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Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip

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Offline Flash

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Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« on: April 14, 2016, 11:16:40 PM »
As was discussed in the thread Heading to the Bend , a lot of folks from BBC had independently planned to be in the Park during more or less this same time period. Little did we know that a whole lot of other people also picked this great period to be in the Park as well. It was as though we had all waited to avoid the spring break crowds and created yet another surge, but it was all good in the end.


Day 1 - Friday April 1, 2016

Left Houston about 8 am and drove via US Hwy 90 arriving in Marathon around 5:30 pm.  Made stops at Columbus, Castroville, Uvalde, the Pecos River Bridge, Dryden, and Sanderson along the way. Plan was to finish readying the gear and loading the backpack in my room at the Marathon Motel and then get a good night’s sleep.  Dinner was a burger and BB Porter at the Famous Burro. Afterward, I stopped along the road west of town to enjoy the rather tumultuous looking sunset as a rather mild norther was blowing in. Tonight would be a low for the week in the low 30’s before gradually warming up during the coming visit.

I had to stop at the Pecos River Bridge. I believe it is required.


The picnic area overlooking the bridge.


The old road bed is visible on the left, which is the current boat ramp, and also seen on the right climbing up the opposite bank.


From the bridge landing a large cave can be seen that is directly below the picnic area. This might be reached by small boat from the nearby boat ramp or perhaps there may be a way down from the top or the side, if one is related a goat.


Close up of the cave. Somebody on BBC was recently asking about this cave…


Found this benchmark within about 50 feet from the east end of the bridge on the south side of the road.


Sunset by the highway west of Marathon as the front from the north is blowing in.


An interesting looking mesa off to the southwest.


Clouds over Santiago Peak to the south.


Looking north, I think this may be Leonard Mountain with Iron Mountain coming in from the left and overlapping it in the foreground. I have since recalled the Iron Mountain Ranch is famous among other things for being the site of the tale of the brindle bull calf branded with the word MURDER.



To be continued...

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Offline dprather

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2016, 07:00:17 AM »
Thanks for the pics - sigh, as I sit here at work
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Slimkitty

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2016, 10:56:16 AM »
I got curious about the calf branded with the word "Murder", so I looked it up.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txbcgs/murder.html


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Offline Jalco

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2016, 07:03:41 PM »
Interesting read, SlimKitty.  Thanks for finding that.

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Offline Flash

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2016, 09:10:22 PM »
I got curious about the calf branded with the word "Murder", so I looked it up.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txbcgs/murder.html

That's a good summary of the story, SlimKitty. For a complete telling of the actual murder and the legends that followed, see Elton Miles, Tales of the Big Bend, Chapter 6: The Steer Branded MURDER.

-Flash

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Offline Flash

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2016, 12:38:32 AM »
I’m afraid this report is probably going to dribble along in bits and pieces; life being such as it is right now. Today was the end of water polo season for my high school senior with the conclusion of the regional tournament. Still sorting through my photos...

Day 1 - Friday April 1, 2016, Cont.

A few more pictures starting with another sunset view to the southwest...


Back at the Marathon Motel in time for the rest of the evening sunset show as the norther continued coming in.


Looking northwest toward the decent-looking tent camping area along the west boundary of the property.


The gear was waiting for me to make last minute decisions based upon the weather and to load it into my backpack. Rain gear and pack cover were out, while the down vest and windbreaker were definitely in. Finished the pack, loaded it into the truck, and it was off to bed for me.



To be continued...

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2016, 06:52:14 AM »
Flash keep in dribbling, it will keep us entertained longer that way.   :great:
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 Flash

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2016, 10:18:38 PM »
Day 2 - Saturday April 2, 2016

Next morning, I arose to 36 degrees outside and a frosted over windshield as I loaded the truck.  After breakfast at the Marathon Coffee Shop, I went for a brief walk along the railroad tracks just in time to video an eastbound mixed freight barreling through town. I still love trains.  By 8:30 am, I was headed for the Park making Persimmon Gap about 9:20 am, where I purchased the annual park pass at the booth and then got a backcountry permit for 2-nights in the Lower Juniper Zone (C03). Park Volunteer Cramer knew her stuff and got me out of there by 9:40 am.

