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Potential water sources Mule Ears to Mariscal Canyon to Dodson to Mule Ears

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Offline vgeh

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Hello BBC experts and gurus,
Thanks for all the detailed reports and resources shared here in BBC. I was able to create my own version of route from taking bits and pieces from many reports and have things I want to experience in Big Bend. Attached is the basic route I have planned. Of course, since most of it is off trail and unofficial trails, the planned route is just a layout of my direction and not exact path. The map also lacks the short detours to mountains and interesting sites on my hike.

I need your help to save my shoulders and legs a bit by sharing some light on water sources that I have no listed. Especially looking for some help in the long stretches where I don't have water sources listed. Greatly appreciate your thoughts.

I saw Mr. Mule Ears have gone on similar route in his recent post (many others have done something similar in the past too) and I am eagerly waiting for his trip report. Not sure If i will see it before my trip though. He had also listed some springs but me being an ignorant couldn't locate many of the springs.

Any other general thoughts and comments?

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Offline mule ears

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Hi vgeh,
just back home to NC (got in at 1:30 am) so I have access to a real computer and key board.  I will help as much as I can but I first have to ask your experience in off trail, desert hiking?  The route you propose is ambitious and actually not "many" others have done this in the past, I can count 3 (eric, metalman and Lud all of whom had some issues during the trip) besides me who have done some version of it and I have now done most of it twice.  You are talking about 70-80+ miles depending on the actual route, with some big water carries to the river and back.  One of your original posts lists 5 days in the park and I would not want to attempt it in that time period unless you are a very experienced long distance hiker with good route finding skills.

Here is our recent route in Caltopo with all the springs marked that I discussed in my quick water report.  It was an 82 mile walk.  There is no water between Dominguez spring and the river at Talley ( ~15 miles) and none between there and either Elegant spring below Elephant Tusk or Frog spring in the Fresno drainage (at least 20 miles).

If it is your first time to the park I would not try to try and knock one over the fence and enjoy your time with a more modest route.  While the walk down the spine of Mariscal Mtn. is spectacular it is not for the faint of heart especially some one walking there instead of driving to the mountain.

Please respond back, even if the info you get is not what you might want to hear like when you asked about the 4 summit attempt at GUMO.  We are just trying to be honest here.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2017, 01:30:19 PM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Hi vgeh,
just back home to NC (got in at 1:30 am) so I have access to a real computer and key board.  I will help as much as I can but I first have to ask your experience in off trail, desert hiking?  The route you propose is ambitious and actually not "many" others have done this in the past, I can count 3 (eric, metalman and Lud all of whom had some issues during the trip) besides me who have done some version of it and I have now done most of it twice.  You are talking about 70-80+ miles depending on the actual route, with some big water carries to the river and back.  One of your original posts lists 5 days in the park and I would not want to attempt it in that time period unless you are a very experienced long distance hiker with good route finding skills.

Here is our recent route in Caltopo with all the springs marked that I discussed in my quick water report.  It was an 82 mile walk.  There is no water between Dominguez spring and the river at Talley ( ~15 miles) and none between there and either Elegant spring below Elephant Tusk or Frog spring in the Fresno drainage (at least 20 miles).

If it is your first time to the park I would not try to try and knock one over the fence and enjoy your time with a more modest route.  While the walk down the spine of Mariscal Mtn. is spectacular it is not for the faint of heart especially some one walking there instead of driving to the mountain.

Please respond back, even if the info you get is not what you might want to hear like when you asked about the 4 summit attempt at GUMO.  We are just trying to be honest here.

Wise words, and best heeded. Almost every single time Mule Ears and I have disagreed on what's possible, he has been proven right.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline RichardM

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Hi vgeh,
just back home to NC (got in at 1:30 am) so I have access to a real computer and key board.  I will help as much as I can but I first have to ask your experience in off trail, desert hiking?  The route you propose is ambitious and actually not "many" others have done this in the past, I can count 3 (eric, metalman and Lud all of whom had some issues during the trip) besides me who have done some version of it and I have now done most of it twice.  You are talking about 70-80+ miles depending on the actual route, with some big water carries to the river and back.  One of your original posts lists 5 days in the park and I would not want to attempt it in that time period unless you are a very experienced long distance hiker with good route finding skills.

Here is our recent route in Caltopo with all the springs marked that I discussed in my quick water report.  It was an 82 mile walk.  There is no water between Dominguez spring and the river at Talley ( ~15 miles) and none between there and either Elegant spring below Elephant Tusk or Frog spring in the Fresno drainage (at least 20 miles).

