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Outer outer mountain loop

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Offline championbaum

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Outer outer mountain loop
« on: December 28, 2010, 05:57:49 PM »
Just got finished with a trip you guys might enjoy, currently eating and drInking at la kiva. I'm on my phone so I will post a detailed trip report when I get home. Basically I started at mule ears, trekked to smoky spring, then jack's pass onto Dominguez, through Fisk canyon and across to elephant tusk. Up elephant tusk to Dodson, up juniper and around the south rim to blue creek and following the smoky creek drainage back to mule ears(didn't leave the drainage except for the few feet around the big pour off above the cottonwood). Saw very few people, no one until the south rim, then no one again until mule ears trail.really fun and challenging trip! Give me a day or two and I'll post more from my computer.

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Offline jim2

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2010, 06:05:52 PM »
sounds great!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2010, 08:01:50 PM »
Dude!  I can't wait.   :eusa_clap:
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 Cookie

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2010, 08:27:27 PM »
 :notworthy: + :notworthy: + :notworthy: + :notworthy: + :notworthy: =WOW!!!

Can't wait to read that one, and I'm sure you will have lots of pictures for Homero :icon_lol:

~Cookie

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Offline Verduretiger

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2010, 08:29:42 PM »
Fantastic.

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2010, 08:14:45 AM »
Wow now that's what I call a great solo hike I can't wait to read more..

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2010, 08:57:16 AM »
That's like the OML for Chuck Norris!  :)

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2010, 10:04:56 AM »
Can't wait to read that one, and I'm sure you will have lots of pictures for Homero :icon_lol:

 Amen...Bring it on, Championbaum. :icon_lol:
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline Ay Chihuahua!

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 10:24:08 AM »
I was hoping it wasn't a typo in your subject line.  Sounds awesome...can't wait to hear more.  Got GPS tracks?  :eusa_drool:

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Online 01ACRViper

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2010, 11:34:47 AM »
sounds like quite an ordeal  :notworthy:

have any spring info?

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Offline championbaum

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2010, 02:06:01 PM »
 No GPS, sorry. Just went off topos and compass. I do not have pictures, forgive me because they didn't turn out well, actually they are terrible, and about half of my video footage is unrecognizable to my computer for some reason, including an entire days worth in the upper Chisos. I was taking them with my small HD camcorder, I do have a significant amount of video, but I will have to organize it somehow before I post the video.

I have PLENTY of spring info. I tried to highlight anything relating water in blue. The only spring I encountered that was completely dry was the northernmost spring in Smoky creek. But they were flowing good further south.

This should take you to the video. Unfortunately all my photos turned out terrible. I don't know what happened but my camera was definitely acting up. There is quite a bit of usable video I was able to recover off my cam, but I lost all the photos and a significant amount of video as well. Still, this is ok.



« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 08:01:27 AM by championbaum »

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Offline championbaum

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2010, 02:06:51 PM »
Planning:

   I had been looking through the message boards and through my topos as well as Google Earth for the last month trying to figure out my route. Even when I started I wasn't 100% sure where I would ultimately go. I planned on basically hiking from one spring to another, and as long as there was water i would continue, if not i would turn back. I wanted to keep one liter of water as a reserve, so if i did have to turn around I would have water for that return, and would be able to refill at the last spring I passed. If needed I to, and was far enough into the trek I could bail in the basin or at Homer Wilson Ranch if I thought I needed to.

   This was the most ambitious trip i had been contemplating in the Big Bend area so I was getting a bit OCD about what gear i would take. My gear list should be attached, and should be very thorough. I opted not to carry a camel back this trip so i would no exactly how much water I had at all times. It was a bit more inconvenient than if I would have, but it worked well and i never misjudged the amount of water I had at any point, and it saved me close to 4 ounces in weight. I had to fight the urge to take more clothes than I did, but was counting on there being only two nights i would be out that would push my bag to its limits.

    I also wanted to eat better than I usually do so I did a bit of research and can say that never again will I buy a mountainhouse meal. PACKIT GOURMET http://www.packitgourmet.com/ is the real deal. the hamburger wrap, and chicken and dumplings were seriously good (not just good enough to eat but really tasty). They also sell individuals of humus, olive oil freeze dried chicken and beef, and the meat rehydrates to a consistency that is normal, unlike much of the mountainhouse or similar brands (including my own dehydrated food).

