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Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario

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Offline Ranger Tim

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #45 on: February 11, 2019, 11:18:30 AM »
Great trip report Shorty! Thanks for the added detail. I plan to save each day's installment and compile them so that I can share them with some other park staff. If I had one bit of advice it would have been to avoid that old Nopalera Road,... that sucker is terrible!

I also want to parrot your advice on those bottle holders. I also use them on the handlebars of my pack bike for water and snacks I want to keep handy while I am bike-packing in the park.
"The greatest happiness possible to man ... is to become civilized, to know the pageant of the past, to love the beautiful,... and then, retaining animal instincts and appetites, to live in the wilderness"
- J. Frank Dobie

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #46 on: February 11, 2019, 12:51:59 PM »
Great trip report Shorty! Thanks for the added detail. I plan to save each day's installment and compile them so that I can share them with some other park staff. If I had one bit of advice it would have been to avoid that old Nopalera Road,... that sucker is terrible!

Thanks RT, and thanks again for the water report. The Nopalera road to the old house is not too bad. To get down to the windmill, however, is not worth it as an out-and-back, but it is totally worth it if you are descending Auras Canyon. The only real problem is where the road passes an earthen tank that is now an impenetrable mess of thorns. But you can go around it to the north without too much frustration.

trtlrock's comments (see Day 23) on this road are pretty amusing, though they did have to bushwhack off it to retrieve a cache, which sounds even worse.

 
I roamed and rambled, and I foller'ed my footsteps
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   This land was made for you and me

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #47 on: February 11, 2019, 01:49:08 PM »
Thanks RT, and thanks again for the water report. The Nopalera road to the old house is not too bad. To get down to the windmill, however, is not worth it as an out-and-back, but it is totally worth it if you are descending Auras Canyon. The only real problem is where the road passes an earthen tank that is now an impenetrable mess of thorns. But you can go around it to the north without too much frustration.

trtlrock's comments (see Day 23) on this road are pretty amusing, though they did have to bushwhack off it to retrieve a cache, which sounds even worse.

I had forgotten about that description. It's worthy of quoting here.
Soon we were approaching the Nopalera ruins, which appeared to be an old ranching line camp, which had been augmented and turned into a very rustic hunting shack. Once inside, we saw the bunk room, complete with multiple beds, and an adjacent kitchen/dining area. An interesting place...

We went on from there, and dropped back down to the trail, which soon petered out into a near-impenetrable mess of dense thorny vegetation frothing around small islands of unclimbable Grapevine Hills like rocks. The rocks were pretty, but the going was really, really, reallyyyyyyy tough and slow. We had to leave what was left of the 'trail' anyway and bushwhack to the north and then west to pick up our last cache at the northern/eastern end of Auras Canyon.

Oh my it was BAD. I strongly recommend to anyone reading this to never head west of the line shack on the Nopalera trail, and most certainly do not bushwhack off it if you are foolish enough to continue. The GPS was consulted almost every 2 minutes in a vain attempt to navigate the sea of unclimbable rock islands, which would only result in cliffing out should you try them instead of the thick thorny brush.

Ahhh...the brush. There must have been a dozen species of pant-ripping flora I had never seen before. None of the stings-like-a-pile-of-wasps catclaw, or maybe I just missed all that, but who cares...we were swanning around at about 0.5 mph like a drunken sailor, literally bleeding from a multitude of minor wounds. Finally we located the drainage we needed to descend. The descent was relatively minor, but there were a bunch of 5-6 foot pouroffs that needed negotiating, and the drainage was narrow and clogged with unpleasant vegetation that wanted nothing more than to kill you - of that I am absolutely sure. I'm certain I cursed so loudly at times they could hear me in Sauceda, probably 10 miles away as the raven roams...

Finally, thankfully, blissfully, we got to our cache and could attend to our wounds. Oh yeah, and also load up 4.5 gallons of water, which, unpleasant as that was, was a...um...walk in the park compared to having your flesh ripped to shreds.

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Offline Ranger Tim

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #48 on: February 11, 2019, 02:23:43 PM »
Yeah. It may have gotten worse since that was written. I wear Turtleskin gaiters pretty religiously when I am in the field and that is really more for the vegetation than the vipers!
"The greatest happiness possible to man ... is to become civilized, to know the pageant of the past, to love the beautiful,... and then, retaining animal instincts and appetites, to live in the wilderness"
- J. Frank Dobie

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #49 on: February 13, 2019, 11:50:36 AM »
What a great looking report! Can't wait to read it at my leisure. I can already tell it's more coherent than mine, written in about 5 straight hours at Las Casitas with their constantly failing wifi (2014), on no sleep, and a combo of beer and coffee until I hit send and crashed for hours...
John & Tess

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #50 on: February 17, 2019, 02:42:54 PM »
Just re-read your TR, Shorty. Still wonderful and very instructive. I was motivated to visit it again after reading this reprint article in the current issue of Texas Monthly (they're reprising some golden oldies). Gwynne is a good guy and a good writer and a fairly tough traveler, but it should be noted he was ferried into BBSRP by jeep and operated out of a fixed basecamp and never really had to carry his gear. Still, it's interesting to note the effects on a non-backpacker of a week of isolation in backcountry we frequently traverse for fun.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/conversations-with-a-grasshopper/

"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #51 on: February 17, 2019, 04:43:33 PM »
Just re-read your TR, Shorty. Still wonderful and very instructive. I was motivated to visit it again after reading this reprint article in the current issue of Texas Monthly (they're reprising some golden oldies). Gwynne is a good guy and a good writer and a fairly tough traveler, but it should be noted he was ferried into BBSRP by jeep and operated out of a fixed basecamp and never really had to carry his gear. Still, it's interesting to note the effects on a non-backpacker of a week of isolation in backcountry we frequently traverse for fun.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/conversations-with-a-grasshopper/

Thanks for that bunny trail.  Nearly an hour later, I realize I clicked on the link to read only one article....

