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Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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1
Outer Mountain Loop / Re: Modified OML Oct 27 - Nov 30
« Last post by Robert on Today at 08:48:10 AM »
We were told on my last trip in late October to collapse our tents and to put air mattresses in the bear box when away from camp in the Chisos. I donít recall getting this advice before.

For you more experienced benders, has this advice regarding tents and bedding always been given, or is this a newish issue?  I suppose the bears could be having success finding food in tents and thus are getting conditioned. Or maybe this is standard camping procedure in bear country?

Iíve always been careful about food in the tent but it seems that bedding is on their menu these days.
Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat

The advice to take down tents has been around for a while. I have not heard about putting mattress pads away until now but it certainly makes sense. The link below on the NPS site also mentions putting shoes in the box or outside the tent.

Bear Activity in the Chisos

Quote
News Release Date: April 16, 2009

....It is advised that campers flatten tents while on a day hike away from a High Chisos site to lessen the chance of property destruction.
2
Outer Mountain Loop / Re: Modified OML Oct 27 - Nov 30
« Last post by Lissa on Today at 08:26:13 AM »
We saw a bear in boot canyon sites in Dec - wonder if it was the same bear? We had just stopped for a lunch break / to check out the area and werenít there long.  But certainly had me reconsidering that as a camping area - even before reading your report!

And thank you for the trip report in general. Very much enjoyed it.
3
Your Trip Reports / Re: Flash Trip Dec. 7-10, 2019
« Last post by Flash on January 21, 2020, 10:48:39 PM »
Tuesday December 10th - Sanderson to Houston via US-90 and I-10


On Tuesday morning, 7:00 am, I arose, dressed, loaded up , and then had breakfast from my food box and ice chest. Leaving the motel at 7:40, it was a rainy 48 degrees out. After grabbing coffee at Stripes, I headed east on US Hwy 90 and didn't stop until the rest area at Langtry.

Had to stop and see the Jersey Lilly.


Admired the painting of the big fight on the sandbar.


No spitting on the floor.


The epic battle at Little Bighorn.


Think there was a shotgun under the bar?


Later I stopped at the observation gazebo at Vinegarroon, but it was raining so the high railroad bridge did not come through, but I captured the Border Patrol doing a stack out.


In the other direction, I caught the steep cliffs next to the Rio Grande, but it is bit hazy.


Next stop was the Exxon near Lake Amistad for a pit stop and coffee. Didn'y stop again until Uvalde where I tried The Townhouse restaurant and was very pleased with both the food and the service. Great chorizo and eggs for my late brunch at 11:30 am.

Made it to the very nice rest stop east of Sabinal around 12:25 pm. Filled up with gas at Circle K in Castroville. Stopped at Buckies' near the Luling exit.

Rest area again east of Columbus and then finally reached home at 4:45 pm. I was looking forward to tomorrow when our two college kids would finish finals and be start arriving home.


The End
4
Your Trip Reports / Re: Flash Trip Dec. 7-10, 2019
« Last post by Flash on January 21, 2020, 10:36:40 PM »
Monday December 9th - Chisos Basin to Ash Spring to Sanderson - Part 2


For the next 10-minutes or so, I was scanning the north bank looking for a way up so I could head over to Skree Tinaja and then catch the service road from there back to the truck. About 0.1 mile downstream, I found a promising spot where I began working my way up the steep rocky hill.

Reaching the top about 2:10, I stopped to scan my surroundings. Although I had intended to go straight over to Skree, once on top, I decided to see if I could get over to the top of the Big Pouroff. I now shifted my focus to head toward the canyon edge and take a good look all around me.

Right of center seems to be Little Christmas Mountain.


Panning to the left we see the course of Ash Creek Canyon and what look like piles of skree.


Farther left still there is a skree covered hillside


Leftward again, we see the head of the canyon. The big pouroff is obscured here by that ridge of fractured rock coming in from left.


This meant I had better to get myself up and over that rocky ridge.


Climbing over it.


More stuff to get over.


Getting closer.


Looking down over the jagged edge at the large flat boulder below on which I ate my lunch earlier.


Looking down the canyon below the big pouroff.


Got to get around all this brush.


Pretty wicked looking place from above.


Almost there.


Reached the bottom of the canyon above the pouroff about 2:25 pm.


Getting from the base to the top of the big pouroff took me about 30-minutes and 0.3 miles of hiking.


Long view that shows the fractured rock "walls" along the north (right) side of the canyon.


The canyon is much more open above the pouroff.


Stepping back from the edge and looking out into the desert beyond and Burro Mesa.


Leaving the top of the pouroff about 2:25 pm, I walked up the canyon a little ways, maybe 75 feet.


