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Author Topic: Waterworks/Fresno  (Read 3269 times)  

Offline Drat

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Waterworks/Fresno
« on: October 15, 2011, 06:08:49 PM »
Hi all.  I'm going to be leading a group up Fresno next few weeks and was curious what water is generally like there currently (or from experience) and if there are any good camp spots within 3-5 miles of elephant tusk trailhead.  I'm just trying to find a good place we can have base camp for a few days near some water.  I'm also interested in climbing up backbone ridge while there.

I've been through Fresno a few times and really want to show it off to this group while srambling up something while there (Backbone Ridge).  I ask for 3-5 miles as one we will only have 3 or 4 hours to hike before it gets dark that day and two wanted it to be in a semi safe spot to head on west to backbone ridge area.  Appreciate any suggestions!  :icon_biggrin:

Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2011, 09:04:25 AM »
If I understand you correctly you plan to park at the E.Tusk trailhead off the Black Gap Road and go cross-country up Fresno Creek and then over to E. Tusk and Backbone Ridge with a group?
That sounds really dicey to me because you will probably be burning most of your daylight just getting to the trailhead and the route up Fresno is all off-trail and slow going.   I would stick to the main trail going to E. Tusk and not go up Fresno.  There "should" be water at the cottonwood tree below E. Tusk but this is not reliable information.  If that spring is dry their is a larger 2nd spring a mile or so up the trail.
Fresno has reliable water but your access route from Black Gap puts you a long way away from the lowermost water and it's dicey to take a group cross country and uphill on this route.  I would stick to the main trail and circumnavigate the Tusk if you want a challenge.   There are a number of interesting drainages on the N, NW, and West sides of the Tusk.   The South side is very eroded and thick with cats claw but you can get around it if you have enough determination and daylight.   Backbone Ridge is NOT climbable and NOT something you should try to do,  there are a series of cliff faces hidden in the topo lines and the scree slopes are too steep and loose to climb.    Better carry some extra water and a headlamp everywhere you go on this trip - it's been a very dry year and it's easy to run out of daylight.    Good Luck, please post a trip report when you get back and let us know the water supply information.   TWWG

Offline steelfrog

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2011, 10:33:01 AM »

Online Al

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2011, 07:19:17 PM »
Although it has been some 20 years ago, we did a hike a couple of times from the ET campsite down the ET trail and then cross country to west of the saddle between ET and Backbone Ridge which is a pretty decent campsite.  We were able to locate the springs shown on the topo no problem.  I have no idea if they are running now.  We made no attempt to climb Backbone Ridge or ET.

Al

Offline Drat

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2011, 08:56:12 PM »
Thanks all. Are any of the springs in lower fresno ever flowing?  I was hoping to find one about 3.5 or 4 miles up Fresno so that we can still head off to ET/Backbone Ridge area for exploration.  What we may do if we don't find any water there is just change plans by heading up Fresno and hopefully have more luck up stream.

Online Al

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2011, 11:41:08 PM »
I have no experience with the springs shown on the topo along the lower portion of Fresno near the ET trail.  But they are only a 1.5 or 2 miles from the trail head.  If you set up a base camp in that area, the hike to BR is within day hike range.  I have hiked that area a number of times coming in both from ET and the Dodson and we have always been able to find water in springs marked on the topo map but that is no guarantee. 

You might consider hiking in to near the marked Fresno springs and make it a goal to find water the first day.  If you don't find water in the springs, your base camp will be close enough to the trail head that you can send some folks back to your vehicle(s) for more water on day two.  The hike from your base camp to BR shouldn't be more than a couple of hours.  I'd hike it with enough water for two days and then you will be covered.  Best of luck and be sure give us a trip report especially on the water situation!

Al
« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 12:50:41 AM by Al »

Offline mule ears

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 06:44:53 AM »
Drat you say you have been through Fresno several times so you probably already know generally where the springs are.  The last good report was from Lance Snead, QS, Ray and Boaz in late March.  You may have already read it here 

During that exchange I asked this question:
Lance and all.  Nice thorough detail.  You have answered most of my questions about the Fresno drainage but I do have a few for future trip planning purposes.  I reference the map below which includes locations of features from your map.


The first steep section appears to be above Fresno spring and the Palm tree below the spring.  You say this is the last reliable water.  Did you not see any water further below, even near the three springs on the map (Frivol, Frosty and Frog?).  If you did where was it, how much, was it possible to retrieve water from it?  In this really dry year this would be a good indicator of practical limits.

