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Around Slickrock Mtn, Croton Peak, Paint Gap Hills and Grapevine Hills Dec. 2018

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Offline mule ears

  • Golden Eagle
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  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
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I had contemplated climbing Croton Peak from here but just wasn’t feeling the energy after the days hike, sorry BK. 

 :icon_rolleyes:

Sorry man, I had just carried a pack for 10 miles.  I will have to go for it as a day hike sometime.  No comment on the big buck?
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Robert

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  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Nice find on the big tinaja. Love the product placement on the lunch break shot. My hair (or what's left of it) would be standing on end if I came across fresh bear tracks like that. Not that I'm afraid of bears but would be leery of running into one in a narrow wash.

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Online Flash

  • Mountain Lion
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There are several mortar holes at the top of the pouroff indicating it must have been a pretty regular water source in the past.



Nice discovery. Really like the pattern formed where the fissures became filled and recemented. Seems to me these mortar holes are often located where the grinders could keep a good lookout while working.

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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    • Who was Desert Rat Shorty?




That tinaja got a name? Kind of looks like it needs one.

Those expansive views are definitely whetting my appetite. Great report so far and looking forward to the conclusion.
I roamed and rambled, and I foller'ed my footsteps
   To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
   And all around me a voice was a'sounding
   This land was made for you and me

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Nice Buck ME !

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
....and there I find a super clear and fresh set of bear tracks in the mud going down stream.





And coyotes going up stream.

You really hit the jackpot with animal tracks on this trip. Again, those are some of the clearest Black Bear prints I've ever seen.


I see lots of human foot prints in the wash here until I get past the springs themselves which really don’t seem to be putting out much water.  Not far above them I follow the wrong fork right and come to a short pouroff with a big pool at the bottom.


 
....

I am looking for what I think is a tinaja that I saw on Google Earth and it should be right in this gap.



Sure enough there is a large pool at the base of the pouroff, easy to get to, with several smaller pools farther down the drop.



There are several mortar holes at the top of the pouroff indicating it must have been a pretty regular water source in the past.



This is the view the top of the pouroff back towards where I had lunch.




One thing about all the rains this year, they've created a wonderworld of unexpected, ephemeral water sources. But that tinaja you searched out sure looks permanent. I agree with DRS, it needs a name. And you should be the one to name it, ME.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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And another thing: kudos on your campsites and lunch sites. You sure do have a knack for picking good ones.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline mule ears

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  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Nice find on the big tinaja. Love the product placement on the lunch break shot. My hair (or what's left of it) would be standing on end if I came across fresh bear tracks like that. Not that I'm afraid of bears but would be leery of running into one in a narrow wash.

HaHa!  I hadn't thought about the product placement, maybe I can get Smartwool to become a sponsor!

That is the same wash you all walked up in 2011 and would have made so much noise the bear would have hightailed it up the side and out I am sure.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline mule ears

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    • 40 years of walking
Nice Buck ME !

Thanks Alan, I feel much better now.   :eusa_boohoo:
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline mule ears

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  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Quote
There are several mortar holes at the top of the pouroff indicating it must have been a pretty regular water source in the past.



Nice discovery. Really like the pattern formed where the fissures became filled and recemented. Seems to me these mortar holes are often located where the grinders could keep a good lookout while working.

It was really cool rock and I kicked myself for not getting more pictures of it.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline mule ears

  • Golden Eagle
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  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking

This is the view the top of the pouroff back towards where I had lunch.




One thing about all the rains this year, they've created a wonderworld of unexpected, ephemeral water sources. But that tinaja you searched out sure looks permanent. I agree with DRS, it needs a name. And you should be the one to name it, ME.

The one bad thing about the big tinaja is it faces almost due south so would evaporate pretty fast in hot weather and it didn't look real deep.  Maybe Croton Gap tinaja?
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline elhombre

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Beautiful picture of the Buck!
The Tolerant Left  Masters of the Universe at Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Criteo, Vimeo and Spotify removed Alex Jones and other conservative voices.  There's no argument when only one side is heard!

What's your Social Credit Score?

May God Bless America

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Offline badknees

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The coolest thing about big Muley Bucks is the way they run. Effortless bounce across difficult terrain is always amazing to watch.

Just messin' with you about Croton Peak.
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
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Offline mule ears

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  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Trail Day 6

Still really windy at first light but the low was only 46 degrees.  With the wind everything is dry including the tarp and I jump up to take it down and stuff it in its bag.



Breakfast to a nice sunrise over the del Carmens and El Pico.




Walking before 9:00 and the winds are at least 20 mph with gusts to 30 which can begin to knock you around.  The angle of the sun made it a bit tricky to see the lechuguilla in the tall grasses and jumbled rocks so I was having to move a bit slower than usual to avoid getting stabbed, I was successful as I worked my way down and across this area.



There were pools of water in the rock bottomed washes draining north but I did not drop down into them to see if there were more tinajas that I had also seen on Google Earth.



This is water in the drainage above Paint Gap seep.  You can see buildings over on Terlingua ranch.



