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Author Topic: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?  (Read 2348 times)  

Offline Arne

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Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« on: November 03, 2011, 01:16:53 AM »
I have been wanting to hike some of Smoky Creek for a while and got a notion that we could day hike from Wilson Ranch to Mule Ear.    Head out the Dotson trail, then south down Smokey Creek trail, and hike out via Mule Ears Spring to a waiting shuttle vehicle.   I have done the Dotson before and know there is a pretty good climb to start the day out.   Also hiked Mule Ears Spring several times.  This the part in the middle I have never seen.

This is about my 25th trip to the Bend and we are pretty solid hikers.

Any advice?   Too much for one day?

Thanks,

Arne

Offline Verduretiger

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2011, 06:22:02 AM »
It would be a long day but it can be done.  As you said, the toughest part of the trip is the first with those ridge lines to cross.  Once you hit Smoky Creek trail it is fairly easy until you climb up over going to Mule Ears Spring.  I doubt if you will find any water with the drought though so you need to be watered up. 

Offline Cookie

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2011, 07:14:32 AM »
 :icon_eek: That's a lot of mileage! I agree it could be done, but you wouldn't get to stop and smell the desert flowers. How much daylight you have to hike will also effect it starting next week with the time change.
Start EARLY and bring ALL your water. Mule Ears Spring will probably have water, but then you are only ~90 minutes from the car.

~Cookie

Offline Robert

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2011, 09:21:48 PM »
I would guess it is about 15 miles total. The caution I would have for this route is that the 7.5 topo has two errors. See Laurence Parent's book, "Hiking Big Bend" for more details (read the Mule Ears and Smoky Creek sections). The Smoky Creek trail is not very well maintained and there are several places where the trail exits a wash and if you miss it, you can easily get going a ways downstream before you figure it out. This is not a problem if you have a lot of experience off trail or navigating with a topo.

The risk is that if you get off the trail and spend a lot of time getting back on track, you can lose your light and then finding the trail junction with the Mule Ears trail (one of the map errors) will be difficult.

Don't be fooled by the downhill grade of Smoky Creek either. There are pouroffs to skirt around and a section that I call the "cutover" trail where you exit one drainage and re-enter the Smoky Creek drainage (having exited it several miles back) that requires a short steep climb. Then when you get onto the Mule Ears trail you have another tough climb out of the Smoky Creek drainage.

Offline Arne

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2011, 07:34:50 AM »
I appreciate everyones thoughts about this hike.  I knew its was long and I suspected the trail was no very well marked.  If we do it, I will proceed with some caution.   I got some DeLorme GPS software and I think I will plot the whole route to get a better idea of distance and elevation changes and put it on my GPS.

So any thoughts about whether this would a good hike?  Ive seen that start and the finish of it and enjoyed those parts.

Offline jim2

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2011, 10:26:42 AM »
arne, i asked the rangers about that same hike and the reply i got was we just did that it is a grueling hike. i chose to check out each end as a day hike. that way i could take some time at the good spots along the way, mules ears , trap spring, the escarpment, black rock canyon.the northern end of smoky creek is in a ravine, not much too see until you exit the ravine. i missed this exit on my first trip. the first time there was water flowing in the ravine, that was great i followed the water to six foot pouroff. the second trip it  is was dry and much less interesting. i like long day hikes too, consider going out mules ears to the escarpment. then pick up smoky creek, go north to black rock canyon. it's a great spot ,you'll most likely have it to yourselves. it's a worthy destination and a full day well spent in big bend. round trip thirteen miles.

Offline elhombre

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2011, 10:27:16 AM »
It is a very nice hike to do.  Very nice vistas at the Homer Wilson side, and drainage walking for the most part on the lower half.  But for me,  I think you would be basically covering ground.  It doesn't leave any time to sit at a high point and take in the view.  Or find a spring and sit quietly to see the wildlife that comes along.  If you are an earpod wearing person who wants to cover ground for the sake of covering ground, then go for it.  A few years back a guy walked the entire Dodson trail in one straight run.  I am too single minded to understand that kind of hiking, but to each their own.  I think that if someone did this hike all in one day, your experience would be much like the Dodson trail runner.  But by all means, do the hike at some point.  It truely is ranked up there with the South Rim in my book.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 08:33:44 PM by elhombre »
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Why won't the king protect Americans?

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Offline jim2

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2011, 08:30:28 PM »
then on the other hand if you are  driven to distraction to do it then go for it. i've been driven to do certain hikes in the park, still am.