If it is your first time to the park I would not try to try and knock one over the fence and enjoy your time with a more modest route.  While the walk down the spine of Mariscal Mtn. is spectacular it is not for the faint of heart especially some one walking there instead of driving to the mountain.

Please respond back, even if the info you get is not what you might want to hear like when you asked about the 4 summit attempt at GUMO.  We are just trying to be honest here.

Wise words, and best heeded. Almost every single time Mule Ears and I have disagreed on what's possible, he has been proven right.
And remember, even if something is possible, there's no guarantee it will be enjoyable.

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Offline vgeh

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Thanks Mule Ears for sharing the map and other details. I also greatly appreciate the wise words.

I am a board member and trip leader for an outdoor club(non-profit) in Indiana. I often meet people who are totally unprepared for hikes so I totally get your wise cautionary words. Yes, this is my first visit to Big Bend and GUMO but I am not a typical National Park visitor who is not aware of his/her limits/capabilities and unprepared for the wild backcountry of National Parks. I am a regular hiker and backpacker. I rarely write trip reports, but here one from earlier this year. https://isleroyaleforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3447   The IR forum helped me plan the trip with water sources and trail conditions just like BBC now so I had to report the trip as a way to thank them. The trip report was mainly centered towards gears and not as detailed as any of the reports I saw here.  :icon_lol:  But it is an ID card to show that I am not touristy national park hiker.

My day hikes before the long trips at GUMO and BB will act as a test hikes. The day hikes will help me understand the terrain and weather in the parks. My plans are not set in stone so I will change them based on what I think my limits are for the trail/hike condition.

Again thanks Mule Ears and others for the caution!  :)

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Offline badknees

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Offline mule ears

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Thanks Mule Ears for sharing the map and other details. I also greatly appreciate the wise words.

I am a board member and trip leader for an outdoor club(non-profit) in Indiana. I often meet people who are totally unprepared for hikes so I totally get your wise cautionary words. Yes, this is my first visit to Big Bend and GUMO but I am not a typical National Park visitor who is not aware of his/her limits/capabilities and unprepared for the wild backcountry of National Parks. I am a regular hiker and backpacker. I rarely write trip reports, but here one from earlier this year. https://isleroyaleforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3447   The IR forum helped me plan the trip with water sources and trail conditions just like BBC now so I had to report the trip as a way to thank them. The trip report was mainly centered towards gears and not as detailed as any of the reports I saw here.  :icon_lol:  But it is an ID card to show that I am not touristy national park hiker.

My day hikes before the long trips at GUMO and BB will act as a test hikes. The day hikes will help me understand the terrain and weather in the parks. My plans are not set in stone so I will change them based on what I think my limits are for the trail/hike condition.

Again thanks Mule Ears and others for the caution!  :)

vgeh, thanks for the detailed reply and I see that you are both in the ultralight camp and can churn out big days (on marked trails), both good attributes.  Your test day hikes will be illustrative and will inform your decisions.  The two biggest differences from say your Isle Royal trip is water weight- minimum 6 liters and probably should be more like 8, and sunlight exposure and intensity.  Everything at Big Bend is rocky but you say you like that and everything has thorns and wants to grab you.  Leave your tent in the car, bring a tarp.  My base weight on this last hike was 12# and max pack weight was about 37-38# leaving the river before climbing Mariscal Mtn. with 9.5 liters for a two plus day waterless run (two dry camps).

The longest waterless stretch on your route is the Rio Grande at Talley, up and down Mariscal Mtn, up Fresno drainage to Elephant Tusk trail then to Elegant Spring, at least 23 miles but 12-13 of it is on relatively well marked trail which is unusual for Big Bend.  I you are using your phone for gps make sure you also have paper map back up and familiarize yourself with the landscape as most of the time you can see where you are headed but can easily get turned around down in the washes and drainages.

Remember that you will be in the shortest days of the year so only about 11 hours of daylight.  The lower desert (Dominguez spring to Talley for example) walking is fast but some of the drainage and ridge walking is really tedious.  The hardest/most confusing route finding will be the canyon between Smoky spring and Jack's Pass, the upper section of the ET trail to the Dodson and the entire Smoky Creek trail.  The Smoky creek trail, as an identifiable path, is essentially gone.  The sections that are in washes are easy enough going N-S but the overland parts, while cairned are impossible to follow and to find most of the entry and exits from the washes.  You have to keep your eyes peeled and really know the map.

