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Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January

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Offline angryocotillo

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Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« on: April 11, 2016, 04:40:40 PM »
I'm kind of ashamed that it has taken me so long to make this trip report. I feel like I am a student turning in an a late assignment to their teacher. Better late than never though, maybe I can still get partial credit.

I convinced my friend to go out with me to Big Bend early this past January with our hopes set on the Marufo Vega and the Mesa de Anguila. We had 3 nights to spend which was a kind of an awkward amount of time since both the trails I were hoping to do typically take 2 nights a piece. We stopped at Panther Junction when we got to the park to pick up a more detailed map of  Mesa de Anguila and to buy an $11 bottle of sunscreen.

When we were packing up our things to leave on the Marufo Vega I made an impromptu decision to leave the tent as well as the cook set in the car. I had never left either of these things, but I kind of just wanted to try it out to see how things went and this was as good of a time as any to give it a shot. We hiked in what I think was about 2 miles until we found a couple of nice patches of open ground about 100 feet from the trail. We unrolled our sleeping mats and sleeping bags and made camp underneath a beautiful view of the Sierra del Carmens. The sky was clear as can be as the sun was setting which allowed nature to put on a beautiful show for us. She first made beautiful paintings on the Sierra del Carmens and followed up with an encore by slowly revealing every star in the sky to us. The only downside to this theater was that there was no popcorn and coke, however, we made due with granola bars and Swedish fish as we enjoyed the show.

The next day I made another decision to shed weight before we left. My brother had just given me an 18L REI Flash backpack and I wanted to try it out. I put all the essentials in it including 4 Liters of water for the two of us, and stashed our large packs behind a creosote bush. My friend now carried nothing but a water bottle and I carried only a ~12lb backpack. We did not hike extremely fast, but more so just relished in the fact that instead of feeling like beasts of burden as I have on so many other backpacking trips, we were now free to enjoy being out in the wilderness without having to push our physical limits.

We took a detour to "Randall's Overlook" using gps data that my pal and fellow bender,REECE, gave me right before we headed out. It was gorgeous and certainly worth the extra 2 miles. There is something about going off trail, even if only for a mile, that brings an extra sense of adventure to a hike. I have never used a gps for hiking, but after my first time using one it sure does seem like a game changer. I love my map and compass but I will definitely think more about using a gps in the future. Kind of Ironic that an ol timer like REECE convinced a college student like me to use technology instead of the other way around.

We took the north fork downhill just by chance and boy am I glad we did. It was STEEP and coming up that way would have been brutal. I'm glad we took the south fork back uphill which ended up being a lot less steep than the north fork. When we got down to the river we were running pretty low on water. I'd read the warnings about all the pollution and heavy metals....ya, oh well. I just dropped an couple iodine tablets  in a Nalgene bottle full of Certified Fresh Rio Grande River Water, waited an hour, and then drank up. Tasted fine to me and 4 months later I'm fine as well, but I guess if I get cancer later on in life I'll know why.

We made it back to our campsite from the night before at about an hour before sundown. Clouds we rolling in ominously from the south and the wind was picking up. Since we did not have a tent, I made the executive decision to call it for the night. We packed up our stuff and made our way to the trail head. I told my friend about the hot springs and he seemed to be about as excited as could be about the prospect of relaxing in a natural hot springs after a long day in the desert. We showed up to the spring and there were probably about 8 people already there, and we gladly joined them. You can see a sliver of the Sierra del Carmens from here, and the sunset was even more amazing than the night before. The clouds rolling around the mountains made the lighting dramatic. A deep firey orange made the cliffs of the Sierra del Carmens glow like iron in furnace. It appeared as if the gates of hell had opened up just below the cliffs and they were now reflecting the flames that were bellowing below. Everyone stared in awe for the minute or two of this spectacle before the darkness of night finally quenched the glow of  the radiating cliffs. It was about this time that my friend and I noticed a nudist family had joined us in the hot tub. Whatever floats your boat.

We grabbed some local brews from the store in the Chisos right before they closed. We drank some and BS'd as only good friends can do before we fell asleep. When we woke up I debated for a while about whether or not to backpack the Mesa de Anguila or to day hike the south rim. We had already hiked the Marufo Vega in what was practically a day and I didn't want to burn my friend out so I decided on the South Rim. We brought only the small backpack again and basically flew up the mountain via the Laguna Meadows Trail. The views from the rim were amazing. We stopped to eat our lunch, and almost got blown off the mountain in the process. Boot Canyon was spectacular and in it's own way was almost as beautiful as the views from the rim.

The hike down Pinnacles trail seemed much steeper than Laguna Meadows and as a result my knees were aching pretty badly by the time we made it down. We came across a spotted skunk right in middle of the trail one the way down. It was so tiny, probably only 2lbs. I thought it was a baby, but I looked it up and apparently that's about the size they mature at. One of the reasons we kind of rushed through the hike was so that my friend could watch his beloved Texans play in the playoffs the the restaurant in the Chisos. I don't remember who we played. I just remember that we got thoroughly destroyed.

