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2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016

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Offline With Deacon

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2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« on: January 26, 2016, 11:42:59 AM »
Demon Deacon is busy shoveling out snow so I thought I would get our trip report started, and I am sure he will come along and add to this when he has a chance.

First, thanks to everyone that provided feedback on our suggested itinerary thread as that was very helpful.  I haven't gone back to check our list, but we did a lot of different hikes and drives this year.  I feel like we stayed pretty active without overdoing it too much.

All of my pictures can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrichwfu/sets/72157663644121396/

Now for the trip report:

Our foursome became a last minute group of three, but the three of us excitedly descended upon El Paso around noon on Wednesday.  Then we remembered that we were in El Paso so we hustled to the rental car, hit up Whataburger, grabbed some food and stuff at Walmart, and beat it out of town. 

After arriving in Alpine, we were pretty anxious to hit up Reata Restaurant, which was closed in 2015 when we were there.  Imagine the odds, they are renovating their kitchen so we were unable to eat there.  We ended up going to Guzzi Up for some pizza and pasta.  The food was good.  I'd give it 4 stars considering the location and price, etc.

The next morning, after picking up several donuts at Baker's Dozen Donuts in Alpine (5 stars!) we hit the road back towards Marfa so we could take 67 to FM170 through BBRSP.  This was the first new thing on our agenda.  The drive was very scenic, of course, so I would definitely suggest this for anyone coming into the park from that direction. 

After registering, we did one quick hike along the way at Closed Canyon Trail (I believe.).  The canyon was dry so we probably walked down it maybe 3/4 of a mile before deciding to head back to the car.  We did see some fresh tracks in the area, including this one, which I believe is a mountain lion print:



I'm sure Demon Deacon will have more pictures and thoughts about the drive!  We did see a nice buck somewhere shortly after the hike.  He quickly moved off the road and bounded out of sight.

Once we got to Study Butte, we weren't able to check in so we headed on to Panther Junction to register.  After that, we headed over to hit the Chimneys Trail.  I didn't take very many pictures early in the trip because I sprained my ankle pretty badly back in the Fall so I was a little distracted by basically every step I took early in the trip.  I believe Demon Deacon has some pictures.   

I don't think any of us were really too excited by the Chimneys Trail, but it was a nice warm-up hike (particularly for me) given that it was pretty flat and easy going.  The weather was warmer than it was in 2015, and that trail offers zero shade so that is something to keep in mind as the sun will zap your energy anytime of year.

After that, we did the quick Lower Burro Mesa Pour-off, which was a very quick hike, but interesting.  We didn't go back and do the Upper trail, but maybe we will get to that during our next trip! 

We all wanted to have another sunset at Homer Wilson's Ranch so that was our final stop for the day in the park. Last year, we encountered only one other person there, and it was very quiet.  This year, we ran into a group of college girls that were bedding down for the night as part of their OML adventure.  Demon Deacon will have more about that!

Here are a couple of shots I took that night...attempting to get a different view than I captured last year:





Which one of you naughty people left this behind?


Day 2 in the park started with Lost Mine Trail.  Wow, what a hike.  We got a later start than intended, but we were on the trail around 9am, I believe.  On the way up, we ran into BBNP's videographer.  She stopped and talked to us for a while telling us about what we could see from the summit, and answering some other questions about the park.  She told us that she does LMT twice a week just for fitness.  It goes without saying that she put us to shame.  We didn't run into anyone else on the way up so we had a peaceful time enjoying the sights. 

When we got to the top, my mom's genes kicked in and a nice vertigo feeling set in so I didn't actually make it to the final scenic overlook.  Demon Deacon did, however, so he can share his thoughts on that!

On the way back down, we were busy talking about movies when our third friend spotted some deer eating by the trail.  We stopped and watched them for a few minutes before they grazed their way past us.



Next, we headed over to to the Sam Nail Ranch, and did a quick walk there taking a bit of a break there to enjoy the sounds of the birds and, of course, the windmill.