My plan was, if all went well, to spend one night below Upper Juniper Spring and then a second night either above or below Lower Juniper Spring. I would do this either by making a loop out of it via the Overlook (29° 14.639' N, 103° 16.624' W) and then going cross-country following the foothills below the NE Rim or by backtracking along the Juniper Canyon Trail and then going bushwhacking from the trailhead to Lower Juniper Spring. It all depended upon what the terrain looked like along the tops of the foothills once I reached the overlook to spy them out. Since I was going solo, I told myself I had lots of options and would evaluate/eliminate/modify my plans as things unfolded. Zone camping by nature would give me some latitude, but later I would find it was not without some constraints as well.

This was my fourth solo backpack and my second from the Juniper Canyon trailhead. In February 2015, I had hiked to the Lower Juniper Spring area following an old very faint road bed, found the spring, but finding the way quite steep did not make it to the top of the canyon. I ended up camping on a nice alluvial terrace about a ¼ mile below the spring. Like what seems to often happen on most of my solo trips, I had bit off more than I could handle, but had since been planning around what I had learned from it. Now I was thinking about trying it from the other direction.

Next I stopped at Panther Junction to stretch my legs, and then soon headed southeast toward the Juniper Canyon Road, finally arrived at the trailhead about 12:30 pm. More last minute dealing with both gear and truck, but by 1:15 pm I was on the trail headed for Upper Juniper Spring.  I was packing 5 liters of water and intended to augment it from Upper Juniper Spring.  Not long afterward, I passed a young couple going the other way doing the OML. Both seemed relieved to learn the rest of the way to the Trailhead was all downhill. Keeping an eye out for nice campsites along the way, I stopped frequently to scan the foothills below the Rim and to take reconnaissance photos. Around 3:15 pm, I settled for the best of the sites, which I considered was the last obvious site before the trail steepens for the climb up to Upper Juniper Spring.
 
Deciding not to drop the pack just yet, because well it had food in it, I pushed on up the trail and found the rock basin of the spring about 30 minutes later. The report from Strawhouse was correct.

There were indeed bees swarming about the water-filled rock basin. I carefully raked aside a lot of the leaves from the basin with a handy stick. However, finding myself not really wanting to deal with bees at the moment, I took stock and decided I had enough water for the night, breakfast, and a return to the truck if necessary. So I headed back down to the campsite, ready to get things set up and to relax, arriving about 4:30 pm.

While I was emptying my pack and starting on the tent, a couple young guys in their 20’s came down the trail heading for the Juniper Canyon trailhead, also doing the OML. These would be the only other people I would see until back out on the pavement. After visiting for a bit and wishing them luck, I got back to setting up the tent, the folding chair, and getting my bed made for the night. Had this done By 5 pm. Earlier I had peeled off my sweat-soaked shirt, hat, and bandana to dry out on the tent and on the nearby bushes. Now I got out of my boots and socks and put on the Crocks. After finishing stowing the other gear, I plopped down in my chair to relax, enjoy the views, take some pictures, and ponder my next moves.

Dinner was a Backpacker’s Pantry Jamaican-style chicken and rice dish with black beans and spices. This was brought back to life by addition of 2 cups boiling water from my tea kettle heated on the venerable Esbit tablet stove.  I must have been hungrier than I expected because I ate more than half of it, which is surprising. Typically when I backpack, I am often not especially hungry for a dinner, but this time I put a good portion of it away. This was followed a bit later with a splash of tequila, which went down rather well.

As the sun descended I began layering up as the chill came creeping in, first with the long sleeved shirt, then the base layer bottoms, fleece, and finally the down vest and knit hat.

As TWWG had mentioned in an earlier thread, from this part of Juniper Canyon, you can hear voices from far, far away. As the evening faded to dark, at times I thought they were coming from the Lost Mine Trail, while at other times perhaps from the NE Rim or the Boot Canyon areas. I must not forget to mention the views from this campsite. I realized after staring out toward the River as the sun got lower, that I was seeing a cluster of dots on the far side of the River. After considering it, I decided these were the sparkle of buildings, which I concluded to be the town of San Vicente far off in the distance. Also visible were Chillicotal Mountain, El Pico in the Sierra del Carmen Mountains, and I believe the Cerro del Viente Mountains also. Up closer was the odd looking backside of the SE Rim and then Crown Mountain on the other side of the canyon. Then behind me was Juniper Canyon proper all the way up to the Lost Mine Trail overlook. Then I noticed the caves high above in sides of both Casa Grande and Toll Mountain. These caves I am thinking may be in the same geologic formation. Then lastly, I must not leave out Boot Rock, which presented an angle of view I had never experienced before.
 
After I finished watching the sunset, first a couple planets and then the stars began emerging. Later, after it was fully dark out, there were the occasional lights down toward the River in the vicinity of San Vicente, which sometimes seemed to be coming from some pretty improbable directions.

