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Dominguez Summit

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Offline Cookie

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Dominguez Summit
« on: March 25, 2013, 05:04:29 PM »
The second week in January El Hombre and I headed back to Big Bend for a backpacking trip. We have been going out every year about this time for the last several years. In our excitement to share Big Bend with others we started inviting people to go with us, and they kept taking us up on it! We hadn't been out there “alone” in about four years. So we made a pact not to invite anyone else this time, so we could have some “us” time. Hiker went off the my parents house and we set off for Big Bend.

The weather forecast had started out good two weeks before, and slowly got worse and worse. We had snow between Ft. Stockton and Marathon. Then the rain started. It was really coming down, Tornillo Creek was flooding. In all the years of going out there this was really a first. By the time we got to Panther Junction they were closing roads in the park. We were worried about the conditions on Glen Springs road, since we were heading out to Elephant Tusk trail head. The idea of setting up camp in the rain/snow was not very appealing, so we headed to the Lodge for a room. Our first time to every stay anywhere except in a back country campsite. The room was pretty basic, just wish the bed was not a canoe. It snowed that evening, and the road to the Basin was closed by 6pm. We were told it would be open first thing in the morning.




 We both slept pretty bad, and were ready to get out under the stars and on the ground. We had gotten our permits the day before, and our backpacks were ready to go. We headed out Glenn Springs Rd, curious of the road conditions. We drove thru some huge puddles that sent up a wave of water that covered the whole front of our car. It got pretty sticky as we turned on River Road. Our tires were caked by the time we got to the trail head. The weather had cleared and we had a beautiful day ahead of us.


We found water as we hiked up the ET trail. We were walking in the wash with the canyon wall to my left. El Hombre was in front, we were separated by about 10 feet. All of a sudden a rock about the size of my head landed in between us. My first thought was, how did he throw that? Then I realized it had come off the cliff next to us. YIKES! That could have been a quick end to our trip. Maybe it was from all the rain the day before. I definitely moved over to the other side of the wash.

As we came up on the northeast side of Elephant Tusk, we left the trail and started headed West.


Our main goal of the two night trip was to summit Dominguez Mtn. We had been eyeballing this climb for a while, but wasn't sure how Hiker would do on it. We found a great camping spot near the base of Dominguez. We set up home for the next two nights and enjoyed our evening.


 As we had hiked in the day before, we were always heading toward Dominguez, and I went back and forth on if it was “do-able”.


We decided to approach it from the north side and ascend the ridge, going over the false summit, then-hopefully- making it to the top.
(morning view from the campsite)


Once we started I knew we would be able to do it.

view from the first hill ascended, just north of Dominguez




Heading up to the false summit






I thought the final push to the top might be hard, but it was not bad at all. The views were amazing from the top, especially looking down Dominguez drainage to the south.




looking down on the false summit


looking down at Fisk Canyon






The weather was great and we enjoyed a leisure snack on top. As we headed down, we discussed either returning the way we came or going down a gully on the west side. The gully didn't look so bad (famous last words-hindsight 20/20) so we opted for a new route. We would head down the gully down into Fisk Canyon, then head north. We would take a wash east that we had been in a few times, and that would take us back to our campsite. The first part of the gully wasn't bad, but then it got steeper, and steeper.





Looking (straight) up the gully


We finally hit a spot that I wasn't sure if I could get down. Looking up, I knew it would be a bear to retrace our steps back up. We were able to find a way around the drop-off and continue down. By now it was well past 3pm, and I was starting to get nervous.  It was a tedious descent down, but we finally made it all the way down into Fisk.

Looking at the drainage, the tough spot was midway by the rock outcrop:


I was glad we knew the area, so we were able to make it back before dark. I don't think I would pick that route again to come down from the summit. We found water on the way back and topped off our containers. We made it back “home” in time for adult beverages and an amazing sunset on ET.





The hike out was uneventful, and we headed to Pine Canyon for our last night. We were ready for a cold night, as the temperature had been dropping. After setting up camp we headed down to the hot springs for a well earned soak. The temperature dipped into the 20's that night. A great last night in the desert. We packed up in the morning, tired and yet refreshed at the same time. From snow to rain to blue skies, it had been another great trip to the Bend!

  ~Cookie

Will post some video of Tornillo creek flooding and pano sweep from on top of Dominguez once I get them uploaded.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 08:06:19 PM by Cookie »

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 06:18:37 PM »
Great report & pics. That ET sunset is surreal!
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Online Lance

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 07:00:02 PM »
WOW!  I've been waiting for this.  Can't believe y'all came down the west side in that gully.   :eusa_clap:  :notworthy:
I'm always amazed at what looks impossible from far away turns out to be much more doable up close.  Congrats to you two. Totally Awesome!
Here's a pic of your west side route with steep area from Pt 5168..



