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

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Offline presidio

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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.

Wait a minute!

You have to WALK places in national parks????  :wtf:
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline mule ears

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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.

Wait a minute!

You have to WALK places in national parks????  :wtf:

As HMoD would say "Holyeee Cow!" presidio actually read one of my trip reports!   :icon_eek:
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 presidio

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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.

Wait a minute!

You have to WALK places in national parks????  :wtf:

As HMoD would say "Holyeee Cow!" presidio actually read one of my trip reports!   :icon_eek:

It may surprise some that I read quite a lot of the posts, probably 90+%.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline mule ears

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Well let's finish this up before the new year comes.  I am sorry for all the folks who have had their backpacking trip plans dashed by the government shutdown, I just hope my trip report has given you some taste of the desert!

Happy New Year!

Trail Day 7

It was a perfect night for a meteor shower, really clear and the quarter moon set early.  Lots of small/short streaks maybe one a minute at times and it culminated a first light with a huge one that went all the way across the sky, straight at the morning star, with side sparks, amazing.  Sure enough it was the coldest night of the trip at 33 degrees but I once again got early sun on the camp.  First light on the backside of the Grapevine Hills



And my wide open camp with early color on the Chisos.



After breakfast but before hoisting the pack I walked down to the end of the bench overlooking the wash I walked down yesterday afternoon from Grapevine Hills trying to see if I could see any sign of Fertile Sands spring, no indication of any water down there.

Back to camp and I can see my first objective this glorious last morning on the trail, the big cottonwoods at Neville spring.



I drop back down into the wash and follow it towards the spring, first having to work around a small pouroff.



I get to the stand of cottonwoods and there is no water anywhere, I am really surprised.



I move on up to the remains of the big stone house and it is quite something with the large stone fireplace.



I spend a bit of time looking for both the gravesite and the old cavalry post ruins but can’t readily find them.  I do find this javelina skull though.



On east I come to a big wash overlook, this is the area that Hannold spring #1 should be, no sign of water.



I walk down the bench and find remains of yet another old powerline and some ranch fencing.  Dropping into the wash I follow it down.  I come across this large but dead cottonwood in the vicinity of Hannold spring #2, again no sign of water.



11:00 after 4 miles I am at the confluence of the wash from Grapevine Hills, right up against the cockscomb of Hannold Hill, this is Avery Canyon.  I love the blue of the clays.



The terrain really starts to open up here and I am on a roll down the wide wash.  Soon I see the hoodoos and know that I am getting close.



Avery wash joins Tornillo creek and it is completely dry.



In a few minutes I am under the bridge where I had to carefully cross the stream seven days ago.



I climb out of Tornillo creek to the Fossil Bone exhibit and there is my lonely car.  12:30 after 8 miles and the trip is done!



I change shirts and pull stuff out of the pack that I will need in the car and drive off to pick up my bear canisters on Paint Gap road.  I get to the Chisos Mining Co. motel at 1:30 and they are kind enough to let me check in early.  First I go over to DB’s BBQ to get lunch which I take back to the room to enjoy with some Big Bend Brewing cervezas and then I take that first great shower. 

I do some repacking and organizing of my gear as I wait for HMoD to arrive as he was just finishing a short loop that I am sure he will tell us all about.  He arrives about 4:00 and we immediately dive into the details of each other’s trips over beers.  We pull ourselves away so he can shower and we head to the Starlight for dinner.

Heading home and final thoughts

The next morning we have breakfast at the Chili Pepper and he heads back to Dallas and me towards San Antonio.  I stop in Marathon for gas and they are in a power outage for a few hours.  I have enough gas to get to Sanderson where the Stripes is packed.  I took US 90 back specifically to be able to stop in Hondo at Heavy’s BBQ



It was the best BBQ we had last year and I wanted to take it to the hotel with me to savor for my last Texas dinner.  About an hour later I was checked in and enjoying a fine meal.



I spent the evening repacking for the flight home tomorrow and reading material for an all-day meeting I would have the day after I got home, what a horrible way to end a great trip.

This is a great loop with lots of different things to see and kinds of terrain to walk through.  There are also many side trips and other areas to check out, I just didn’t have time.  One could easily go the whole trip and not see another soul but the one drawback is on the south side you will hear some traffic from the park road but you can camp where you will not see the lights.  I did not hear traffic the last night even though the road was just over Hannold Hill.