After that, we hiked Cattail Falls.  The moon was just above the Window, which was kind of neat.


Cattail Falls Trail gives you some good up close look at the Chisos as well as dramatic views of wide open space around you.  Once you get to the waterfall area, the pools of water seem out of place in the desert landscape, and it is a good reward for the hike.  Here's a view of my friends as we headed back towards the trailhead with the wide open view.


Next, we drove down towards Santa Elena canyon stopping a few times along the way (Mule Ears overlook and Tuff Canyon).  We wanted to revisit the graveyard that overlooks Santa Elena Canyon.  We visited it at night last year, and I am not sure how we managed to find it.  It's well worth a stop for the views and just to appreciate those that came before us.


After that, we saw a bobcat or two dart across the road in front of us before we pulled off to check out the ruins, which are neat and worth your time!  I was sort of surprised that we had driven past them so many times without me seeing them, but BBNP offers no shortage of things to see.  Here's a view of Santa Elena Canyon I captured somewhere in that area:


We ended Friday at Sotol Vista where several folks gathered to watch the sunset, which was special that evening:


Demon Deacon has a stunning view of this sunset, which I will let him post later!

I'll post our Saturday & Sunday recap later!

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Offline Jalco

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2016, 11:50:10 AM »
Thanks for posting the link.  I love the last picture, the sunset on the Chisos!!

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Offline Andreas

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2016, 11:53:22 AM »
Great write-up & outstanding pics, all of them. My personal favorite is that wide angle shot of cattail falls trail with the 2 backpackers (even more impressive when you look at the original size photo at the flickr-site). Thank you very much for sharing & looking forward to part 2.
"Any time you're throwin dirt you're losin ground."

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

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Offline Demon Deacon

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2016, 01:39:39 PM »
Thanks to With Deacon for getting this started, and to everyone here for their advice on our second trip.  As reported, I've spent the better part of the past two days digging out of the snow in DC.  We bought a new place upon my return last week, so I have had the distinct pleasure of digging out of one place to then go to dig out the new place.  My shoes that were covered in Big Bend dirt are now squeaky clean from 20+ inches of snow. Only one cure for that.

I'll follow With Deacon's lead and try to cover the first half of the trip (I'm supposed to be working from home today).

All of my pictures are at https://www.flickr.com/photos/36417924@N00/albums/72157661531133573 if you wish to jump ahead or see what I didn't embed here.

Closed Canyon in BBRSP was a nice hike to complement the drive. We didn't do much scrambling, so I'm not really sure how far we got in. Probably not more than 3/4 mile, if that.




We also made a few stops at scenic points on the way over to Study Butte. This was a favorite.


For our first hike, The Chimneys Trail was fine, if not overly compelling for us.  Being able to see the destination from the parking area lessened some of the excitement, but nevertheless it was a new hike for us.  I would not want to do this if was much warmer.  That being said, I was just thrilled to be in the park again.

View on the way to the Chimneys

Once you get there

Nice view of the Chisos on the way back to the car


Lower Burro Mesa was a nice little walk and well worth the minimal effort in my opinion.  It’s a neat little spot that you can very nearly drive right up to.


The walk back to the car was stunning in the afternoon light


Homer Wilson for sunset was a nice end to the day.  We didn’t have the place to ourselves unfortunately as With Deacon reported, but we did later connect on Facebook with the group of girls doing the OML after one of them posted in the Friends of Big Bend group and it seems they all completed their adventure unscathed.  Kudos to them!




With Deacon hard at work


Here’s a time lapse of the fading daylight against Carousel Mountain (probably best viewed on mobile)



Day 2, my child-like excitement of being in the park got the best of me, and I got up to take in the sunrise from our spot at the Chisos Mining Company Motel.  There was a large hill directly behind our house (the pink one) that I climbed in the dark and set-up shop for a little over two hours. I didn’t quite plan on getting up there THAT early, so I made a half-hearted attempt at some nighttime photography.



Once the sun began to rise, I realized that I would have pretty much a full view of Santa Elena and the Sierra Ponce.  I was excited to say the least.




