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General Outdoor Stuff & Camping Equipment / Re: Another bird id please
« Last post by Imre on Today at 06:38:27 PM »
Thanks, HoMD. Looking forward to your analysis.
It would appear that according to Google Earth, the bottom of the pour-off is 5840 feet elevation; the top is 5995. So, 155 feet.

Short story: I think Badknees is right: it's probably a Hooded Warbler, though a very odd one.

Our family has been buried under relatives in town for a week for my wife's receipt of a national community service award for work with her non-profit Big Thought, the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department, Southern Methodist University, Highland Park United Methodist Church, the Jesters Disabilities Program, and the Amerasian Children's Society.

Last of the relatives left this morning.  I have a lot of thoughts about Imre's bird, but - in the final analysis - very few doubts that it's a Hooded Warbler, albeit a very strange one with quite a few unusual similarities to a Wilson's. My thoughts involve the vagaries of photographic technology, avian variability, hybridization, and geographic evolution. I'll try to put a longer explanatory post together tonight.
Thanks, Bad Knees. Around 200 ft was my guess, as well.
Being the consummate procrastinator, I just submitted my final comments. Our household has been buried under visiting relatives for the last week until this morning, but I fought and scrounged a few moments to bang out this:

"1. My bona fides. I understand the degree to which park visitation is increasing. I have personally experienced the phenomenal increase during twenty-three years of visiting the park, primarily as a backpacker and floater. However, my experience is that, while the frontcountry visitation has ballooned to truly amazing levels (particularly at peak times), the backcountry. exclusive of areas in close proximity to parking (e.g., the Chimneys, or Mule Ears spring, or perhaps Ernst Tinaja) are not suffering from overly-high levels of visitation. I have taken several multi-day backpacks across the remoter areas of the park (e.g., the Deadhorse Mountains or the Sierra Quemada or the Mesa de Anguila) without encountering a single person during trips up to 14 days long. Last winter I floated the entire Rio Grande within the park and, outside of the heavily-trafficked Santa Elena leg, I only encountered one other party of floaters, which passed quickly by my camp early one evening. All of this is to say that, while visitation to the park has undeniably increased, my personal experience is that the deep backcountry is still relatively unpeopled. I've seen almost zero trash while in the remoter parts of the backcountry, and what little I've seen has been almost (but not quite) exclusively historical. Other than during several trips to areas accessible from backcountry roadsites, or on the OML, or during floats of the Rio Grande, I have encountered no fire rings, no previously-cleared campsites, and seen no human disturbances of backcountry water sources (the few disturbances I've found in the deep backcountry were made by various wildlife). That is not to say that these things don't occur in the deep backcountry, but that they are sufficiently rare that I have not encountered them to any significant degree in many, many deep backcountry trips. So, it is within the context of these experiences that I make the following comments.

2. Backcountry and DEEP backcountry. I strongly object to any prohibitions on the use of deep backcountry water sources by backpackers. Such prohibitions will effectively eliminate real exploration, appreciation, and enjoyment of the deep backcountry. Four gallons (i.e. four careful days) is effectively the limit that one person can carry on their back in addition to a normal backpacking kit. I've done it before and that kind of load is exceedingly painful and difficult. Confining backpackers to the use of cached water in the deep backcountry is problematic, because the deep backcountry is, by definition, the DEEP backcountry. Even if one had at their disposal a vehicle appropriate to the few roads that provide access, and the time to make the trips necessary to plant the caches, there aren't enough primitive roads in the park to make caching a reasonable alternative to natural water sources. Whole sections of the park would effectively become beyond the reach of all but the most herculean backpackers. I'm sure you've noticed my recurring use of the term DEEP backcountry. I use it because I recognize that some areas of the backcountry (e.g., Dodson Spring, Fresno Creek, Mule Ears Spring, Cattail Falls, Pine Canyon Falls, and to a much lesser extent, Ernst Tinaja) are suffering (in many and various ways) from over-visitation and all the attendant damage. I am not opposed to judicious restrictions being put on these relatively accessible areas. But I am opposed to use restrictions being put on any water sources that are located more deeply in the backcountry UNLESS real, serious, and lasting damage can be documented. I simply do not believe, nor have I seen, any evidence that deep backcountry human users are negatively impacting these water sources. To my mind, there is no demonstrable problem that justifies such an extreme change in policy, particularly a change that would so hugely impact access to the deep backcountry. Even in places that ARE being impacted, such as Mule Ears Spring, the problem as I see it, is not water draw-downs, but trash and disrespect by day-users, not backpackers. In my experience, the backcountry is clean and well-preserved in direct proportion to its distance from a trailhead with vehicle parking. I don't know a single backpacker that hikes days into the wilderness to trash it. None of us like finding human sign, therefore none of us leave it.