The walking got much faster as I neared the gap in the hills that would take me down to the Paint Gap road just below campsites 2 and 3.  I was afraid I would have to battle my way through some dense vegetation near the road but I strolled right to the road just above the big puddle that had stopped me six days ago when I was setting my water cache.  I hit the road at 10:00 after 2.5 miles.



My large bear can was undisturbed behind a large yucca.  It held 11 liters of water and I now only needed about 5 so I poured out half of it and carried it on down the road a half mile or so where there is a service road that heads east off the road.  I would do my repack and leave both bear canisters there for easy retrieval tomorrow.



A short diversion here to discuss water caches under the newish 2014 bear canister rules which state that both cached food and water must be in a bear proof container.  Water is a particular problem because the bear canisters are not watertight, i.e. if something knocked a bear can full of water over it would leak out the lid because there is no seal.  If you just put water bottles in a bear can you can’t fit very many. 

Four years ago when we were all discussing this Lissa suggested a flexible bladder like those in to-go coffee boxes.  I have from time to time researched this trying to find such a bladder that would hold 3 gallons and fill the inside of the bear can completely and had a spout to make filling of water bottles easy.  I could find nothing online so I contacted a friend of mine in the coffee business and he tried to get some samples for me but couldn’t.
 
Just before this trip, which was the first time I have needed to cache water like this, I was delivering to one of our restaurant accounts and he had wine in boxes that had 18 liter bladders with spouts!  I took an empty one and started to play with it.  The spout does not come off so I had to cut the corner of the flat, 2 layer bag, for a fill hole and then clamped it with a two part clamp for sealing bags.  It worked like a dream, even under pressure. I put duct tape on both sides of the angled cut to hold the two layers together and to make filling easier.



The BearVault 500 has a capacity of 11.5 liters so it was easy to get a complete fill with the 18 liter wine bladder and just push the excess into the top of the bear can.





And the filling of bottles was a breeze with the canister sitting on a rock.



I am really happy with this solution and can get lots of these bags for free if anyone wants some, I can even send a clip with it.  Or you can ask you favorite restaurant if they have wine in the box.  :icon_biggrin:

I filled up 5 liters for the next day or so, probably too much but just being safe.  I left anything I didn’t need for the rest of the trip and then stashed Papa bear and Baby bear (yes there is a Mama bear too, just left her at home this time) behind another yucca and headed east down the service road along the base of Paint Gap Hills with about a 25 pound pack.



The road petered out and I dropped into the tight wash



Soon I made it to the “corner” where the wash turns north and another one comes in from the south at 4 miles.



It was still really windy, mostly overcast and chilly was I sailed down the big wash east of Paint Gap Hills.



By noon I had done 6 miles for the day and climbed out of the wash to the east to start the cross country stretch over towards Grapevine Hills.  I took a compass bearing and headed off towards Lorn spring.



It is really good walking with pretty widely spaced plants and not too many washes to cross.  It is so windy and cool that I don’t stop for lunch but do have to stop to put on an extra layer.  By 2:00 I cross under the same power line I walked under on Tornillo creek six days ago.  I had one more ridge to cross over before I hit the wash for Lorn spring.  There was a lot of exploded petrified wood along here.



At 2:30 after 10 miles I drop my pack and walk down to see if Lorn spring had any water.  Totally dry in the wash above with no animal prints but as I neared the lip of the big sandstone pouroff I could hear the faint trickling of water.



Sure enough there was a small hanging fern garden about five feet above the bottom



And it was dripping into two small pools




with absolutely no runoff down wash.  There is a very good game trail down the right side if one wanted to get down to the water.



I walked back up to my pack.  I had planned to camp here but it was too early and it was too chilly to just sit around so I decided to head towards Grapevine Hills and the Balanced Rock even though it would assuredly break my no people streak.  Off I went across one more wash to the parking lot for the trail.



To be expected there were three cars in the parking area



and as I steamed up the trail I passed one person as I marveled at the geology, unlike anything else I have seen in Big Bend.



I got to the divide and dropped my pack to walk on up to the Balanced Rock at 4:00 after 12 miles.



and then found four more people at the top. 123 hours seeing no other people and in a half an hour, on the only trail I walked on the whole trip, I see 5.  I would have avoided the Balanced Rock trail but I had never seen this icon of Big Bend which was not as big as I had thought.  One of these folks was commenting on how the road in was a bit rough, I said “I wouldn’t know, I walked here”.  They didn’t know how to respond.



The great thing was it was now clearing off beautifully which would make viewing the peak of the Geminid meteor shower tonight perfect!



I took in the views for a bit but had to get down the other side and find a campsite.



I took the giant hand as a sign “no more people”



The drop down the backside was really easy and soon I was cruising down the wash towards Hannold Hill. 



I got to the side wash that comes from Neville spring and climbed up onto the bench to the east.  It was going to be cold tonight and I both wanted a good view of the sky for the meteors and a bit warmer location out of the wash.  Another great camp with big views all around.  I dropped my pack at 5:00 after almost 14 miles today.

Tomorrow the final stretch...
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 06:34:16 AM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Jalco

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Love your pictures of the Grapevine area.  I had no idea what that terrain looked like.  Thanks!

 


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