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Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route

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Offline presidio

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2017, 05:07:30 PM »
Keep in mind there is no cairn that cannot be destroyed, or even moved to inaccurately indicate navigation points, to satisfy some desire for mischief (or worse).

Haha! You anticipate one of the points I intended to make in an upcoming installment of my latest trip report.  Your scenario occurred to me in one of my darker moments during a cold, rainy, foggy slog.

I have found your ongoing trip report to be perhaps THE most engaging and informative post (and accomplishment) I've ever seen here.
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Flash

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2017, 05:59:39 PM »
Mule Ears, not having yet journeyed down the Smoky Creek Trail, did you happen to notice any t-posts along the route? I have seen them along the length of the Elephant Tusk Trail, but at pretty long intervals, say every 50-100 yards. Also saw a couple on the Mule Ears Trail. I think they are meant as a fallback marker until the cairns get repaired after being obliterated by a deluge.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2017, 07:00:39 PM by Flash »

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2017, 06:21:44 PM »
Mule Ears, not having yet journeyed down the Smokey Creel Trail, did you happen to notice any t-posts along the route? I have seen them along the length of the Elephant Tusk Trail, but at pretty long intervals, say every 50-100 yards. Also saw a couple on the Mule Ears Trail. I think they are meant as a fallback marker until the cairns get repaired after being obliterated by a deluge.
I have only seen t-posts on the ET trail as markers.  There are 2 right near the start of the Mule Ears trail but I think they were for a sign or some kind of barrier.  Saw none on Smoky Creek trail

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2017, 09:20:19 PM »
Has the Trails Illustrated map been corrected? My version has the Smoky Creek trail going south of Sugarloaf.

In Feb I found the Smoky Creek trail to be clear from the Dodson to where it heads NW to go around Sugarloaf, at which point I left it. Sounds like the vague parts are below there.

I roamed and rambled, and I foller'ed my footsteps
   To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
   And all around me a voice was a'sounding
   This land was made for you and me

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Online dprather

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2017, 10:53:49 PM »
Novice question: Is the NPS wholly responsible for establishing and maintaining cairns, or can any random hiker (ie, experienced hiker) build and/or reinforce marking cairns?

Good question.

The secret Compendium is silent on this (so far...wait for it to be included at some point).

Undoubtedly, the NPS would frown on the public doing this (even though it's probably been done for decades) as they have no control over the act. Lacking control over the public is one of many things that keeps them awake at night with worry.

There's actually danger in trusting cairns without a commensurate ability to navigate without reliance upon them. Accepting a cairn as accurate without also knowing where you are by virtue of your own abilities can lead to trouble.

Keep in mind there is no cairn that cannot be destroyed, or even moved to inaccurately indicate navigation points, to satisfy some desire for mischief (or worse).

I, for one, would be sad to see the end of the culture of the amateur cairn builders.  Although not as advanced as the Hopwell, and other, "Mound Builders," the cairn builders, with their whimsical and curiously artistic creations, add a lot to my trail time.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline psbroyles

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #20 on: December 22, 2017, 11:01:51 PM »
I'm perfectly comfortable with the NPS managing the deserts of Big Bend as an entirely un-trailed wilderness.  That said, don't get me wrong, there are some gnarly areas (such as the cairned route over the shoulder from Telephone Canyon to Ernst Basin) where I REALLY appreciate the cairns and the effort that went into putting them there. But if the cairns weren't there, I'd figure a route out for myself, albeit slowly and with some trepidation.

But the operative word here is "trail". If the NPS is going to sign a route as a "trail", then, by golly, there needs to be a trail. Otherwise, it's false, and dangerous, advertising. We can tilt our noses at folks who can't manage an off- or poorly-trailed route, but it's crazy to blame folks for following bad official advice. Fix the trail or nix the sign. Anything less is crazy.
HMoD,  your perspective is right-on and the most sensible of this blog.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #21 on: December 22, 2017, 11:06:57 PM »
Novice question: Is the NPS wholly responsible for establishing and maintaining cairns, or can any random hiker (ie, experienced hiker) build and/or reinforce marking cairns?

Good question.

The secret Compendium is silent on this (so far...wait for it to be included at some point).

Undoubtedly, the NPS would frown on the public doing this (even though it's probably been done for decades) as they have no control over the act. Lacking control over the public is one of many things that keeps them awake at night with worry.

There's actually danger in trusting cairns without a commensurate ability to navigate without reliance upon them. Accepting a cairn as accurate without also knowing where you are by virtue of your own abilities can lead to trouble.

Keep in mind there is no cairn that cannot be destroyed, or even moved to inaccurately indicate navigation points, to satisfy some desire for mischief (or worse).

I, for one, would be sad to see the end of the culture of the amateur cairn builders.  Although not as advanced as the Hopwell, and other, "Mound Builders," the cairn builders, with their whimsical and curiously artistic creations, add a lot to my trail time.

Those inclined to build rock piles might want to consider the opinion in this article (and the more than 200 comments):
http://www.hcn.org/articles/a-call-for-an-end-to-cairns-leave-the-stones-alone
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Online dprather

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #22 on: December 22, 2017, 11:52:12 PM »
Novice question: Is the NPS wholly responsible for establishing and maintaining cairns, or can any random hiker (ie, experienced hiker) build and/or reinforce marking cairns?