For a minimalist trip, timewise, If it were me I would break it up this way:
Day 1- Mule Ears TH to Dominguez spring if you get there early then get water and go down towards Talley a few miles. 15-16 miles to the spring or more
Day 2- to the Rio for water and if possible 4 miles more to the top of the climb up Mariscal, there is a great campsite just at the top of the climb. Dominguez to Talley ~ 15 miles
Day 3- Cross canyon trail to the apex then climb and then descend the spine of Mariscal, check out the mines, up to Elegant spring about 17 miles if start at top of climb, 22-23 if from river
Day 4- up ET (very easy to loose the trail here) to Dodson, down Smoky creek to Mule Ears TH another long day but on mostly marked trails.  17-18 miles

I would add a 5th day probably breaking up the Talley to Elegant stretch with a night on Mariscal Mtn. and then a night down on Smoky Creek somewhere.  Your only bail out is Mariscal Mines and the River road hoping someone comes by.  This all assumes no route finding mistakes or other problems.  Essentially 70 miles no matter what.

We took essentially 7 days to do our 80 miles but we had short daylight, lots of things to check out, an informal spring survey to conduct and I am 61 so what's the rush?   :icon_biggrin:

Let me know if you have any other questions, have a great trip to the Bend no matter what you end up doing and for sure give us a report!
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 11:17:59 AM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Peter O

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vgeh,  I also just returned from a very similar hike.  In reading your post, I was amazed to discover that Mule Ears and I did almost the same hike at almost the same time.  I started my hike on Dec. 9 and finished the morning of Dec. 15.  Like Mule Ears, I started at Mule Ears overlook (where I left my car), hiked across to Dominguez Spring, turned south across the desert to the Mariscal Canyon trail head, around the canyon, climbed up to Mariscal Mountain and followed the ridge to above the Mariscal Mine, headed northwest to the Elephant Tusk trail head, up the ET trail to just north of Elephant Tusk, turned west off the ET trail to Double Spring, went southwest down the washes to the north end of Fisk Canyon, headed northwest to link up with the Smokey Creek trail, down the Smokey Creek trail, and back to the Mule Ears overlook--where thankfully the car was still waiting and in one piece.

Attached below is a PDF image of the tracking map from my inReach device, which hopefully will give a visual overview of my route.  I also have a GPS track that I recorded.  I plan to do a trip report and will provide a CalTopo link to my actual GPS track in the report.  I hope to get some of the report online this weekend.  If you would like my GPS track and will be leaving before I get the report done, please send me a PM, and I will try to get that to you before you start your travels.

I agree with everything said by Mule Ears, who has a lot more Big Bend experience and expertise than I do.  I have benefited greatly from posts by him and others on this site.   

I tried to address the long desert water carries by leaving two water caches along my route--both just off the River Road.  One cache I left near the River Road south of Y Spring.  (By the way, I could not find any water at Y Spring, although it is pretty green in that area with a lot of plants growing--so maybe a more thorough search would find something.)  I picked up the water from this cache on my way down from Dominguez Spring to the Mariscal Canyon trail head.  The second cache I left just off the River Road north of the Mariscal Mine.  I picked up water from that cache after hiking up the Mariscal Mountain ridge line and before heading up to the ET trail.

These caches worked well for me.  The downside is that it takes a lot of time before and after the hike to drop off and then pick up the containers for the caches.  My cache locations were 20+ miles down the River Road (whether going east or west on the road).  The road is pretty rough in spots, so it is slow going.  Although the signs say that a 4x4 is either "recommended" or "required" (depending on whether you enter from the east side or west side), I had no significant problems traveling on the road in my Subaru Crosstrek (more on this in my report).  I was told in no uncertain terms (by more than one ranger) that caches must be in a hard-sided container--even if it was a water-only cache (more on this also later).  This was a bummer because I would have otherwise cached the water in Ursack bags and carried them with me after picking up the water (to avoid the need for another drive on the road after the hike).  But I enjoyed the drives on the River Road so this worked okay for me this time.