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #52 on: February 17, 2019, 04:47:44 PM »
🤪🤪


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"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline rocketman

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #53 on: February 17, 2019, 07:03:41 PM »
Thanks for that link HMoD! I noticed that your writing style is very similar to his, in both the detailed descriptions given of physical, historical, and emotional accounts as well as syntax and grouping of thoughts. You really should write a book abut your adventures!
« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 07:21:43 PM by rocketman »
Making ice cubes FROM THE SUN!!!

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #54 on: February 17, 2019, 09:06:59 PM »
Thanks for that link HMoD! I noticed that your writing style is very similar to his, in both the detailed descriptions given of physical, historical, and emotional accounts as well as syntax and grouping of thoughts. You really should write a book abut your adventures!

Thanks, Rocketman. I might. IF I can ever manage to actually cross the park. Otherwise, it’ll just be a comedy of errors.


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"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #55 on: February 18, 2019, 07:37:58 AM »
Just re-read your TR, Shorty. Still wonderful and very instructive. I was motivated to visit it again after reading this reprint article in the current issue of Texas Monthly (they're reprising some golden oldies). Gwynne is a good guy and a good writer and a fairly tough traveler, but it should be noted he was ferried into BBSRP by jeep and operated out of a fixed basecamp and never really had to carry his gear. Still, it's interesting to note the effects on a non-backpacker of a week of isolation in backcountry we frequently traverse for fun.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/conversations-with-a-grasshopper/

Well I hate to be critical but the whole first third to half of the piece I think had the usual over blown hysteria/sensationalism that at least writers not familiar with the desert do.  If I read again that "where nearly everything that I can see or touch is designed to hurt me" and " the specific physical threats around me, which include mountain lions, javelina, flash floods, lightning, rattlesnakes, scorpions, centipedes, brown recluse spiders, tarantulas, and black widows" I will scream.  In fact I find that kind of writing makes me put the book down as I find the writer not truly familiar with the subject.   And there was not "twenty miles of jagged backcountry between me and the nearest human being".  Maybe 13 at the most to a paved road and less to someones house on Terlingua Ranch but this is Texas Monthly.  On the positive side, if it keeps more people from going out to the Big Bend then I am all for it.   :great:

Now I realize he is just setting up the second half of the piece with his personal discoveries which were good and accurate and I am glad that he had them.  I would say that HMoD's descriptive writing is actually better and more detailed but then he is a trained wildlife biologist and observer.  And yes HMoD you will make it all the way across the park and then you can write your book.   :icon_biggrin:
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 12:27:24 PM by mule ears »
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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #56 on: February 18, 2019, 09:30:12 AM »
sorry to be a jerk but I second this from ME : "One the positive side, if it keeps more people from going out to the Big Bend then I am all for it."

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #57 on: February 18, 2019, 12:56:46 PM »
No argument here.


Gwynne is a good guy and a good writer and a fairly tough traveler, but it should be noted he was ferried into BBSRP by jeep and operated out of a fixed basecamp and never really had to carry his gear. Still, it's interesting to note the effects on a non-backpacker of a week of isolation in backcountry we frequently traverse for fun.


If you read between the lines above, my real point can be heard: the only way to really understand a place like The Bend is to throw yourself into it for long periods of time. The closer you get to the land, and the longer you spend there, the better you will understand it. Even very tough people and good writers will default to clichés until they bank up enough direct contact.

I like Gwynne. His book, Empire of the Summer Moon, is IMHO the best written on Quanah Parker and the subjugation of the Comanche tribes by the United States. His book, unlike most others, carefully avoids cliches and romanticism. Then again, he spent years researching it in libraries, with descendants of the participants, and on the ground. Give him a few more years in The Bend and he could probably write a great book on it, too.

Mainly I shared his article because I knew we’d all get a kick out of the misapprehensions and struggles of a rookie, especially when contrasted with a masterful solo trip like Shorty's through the exact same territory. And, in fairness to Gwynne, in the end, despite or maybe because of his struggles, I think he comes to a few epiphanies we can probably all recognize and endorse.



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« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 01:14:02 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #58 on: February 18, 2019, 01:09:27 PM »

And yes HMoD you will make it all the way across the park and then you can write your book.   :icon_biggrin:


 :great:
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: Fresno Creek to Auras Creek, Through the Solitario
« Reply #59 on: February 18, 2019, 01:11:43 PM »
One more thing....I don't think we've given Shorty props for one of the best trip report titles ever:


Better Shutup Than Shutdown

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Jan 23-28, 2019

"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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