The water cache is critical to a successful loop and easy to drop.  The food cache was not necessarily needed but did make the pack lighter the first few days.  Like most of my off trail walks one needs to be confident of their route finding and map reading skills even though this area is more wide open and thus easier to see where you are going.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 06:33:49 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 alan in shreveport

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Great report ME. I haven't poked around Grapevine Hills and Neville Springs in years (or the Cartledge ruins - Dike Tinaja area ever) but I'm putting them on the agenda for next trip. Glad you made it safe and sound. Thanks for all the time involved in the report - not to mention the actual hike !
Happy New Year

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Offline Al

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Epic as always! Thanks for sharing.

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Online Flash

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Enjoyed the whole telling of the trip. Thought about you and HMoD the Wednesday evening it rained and then the very blustery Thursday that followed. Glad it worked out for you.

Avery Canyon sure looks pretty and may be calling my name...


- Flash

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Enjoyed the whole telling of the trip. Thought about you and HMoD the Wednesday evening it rained and then the very blustery Thursday that followed. Glad it worked out for you.

Avery Canyon sure looks pretty and may be calling my name...


- Flash

+1   Agreed about the blues of Avery Canyon. ME posted several pics in this report that highlight subtle but gorgeous colors in the landscape. His wonderful hike is almost completely through what would be terra nova for me. I need to get out there.

Also, Flash, I think I saw your truck parked on the side of the road as I was heading out of the park on the afternoon of Friday 12/14. Is that possible?


I do some repacking and organizing of my gear as I wait for HMoD to arrive as he was just finishing a short loop that I am sure he will tell us all about.


We just got home from spending the holidays  at Grandma’s in Albuquerque (epic snow). I’m too tired after a 10-hour drive to ring in the New Year, but I may start knocking out a trip report tonight.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 10:47:21 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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I do find this coyote skull though.




Alex, I think I let you down AGAIN.  I recently suggested that image was of a coyote skull based on having briefly seen it on ME's camera screen a couple weeks ago, but now that I look at here on BBC in large format, I'm pretty sure that's a javelina skull.    :eusa_doh:
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Online Flash

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Enjoyed the whole telling of the trip. Thought about you and HMoD the Wednesday evening it rained and then the very blustery Thursday that followed. Glad it worked out for you.

- Flash
Also, Flash, I think I saw your truck parked on the side of the road as I was heading out of the park on the afternoon of Friday 12/14. Is that possible?
Not me, unless it was Thursday at the bottom of the Basin Road. I was already well on my way home that Friday afternoon...

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Offline mule ears

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I do find this coyote skull though.




Alex, I think I let you down AGAIN.  I recently suggested that image was of a coyote skull based on having briefly seen it on ME's camera screen a couple weeks ago, but now that I look at here on BBC in large format, I'm pretty sure that's a javelina skull.    :eusa_doh:

I believe you are right now that I compare pictures of the two I see the difference in the teeth in front of the big teeth.  Correction will be made.
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
Great report ME. I haven't poked around Grapevine Hills and Neville Springs in years (or the Cartledge ruins - Dike Tinaja area ever) but I'm putting them on the agenda for next trip. Glad you made it safe and sound. Thanks for all the time involved in the report - not to mention the actual hike !
Happy New Year

Epic as always! Thanks for sharing.

Enjoyed the whole telling of the trip. Thought about you and HMoD the Wednesday evening it rained and then the very blustery Thursday that followed. Glad it worked out for you.

Avery Canyon sure looks pretty and may be calling my name...
- Flash


Thanks for the kind words all.  Of course much of this loop can be broken down into dayhikes or short one night loops if one wanted to just check out certain areas.
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 House Made of Dawn

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Hang ON!  STOP THE PRESSES!!!




There was clearly water running down the wash a few days ago, this guy did not make the swim.




Grasshopper Mouse, probably the Southern species (Onychomys torridus)... you can tell Grasshoppers by the short tail.


I was doing a little Big Bend wildlife research tonight. I happened to be scanning the mammal list when I noticed that the status of Onychomys, the Grasshopper Mouse genus, is listed as EXTREMELY RARE, with only one known specimen from Big Bend National Park.