The low temp was forecast to reach 21 in the mountains so we decided to pack up our stuff and head to garner state park. I called my mom, told her the plan, and asked her to look it up. She called back saying that the park was closed, presumably for hunting season. She offered to get us a hotel on the way back and we kindly accepted the offer. Thanks Mom!

I thought maybe since garner was closed we could do a one night in Lost Maples. My friend's phone was the only one with internet so I asked him to look it up and get directions. We kept getting closer and closer to San Antonio. I thought, "This is weird. I could have sworn this place was a little more out into the sticks." Eventually we were IN San Antonio. We turned into a neighborhood on Lost Maples Drive and the gps graciously informed us that our destination was on the right.... My friends had selected the wrong destination and we had now driven 3 hours past the park.

Mistakes happen, whatever, so I decided we would stop at Palmetto State Park on the way home. I had heard it was a pretty cool place. We get there. I talk to the lady at the front. We pay admission and purchase a campsite for the night. We drive back to our campsite, and man was I disappointed. This was the worst state park I'd ever been to, at least for camping and hiking. There were about 6 total tent sites that were in a cleared out area that was about a 1/4 of an acre, somewhat reminiscent of a suburban city park or maybe a large backyard. We hiked 1 of the 2 miles of trails that were open (some of which was directly adjacent to the main park road) before I decided we should just drive the rest of the way back to Houston.

Wow, I sure did write a lot. Writing all of that was kind of cathartic for me. I hope you enjoy the pictures , and thanks again to REECE for getting me all that gps data at the last minute!

All of these were taken with my Moto G cellphone




This was our campsite for the first night


My friend at Randall's Overlook


Eating lunch on the Rio Grande


After two years I finally found out that I could take panoramic photos with my phone






This one might be my favorite photo I have ever taken.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 04:58:22 PM »
Never too late, you get full credit.  One of those whirlwind trips for sure.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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Offline SA Bill

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2016, 07:53:12 PM »
Worth waiting for! Nice!!
   Bill
Bill - In San Antonio

Growing old is mandatory.
Growing up is optional.

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Offline Talusman

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2016, 08:55:23 PM »
Great stuff sir! I totally understand about the time it takes to get a trip report out. I just love looking at all the work everyone else does though and thoroughly enjoy the pictures. Thanks for getting yours on. Really neat shots of Marufo Vega! And yeah, the true veterans here are worth a tone of knowledge. We all can learn a lot.
"To Think is easy. To Act is difficult. To Act as one Thinks is the most difficult!"

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2016, 09:26:35 PM »
Nice job and great photos.

Your drive to Lost Maples reminds me of some of the trips I've made with my son.  We've had a few where we were "misdirected" (never lost) and missed our intended destination.  Somehow, on those trips, we always ended up at South Llano River SP.

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2016, 09:43:01 AM »
Great report. Thanks for sharing.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G925A using Big Bend Chat mobile app


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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2016, 10:28:52 AM »
Even a 'late' trip report is appreciated by the folks on this site.  Seeing those pictures makes me want to lace up my boots and hear that familiar crunch of the rocks along the trail.

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2016, 08:51:54 PM »
Thanks for posting the trip report, sounds like you guys had a fun trip.  I generally agree with you about Palmetto SP, it's OK for one night if you have friends and booze but kind of suburban.  There are some old mud volcano's in the park but they have not been active for decades probably due to the water table falling/groundwater withdraw.   A good stopping point halfway back to Houston is South Llano River State Park in Junction Texas (almost exactly halfway home).  If you leave in the late morning you can reach SLRSP before dark and SLRSP has hot showers, nice campsites, and lots of turkeys and wildlife.   The campsites all have shade shelters and picnic tables which is really nice and campfires are usually allowed.  If possible make a reservation ahead of time but often they have availability for walk-up's especially in the walk-in primitive campsites (a whole 200 yard walk but most people will not do it).  Thanks again for posting and don't worry about drinking the Rio Grande water, the pollution levels are fairly modest except during flood events.  I have drank lots of it several times with no ill effect, much better than dehydration or trying to pack in 20# of water on your back.   TWWG

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Offline tusker

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2016, 12:07:36 AM »
Very nice report.  You're soothing, descriptive style draws me right in.  Love the bedroll photos on MV. Thank you.

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Offline Reece

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Re: Late trip report. Marufo Vega and South Rim in January
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2016, 12:45:43 PM »
Sounds like a successful trip Jonathan. That same mileage would have taken me twice as long. I like the minimalist move. There's no better way to break the heavy pack habit than to just bite the bullet and leave some stuff behind.

 


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