Hope you have a great hike!  Be careful.  As Mule Ears advises, this is rough, unforgiving terrain.  I knew what to expect from a couple previous hikes I had done in this area (and from great advice on this site), but it presents a different set of challenges compared to other places that I have hiked (mostly at various locations in the Rocky Mountains).  At the end of the day, though, I just feel blessed by having had the opportunity to experience the amazing rugged beauty of this area.  Safe travels, Peter           

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Offline mule ears

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Peter, that is amazing we just missed each other.  You must have been just ahead of us, I saw one set of tracks/foot prints in the cut over wash from Fisk Canyon to the Smoky Creek trail that seemed fresh, must have been you.  Great trip!  I too am trying to get a trip report started this weekend.  I look forward to yours!
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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no shade, no water
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Offline vgeh

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Maybe I missed it, but when did you plan to do this hike?

Sorry for late reply. I will be in Big Bend on 26th, right now couple of hours away from GUMO.

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Offline vgeh

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Thanks Mule Ears for sharing the map and other details. I also greatly appreciate the wise words.

I am a board member and trip leader for an outdoor club(non-profit) in Indiana. I often meet people who are totally unprepared for hikes so I totally get your wise cautionary words. Yes, this is my first visit to Big Bend and GUMO but I am not a typical National Park visitor who is not aware of his/her limits/capabilities and unprepared for the wild backcountry of National Parks. I am a regular hiker and backpacker. I rarely write trip reports, but here one from earlier this year. https://isleroyaleforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3447   The IR forum helped me plan the trip with water sources and trail conditions just like BBC now so I had to report the trip as a way to thank them. The trip report was mainly centered towards gears and not as detailed as any of the reports I saw here.  :icon_lol:  But it is an ID card to show that I am not touristy national park hiker.

My day hikes before the long trips at GUMO and BB will act as a test hikes. The day hikes will help me understand the terrain and weather in the parks. My plans are not set in stone so I will change them based on what I think my limits are for the trail/hike condition.

Again thanks Mule Ears and others for the caution!  :)

vgeh, thanks for the detailed reply and I see that you are both in the ultralight camp and can churn out big days (on marked trails), both good attributes.  Your test day hikes will be illustrative and will inform your decisions.  The two biggest differences from say your Isle Royal trip is water weight- minimum 6 liters and probably should be more like 8, and sunlight exposure and intensity.  Everything at Big Bend is rocky but you say you like that and everything has thorns and wants to grab you.  Leave your tent in the car, bring a tarp.  My base weight on this last hike was 12# and max pack weight was about 37-38# leaving the river before climbing Mariscal Mtn. with 9.5 liters for a two plus day waterless run (two dry camps).

The longest waterless stretch on your route is the Rio Grande at Talley, up and down Mariscal Mtn, up Fresno drainage to Elephant Tusk trail then to Elegant Spring, at least 23 miles but 12-13 of it is on relatively well marked trail which is unusual for Big Bend.  I you are using your phone for gps make sure you also have paper map back up and familiarize yourself with the landscape as most of the time you can see where you are headed but can easily get turned around down in the washes and drainages.

Remember that you will be in the shortest days of the year so only about 11 hours of daylight.  The lower desert (Dominguez spring to Talley for example) walking is fast but some of the drainage and ridge walking is really tedious.  The hardest/most confusing route finding will be the canyon between Smoky spring and Jack's Pass, the upper section of the ET trail to the Dodson and the entire Smoky Creek trail.  The Smoky creek trail, as an identifiable path, is essentially gone.  The sections that are in washes are easy enough going N-S but the overland parts, while cairned are impossible to follow and to find most of the entry and exits from the washes.  You have to keep your eyes peeled and really know the map.

For a minimalist trip, timewise, If it were me I would break it up this way:
Day 1- Mule Ears TH to Dominguez spring if you get there early then get water and go down towards Talley a few miles. 15-16 miles to the spring or more
Day 2- to the Rio for water and if possible 4 miles more to the top of the climb up Mariscal, there is a great campsite just at the top of the climb. Dominguez to Talley ~ 15 miles
Day 3- Cross canyon trail to the apex then climb and then descend the spine of Mariscal, check out the mines, up to Elegant spring about 17 miles if start at top of climb, 22-23 if from river
Day 4- up ET (very easy to loose the trail here) to Dodson, down Smoky creek to Mule Ears TH another long day but on mostly marked trails.  17-18 miles

I would add a 5th day probably breaking up the Talley to Elegant stretch with a night on Mariscal Mtn. and then a night down on Smoky Creek somewhere.  Your only bail out is Mariscal Mines and the River road hoping someone comes by.  This all assumes no route finding mistakes or other problems.  Essentially 70 miles no matter what.