Finally, crawling into my tent, I was off to bed by about 9 pm. Conditions were very still indeed all night long. None of those strange barreling winds were around this time. The tent nary did rustle and it was quiet as could be. No whippoorwills. No crickets. Just quiet and I slept.


Day 2 pictures coming next...


« Last Edit: April 22, 2016, 11:41:46 PM by Flash »

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Offline Flash

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2016, 10:47:25 PM »
Day 2 - Saturday April 2, 2016, Cont.

Sunrise to a frosty morning in Marathon.


On the Glenn Spring Road looking east toward El Pico and down the entrance to Camp Chilicotal.


Still in the same spot, but looking south down Glenn Spring Road.


On the Juniper Canyon Road near Robber's Roost campsite looking northwest toward the Rim, Toll, and the Big House.


On the Juniper Canyon Trail here, about 20 minutes out, standing roughly due east of Lower Juniper Spring, admiring the imposing view of the South Rim. Sometimes it looks like a ship to me and other times like a locomotive...


Looking northwesterly now toward Toll Mountain, Point 5375, backside of Casa Grande, and Crown Mountain on the right.


Glancing at my back trail, taking in the expansive view to the southeast.


Wait! What happened to the back side of the Rim? I am shocked, having never seen the thing end on before.


Right, so this is about 45 minutes out. Collecting myself, I see not just the faux-looking Rim, but also notice a dam-like object in the drainage to the left and then a post-pile crown at the top of this particular foothill to the east end of the Rim. Cool stuff!


The foothill in the middle is Point 5317, while Point 5375 is on the right.


From the same spot, looking up the trail, with Crown Mountain now visible on the right.


Looking back, beyond the nipple hills, that is Tally Mountain on the right with the Sierra de San Vicente behind it in Mexico.


Pop quiz:  Quick name some concepts of depositional processes that this photo just screams out at you? Possible Answers: 1) Mean grain size, 2) high energy system, 3) change in velocity, 4) alluvial deposits, etc.


About 2 hours into the hike, on the climb up from the alluvial terrace toward Upper Juniper Spring, I spied Boot Rock.


To the right is Toll Mountain...


and Casa Grande along with what I assume is the infamous False Summit and the Sinkhole/Cave/Arch between them.


Close up of the interesting looking caves in the side of Toll Mountain.


No camping here. Keep walking. Nothing to see.


Wider view of the spur trail to the Upper Juniper Spring area. Note the broken nature of the Northeast Rim up above. All this time, I am trying to guess the route of the trail above the spring. I was guessing it would wind up onto that pale colored ridge in the middle ground right of center.



To be continued...
« Last Edit: April 22, 2016, 11:21:09 PM by Flash »

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Offline Talusman

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2016, 07:12:20 AM »
Great photos Flash. I have not been that way in many, many years. I always wanted to check out those caves. Takes some serious brush beating I know. I wonder if anyone on the board has ever ventured into those as far as possible? Enjoying your report. You are taking some serious time but its going to be fun to see all the pictures you have and all the details. Thanks for getting so much in here!
"To Think is easy. To Act is difficult. To Act as one Thinks is the most difficult!"

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2016, 08:27:32 AM »
Dang it Flash,  How long do I have to wait to see if you finally made it through that canyon with Lower Juniper springs? 

The pic you think is of Chilicotal is actually Talley in the for front on the right.  The long big one in the back ground is in Mexico, Sierra San Vicente.  The town and it's houses are to the east side of the mountain.  Always knew they were thinking because the town gets to be in the shade rather early in the afternoon because of that mountain.  Smart way to get some relieve from the heat.

Chilicotal is out of the picture to the left. You can just see it start to grow up on the left of your picture.   Your picture brings back memories.  Back when Juniper trail head was a car camping site, it was our favorite.  We use to climb up that nipple on the left and watch the sun go down.      Good Times......
For 2 years the Fake News Media, Obama's FBI, CIA & DOJ, and Swamp dwelling Politicians COLLUDED, Illegally Spied,and LIED to America about POTUS in order to overturn an election

All the while demanding censorship and removal of opposition Conservative "hate speech" voices.  Globalists Hate Freedom

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Offline Flash

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2016, 10:51:09 PM »
Day 2 - Saturday April 2, 2016, Cont.

First thing I noticed as I was looking for Upper Juniper Spring were the two water troughs. This one had been made with stone and mortar.


The second water trough is end to end with the other one and was constructed from concrete. They are situated along a terrace in the hillside below the spring.