I had to climb back over the top of the hill I had descended earlier. Here I have reached the top of the broken ridge about 150' northeast of where I had crossed it earlier.


Skree tinaja was about 300 yards away but I had to drop down about 200 feet along the way and zigzag my way to it. Skree is out of sight here, but lies near the green tree right of center. I had to go left around the ocotillo then down the hill through shallow bowl in the middle and cross another section of broken ridge.


Skree, grass, and Ash Canyon


and down the other side


working my way around


Looking back where I came down.


Then got to work my way through this big beautiful mess.


Soon found a hole to escape through.


Looking back


There she blows! I began threading my way down a tall grass covered band of rocky hillside between two large skree fields, which end at the flat or bowl in the center where Skree Tinaja is found.


Taking in the view before heading down the hill.


The world beyond Skree Tinaja. Two poles indicate the path of the Oak Spring powerline and the service road below it is faint, but can be made out by starting at the left pole and following the brown line to the right.


Looking to the northeast as I work my way slowly down the tallgrass covered slope, which hid many cobble-sized angular chunks of skree.


Following the grassy strip downward to the bottom.


Looking back up the hill I had come down.


Looking more or less east ward.


At 3 pm, I wrote in my log, "No visible water," and intended to start heading out as I reached the flat at the bottom.


I was stopped in my tracks when I glanced into the same dugout hole I had seen dry in March 2019, and saw water! It was at least 2-3" deep in that animal dug hole.


Viewed from the other side.


That really isn't super murky.


Looking back at that funny strip of tallgrass on an otherwise skree-covered hillside that I had just descended to the tinaja.


After leaving Skree, I walked over to and began following the Electra Loop service road for about 1/4 mile to the junction with the access road I had followed in from the main park road. Only problem is when I reached the waypoint, the road continued on straight, but I was expecting a road turning to the left and there was none to be found. Stumped, I set my GPS to a waypoint on my outbound track and decided to go cross country until I eventually rejoined the service road proper. I was a bit annoyed, but it was no biggie. Even without a GPS, if necessary I knew the landmarks that would take me back to the truck. Strange thing is I had noticed ATV tracks coming into the grassy bowl from just past the waypoint and then curving away to my right. Later I realized I had the expected intersection completely misconstrued in my head, but oh well, I got to ramble offtrail some more instead.

About 3:20 pm, I am descending into and then walking across a flat.


After crossing the flat, here I look back where I came from.


Suddenly, I heard the sound of a flushing critter. Looking up, I saw the hide end and tail of a large coyote about 15 feet in front of me rapidly accelerating away from me. He must have been hunkered down behind the prickly pear in the foreground.


Coming up on a rise, I stopped to look about me. There to the northeast, lit up by the afternoon sun was the Big Drop, looking like a dam or a levee.


Zoomed in of the Big Drop as I call it. The roadbed can be seen climbing along the bottom of it at an angle.


Looking back toward the rolling hills over which I had come.


Skree Tinaja is just below the two brown patches of grass on the upper right hand corner.


What is this spiky bush/tree? It looks like it is related to mesquite, but I am not sure.


Admiring a back-lit cholla plant.


As I was winding along, about 3:35pm, I spotted a patch of lava, then looked just beyond it and realized I had regained the service road.


The walking just now got way easier.


The sky had been increasing in cloudiness and the light had grown dimmer. Here I am looking toward Little Christmas Mountain and in the direction of the truck.


Shot of the clouds while trying to find the sun.


Then there was this thing next to the service road I spotted while descending a gravel terrace.


No other poles anywhere near there. This one is cut off four or five feet from the ground. No sign of any hardware ever being attached to it. This is a small mystery to me.


A few minutes later, I spotted this. Someone get the crime scene tape.


Passing through a low silty spot, I saw the same sort of ATV tracks again.


At 4 pm, I reached the spot where I had left the service road earlier in the day when I jumped over to Ash Creek. Then about 4:15 pm, I stopped to take a some final photos starting with this one looking back at the North Chisos.


Looking toward Little Christmas and the Christmas Mountains with the park road now not very far away.


Croton Peak to the NNE.


Reached the truck at 4:27 pm. After stowing my gear, I drove straight to PJ and arrive there at 5pm. Temperature there was 70 degrees. After using the facilities, I hit the road north on US 385, passing Lone Mountain on the left. Clouds were really starting to stack up, but there was a bright line across the vallay ahead of me. 


I pulled right over to check it out as sunshine broke through in unique ways. Blotches of light appeared to the NE at the base of what I am guessing was part of the Dead Horse Mountains beyond Dagger Flat Road.