Good question.

The secret Compendium is silent on this (so far...wait for it to be included at some point).

Undoubtedly, the NPS would frown on the public doing this (even though it's probably been done for decades) as they have no control over the act. Lacking control over the public is one of many things that keeps them awake at night with worry.

There's actually danger in trusting cairns without a commensurate ability to navigate without reliance upon them. Accepting a cairn as accurate without also knowing where you are by virtue of your own abilities can lead to trouble.

Keep in mind there is no cairn that cannot be destroyed, or even moved to inaccurately indicate navigation points, to satisfy some desire for mischief (or worse).

I, for one, would be sad to see the end of the culture of the amateur cairn builders.  Although not as advanced as the Hopwell, and other, "Mound Builders," the cairn builders, with their whimsical and curiously artistic creations, add a lot to my trail time.

Those inclined to build rock piles might want to consider the opinion in this article (and the more than 200 comments):
http://www.hcn.org/articles/a-call-for-an-end-to-cairns-leave-the-stones-alone

I saw one in downtown Houston once, a tiny but distinct cairn on a concrete ledge next to a sidewalk in the Medical Center.  I knew I was very near a friend.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #23 on: December 22, 2017, 11:53:57 PM »
Thank you for calling attention to this, ME. I hope the NPS better marks this trail.  A Homer Wilson to Mule Ears "loop" would be an attractive trailed backpacking option to (or add on to) the OML.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #24 on: December 23, 2017, 05:52:05 AM »
Has the Trails Illustrated map been corrected? My version has the Smoky Creek trail going south of Sugarloaf.

In Feb I found the Smoky Creek trail to be clear from the Dodson to where it heads NW to go around Sugarloaf, at which point I left it. Sounds like the vague parts are below there.

I have not looked at the recent Trails Illustrated map but I thought they had corrected it.  That is an old old trail change. 

Like I said, going N to S is somewhat easier as long as you find the wash exits where there are better cairns on the N side but the trail really does not exist other than some cairns lost in the grass in the cross country sections.  I found it most vague from Taza spring down to Witch spring.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline badknees

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2017, 07:36:48 AM »
Has the Trails Illustrated map been corrected? My version has the Smoky Creek trail going south of Sugarloaf.

In Feb I found the Smoky Creek trail to be clear from the Dodson to where it heads NW to go around Sugarloaf, at which point I left it. Sounds like the vague parts are below there.

I have not looked at the recent Trails Illustrated map but I thought they had corrected it.  That is an old old trail change. 

Like I said, going N to S is somewhat easier as long as you find the wash exits where there are better cairns on the N side but the trail really does not exist other than some cairns lost in the grass in the cross country sections.  I found it most vague from Taza spring down to Witch spring.

Hey ME? Is there still a sign post at the "crossover" trail junction between Hermoso A and Hermoso B?
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline nuggetf5

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2017, 08:55:57 AM »
I'm perfectly comfortable with the NPS managing the deserts of Big Bend as an entirely un-trailed wilderness.  That said, don't get me wrong, there are some gnarly areas (such as the cairned route over the shoulder from Telephone Canyon to Ernst Basin) where I REALLY appreciate the cairns and the effort that went into putting them there. But if the cairns weren't there, I'd figure a route out for myself, albeit slowly and with some trepidation.

But the operative word here is "trail". If the NPS is going to sign a route as a "trail", then, by golly, there needs to be a trail. Otherwise, it's false, and dangerous, advertising. We can tilt our noses at folks who can't manage an off- or poorly-trailed route, but it's crazy to blame folks for following bad official advice. Fix the trail or nix the sign. Anything less is crazy.
HMoD,  your perspective is right-on and the most sensible of this blog.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Big Bend Chat mobile app

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Since 1995

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #27 on: December 23, 2017, 09:10:05 AM »
Has the Trails Illustrated map been corrected? My version has the Smoky Creek trail going south of Sugarloaf.

In Feb I found the Smoky Creek trail to be clear from the Dodson to where it heads NW to go around Sugarloaf, at which point I left it. Sounds like the vague parts are below there.

I have not looked at the recent Trails Illustrated map but I thought they had corrected it.  That is an old old trail change. 

Like I said, going N to S is somewhat easier as long as you find the wash exits where there are better cairns on the N side but the trail really does not exist other than some cairns lost in the grass in the cross country sections.  I found it most vague from Taza spring down to Witch spring.

Hey ME? Is there still a sign post at the "crossover" trail junction between Hermoso A and Hermoso B?
Nope, gone

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Big Bend Chat mobile app

temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Online dprather

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2017, 09:46:31 AM »
Thank you for calling attention to this, ME. I hope the NPS better marks this trail.  A Homer Wilson to Mule Ears "loop" would be an attractive trailed backpacking option to (or add on to) the OML.

How would the trail loop back north from Mule Ears to HW?  What path would you recommend?  My buds and I have been considering doing this very thing.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline badknees

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #29 on: December 23, 2017, 10:22:22 AM »
Thank you for calling attention to this, ME. I hope the NPS better marks this trail.  A Homer Wilson to Mule Ears "loop" would be an attractive trailed backpacking option to (or add on to) the OML.

How would the trail loop back north from Mule Ears to HW?  What path would you recommend?  My buds and I have been considering doing this very thing.

North past Mesa Bonita Spring.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

 


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