This granddaddy Texas Madrone was opposite the water troughs just below the terrace.


This rock bowl is where the spring water collects. In the past, a pipe connected the bowl with the water troughs down below. There were bees busily landing on the wet leaves to collect water and just as busily buzzing away. Since I was feeling a pretty weary, I really didn't want to deal with the bees now and decided I might as well deal with them in the morning when I am fresh or just cut the hike short and return to the truck the next day.


The water trickles out from under that large boulder and collects in the bowl.


On my way back up the spur trail, I turned around to spy out the mountainside above the spring some more. Like I said, I had decided at this point to camp at the site down the hill, instead of pushing on today.


In this close up, I was guessing the old Overlook Campsite may likely be up on that ridge in the center of the picture.


Here I am looking for the way one might take to Lower Juniper Spring by taking the high road along the tops of the NE Rim foothills. Those large flats in the foreground are below and to the left of the ridge where I thought would be the Overlook. More about those tomorrow...


Looking down the trail as I head back down to set up camp for the night.


Having setup the tent, I stopped to admire the awesome view down the canyon toward the river.


Ready for bed when the time comes. Trying out the new air pillow from Christmas.


Looking up Boot Canyon, I have Boot Rock above and a Mountain Laurel below to grace the campsite.


The boots are now off and replaced by the crocks to give my feet a break.


Drying out the gear after successfully extracting the boots.


Now it is time for the chair, as I get ready to make dinner in the kitchen. The stove rock came with the place. However, I added the nifty wind screen.


Boot Rock during a cloudy period in late afternoon.


Looking now toward the River, I could immediately see objects far away catching the sun where it was less cloudy. That is Chilicotal Mountain coming in from the left and Glenn Spring Road cutting over to the southeast just to the right of it.


Zooming the full 12X with my camera, it is clear those were indeed buildings, as I had guessed. Consulting a map, I now know that is the town of San Vicente in Mexico about 17 or 18 miles away.


These clouds were casting a lot of shadows and helping keep me shaded from the late afternoon sun. 


As it became evening, around 6:30 pm, I began hearing voices from the direction of the Lost Mine Trail overlook at the head of Juniper Canyon. Can you pick them out? The camera caught them on full zoom, but I don't think I could see them at the time with my naked eye.


Blowing up the picture, it looks like four people standing around. I think they were up to something. I don't know. They look kind of creepy to me somehow.



End of Day 2  :icon_biggrin:


To be continued...
« Last Edit: May 06, 2016, 09:01:53 PM by Flash »

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Offline Flash

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2016, 11:14:41 PM »
Dang it Flash,  How long do I have to wait to see if you finally made it through that canyon with Lower Juniper springs? 

The pic you think is of Chilicotal is actually Talley in the for front on the right.  The long big one in the back ground is in Mexico, Sierra San Vicente.  The town and it's houses are to the east side of the mountain.  Always knew they were thinking because the town gets to be in the shade rather early in the afternoon because of that mountain.  Smart way to get some relieve from the heat.

Chilicotal is out of the picture to the left. You can just see it start to grow up on the left of your picture.   Your picture brings back memories.  Back when Juniper trail head was a car camping site, it was our favorite.  We use to climb up that nipple on the left and watch the sun go down.      Good Times......
Thanks for the feedback, elhombre, I will go back and revise my captions accordingly. What I was mistakenly thinking was Boquillas was San Vicente and of course Chilicotal Mountain was off to the left, not on right, etc. After a trip, I usually go back through my photos and spend some time understanding what I was really seeing while out there in the vast arid desert...  :eusa_think:
« Last Edit: April 23, 2016, 06:27:33 PM by Flash »

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Offline Homer Wilson

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2016, 09:30:03 AM »
They look like bigfoot to me.

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Offline Flash

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Re: Flash April 1-6, 2016 Trip
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2016, 09:19:40 AM »
They look like bigfoot to me.

Maybe so... or perhaps dudes from the Matrix.  :icon_eek:

One weird thing about camping at the far edge of that zone against the High Chisos is how close you are (and yet so far) to the developed areas such as Green Gulch, LMT, the Basin, NE  Rim, Boot Canyon, Pinnacles Pass, etc. My GPS told me the Basin was only 1-1/2 miles or so away as the crow flies, but the effort required to get there from my campsite pretty substantial to say the least. The occasional faint voices were actually kind of comforting. Wasn't nearly as creepy a solo overnighter as the one I did at Elegant Spring in the Quemada, where I had a few moments where I felt like I was being watched.

 


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