa Grande rock slide.  The slope just plain looked steeper going down.  I second guessed my location for going down several times and finally conceded to going down sideways and often backwards.  At one point, I sat on my right heel with my left leg extended out straight and rode the scree down like a surfboard.  I know these images don't tell the story, but I'm trying to give an accurate picture of what the downhill looks like.





My little Garmin 101 proved to be worth its weight in gold.  I should say diamonds because it's pretty light.  I was able to backtrack to the point I left the Smokey Creek trail to the "T."  How refreshing is it to exit the desert on to a trail and see your own boot prints leaving that same trail.... Oh yeh.....you know it doesn't get much better than that (OK, this is my first real GPS experience).

Moose58 pinged me shortly thereafter and he was looking at the east side of MEP from the trail a mile or so from the spring.  I was on my knees with a few cacti blooms.  It was good to hear a familiar voice.



Met back up with Moose at the spring and headed back to the trail head at 2:05 pm where Joey was waiting on us in the parking lot.  Total distance 8.97 miles and 6:05 hours.



What a great hike this was for me.  I know, there are lots of them in Big Bend, but for me, this one was special.  Maybe it was the unfinished business 13 years ago, maybe it was the level of difficulty (for me), or maybe it was the solitude?  I do know that when you don't want a hike to end you have a special hike!  I can count those on one hand.....

Thanks to all the entries on this post that helped make this one possible. Oh, and thanks to Moose for digging out that Shiner Bock from the cooler that wasn't suppose to be there....

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BigBendHiker

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Mule Ears Peak Hike
« Reply #41 on: March 24, 2007, 09:27:18 PM »
Great pictures and report.  That Shiner Bock had to have tasted good after that.  What a treat!


BBH

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Offline Picacho

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Mule Ears Peak Hike
« Reply #42 on: March 24, 2007, 10:27:57 PM »
Glad I could help in getting you there.  If you are not a professional photographer, you should be.  Those pics are stunning.  

I guess I was in the park a little earlier than you.  I did some bushwhacking of my own.  I'll have a full trip report maybe by tomorrow but for now you can look in in the Trip Report board and the report is called Spring Break 8.

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Offline RedBuffalo

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Shadows
« Reply #43 on: March 26, 2007, 12:33:03 PM »
Thanks for the comments.  I do have my own photography business and went to LSU for my MFA in Photography.  I use a Canon 5D.

It just dawned on me that my shadow photo is looking west and yours is looking east.  If you get a chance post that one here for a comparison.

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Offline Picacho

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Mule Ears Peak Hike
« Reply #44 on: March 26, 2007, 05:02:20 PM »
I left the parking lot at 3:30 p.m., thus the reason for the shadow pointing towards the east.  


 


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