So I did a little more reading. Grasshopper Mice are always scarce. I discovered that there are no known records of the Northern Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys leucogaster) in Brewster County, and that the Southern Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys torrida), after careful DNA analysis, has been split into two species. There are no known records of the original, Onychomys Torrida, in Brewster County, and there may only be a single record of the split-off species, Onychomys arenicola, or Mearns Grasshopper Mouse in the county, and that specimen was taken years ago near Gano Spring in BBNP. In the grand scheme of BBNP, Gano is not that far from the part of Rough Run where you found your specimen, ME, and it's in generally the same kind of habitat (a little scrubbier).

Now I'm pretty darn sure your photo is of a Grasshopper Mouse, but I'm an ornithologist, not a mammalogist.  Nor can I say for certain which Grasshopper Mouse species that might be, but any way you slice it, that's an EXTREMELY RARE find. And, even better, ME, you have an excellent photo of it and you know almost exactly where you found the specimen.  This info should be forwarded to the BBNP wildlife biologist. Unfortunately, the park is closed right now, and Raymond Skiles, who held that position for years, has just retired.  Still, this needs to get to somebody in the park ASAP.

Here's a link to an online checklist of mammals in the park. 

https://visitbigbend.com/mammals/

Here's a link to the species account from Davis & Schmidly's Mammals of Texas.

http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/onycaren.htm

As well as a longer, more informative link from the same source, but about the very similar Northern Grasshopper Mouse

http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/onycleuc.htm

Lastly, check out this Nat Geo video about the Onychomys genus (ignore the Sonoran part) and then tell me you're not blown away.......

« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 12:28:03 AM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline congahead

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Really enjoyed this one, ME. You undertake BB treks that I’m not ready to even consider yet. But you may inspire me to one day do something more ambitious. I often wonder how I’d do solo. I don’t think I would get “scared,” but think it’s highly likely I’d get lonely. Even though I go to BB to get away from other people, having at least one other person with whom to experience the desert is alway nice.
"The animals here will generally try to avoid you, but the plants will hurt you every chance they get."

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Offline mule ears

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
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  • 4223
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Hang ON!  STOP THE PRESSES!!!




There was clearly water running down the wash a few days ago, this guy did not make the swim.




Grasshopper Mouse, probably the Southern species (Onychomys torridus)... you can tell Grasshoppers by the short tail.


I was doing a little Big Bend wildlife research tonight. I happened to be scanning the mammal list when I noticed that the status of Onychomys, the Grasshopper Mouse genus, is listed as EXTREMELY RARE, with only one known specimen from Big Bend National Park.

So I did a little more reading. Grasshopper Mice are always scarce. I discovered that there are no known records of the Northern Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys leucogaster) in Brewster County, and that the Southern Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys torrida), after careful DNA analysis, has been split into two species. There are no known records of the original, Onychomys Torrida, in Brewster County, and there may only be a single record of the split-off species, Onychomys arenicola, or Mearns Grasshopper Mouse in the county, and that specimen was taken years ago near Gano Spring in BBNP. In the grand scheme of BBNP, Gano is not that far from the part of Rough Run where you found your specimen, ME, and it's in generally the same kind of habitat (a little scrubbier).

Now I'm pretty darn sure your photo is of a Grasshopper Mouse, but I'm an ornithologist, not a mammalogist.  Nor can I say for certain which Grasshopper Mouse species that might be, but any way you slice it, that's an EXTREMELY RARE find. And, even better, ME, you have an excellent photo of it and you know almost exactly where you found the specimen.  This info should be forwarded to the BBNP wildlife biologist. Unfortunately, the park is closed right now, and Raymond Skiles, who held that position for years, has just retired.  Still, this needs to get to somebody in the park ASAP.

Here's a link to an online checklist of mammals in the park. 

https://visitbigbend.com/mammals/

Here's a link to the species account from Davis & Schmidly's Mammals of Texas.

http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/onycaren.htm

As well as a longer, more informative link from the same source, but about the very similar Northern Grasshopper Mouse

http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/onycleuc.htm

Lastly, check out this Nat Geo video about the Onychomys genus (ignore the Sonoran part) and then tell me you're not blown away.......



That is totally awesome!  I had no idea that there were mice that were meat eaters and scorpion killers to boot, throw in the wolf howl and that is one fearsome mouse!  I am sorry I didn't roll him over and take a picture of the backside.  I will report it after the government shutdown.  Thanks HMoD, I know you are feeling better now when you are up at midnight researching mice!
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 


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