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Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's

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Offline WNdx

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Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's
« on: February 10, 2019, 12:27:19 PM »
I have already bugged the forum for information on the actual Smokey Creek Trail but want to inquire separately on a few other items. For context, I am considering using the Smokey Creek Trail as an access to the OML, which I'll do in some iteration, before returning back the way I came. This would begin on 2/24 and finish on 2/28.

Southbound shortcuts: Users championbaum and wild west guy had some solid reports of using the upper Smokey Creek drainage as a southbound shortcut from the Dodson. However those reports are 9 and 12 years old respectively. I have also read some mentionings of a shortcut directly off of the Blue Creek Drainage, but no reports or mapped routes that I can see. If anyone has anything at all to say about those drainages regarding navigability, pouroffs, bushwhacking, please chime in.

Safety I have completed the NPS itinerary of the OML before so I am feeling confident about that part of the trip. The Smokey Creek area has me feeling the same anxieties I felt before doing the OML. I am a solo hiker and I understand that during the given timeframe I might be the only hiker in the Smokey Creek for days if not weeks. I am thinking over what additional items I can add to my gear for extra safety margin. I am typically a paper map guy and I've never had an SOS or PLB device. I do have a Gaia GPS subscription on my phone to add tracking visibility if I need it, and that will be handy in the washes I think. But should this area really be cause for shelling out big bucks on emergency tech?

Wildlife I suspect that the Smokey Creek area is prime habitat for snakes. Even in February it is likely to be 70-80 degrees or so down there if the sun is shining, so they won't be immobile. TWWG also had a spooky account of being absolutely certain that a mountain lion had stalked him! I had not even considered that they would frequent the area, that they would be more up toward the rim and basin. Anyways I am just looking for any primary or secondary knowledge about expectations for wildlife in this area for late february. Am I at "just don't go kicking and reaching where you don't need to" level of concern, or am I at, "bring some snake gaiters and mace" level of concern...

As this post has progressed it occurred to me that my instincts are trying to psych me out a little. Which is good. If you aren't a little anxious about new frontiers then you're not prepared to face them. Thanks for bearing with me on this topic, and thanks in advance for your knowledge.

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Online elhombre

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Re: Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2019, 01:48:53 PM »
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=29.19728,-103.34586&z=15&t=U&marker0=29.18345%2C-103.35024%2Cunnamed&marker1=29.18523%2C-103.35097%2Cunnamed&marker2=29.18422%2C-103.35080%2Cunnamed&marker3=29.18633%2C-103.35171%2Cunnamed&marker4=29.18740%2C-103.35207%2Cunnamed&marker5=29.19304%2C-103.35174%2Cunnamed&marker6=29.19444%2C-103.35134%2Cunnamed&marker7=29.19856%2C-103.35020%2Cunnamed&marker8=29.19942%2C-103.35039%2Cunnamed&marker9=29.20068%2C-103.35191%2Cunnamed&marker10=29.20302%2C-103.35451%2Cunnamed&marker11=29.20488%2C-103.35588%2Cunnamed&marker12=29.20573%2C-103.35685%2Cunnamed

Is this the route you are looking for?  I'm at work and this is the best I can do to mark it.  No pour offs.  Definitely catclaw bushwacking in parts of the drainage.

All of BB is prime snake habitat, but I have never run across one in February.  As long as you don't look like a deer, smell like a deer, try not making noise like a deer, or run away like a deer, a mountain lion should leave you alone.  The only dangerous wildlife I keep finding out there are Brown recluse spiders that climb on my sleeping mat.  Now more than a few times over the years.   I now bring a tent every time.

Last time I heard, there are 20 mountain lions that have been tagged in BB.  That was from a chat with a girl who helped the tracker with his dogs chase them all down in the park. 

The cheapest and best safety thing a solo hiker can get is to rent a satellite phone from Roadpost.com.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2019, 01:57:06 PM by elhombre »
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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2019, 03:23:57 PM »
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=29.19728,-103.34586&z=15&t=U&marker0=29.18345%2C-103.35024%2Cunnamed&marker1=29.18523%2C-103.35097%2Cunnamed&marker2=29.18422%2C-103.35080%2Cunnamed&marker3=29.18633%2C-103.35171%2Cunnamed&marker4=29.18740%2C-103.35207%2Cunnamed&marker5=29.19304%2C-103.35174%2Cunnamed&marker6=29.19444%2C-103.35134%2Cunnamed&marker7=29.19856%2C-103.35020%2Cunnamed&marker8=29.19942%2C-103.35039%2Cunnamed&marker9=29.20068%2C-103.35191%2Cunnamed&marker10=29.20302%2C-103.35451%2Cunnamed&marker11=29.20488%2C-103.35588%2Cunnamed&marker12=29.20573%2C-103.35685%2Cunnamed

Is this the route you are looking for?  I'm at work and this is the best I can do to mark it.  No pour offs.  Definitely catclaw bushwacking in parts of the drainage.