 
A fantastic crazy sundown light show as I drove on down the road.


What a great way to drive on out of the Park!


About 6:30 pm, it started raining approx. 20-miles south of Marathon with the temperature dropping to 55 degrees as the cold front rolled in. The weather station at Persimmon Gap measured 0.32 inches that day. Arriving in Marathon at 6:45, it had dropped to 48 degrees and was raining. On top of that, since it was Monday, the barbecue place unfortunately was dark and closed. Drove straight to Sanderson arriving about 8 pm, where I gassed up at Stripes and then checked in across the street at the Outback Oasis Motel. Dinner was picnic style from the food box and the ice chest. Bedtime was about 10 pm.

The hike to Ash Spring was a very satisfying ramble today consisting of service roads, creek bottom, pouroffs, cross country navigation, and surprise water at Skree Tinaja. I had considered making Bailey Spring part of this hike, but that was just a bridge too far and will very likely be part of a trip in the near future.


Total hike time:  6 hours
Moving time:  3.3 hours
Measured distance:  6.4 miles
Elevation change:  1200 feet


To be continued...

5
Outer Mountain Loop / Re: Modified OML Oct 27 - Nov 30
« Last post by Dale Norte on January 21, 2020, 10:19:20 PM »
We were told on my last trip in late October to collapse our tents and to put air mattresses in the bear box when away from camp in the Chisos. I donít recall getting this advice before.

Iíve always been careful about food in the tent but it seems that bedding is on their menu these days.

For you more experienced benders, has this advice regarding tents and bedding always been given, or is this a newish issue?  I suppose the bears could be having success finding food in tents and thus are getting conditioned. Or maybe this is standard camping procedure in bear country?

I assumed the ranger was ďover advisingĒ but based on Roadtrips report, seems like he may have been spot on.

Duly noted for next trip.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat
6
Your Trip Reports / Re: Flash Trip Dec. 7-10, 2019
« Last post by Flash on January 21, 2020, 09:37:17 PM »
Thanks Flash for exploring and reporting! I remember a couple of years ago I asked if anyone had circumnavigated around the Chisos foothills just to see what's there that might be interesting. Kudos for going out there and finding out!
You are welcome, Rocketman!  There are still more foothills to check out, such as the west side from Oak Spring down to Blue Creek Ranch!
7
Water and Spring Reports / Re: Sierra Quemada and Boot Spring (1/16 - 1/20)
« Last post by Blue Creek on January 21, 2020, 09:27:53 PM »
The trip/water reports on this forum were invaluable in planning our trip, so Iím happy to pay it forward! Iíll try to find the time to write up a trip report this weekend.
8
Your Trip Reports / Re: Flash Trip Dec. 7-10, 2019
« Last post by Flash on January 21, 2020, 09:23:06 PM »
Monday December 9th - Chisos Basin to Ash Spring to Sanderson - Part 1


At 7:45 am, I got up, dressed, and began packing up camp.  It was 59-degrees this morning as I sat down for my breakfast. I pulled away from Site #18 at 9:10 and headed to the Basin Store for my morning coffee.

Arriving at the service road pullout located west of Croton Springs Road, I parked the truck well off the road at 9:55 am.


In a similar fashion to yesterday's hike, I planned to begin by following a service road. This one allows access to utility crews to the section of the Oak Spring powerline that lies between Ash Creek and the Big Drop as I have been calling it. My goal was to check out Ash Spring and possibly Bailey Spring as well.

This service road veers off from pullout near the brown bushes pictured to the right. The road marker in this case was obscured by the mesquite bush to the left.


Click on the following link to see the Hike Map.

The hike began for real at 10:20 am and initially I saw several sets of footprints, but then the route became a bit obscure. This is because for the first 1/4 mile or so the faint road follows a braided stream, so the track can easily be lost among the multiple channels and gravel bars that are crossed.

Fortunately, about a 100' along the way, I spotted a short patch of ATV tracks and began hunting for those as I walked along to guide me on the way. I'm not sure they were certain of the route themselves because at one point they backed and turned around, taking another channel.

About 0.3 miles in, however, the ATV tracks converged with what appeared to be the actual intended route of the service road. I set a waypoint there to help with my return trip.


Nice two track here.


Looking back a few minutes later.


A bend in the road as it descended into a wash below what I marked as Nice Spot on the map.


Same spot looking back.


I planned to stay with the service road until it crossed a wash that drains into Ash Creek. There I turned right and followed that wash about 50 yards and then turned left into Ash Creek proper. This was not too far from where Badknees entered Ash Creek when he trekked to Ash Spring in April 2010.