   Another thing I really had to consider is how long it would take, I didn't know how much the bushwacking would slow me down, so I was thinking 5 days, 4 nights at the least. I also left a detailed route explanation with my family and asked them to call the park if they hadn't heard from me by thursday morning.

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Offline championbaum

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2010, 02:07:29 PM »
Day 1:

   I left home later than i wanted and arrived at panther junction around 12:00 pm Christmas eve. After dealing with a confused ranger (I was contributing to his confusion by trying to outline my plans). The most difficult task was trying to schedule when I would be planning on staying in one of the campsites in the chisos. I tried to explain that I might not make it that far (depending on water), so should I really register. After a lengthy discussion, i reserved a campsite in the Boot Canyon campground on purely speculative guesses about when i would arrive. I should have never mentioned it really, and just found one when i was there (which is what I ended up doing). But in my excitement i overlooked the bureaucratic process' I should have prepared for. No worries, he was doing his job, and never really told me what a dumb idea it was to try such nonsense.

    I stashed 2 gallons at Homer Wilson Ranch because I counted on that stretch being the driest.

   I arrived at Mule Ears parking lot around 2:00 pm and got situated to head out. I had a brief scare when i thought i had left my little pocket that holds my windbreaker and COMPASS, along with some other small items. It ended up being at the bottom of my pack and I set out. I started with one liter of water, but knowing Mule Ears spring was around the corner I wasn't worried.

   I arrived at Mule Ears spring and Loaded up with three liters. And as became the custom throughout the trip, before filling up my water bottles i drank all the water i was carrying. So i headed towards smoky creek wash with 3 liters on my back and one in my belly.

   I knew the days were going to be short, and I wasnt going to try to navigate in the dark so I was trying to go at a good pace. I arrived at the wash and headed a bit south of east cross country towards Smoky Spring.

   I arrived without incident with a few hours daylight left. And as I have read from others, I doubt it saves any time taking the cross country route, taking the time to watch every step to avoid the spiny plants could otherwise be used to walk south to the drainage that meets the one that leads to Smoky Spring. My son and I had done this same portion and It made me smile as I walked by spots I remembered having lunch or goofing around with him. Smoky Spring had water, it was flowing VERY slowly, I stopped there and ate a snack, drank my remaining two liters over the course of a half hour and managed three more liters out of the small pool I had found.

   I doubted I would make it over Jack's Pass this day, so i would try to get as close as i could to it before dark. The drainage to Jack's Pass was surprisingly easy to follow, and many of the washes I thought I might have to take time to avoid were not a problem. The wash pretty much takes directly to the base of Jack's Pass naturally. You could however miss the turnoff to the pass, the was continues past it clearly, but the pass was directly to my east. so when I arrived at this last portion, which i was relatively sure was Jack's Pass, Which was directly east, there was a small cairn to mark the way. But more helpful to those in the future, there is a fence line (a very old one mind you) you can follow up to the pass and directly down to the ruins if you wished to.

   I had made it to Jack's pass but the light was fading and I did not want to get stuck on the very overgrown hillside of the pass so I opted to sleep directly in the wash, there was no room to set up my tarp so I cowboy camped. I ate the Packit Gourmet hamburger wrap with "the works" on a tortilla, and was blown away with how good it was. best thing it only took a few tablespoons of water to rehydrate, so i had plenty to hump over the pass and down to Dominguez the next day.

   I don't know how cold it got down to, but it wasn't anything unbearable, I had to wake up maybe 2 hours before sunrise and put on my down jacket, more for comfort than anything. I would guesstimate it in the 30's.

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Offline championbaum

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2010, 02:09:52 PM »
Day 2:

   I woke up before the sun was up, ate breakfast in my sleeping bag, and started moving when there was enough light. I shed most of my layers, except my shirt and pants (hopefully to help with the vicious plants). It was cold, but i warmed up quickly trudging up the steep slope. It is very tedious, and no clear path, but manageable. This side seemed to be the most forgiving in my opinion. I would say it took me close to an hour to make it up to the crest of the pass.