All of BB is prime snake habitat, but I have never run across one in February.  As long as you don't look like a deer, smell like a deer, try not making noise like a deer, or run away like a deer, a mountain lion should leave you alone.  The only dangerous wildlife I keep finding out there are Brown recluse spiders that climb on my sleeping mat.  Now more than a few times over the years.   I now bring a tent every time.

Last time I heard, there are 20 mountain lions that have been tagged in BB.  That was from a chat with a girl who helped the tracker with his dogs chase them all down in the park. 

The cheapest and best safety thing a solo hiker can get is to rent a satellite phone from Roadpost.com.

I think I'd have to go +1 on all of that.

WNdx, you are correct that rattlesnakes will be more active in warm temps, but on the other hand, where you're going is not that grassy, so you should have good visibility. If you do scramble over rock, just watch your hand and foot placements BEFORE you place them and you'll be fine.

Remember, wildlife DOES NOT want to interact with you (okay, habituated deer and squirrels and mice will, but you won't find those in Smoky Creek). As elhombre pointed out, the chances of a Mountain Lion deciding to stalk you (as opposed to simply observe you) are vanishingly small unless you're a deer. No predator in Big Bend wants to tangle with a human if it has any other good alternative.  I've given Brown Recluse Spiders no other good alternative TWICE. It sucks, but I'm still here to tell the tale.  And those weren't even in the wilderness; they were on my own property. Remember, the most dangerous thing you can ever do is walk out your front door. But mostly that means the roads are dangerous. Statistically, you're much, much, much more likely to die outside of Big Bend National Park than on foot within it.

I used Gaia on my iPhone on a short 4-day backpack through the western portion of the park last December. It performed like a champ. I highly recommend it for sussing out the best way through complicated washes.

As a solo hiker, I've carried a PLB (McMurdo FastFind) for maybe 15 years now, but that's because my wife insists. Some sort of emergency communication is always a good idea when traveling through the deep backcountry of Big Bend. I think elhombre's right: a rented sat phone is cheaper AND it gives you the option to actually converse with someone. Maybe Mule Ears will chime in: he used one during his recent epic solo hike in the northern stretches of the park.

Good luck!!!



"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Reece

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Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2019, 03:52:19 PM »
This is one southbound shortcut off the Dodson that I once hiked.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_sHiYUJqIFxuZXRdw62CX3zlxblQusZl/view?usp=sharing

This is a Google Earth file. Youíll have to download it. The shortcut is in green with several wash exit markers, lots of potential for wrong turns, dead ends, and backtracking. White trails are Dodson, Smoky Creek and Mule Ears.

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/members-only-photos-and-reports/threescore-and-ten-(a-cautionary-tale)/msg152637/#msg152637
« Last Edit: February 10, 2019, 04:10:55 PM by Reece »

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Offline WNdx

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Re: Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2019, 04:52:39 PM »
Reece- Can't get your google file to open on my phone.

I've attached a screenshot of the proposed route in blue. It begins in the wide wash just east down the hill from "the saddle" viewpoint. There is also a corral noted on USGS topo. The shortcut just follows the actual Smokey Creek channel down to the junction where the real SCT turns ESE into the next wash over. As I said previously there are some old reports about this route but I'm hoping for some more recent confirmations or information about new developments on the route that would make it impassable.

Thanks everybody for your answers so far!

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Offline Reece

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Re: Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2019, 05:18:36 PM »
You will have to download the file to a desktop computer and open it in Google Earth. I believe my route was farther west.


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Offline steelfrog

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Re: Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2019, 07:07:22 PM »
As for all the dangerous wildlife, need to carry a MACHETE.

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Offline Homer67

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Re: Smokey Creek Area Assorted Q's
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2019, 07:27:37 PM »
Smoky Creek is fun. I checked it out from the Smoky Creek Overlook up to the turn east that eventually turns south into Fisk this past Nov. The last time I hiked down Smoky Creek from the Dodson was March 2014; I recall it not being a bad hike in 2014, but I was part of a group. This past Nov I hiked the drainage north until the point where one must hike up a hill then a slightly steeper hill with a rock feature at top to a saddle that then dropped along a short knife edge into the arroyo I hiked north in until my turn east. That sounds really convoluted, but itís how I recall it. I had to check the map occasionally to be sure my general direction was correct. It was great! There was water everywhere! I did wear my snake guardz from time to time, but didnít see a single snake. The whole time I did not perceive an actual trail except just over the saddle and down the knife edge into the arroyo. I am def glad I had my maps and Gaia app.
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