We took essentially 7 days to do our 80 miles but we had short daylight, lots of things to check out, an informal spring survey to conduct and I am 61 so what's the rush?   :icon_biggrin:

Let me know if you have any other questions, have a great trip to the Bend no matter what you end up doing and for sure give us a report!

Thanks Mule Ears. Sorry for late reply and I don't know if I would be able to reply to your entire message now. But I got your message. Will in GUMO in couple hours.

Yes, this is going to be completely different than Isle Royale except the same wonderful experience(I guess?). Water carry being one of the major difference like you said.

The long waterless stretch between the river the springs are the reason I created this post. I wanted to double check to make sure there isn't really another water source. My primary navigation tool for Big Bend long hike is paper map and compass. I don't think I will be taking many bearing so I would say mostly paper map as I looked at Google Earth and taken some notes. I don't carry(have) a standalone GPS but will have my phone which I will use as a secondary navigation tool. I will limit the phone use for navigation as it will be my camera too.

Thanks for the even more detailed route and itinerary suggestion. 70 miles is what I am counting too unless I blackout or change my original route to exompletely different.

I will plan on camping close to River/Talley site and Elegant Spring to avoid hiking back the next day morning but of course will follow LNT.

Sure, will post a trip report. Thanks

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Offline vgeh

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vgeh,  I also just returned from a very similar hike.  In reading your post, I was amazed to discover that Mule Ears and I did almost the same hike at almost the same time.  I started my hike on Dec. 9 and finished the morning of Dec. 15.  Like Mule Ears, I started at Mule Ears overlook (where I left my car), hiked across to Dominguez Spring, turned south across the desert to the Mariscal Canyon trail head, around the canyon, climbed up to Mariscal Mountain and followed the ridge to above the Mariscal Mine, headed northwest to the Elephant Tusk trail head, up the ET trail to just north of Elephant Tusk, turned west off the ET trail to Double Spring, went southwest down the washes to the north end of Fisk Canyon, headed northwest to link up with the Smokey Creek trail, down the Smokey Creek trail, and back to the Mule Ears overlook--where thankfully the car was still waiting and in one piece.

Attached below is a PDF image of the tracking map from my inReach device, which hopefully will give a visual overview of my route.  I also have a GPS track that I recorded.  I plan to do a trip report and will provide a CalTopo link to my actual GPS track in the report.  I hope to get some of the report online this weekend.  If you would like my GPS track and will be leaving before I get the report done, please send me a PM, and I will try to get that to you before you start your travels.

I agree with everything said by Mule Ears, who has a lot more Big Bend experience and expertise than I do.  I have benefited greatly from posts by him and others on this site.   

I tried to address the long desert water carries by leaving two water caches along my route--both just off the River Road.  One cache I left near the River Road south of Y Spring.  (By the way, I could not find any water at Y Spring, although it is pretty green in that area with a lot of plants growing--so maybe a more thorough search would find something.)  I picked up the water from this cache on my way down from Dominguez Spring to the Mariscal Canyon trail head.  The second cache I left just off the River Road north of the Mariscal Mine.  I picked up water from that cache after hiking up the Mariscal Mountain ridge line and before heading up to the ET trail.

These caches worked well for me.  The downside is that it takes a lot of time before and after the hike to drop off and then pick up the containers for the caches.  My cache locations were 20+ miles down the River Road (whether going east or west on the road).  The road is pretty rough in spots, so it is slow going.  Although the signs say that a 4x4 is either "recommended" or "required" (depending on whether you enter from the east side or west side), I had no significant problems traveling on the road in my Subaru Crosstrek (more on this in my report).  I was told in no uncertain terms (by more than one ranger) that caches must be in a hard-sided container--even if it was a water-only cache (more on this also later).  This was a bummer because I would have otherwise cached the water in Ursack bags and carried them with me after picking up the water (to avoid the need for another drive on the road after the hike).  But I enjoyed the drives on the River Road so this worked okay for me this time.

Hope you have a great hike!  Be careful.  As Mule Ears advises, this is rough, unforgiving terrain.  I knew what to expect from a couple previous hikes I had done in this area (and from great advice on this site), but it presents a different set of challenges compared to other places that I have hiked (mostly at various locations in the Rocky Mountains).  At the end of the day, though, I just feel blessed by having had the opportunity to experience the amazing rugged beauty of this area.  Safe travels, Peter         


Happy to hear about your wonderful trip, Peter. I too thought about water cache but I don't have bear cans and a high ground clearance vehicle. Your Crosstrek definitely has more than couple inches additional ground clearance than my Mazda 3(low profile tires so even lower than stock). Anyways, how much water did you cache and use? Any problem locating or getting water from the springs that was listed by Mule Ears? Did you use any other springs that are not listed by Mule Ears?

