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Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML

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Offline bacon_on_top

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2016, 10:48:43 PM »
indeed! my map did short out!  I'm not the most computer savvy person.  The map from Mule Ears is pretty close to what I had mapped out, and that map answers some of my marker questions that I had tried to include.  I'm a good map reader and I have a  SPOT, but I'm thinking this trip may be a good excuse to purchase a GPS unit.   

After giving this some thought, I am not entirely sure my partner is ready to go off route (he does not have experience with route finding) which makes me think that perhaps hiking up mule ears to smokey creek and then base camping near fresno creek and adding a day of exploration with lighter loads around waterworks might be a nice trip.  Would this work well as an out and back?  How is route finding on dodson and smokey creek as you head south back towards Mule Ears?


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Offline BradATX

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2016, 11:38:50 PM »
For completeness, here's a map of my route:  http://caltopo.com/m/QVSH

Smokey Creek isn't too bad to follow for the most part.  South to north is a little harder because you have to choose the correct wash when there is a split.  There was a reroute in one spot a long time ago, but if you have a modern USGS quad and are good at looking for cairns, you'll be fine.   The Dodson is easy to follow.  The Elephant Tusk trail is hard to follow with tall grass obscuring the route.  My night 2 spot ended up being a great location by the Waterworks, however that's a pretty long distance to go in one shot from Mule Ears.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2016, 06:02:54 AM »
Brad thanks for the improved map, I will get mine off my Caltopo account now.  Nice route, how was that climb/circumnavigation of Dominguez on the west side?  It has always looked steep and brushy.  I have been over the pass on the SE side twice and it was not bad.  I now really look forward to some pictures of the summit!

You walked right by the most remote spot in the park on that climb up Dominguez.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2016, 08:42:02 AM by mule ears »
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Offline Talusman

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2016, 08:21:06 AM »
That;s a great trip report sir! As already noted by others, I look forward to seeing some pictures. That is a great alternative to the OML, and there are many potential alternatives. Thanks for sharing your notes and map. Mules Ears link to the most remote spots in the park are like posting the new summits that must be accomplished as well! Well done sir!
"To Think is easy. To Act is difficult. To Act as one Thinks is the most difficult!"

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Offline bacon_on_top

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2016, 12:02:12 PM »
I'm still working out how to display the Gmap4 route I've made without a million characters, but what I have in my mind now is hiking mule ears, and then up north along the Smokey Creek trail towards the dodson.  I'll camp around BradATX's night 3 camp the first night, and then somewhere near Fresno creek on the Dodson the 2nd night.  We will spend our third day without heavy packs and explore Waterworks and down trail on towards elephant tusk and then sleep at our Fresno Creek area camp again for night three.  If we wanted to hike out the next day, we could book it out to Homer Wilson and hitch back to our car at Mule Ears, or if we want to stay out, we can backtrack down Smokey creek and spend a fourth night out before heading back to the Mule Ears overlook.

Can anyone comment on the ease or difficulty of hitching from Homer Wilson to Mule Ears?

I can't thank yall enough for the info!  I'm VERY excited for this adventure!

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Offline BradATX

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2016, 05:34:12 PM »
Very cool info on the most remote place in Big Bend!   The climb up Dominguez was definitely steep and brushy.  Contouring up that steep side was probably the most difficult part of the hike for me.   The brush made it easy for my trekking poles to get tangled up while trying to keep good balance on the slope, and in the end I was holding the very top of my left trekking pole and the midpoint of my right to keep stable.  You can see from the little blob on my track where the contouring ended.  It was a nice spot to take a break, and it was a much easier semi-scramble straight up from there.

I'm starting to put together a trip report to post in a few days.

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2016, 09:23:10 PM »
As an alternative to the OML and the High Chisos madhouse this next 2-3 weeks I think that the Sierra Quemada's is a good idea. 

You can park at Mule Ears Overlook and hike past Mule Ears into Smokey Creek then North to the Dodson and over to Fresno Creek and down to the Waterworks and back (~2-3 nights) or you can hike out to Homer Wilson and hitch hike back to Mule Ears Overlook or just reverse and go back the way you came.  (also 2-3 nights).  There will be lots of people in the park for the next 2-3 weeks at least so there should not be much problem getting a ride.  I have only hitch hiked once from Homer Wilson to Mule Ears Overlook and it was not much of a problem.   People are friendly and I look pretty old and harmless.   Be sure to get Zone Camping Permits and a parking pass at the ranger station and park far in the rear at the Mule Ears Overlook as this is a busy area all day long.   Don't block the tourist area with your vehicle park a little further away since you will be leaving it there for multiple days.

There is water along these routes in several spots in the Smokey Creek drainage along with reliable water at Fresno and the Water Works and maybe some "free" water in the bear box at Homer Wilson Ranch.    The trail from Mule Ears to the Dodson is a little faint in places but should be easy to follow as long as you pay attention to where you are walking.  If you want to go down to the Waterworks the best way is to head straight downstream in Fresno Creek.  I do NOT recommend the Elephant Tusk trail from the Dodson down towards the waterworks because it is hard to follow and overgrown.   You can take it if you need too but I would rather boulder hop and scramble around cats-claw in the Fresno drainage down to the waterworks.   IMO anyway.    TWWG

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2016, 09:35:29 PM »
BTW   if you have never been to the Waterworks (Skip and Jump Tinaja's) it should be on your bucket list.  It is a very interesting area where a bunch of plunge pools connect and have flowing water between them and small waterfalls and perfect pools of water 2-5 feet deep with cattails and lush vegetation (for Big Bend anyway).   You can work your way around the steep area on either side and see a perfect example of a fault at the bottom of the waterworks where different rock formations are exposed on either side of a knife-edge fault scarp.  Textbook example.    The Waterworks is about 80-120 minutes downstream hike from where the Dodson crosses Fresno Creek (just follow the drainage downstream).  You will need to climb over/across several large boulders and around/through several sections of cats-claw and other nasty vegetation so you will need to be reasonably fit and wear long pants/long sleeve shirts.  Bring a day pack and be prepared for anything.  There is no cell service so be prepared to be your own first responder or maybe someone else's.   TWWG

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Sierra Quemada backpack routes. not OML
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2016, 09:46:06 PM »
There is no cell service so be prepared to be your own first responder or maybe someone else's. TWWG

Word.   :eusa_clap:
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