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Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route

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Online mule ears

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #30 on: December 23, 2017, 10:43:38 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.
Or follow Blue Creek back up

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Offline badknees

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2017, 11:59:32 AM »
I've been thinking about a short loop...

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #32 on: December 23, 2017, 12:09:01 PM »
The off-trail route southwest of Sugarloaf Mountain is extremely vegetation choked. Easier would be to check out Canyon Spring as an out-and-back and resume descending the Smoky Creek Trail ( assuming a clockwise traversal of your loop). Or, see my report from earlier in the year for how I did it, and how I wished I had done it.
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Offline badknees

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2017, 12:31:41 PM »
The off-trail route southwest of Sugarloaf Mountain is extremely vegetation choked. Easier would be to check out Canyon Spring as an out-and-back and resume descending the Smoky Creek Trail ( assuming a clockwise traversal of your loop). Or, see my report from earlier in the year for how I did it, and how I wished I had done it.

Counterclockwise. I've crossed over that section before and it has its challenges. There is the remnants of an old trail there. Very faint the last time i travelled it.
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Offline Quatro

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #34 on: December 23, 2017, 04:38:26 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.

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.

I was really thinking in at Homer Wilson, out at Mule Ears, hitch-hike to Homer.  Should have said Loop/Hitch-hike.  BK and ME have better suggestions though.
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Offline WNdx

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #35 on: February 08, 2019, 04:25:35 PM »
Great info in this trip report on Smokey Creek back in late 2017, thank you Mule Ears.

If anyone has more recent things to report about the Smokey Creek trail that differ from this report, please advise. Considering a hike on this trail in about 3 weeks. 

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Offline smajor82

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2019, 10:31:27 AM »
Planning a trip at the end of April (work conference has us nearby anyway). Before I describe the plan and ask for thoughts - some things to point out:

1) We are experienced hikers - there will be 4 of us, 1 of us was a medic in a past life. I spent 5 days solo hiking in the Berring Land Bridge national preserve on mostly areas with no trail at all.  The point is - this isn't out first rodeo

2) We will have a proper GPS unit, topo maps of the area, compass, etc, and know how to use these things

Ok, so we are planning to do 4 days backpacking in Big Bend. We can carry 2 days worth of water (8 liters per person) at a time . So in order to do 4 days, we need a water source at some point. Rather than stash it, we were going to do the following:

day1: starting at Chisos, Hike outer mountain loop clockwise, stopping for the night near where the Elephant Tusk split in the trail is.

day2: continue on OML and turn down Smokey creek. Continue all the way down to the Rio Grande.
* This will be a 20+ mile day, yes, but we have over 12 hours of daylight and it will be a net downhill day. I will set many GPS waypoints before we set out to help keep the time spent finding our way to a minimum. This map is going to be very helpful:
https://caltopo.com/m/CJ63

day3: Hike back up to OML, end near the connector to the Homer Wilson Ranch

day4: Continue to where the OML joins the Chisos Mountain Loop (Rim trails and Emory Peak sections), hike Rim trails counterclockwise, finish by doing Emory Peak and end back at Chisos Basin entrance

My big question:
Is getting down to the Rio Grande worth it? I really like the idea of camping down there one night and using it as our water supply, but the hike down to it strikes me as potentially being the least visually interesting part of the trip. I'm not concerned about doing basically four 20-mile days, as we are all more than capable, but if going down and back up smokey creek from Dodson is going to be less of an adventure and more of a boring grind, I'd rather turn the trip into two 2-day hikes (OML in 2 days, then take our time doing rim trails, Emory, etc and have a much more low key, relaxing 4 days).

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Offline VivaTerlingua

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2019, 10:49:28 AM »
Planning a trip at the end of April (work conference has us nearby anyway). Before I describe the plan and ask for thoughts - some things to point out:

1) We are experienced hikers - there will be 4 of us, 1 of us was a medic in a past life. I spent 5 days solo hiking in the Berring Land Bridge national preserve on mostly areas with no trail at all.  The point is - this isn't out first rodeo

2) We will have a proper GPS unit, topo maps of the area, compass, etc, and know how to use these things

Ok, so we are planning to do 4 days backpacking in Big Bend. We can carry 2 days worth of water (8 liters per person) at a time . So in order to do 4 days, we need a water source at some point. Rather than stash it, we were going to do the following:

day1: starting at Chisos, Hike outer mountain loop clockwise, stopping for the night near where the Elephant Tusk split in the trail is.

day2: continue on OML and turn down Smokey creek. Continue all the way down to the Rio Grande.
* This will be a 20+ mile day, yes, but we have over 12 hours of daylight and it will be a net downhill day. I will set many GPS waypoints before we set out to help keep the time spent finding our way to a minimum. This map is going to be very helpful:
https://caltopo.com/m/CJ63

day3: Hike back up to OML, end near the connector to the Homer Wilson Ranch

day4: Continue to where the OML joins the Chisos Mountain Loop (Rim trails and Emory Peak sections), hike Rim trails counterclockwise, finish by doing Emory Peak and end back at Chisos Basin entrance

My big question:
Is getting down to the Rio Grande worth it? I really like the idea of camping down there one night and using it as our water supply, but the hike down to it strikes me as potentially being the least visually interesting part of the trip. I'm not concerned about doing basically four 20-mile days, as we are all more than capable, but if going down and back up smokey creek from Dodson is going to be less of an adventure and more of a boring grind, I'd rather turn the trip into two 2-day hikes (OML in 2 days, then take our time doing rim trails, Emory, etc and have a much more low key, relaxing 4 days).

I've done most of that piece of Smoky Creek.  I enjoyed it but it's certainly not the same hiking the loop or Dodson.  Something to remember is that you'l be hiking in a wash generally with loose gravel, a lot harder than hiking 20 miles on a trail.  Do you need to go all the way down to the Rio Grande?  There is a spring a few miles south of Mule Ears in the creek you could refill at, enjoy a view of Mule Ears and head back up.

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2019, 10:51:36 AM »
Welcome to BBC smajor82!

Well my first comments are that it will be butt ass hot the end of April and not enjoyable in the least in the lower desert.  Second 20 miles days are pretty bold anytime but especially during hot weather with big water loads.  That being said, there have been many threads here trying to dissuade folks from hot weather hikes but people will do what they want.   :banghead:

I see you found my caltopo map.  Here is part of a trip we did from the river up Smoky Creek to Mule ears that will give you some idea of that terrain.  Not uninteresting but it could be grind.  As to water Mule Ears spring will have water for sure and I would bet on Witch Spring too so you wouldn't have to go to the river.

The only other fine point is the SE Rim will be closed for peregrine falcon nesting.
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 smajor82

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2019, 11:20:37 AM »
Mule Ears and viva Terlingua - thanks! There's a lot of useful info in there. We are having another planning session over beers this evening, I expect our plans will change a bit :)

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Smoky Creek trail really just a lightly marked off trail route
« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2019, 01:22:11 PM »
Yeeee-HAW!!!! Thatís some resume!

Thereís always the Deadhorse Mountains or the Mesa de Anguila. With your groupís backgrounds and skills  you could easily accomplish an epic hike in either place.

However, itís gonna be baking everywhere but the Chisos: The Chisosíll just be warmish.


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