Offline Geezer

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2011, 11:05:07 PM »
Arne,

I've hiked pieces of your proposed route a couple of times on the way to Dominguez spring. Once I did your exact proposed route, north to south as you are contemplating. Full disclosure: On all those hikes I followed an experienced leader who had been to that area, call it the Sierra Quemada, more than two dozen times. When I did your hike, I was sixty-four. We did it as a two-nighter with stove, cooking gear and freeze-dried meals. Here's an idea: If you are relatively young, in good shape and confident of your route-finding abilities, try doing it as a one-nighter. Leave your stove at home and take dried food. Take enough water for two days (about 20 pounds per person). All of the springs on the USGS Emory Peak Quadrant will probably be dry except for Mule Ears -- but verify that it's running before you go. Take only an ultra-light tarp big enough for all of your party. It's almost certainly not going to rain -- we're talking about the dry season in a desert during a drought. Sleep under the stars. If you don't pass out immediately upon hitting the sack, you will see lots of shooting stars and hear the coyote's weird and mournful cry. There is a wonderful high campsite (read: a level spot) with amazing views where the southbound trail comes out of the Smoky Creek wash just south of the first spring marked on the Emory Peak Quadrant. As your first day's load will be the heaviest, that would be a good stopping point. If you get lost, someone in your party is slower than expected, etc., etc., you can spend the night at Mule Ears spring, filter water and make it a two-nighter. Take both USGS quadrants, compass and a GPS. In the Sierra Quemada, you could die. Hope I have not belabored the obvious.

Geezer

Offline Homer67

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2011, 10:48:15 AM »
I have wondered about this hike and there is supposed to be one very nice view south as one approaches the Smoky Creek trail, but it won't happen on this trip (we leave tomorrow morn); we are doing the OML...vids, photos to come, promise.
Ah Big Bend, we will soon return to reacquaint ourselves in our ritual of blood, exhaustion and dehydration. How can we resist the temptation to strip ourselves of the maladies of civilization?

Offline Arne

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2011, 02:50:45 PM »
My thanks to everyone for their interesting replies.  You have provided lots of good point, counter-point fodder for our conversations on the drive out from SA.  We leave next Friday and I think there is a pretty good chance we will try this hike.  I will report our experiences or you may read about us in the papers.

That was a joke, BTW.

I thank everyone for their comments and concerns about safety.   We have hiked the Dodson, Dominguez Springs, parts of Fresno Creek, OML, etc. and we know this is a very isolated area.  We will proceed prudently.

As a point of comparison, what do you think is the more challenging day hike:  This Wilson to Mule Ears jaunt, or a full Laguna, South Rim, East Rim, Boot Canyon loop hike out of the Basin?   Not trying to play Alien vs Predator, just trying to compare to a long Bend day hike that I have done.

Cheers,

Arne



Offline badknees

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2011, 06:01:20 PM »
My thanks to everyone for their interesting replies.  You have provided lots of good point, counter-point fodder for our conversations on the drive out from SA.  We leave next Friday and I think there is a pretty good chance we will try this hike.  I will report our experiences or you may read about us in the papers.

That was a joke, BTW.

I thank everyone for their comments and concerns about safety.   We have hiked the Dodson, Dominguez Springs, parts of Fresno Creek, OML, etc. and we know this is a very isolated area.  We will proceed prudently.

As a point of comparison, what do you think is the more challenging day hike:  This Wilson to Mule Ears jaunt, or a full Laguna, South Rim, East Rim, Boot Canyon loop hike out of the Basin?   Not trying to play Alien vs Predator, just trying to compare to a long Bend day hike that I have done.

Cheers,

Arne

My guess is that the 2 hikes are "similar" in their physical demand. There are a few real differences though. 1) The S Rim Hike finishes with a 3 1/2 mile downhill express. 2) The S Rim Hike has significantly more shade. 3)The trail is in much better condition on the S Rim hike.

It is good that you have done some of the rest of the Quemadas, so you are aware of 4) Remoteness

A 15 mi dayhike through some of the most inhospitable and remote part of the lower 48 is more than a jaunt. Keep that in mind during your planning process.

Have fun, take pictures, be safe.


I have a really good story, wanna hear?
Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

Offline Geezer

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2011, 06:35:59 PM »
Arne,

Route-finding will be much more difficult on the Smoky Creek trail, and the trail is in much worse condition. Also, it may be quite hot during the day, even in November.

Geezer

Offline Robert

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2012, 09:07:35 AM »
Reading some posts and ran across this thread. Arne, are you out there? Can you share your trip with us?

Last Active: November 08, 2011, 06:45:16 AM

Offline ulierc

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Re: Wilson Ranch To Mule Ears?
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2012, 03:51:33 AM »
:icon_eek: That's a lot of mileage! I agree it could be done, but you wouldn't get to stop and smell the desert flowers. How much daylight you have to hike will also effect it starting next week with the time change.
Start EARLY and bring ALL your water. Mule Ears Spring will probably have water, but then you are only ~90 minutes from the car.

~Cookie

I totally agree to what you have written. ^^^ It is really a very long day but can be done. For me personally it would be too much for one day. I would like to hike slower and to really enjoy the surrounding there. I love it and the flowers and plants arr fantastic. After I have been there I always wish that I can take the scent with me. I wish I can get delivery flowers with the same scent.

Moderator Note: This user's profile fits that of an SEO SPAMMER, so the posted link has been removed. However, it could be that it's all coincidental so I'll leave the posts otherwise intact.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 10:16:10 AM by RichardM »

 

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