Thanks for the heads up on the challenge. I will be in BB on 26th and starting this particular hike on 27th. Sending you PM. Thanks for sharing your trip preview, please post detailed trip report. It would be nice to read a trip report even after the actual trip.

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Offline vgeh

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Mule Ears and others who are collecting spring/water report, let me know if there are any springs that you would like to get a status when I am at BB. If the spring is not too far off from my route, I can take a look.

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Offline mule ears

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Mule Ears and others who are collecting spring/water report, let me know if there are any springs that you would like to get a status when I am at BB. If the spring is not too far off from my route, I can take a look.

On your route the springs we have not had reports on this fall are Smoky, springs in the Elephant Tusk trial/drainage Elegant, Elf and Elephant.  That would be great, thanks and be safe!
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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Offline Peter O

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This is a quick overview of the water I saw on my hike.  I will include some more detail in my report.  Mule Ears has already provided a great summary of the water he encountered on his similar hike http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/water-and-spring-reports/mule-ears-to-mariscal-(and-back)/, so I will focus mainly on areas where our paths diverged.

There was some water in Smokey Spring.  I did not need water there, but I saw a couple small pools that had accessible water (although one was kinda green and slimy looking).  As Mule Ears noted, Dominguez Spring has water.  There are several nice (but small) pools at and near the dam ruin.

By the way, I saw LOTS of bear scat--including some pretty prodigious heaps--in the washes that I traveled along.  In particular, there was lots of bear scat and tracks in the Dominguez Spring wash.  With the amount of bear scat I was seeing--and a lot of it seemingly fresh--I kept thinking that I would run into a bear.  I got into the habit of making some extra noise as I hiked so as to not startle a bear.  I never did see one.  Perhaps they heard me coming (or smelled me) and stayed away.  With the way I probably smelled, I'm not surprised that any self-respecting bear would have no interest in meeting me on the trail. 

During my hike from Dominguez to the Mariscal Canyon and then up the ridge of Mariscal Mountain, I saw no water, other than a few small tinajas that may have been from the recent snow/rain (and may now be gone).  As I mentioned above, I looked around a bit but could find no water at Y Spring.  (Also, as noted, I left two water caches for my hike through this area and so I didn't need any other water.)

There was water in Elegant Spring (in the trees just northeast of Elephant Tusk near--but not on--the ET trail).  There were a couple small pools, although a bit greenish.  But much better than that, in the wash that is just east of Elegant, water was flowing for about 50 yards, and there were several nice pools along this stretch.  I am not sure if this wash has a name.  The ET trail drops down into this wash and then climbs out of the wash to go up and over the ET wash where Elegant Spring is located.  (The ET trail through this area is not easy to follow--more on that later.)

After leaving the ET trail and hiking east along the north side of Elephant Tusk, there is good water at Double Spring.  Actually, water is running a good ways below Double Spring, and there were several good pools in this area.  Double Spring itself had a couple nice pools for obtaining water.

There was some water at several spots along the wash heading down to the north end of Fisk Canyon.  For example, there was a small pool near what is marked on my map as Dutch Boy Seep.  In the bend below what is marked as Pretty Good Seep, some water was flowing and there were several small pools.

As Mule Ears noted, there is a very small amount of water at Mano Abaja, and there were several small pools at Carney Spring.  Continuing up the wash, there were some nice pools after climbing the rock face (which has good hand holds) and before reaching the pour off near Poor Man's Loco Tinaja. 

Mule Ears has already covered the Smokey Creek drainage headed back towards Mule Ears trail.  As he suggests, there is lots of water and some nice pools in the wash between Black Rock Spring and Willow Spring.  Finally, and not surprisingly, there is a pretty good flow in Mule Ears Spring (although it is so close to the trail head that this does not help most folks).

vgeh:  I replied to your PM yesterday afternoon and sent a link to CalTopo showing my GPS tracks.  In checking my messages this morning, it did not show a sent message from me to you.  So this morning, I replied again to your PM and resent my CalTopo link, making sure that I got a "message sent" notification.  However, I still don't see either of these messages in my sent messages.  If you did not receive the link and still want it, perhaps you could send me an email (my address is in my profile), and I will try again that way.  Hope you have a great hike!
 



 

 


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