Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Hiking the Desert => Topic started by: TxAg15 on December 03, 2018, 01:05:11 PM

Title: Mule Ears/Dodson/Goat Mountain Loop
Post by: TxAg15 on December 03, 2018, 01:05:11 PM
Hi all. I'm preparing for my 3rd backpacking trip to Big Bend later this week and trying to think of some interesting but reasonably accessible routes through the desert. I've done overnighters on Goat Mountain a couple of times and have done the OML once, but hoping to explore a little more off the beaten path. I was originally going to spend one night in the desert and the rest in the Chisos at a leisurely pace, but with rain forecasted, I've decided to stay in the desert a little longer.

Wondering if the route below seems reasonable for a 1 or 2 night loop. The blue route is an alternate, I think it may not be reasonable to navigate some of the contours on the south side of Goat though. It looks like this should be something like 15-20 miles total. We would start at Mule Ears, follow the trail around through Smoky Creek up to the Dodson, and then near Homer Wilson, peel off and bushwack back to the car via Goat Mountain. Potential water resupply points would be Mule Ears Spring and cached water at Homer Wilson. Thoughts?
Title: Re: Mule Ears/Dodson/Goat Mountain Loop
Post by: Robert on December 03, 2018, 02:27:00 PM
Not a bad route, you should have plenty of water in the Smoky Creek drainages. I'd prefer the blue route, that is a nice wash to hike down southeast of Goat Mtn with a pouroff that can be skirted, perhaps some running water over the pouroff.  There are a couple of springs in that section that should be running. However, that would be some work to stay that high up as you came around the south side of Goat. I'd think staying longer in the wash before turning back northeast might make it a little easier if you are intent of climbing over either of the passes between 3772 and 3902. Hopefully you will have a GPS or strong navigational skills for that off trail work.

Title: Re: Mule Ears/Dodson/Goat Mountain Loop
Post by: mule ears on December 03, 2018, 03:40:06 PM
I'm with Robert on taking the blue route but going further south and crossing over to the Mule Ears trail where the old trail is shown on the topo map (no trail there any more).  You can go the way you have drawn it but it will quite a bit more scrambling.  Here is part of a trip I did ( that took us up that drainage, it is a nice walk.  The red route would be fine too but I doubt you will find any water that way until Trap spring.  There should be water in the eastern Goat drainage at several spots as Robert said.  You could easily do it in 2 days but 3 would be nicer.  It will be somewhat slow going up the Smoky Creek trail as it is indistinct and so a bit slower going trying to find the route above the crossover north of Sugarloaf Mtn. (pt. 4685).  You are looking at 20 miles for sure.
Title: Re: Mule Ears/Dodson/Goat Mountain Loop
Post by: elhombre on December 03, 2018, 07:28:03 PM
I'm with the other two guys also.  Starting at day break, you can make it to Witch Spring for the first night.  It will be running.  Then heading down the creek bed all the way till you hit the old trail with the blue route is greatly advised.  The one thing I have learned in off trail hiking in the Quemadas is that you stay in the creek beds as long as possible, then only get out of them when you need to cross over to another creek bed drainage.  Walking along the side of Goat will be a unnecessary  pain with a full pack.  The pour off east of Goat is a real nice spot.  There will be water there, and it will run for a little bit before you get to the Smokey Creek trail you were the day before. 
Title: Re: Mule Ears/Dodson/Goat Mountain Loop
Post by: Homer67 on December 04, 2018, 07:37:53 AM
I will be hiking the blue route in late Feb, but will turn South into Smoky Creek and continue my Loop from there. I am very interested in what you will find!
Title: Re: Mule Ears/Dodson/Goat Mountain Loop
Post by: TxAg15 on December 04, 2018, 11:00:13 AM
Thanks yall! If we end up going with this plan, I'll definitely shoot for some version of the blue route. It looks like it's going to rain continuously all day Friday (our 2nd day), so I'm not sure what to do with that. We'll have rain jackets and I don't mind dealing with some light rain, but there's a possibility of thunderstorms Friday/Friday night and I don't think I want any part of that, so I guess we'll just keep our eyes on the forecast until we arrive and plan around it.
Title: Re: Mule Ears/Dodson/Goat Mountain Loop
Post by: lech on December 04, 2018, 02:20:01 PM
agree with elhombre.  stay to the creek beds.  I took the trail name of "lech", short for lechugilla as they love the hillsides and I have been poked enough over the years that they are a part of me now. enjoy the trip and look forward to the report.