My time lapse of this event was not as good as I had hoped, but that’s an iPhone for you.


From there, the Lost Mine hike was brilliant.  This was new for us, since we chose to do the South Rim last year.  I felt that this totally gives you the best bargain for your effort in the park.  The views were stunning and the going not terribly difficult.  With Deacon wasn’t up for the last little bit of the trail at the top due to his vertigo, but I tried to get some pictures in the super-windy conditions.







After that, we did the hike to Cattail Falls, which was spectacular.  There was water at the bottom and we saw two other groups of folks along the way.






Stops at the cemetery and Dorgan site on the way to Santa Elena were nice outings as well.


View from Dorgan


To cap off the day, the sunset at Sotol Vista was superb. The clouds were perfect.

With Deacon at work again




Saturday and Sunday reports to follow from both of us…
« Last Edit: January 26, 2016, 01:45:58 PM by Demon Deacon »

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Offline With Deacon

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2016, 01:50:19 PM »
That last sunset pic is amazeballs.

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Offline Andreas

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2016, 02:37:00 PM »
simply WOW !!!  :eusa_clap:
"Any time you're throwin dirt you're losin ground."

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

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Offline Homer67

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2016, 03:23:32 PM »
Great report, looking forward to more!
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?

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2016, 04:36:59 PM »
There's a bunch of great calendar nods there.   




Sent from my iPad using Big Bend Chat mobile app for iPad or iPhone

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2016, 04:39:14 PM »


So, that's where it went.  Dang it.


Sent from my iPad using Big Bend Chat mobile app for iPad or iPhone

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Offline Demon Deacon

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2016, 08:07:08 PM »
So here goes our Saturday and Sunday summary:
Saturday was our Marufo Vega day.  We left Chisos Mining around 7:45 or so, stopped for gas at the Motor Inn, and made the drive across the park.

We hit the trail a few minutes after 9.  The day was perfect for it, but I don't think I'd want to do this one if it was even 10 degrees warmer.  The climb was uneventful and we were on our way.




Word for those interested, I downloaded the MotionX-GPS app for my iPhone 6s prior to the trip, and it worked perfectly once I played around with it the previous two days and figured out what data services needed to be on.

I had researched the trip out to Randell's (thanks to everyone here) and set up some waypoints to help us.  The going was slow and I was the only one that had really looked into it.  Interestingly, With Deacon and I both heard a loud guttural grunt of some sort heading up the first ridge beside the maintained trail.  It sounded somewhat like a horse to me, but who knows.  Our third friend didn't hear it.  I stood momentarily looking for movement, which With Deacon assured me I wouldn't see.

Long story short, we pulled up short at the bluff just past the second ridge unfortunately.  Here are the pictures I took from our end point.  I believe we needed to get around the large mountain in the first picture (bad quality pic, but it's all I took) and then down to the overlook.  Better luck and prep next time I suppose.

View back towards the maintained trail from the bluff


We made our way back to the maintained trail, with me slipping and taking a seat somewhere before the first ridge on the way back, at which point all of my morale was lost having pulled up short on our attempt.  I quickly regrouped though seeing the Sierra del Carmen on the way back.



The climb back down took me forever. I don't trust my knee since I hurt it a few years ago going downhill, so I took it very easy.  It really drove home the point that I'm far more comfortable going up than down.

Total hike out and back was 6.44 miles and we did it in just under 4.5 hours with a decent stop after the climb/descent and at the bluff towards Randell's.  I can live with that.

We were all fairly spent, so we decided to drive up towards Persimmon Gap, since we didn't go that way last time.  We drove out to Dagger Flat and then turned around and headed back to Study Butte because none of us felt much like hiking anymore.  We instead hit Starlight a little earlier that night, where I took this time lapse from the porch, Lone Star in hand, waiting to be seated.


After dinner, we went back to the parking area at the bottom of the Basin Road where tjavery gave the workshop the night before.  We had hoped to make it to the workshop, but the lodge was dreadfully slow for dinner and we knew we needed to be up early for Marufo the next morning.  With Deacon got some great nighttime shots from there regardless that I'm sure he'll share here.