3. Bears. I'm a retired naturalist and conservation ornithologist, which is to say that bears are not my specialty, but neither am I ignorant of them. I am fully supportive of all efforts to restore the Big Bend population of Black Bear, and of minimizing any and all negative encounters between the bears and humans. I've had a number of bear-human encounters while in the Chisos Mountains (none that I would consider negative), but have had zero encounters outside of the Chisos. That is not to say that bears aren't found outside the Chisos. I've encountered scat in the Deadhorse, in the Sierra Quemada, in the west of the park near Pena Spring, and all along the Rio Grande. That said, I'm not aware of any negative bear-human encounters outside of the Chisos Mountains. To my mind, management of bear-human encounters should be focused on the Chisos and its foothills. Policy should be based on data. And I'm fairly sure the data demonstrates that the Chisos and its foothills are the only places that warrant the mandated usage of bear-proof storage of food and aromatics by backpackers. I'm always happy to find a bear-box anywhere in the park, and I can certainly see the need for some manner of bear-proof containers in the Chisos, and with a bit of stretch, the need for the same along the lower parts of the OML. But outside the Chisos and the OML, a requirement for bear-proof backpacking containers seems unjustified by the data, and therefore antithetical to the mission of the park.

4. Bear-proof containers. I own and have used both BearVaults and Ursacks all across the western United States during extensive multi-day backpacking trips. Full disclosure: not one has ever been assaulted by a bear. But, the Ursacks have been tested and approved by both the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group and the Interagency  Grizzly Bear Committee. If land and wildlife managers in western areas with much greater populations of bears and many more bear-human interactions have approved Ursacks, then surely they should be good enough for Big Bend, especially in deep backcountry areas with no recorded negative bear-human interactions. Ursacks, even when not suspended from trees, are extremely effective at protecting items from bears and vastly more convenient in a backpack than are the heavy, bulky, hard-sided BearVaults. I love BearVaults for caches, but much prefer Ursacks for carrying items in my backpack. That said, my strong preference is for NO bearproof containers being required in the DEEP backcountry until justified by data on bear-human interactions in those areas.

5. Other equipment. I have no problem with potential backpackers or floaters being required to demonstrate their ownership or expertise with any required piece of equipment in their kit as a prerequisite to receiving their permit. In fact, I encourage it.

6. Permitting process. Over twenty-plus years, I have seen the permitting process transition from paper systems maintained by phone, to online systems with instant updates (El Campo). My two cents is that the El Campo system, while occasionally flawed, is worth keeping and improving. Several times over the decades, I arrived at a campsite only to find it cross-booked. Not once during the El Campo years did that happen to me. Occasionally a glitch in El Campo would keep a permitting ranger from correctly filling out my permit, but that was definitely an exception rather than the rule. I also enjoyed and benefitted from the archival functionality of the El Campo: being able to check historical use trends in order to plan my own future trips. Similar online systems at many other popular NPS sites work very well. I strongly encourage BiBe staff to reinstate El Campo and build upon its strengths while correcting its very few weaknesses.

7. Permitting locations. More than once, I have secured a first permit at one visitor center, completed it upon arriving at another visitor center, and then secured a second permit to continue my trip further. I strongly encourage BiBe to continue the practice of issuing permits at ALL BiBe visitor centers. In fact, I would love to see backpacking permits, especially for Mesa de Anguila, also issued at the BBRSP visitors center in cooperation with TPWD, but of course that would be much easier if El Campo was reinstated.

Thank you for your consideration. I have the utmost respect for BiBe staff, having had many valued interactions over the last twenty-three years with Ro Wauer, Mark Flippo, Marco Paredes, Raymond Skiles, Tom Alex, Michael Ryan, Jeanette Jurado, David Elkowitz, Bob Smith, and others. Best of luck with the revised policies. Please be judicious and fair; don't make decisions that make the park prohibitively difficult or inaccessible to those of us that love, respect, and support it."
Hiked to Pine Canyon Pouroff today since the Basin had over 2 inches of rain yesterday. It was an amazingly tall and beautiful waterfall today, but does anybody know how high the Pine Canyon Pour off actually is??? Thanks, K
Based on this pic, I'd guess around 30 feet or so.
Hiked to Pine Canyon Pouroff today since the Basin had over 2 inches of rain yesterday. It was an amazingly tall and beautiful waterfall today, but does anybody know how high the Pine Canyon Pour off actually is??? Thanks, K

Less than 200'
Hiked to Pine Canyon Pouroff today since the Basin had over 2 inches of rain yesterday. It was an amazingly tall and beautiful waterfall today, but does anybody know how high the Pine Canyon Pour off actually is??? Thanks, K
General Questions and Answers / Re: Rain?
« Last post by badknees on Today at 02:27:43 PM »
Let's hope that's not it for the summer...

Nah! It's early....more to come.
General Questions and Answers / Re: Rain?
« Last post by RichardM on Today at 02:00:13 PM »
Let's hope that's not it for the summer...
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