Pt 5168 - East Summit - FULL SCREEN VERSION / LABELED VERSION


Also, a question for those who've gone north up Fisk Canyon.  What's the route like up the canyon?  Is it bouldery, like at the start from Dominguez Spring? or does it level out and make for easy hiking?
« Last Edit: December 28, 2016, 04:39:21 PM by Lance »

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Offline badknees

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 09:10:05 PM »
Also, a question for those who've gone north up Fisk Canyon.  What's the route like up the canyon?  Is it bouldery, like at the start from Dominguez Spring? or does it level out and make for easy hiking?

The last time I was there it was pretty good most of the way, but there was a lot of water in a few places an it was a bit soggy. Boulders are not a problem, but the grass burrs are awful if you get into them.
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

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Online Lance

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2013, 09:34:34 PM »
All of a sudden a rock about the size of my head landed in between us. My first thought was, how did he throw that? Then I realized it had come off the cliff next to us. YIKES! That could have been a quick end to our trip. Maybe it was from all the rain the day before. I definitely moved over to the other side of the wash.

It wasn't Laurence's boulder was it?   :icon_lol: 
Did y'all take the drainage all the way to Elegant Spring?
 
The last time I was there it was pretty good most of the way, but there was a lot of water in a few places an it was a bit soggy. Boulders are not a problem, but the grass burrs are awful if you get into them.

Thanks!  I was under the impression from Google Earth it was an easy hike through the wash, but was surprised when we entered from the south and had to navigate quite a few boulders.  Probably didn't help we had full packs on..
« Last Edit: December 27, 2015, 08:12:39 PM by Lance »

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Online mule ears

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 05:58:57 AM »
Cookie and el hombre, what an awesome quick strike!  I envy you folks who can get out to the park several times a year and do interesting short trips to places you have been thinking about exploring.  With me only getting out every two or three years I have to pack a lot in each time.  Thanks for the great pictures.

That ET sunset picture is calendar worthy too!   :eusa_clap:
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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no shade, no water
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Offline Picacho

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 07:47:14 AM »
Nice trip.  Was there a cairn on the summit?

Last year in early April on the way out from Dominguez Springs we got pounded by a severe lightning storm.  River Road on the way out was a river.  That makes 2 years in a row.  Maybe the lechugilla will make a comeback. 

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2013, 09:27:29 AM »
Lsnead:  I had to laugh out loud when I read y'alls trip report up the point 5168 on the other side of Dominquez spring because we were on top of Dominquez mountain scouting out a way up to that very same ridge just a week or two earlier.  Hey, great minds do think alike!!  The creek bed up Fisk is full of boulders for a little while, but smoothes out very nicely, like badknees stated.  If you follow the creek due north, it is grassy.  Once it takes a hard left, there is a pour off which can either be climbed with great handholds, or walked around up to the right.  There are a few more small pour offs as you continue in a western direction, but nothing too bad at all.  About 2-3 hours later after the first pour off, you will meet up with the Smokey Creek trail.

There was a cairn on the top of Dominquez, along with two or three rubbed out spots where deer had make their beds.

When hiking up from Black gap road, we did turn off the ET trail before passing Elf springs.  But on our way out, we did walked up and put our eyes on the spring.  It was flowing then, and my friend and I used it when he and I returned on our 5 day trip a month later.  In my limited experience, I have yet to see or hear of that spring going dry.  (Edit) We also looked at Elegant spring, if that is the one with the big cottonwoods right at the base of Elephant Tusk Mt.  It was only a wet spot then.  I am using the names labeled here on this map.
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=29.19552,-103.29324&z=15&t=T&marker0=29.19881%2C-103.27929%2CAdler%20Spring&marker1=29.18858%2C-103.27655%2CZapata%20Tuerto%20Spring&marker2=29.17101%2C-103.26985%2CElf%20Spring&marker3=29.16325%2C-103.28543%2CDouble%20Spring&marker4=29.15062%2C-103.30959%2CMano%20Abaja%20Spring&marker5=29.17633%2C-103.34281%2CWitch%20Spring

I must agree that Cookie is great with the camera and trip reports.  I'll carry her water any day!!! :great:

« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 09:38:10 AM by elhombre »
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No crime. No evidence, just more secret investigations

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Offline Picacho

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2013, 10:41:02 AM »
A few years ago we headed down Smokey Creek to do a climb of Pt. 5500 in the northern Puntas.  Just looking at a topo trying to find a route over to that wash you were talking about (one that runs east/west to the north of Pt. 5500 in the Puntas) with the small pouroffs, we took a left at a place that we thought would be a good place to make our way over there as we were heading south on the Smokey Creek Trail.  Lo and behold we found a trail that took us over a pass and back down to that wash.  On that side there was a sign, but on the side we left from there wasn't.  Was that trail we found the Smokey Creek trail?  I can see someone missing it completely and continuing down the wash.  Is there a big pouroff that would block your progress towards Mule Ears?