From this point on, the plan was to walk the creek bed all the way to Ash Spring.


By about 11:15, it was time for short break.


Moving along, I stopped in the shade with the pack off at 11:30.


Then I was moving again about 20-minutes later.


Started seeing lots of large angular grey rocks with thin white striations.


My first sighting of the Oak Spring powerline where it crosses Ash Creek.


The powerline service road does not cross Ash Creek from either direction. Two different roads approach it from opposite directions. Work on the west side is accessed via the Oak Creek Service Road.


Most of the larger rocks were like the angular grey ones previously mentioned, but here is an interesting pink one. Only saw a couple of these unusual ones. I am wondering now if these might be a metamorphic form of breccia. If anyone knows please enlighten me.


For the last 1/4 mile or so, the banks of the creek had been steadily rising into the walls of a canyon. Rounding a bend in the creek bed I became suddenly aware of the birds singing. This was my first notice of birds. Birds, I thought to myself, are a good sign of water. Very fitting when approaching an alleged spring location.


At 12:30 pm, I stopped in the shade in a winding, bouldery section.


Looking back downstream.


A large boulder nearby to the right.


Glancing down at a sand patch, I spotted where something left some pretty large tracks. What could it be? Bear or lion? I'm guessing bear.


Began entering an area with water loving plants. Another good sign.


Steeper more bouldery walking now.


Splash basin with cracked dried mud. That is a sign as well.


Behold another amazing pink rock sandwiched between grey ones with white pin stripes.


This or some other rock nerd oughta find out where these pink ones are being washed down from.


Continuing on upstream.


Up ahead a steep heavily fractured hillside appeared up on the right.


Proceeding onward, about 12:50 pm, I first spotted bees! They seemed drawn to the moist sediments on the downstream side of the boulders in the creek bed. I wonder now if I had dug down, whether or not it would have sprung a little trickle of water in the hole.


Looking up and ahead from the bee spot. There were other moist locations noted.


Amongst the tumbled down and fractured rocks.


Looking back from the same spot.


Fairly slow going in a pretty choked up canyon. The spot pictured more or less corresponds to the published Ash Spring coordinates.


At 1pm, I reached a low-angled, rugged pouroff, maybe 6 feet high, that I easily climbed.


This is the dry splash basin that was at the foot of it.


Five minutes later, I climbed another pouroff about 15 feet high, as seen here from the top.


Climbing over boulders now, instead of around them.


And working through the foliage.


After another few minutes of boulders and brush, I reached a big pouroff that was about 40-50 feet high in a narrow canyon. This was about 1:10 pm.


The wall to the right of the pouroff looked nice, polished, and tight.


The wall left of the pouroff was highly fractured and very broken up.


Looking back from below the big pouroff.


Looking down at the foot of the pouroff.


A wider shot of the big pouroff.


Looking out at the desert beyond.


For some reason the north wall of the canyon below the big pouroff was broken, very rugged, and highly fractured.


It was time for a rest and some food, so I stopped and sat down on a large flat boulder. About 1:20 pm, after having studied it while eating, I concluded the pouroff looked climbable. It was slightly inclined and had many potential hand and footholds. Not intending to go all the way, I did manage to climb about 1/3 of the way up. As a word of caution, the rock is highly fractured, which explains the formation of the pouroff through the tumbling away of the fractured rock weakened by cascading torrents of water. So although there appear to be lots foot and hand holds, a few of them I found to be slightly loose and definitely need to be tested.

Getting ready to leave, about 1:55 pm I turned away from the Big Ash Pouroff and starting heading back downstream.


Working back through the brush.


At the top of the middle pouroff.


Looking down the middle pouroff.


Last look at the big pouroff before descending the middle pouroff.


The lower pouroff looking back.


Working my way back downstream. With all these plants, there must be some water here below ground level.



To be continued...

9
Outer Mountain Loop / Re: Modified OML Oct 27 - Nov 30
« Last post by mule ears on January 21, 2020, 08:08:00 PM »
Wonderful end to a wonderful trip report, Roadtrip. It was a pleasure to (virtually) walk beside you and share your thoughts.

That bear encounter...now thatíll get the blood flowing.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat

+1 to this sentiment,  great end to a great trip!  Congratulations on finishing and giving us such a good report.   :eusa_clap:
10
Outer Mountain Loop / Re: Modified OML Oct 27 - Nov 30
« Last post by House Made of Dawn on January 21, 2020, 03:02:56 PM »
Wonderful end to a wonderful trip report, Roadtrip. It was a pleasure to (virtually) walk beside you and share your thoughts.

That bear encounter...now thatíll get the blood flowing.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat
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