The two amphitheaters look to be above Frivol spring, the "Red" amphitheater maybe at the spring.  The same appears to be true of the last steep section which looks to be at or near Frog spring.


And Lance Snead replied this way:
The first steep section appears to be above Fresno spring and the Palm tree below the spring.  You say this is the last reliable water.  Did you not see any water further below, even near the three springs on the map (Frivol, Frosty and Frog?).  If you did where was it, how much, was it possible to retrieve water from it?  In this really dry year this would be a good indicator of practical limits.

The two amphitheaters look to be above Frivol spring, the "Red" amphitheater maybe at the spring.  The same appears to be true of the last steep section which looks to be at or near Frog spring.
That is correct, there was no water beyond the Palm tree until we reached the final steep area(FSD007 on my map) where we slid down on our butts.  This would be Frog Spring.  The water was at the base of rock where we slid down and by my estimation, there was not much water to be gained here.  Maybe a gallon or two.
There was also no water in sight near Frivol Spring area and the amphitheatres looked completely dry.

However, if you look at my map you will see I marked a zone campsite (FSD006) south of Frosty Spring.  I marked this area because it was lush with tall grasses and had a large tree there.  Indicators of a regular water supply.  It also looked like someone had camped there before, because there were several areas where the tall grass was mashed down.  I walked into explore but stopped, so I cannot say for sure if there was water since I didn't visually see it nor hear it flowing.  I'm assuming that someone camped there because of close water though.


While they did see some water at Frog spring then, I would assume in this dry year that it is long gone and that the only fairly reliable water isn't to be found until Fresno Spring.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

Offline steelfrog

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2011, 10:31:14 AM »
I think the OP was asking about whether anyone has actually been inside the Waterworks, which as I understand no one has actually hiked through the Waterworks.

Offline Drat

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2011, 11:06:28 AM »
Thanks for the replies everyone.  I think there is a great chance there is water at waterworks or Fresno Springs even if it has been very dry.  We will take what we need to get back to the vehicle if needed of course.  I'm tempted to hit the 5000+ ft mountain that is just to N/NE of Fresno as I bet that would give a commanding view of the surrounding area.  Has anyone been up that?

Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2011, 09:00:51 PM »
Call me a Chicken but I still think this is a bad idea to hike up Fresno from below.  This route is almost all off trail and slow going and with a group it will be very slow going.  I am especially worried about the drought conditions and being able to find enough water for a group.  I would stay on the cairned E.Tusk Trail to the Cottonwood Spring at ET and make a basecamp and then (the next day) take the longer route over on the cairned trail to Fresno and come down to the Waterworks from above and then return to basecamp for the 2nd night.   I have found the canyon below the waterworks to be very rough and slow going and during this very dry year I would err on the side of caution and not try to push up Fresno from below.  You want to enjoy this trip and need to think about the safety of the group.  If the goal is the waterworks then come down from above.   In a normal or wet year you could rely on water in Lower Fresno but this is a very dry year and many of the water sources Lance and QS found may be long-gone.   There is no cell phone service and no real rescue in this area.  Be Safe and stick to the cairned trail to ET, stay on it over to the "confluence" at Fresno, and then go down Fresno to the Waterworks and back the same route.   You can thank me later when you come back alive.   TWWG

Offline Verduretiger

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2011, 06:34:04 AM »
In the mid 1980's Dr. Ed McGuire, his son Lane and myself successfully navigated through the waterworks coming down from above.  Dr. McGuire could not make the rock navigation of the next to last pool and had to jump in and the water was over his head.  After clearing the last pool we were able to warm him up in his sleeping bag before going down the creek to a wonderful campsite on a rock out cropping above the creek.  We went out the next day to our truck at the trailhead. 

Offline steelfrog

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2011, 08:33:00 AM »
Ah, so someone HAS gone the entire length of Waterworks.

What shall we name it then?

Offline Flash

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2011, 08:40:43 AM »
How about Fresno Creek?  :eusa_whistle:

Offline sleepy

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2011, 09:24:35 AM »
How about Fresno Creek?  :eusa_whistle:

what a fine idea
It's never too late to be what you might have been-Geroge Elliot

Offline mule ears

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Re: Waterworks/Fresno
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2011, 10:40:30 AM »
Ah, so someone HAS gone the entire length of Waterworks.

What shall we name it then?

They are already officially named Skip and Jump tinajas
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 

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