On Sunday, I got up for sunrise again.




Once the sun was up, we drove down the Old Maverick Road, which we did not do before either.  We stopped briefly at Luna's and were generally in awe of the view of Santa Elena the whole way.  Border Patrol was making their flight in the Cessna, and it was stunning to see how small the plane looked against the canyon (not pictured here).  We parked and walked down to the river and spent some time photographing and just taking it in.  I could spend an entire day there just sitting, watching, and listening.




Fully recharged from our Santa Elena stop, we made the drive back up the Ross Maxwell and across to the Boquillas Crossing, which we also did not do before.  Lupe was our guide and we had a fantastic lunch at Boquillas Restaurant, which seemed to be the way he was steering us.  Cheese enchiladas were excellent, as was the Carta Blanca.  Lupe walked us over for the fantastic view at Jose Falcon's after we were done.  All in all, a great late lunch experience.





Back on U.S. soil, we took our time driving back to Study Butte and headed for the Indian Head Spring Trail, a favorite stop from our first trip.  We took our time there and stayed through sunset.  With Deacon has some great shots from a higher vantage point, but here are mine.






The sunset against the Chisos was other-worldly.  Not more than a minute after the sun went down, a pack of coyotes somewhere within the canyon with us began to rejoice in their day.  I tried to snap a quick video in which you can sort of hear them if you turn the volume up.


Our third and final dinner at Starlight brought our trip to an end, but not before one final half-hearted attempt at nighttime photos for me.


We got up and left just after sunrise Monday morning for our drive back to El Paso and flights back to reality.  Big Bend is still in my mind and in my heart, and now I begin plotting the third trip.  Until then, here we are at Indian Head, With Deacon in the center and me on the right.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 06:04:11 AM by Demon Deacon »

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Offline RichardM

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2016, 08:55:45 PM »
Nice report and pics, guys! I was staying at the Chisos Mining Company Motel with family Saturday and Sunday nights of that weekend (report to be posted sooner or later).

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Offline Homer Wilson

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2016, 10:02:12 PM »
Woah! Those were some awesome pictures! That sunset, dang.

Now I'm almost positive you can't cache a pipe in a historic building, but do you also need a bear box for it? Perhaps the next compendium will clarify.

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Offline jssmith57

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2016, 10:28:13 PM »
Awesome photographs!  How close is that cemetery to the Dorgan site. Can you see it from the ruins?

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Offline With Deacon

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2016, 10:30:16 PM »
Demon - I caught a 60 Mins segment about mountain lions in the Hollywood area (slow news day), and they had footage showing a mountain lion near a house deliberately walking on large rocks to avoid the smaller rocks which might make noise. 

Also, I guess I should have thanked you in my first post since you really did 95% (if not 100%) of the organizing and planning for this trip (as well as last year's). 

Now that our trip report is pretty well covered, I'll just post a few more pics:

Roadrunner hunting down some lunch near Santa Elena Canyon:


A couple of night shots:



NPS Border Fence near Indian Head Springs Trail:


And sunset on the Chisos from Indian Head Springs Trail:
« Last Edit: January 30, 2016, 12:59:11 PM by With Deacon »

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Offline With Deacon

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Re: 2nd Trip - Jan 13-18th, 2016
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2016, 10:49:32 PM »
Awesome photographs!  How close is that cemetery to the Dorgan site. Can you see it from the ruins?

Demon Deacon can give specifics, but the cemetery is just a few minutes drive (if that) from the ruins.  Just keep heading towards the canyon, and you'll see a pullout on the left with an elevated perch of land next to it.  Walk up that and at least in the daytime you can see a path that takes you to the graves (although you can see the crosses in daylight as well).

We managed to find it last year in the complete dark with just some small flashlights.  During the day this year, we realized how we could have taken a bad step and fallen several feet.

We also had a rabbit sneak up on us in the dark last year and scared the bejesus out of us. 

 


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