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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.
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.
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 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!
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.
And yes HMoD you will make it all the way across the park and then you can write your book.
Better Shutup Than ShutdownBig Bend Ranch State ParkJan 23-28, 2019
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