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Offline Hayduke

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2013, 12:48:02 PM »
picacho, if I understand what you're describing you would have left the Smokey Creek drainage close to where the trail should go on as shown on the topo. This is just upstream from an area with springs - as I recall the wash gets tight but not impassable there and then passes between pts 4230 & 4620.

When I say it's passable I mean for you & me, but not for a horse and this was probably a horse trail before it was hiking trail. Given that the current trail route makes more sense.

 

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Offline Homer67

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2013, 01:24:03 PM »
Awesome report!   I dig the hikes you guys do!  It has been a slow process, but we are working our way up to being able to do hikes like this. Your photos give me insight to what we will see once we can do this! Do you guys carry a tent or put up a tarp shelter?  Do you just sleep on the ground with your sleep set up? Do you dehydrate your food?

We will attempt again to venture from Witch Spring down to Dominguez, then over toward ET (north of Dominguez way) then by way of Adler Spring to the Dodson and back around through Smokey Creek and out Mule Ears this fall or next spring. I was stoked about this hike on our last trip 12 days ago, but my girl just wasn't feeling it and when we really needed to find water it wasn't there.  So now we are giving the new dehydrator a workout and will now be using a new ultralight cook system (Bobcat system from Flat Cat Gear). Maybe we can lighten my girl's pack and get this done.

I sure could use a quick hard trip before it gets too hot.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 01:38:08 PM by Homer67 »
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 Picacho

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2013, 03:00:24 PM »
picacho, if I understand what you're describing you would have left the Smokey Creek drainage close to where the trail should go on as shown on the topo. This is just upstream from an area with springs - as I recall the wash gets tight but not impassable there and then passes between pts 4230 & 4620.

When I say it's passable I mean for you & me, but not for a horse and this was probably a horse trail before it was hiking trail. Given that the current trail route makes more sense.

Seems reasonable then to just skip the uphill part and stay in the wash to save time.  That is unless you are headed for the northern Quemadas. 

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Offline badknees

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2013, 08:53:11 PM »
A few years ago we headed down Smokey Creek to do a climb of Pt. 5500 in the northern Puntas.  Just looking at a topo trying to find a route over to that wash you were talking about (one that runs east/west to the north of Pt. 5500 in the Puntas) with the small pouroffs, we took a left at a place that we thought would be a good place to make our way over there as we were heading south on the Smokey Creek Trail.  Lo and behold we found a trail that took us over a pass and back down to that wash.  On that side there was a sign, but on the side we left from there wasn't.  Was that trail we found the Smokey Creek trail?  I can see someone missing it completely and continuing down the wash.  Is there a big pouroff that would block your progress towards Mule Ears?

There is a sign on along the Smoky Creek trail at N29.17288 W103.35164. The Smokey Creek Trail turns NW here and crosses a ridge to hit the Smokey Creek drainage. There is no sign on the NW intesection. The trail can be missed in 2 place when hiking upstream (ie from Mule Ears.) The first place is at the "Lone Cottonwood Pouroff (N29.17782 W103.37174) and also at the "crossover trail" (N29.17754 W103.35580). Both are cairned, but they can be missed.

I think this is what you were asking?
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline sleepy

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2013, 09:08:11 PM »
Cookie, el hombre, outstanding trip report
It's never too late to be what you might have been-Geroge Elliot

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Offline Picacho

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Re: Dominguez Summit
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 08:06:18 AM »

There is a sign on along the Smoky Creek trail at N29.17288 W103.35164. The Smokey Creek Trail turns NW here and crosses a ridge to hit the Smokey Creek drainage. There is no sign on the NW intesection. The trail can be missed in 2 place when hiking upstream (ie from Mule Ears.) The first place is at the "Lone Cottonwood Pouroff (N29.17782 W103.37174) and also at the "crossover trail" (N29.17754 W103.35580). Both are cairned, but they can be missed.

I think this is what you were asking?

Yea, that's it.  I am not sure what map we were using but it didn't show a trail.  We found it by accident thinking we were in for a bushwhack but found the trail shortly after making a left turn.  If there was a cairn there, we didn't see it.  Thie trail was nice.  Good way to get to the northern Quemadas from Homer Wilson Ranch.  A two car shuttle with the other car parked at Dominguez Springs would be a good outing.   

 


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