   The side leading down towards Dominguez Spring seemed steeper, longer, and thornier. My decent was much less graceful than my ascent (which was pretty clumsy), i was sliding, slipping and occasionally falling, but i managed to avoid impaling myself with anything too terrible. I had read a few trip reports about the most manageable routes, and I chose to ignore them all and go straight down. I was literally slipping on the loose rocks and scrambling to stay on my feet, I was glad I was in such an isolated area, no one to laugh. The trip down took as much effort as going up. Every step was a conscious choice, I didn't want to step on anything that could make the days walking uncomfortable, and I didn't want to twist my ankle or worse of course. I was careful.

  There were numerous overgrown washes to circumnavigate, but they opened up as you headed further down the slope. I stayed to the right  (south) of the fence line, and dropped into the first promising wash (they all converged near the spring so I figured on was as good as any).

   As fate would have it I walked right up on the backside of Dominguez Spring, and it had a decent flow. I ate an early lunch here, took a break, drank all the water I had left, and refilled my 3 liters.

   WWTG suggested I take Fisk Canyon north, and I was glad for the suggestion, it was really great. Water throughout Fisk canyon off and on, and because I didn't know how long it would take to make it to the ET drainage and water I stopped each time I encountered water, drank a liter and refilled the liter I had consumed. The only downside was the incessant burs that burrowed into my shirt's armpits somehow.

    I followed the main wash until it forked, I took the eastern fork (not marked with a blue line on the topo, not the wash at the southernmost part of the canyon) which I mistook for the eastern fork further north, I could have caught the wash i wanted to be in had I realized the misstep earlier, but upon coming to a second fork, I again chose the eastern fork. So instead of crossing toward ET after peak 4722' and 4310', I ended up crossing into the drainages between peak 4310' and peak 4722'.



  I intended to be slightly further north. This was the most strenuous portion of my trip, the slopes weren't bad going up, but the drainage i chose to descend into the wash below was pretty precarious, and I had to make a conscious decision about every step, literally. It was quite overgrown, and there were several pour offs to navigate around. despite the misstep, I was fortunate in that i was able to check out the spring north west of backbone ridge, which was flowing beautifully. In retrospect, from this point i could have followed this wash further north to the next spring and continued around to ET, but i chose to cross the ridge dividing this wash from one a bit east and closer to ET. The drainage i chose was not as easy walking as the one i had been in, so instead of following the drainage it was easier to head straight up towards the peak of ET and walk up and down the ridges around the peak. I could see the drainage that would connect me to the ET drainage clearly, but the light was fading and i was extremely tired, it had been a hard day all off trail (although the drainage through Fisk is as good as any trail in the park). As luck would have it i ran into perhaps the only appropriate place to lay down on one of the ridges and called it a day just as the light faded. I got pretty lucky actually, because 20 more minutes and i would have had to use a headlamp, and it would have been quite unsavory tearing through the prickly growth in that manner.

    I saw TONS of mountain lion tracks, and what I assume was bear scat throughout the day. I even saw some footprints in Fisk canyon, and I thought they were oddly small. I wear a size eight and they were much smaller than my prints. My legs also got shredded throughout the day. I had whelps from all the scratches I had accumulated, but it felt good in an odd way. I was asleep by at least 7:30.

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Offline championbaum

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Re: Outer outer mountain loop
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2010, 02:11:11 PM »
Day 3:

   I woke up just as the sun was rising, this was the coldest night, the water bottle i had left out had frozen. The other two liters i used to prop my feet up and I guess my body heat kept them from freezing. I slept very soundly though and didn't notice how cold it was until I awoke. I warmed some water and drank a cup of hot coffee and warm oatmeal. I packed up in a hurry so i could get moving and warm up.

  I was surprised how quickly and easily i found my way into the ET drainage, the evening before it looked daunting, and I decided I made a good decision to stop when I did, I was really tired I guess. It was an easy 10 minute shwack into a drainage north west of ET and it was like a superhighway, wide open and when I came to the ET drainage i saw cairns, and followed the drainage to the spring directly north of ET which was flowing slowly, but enough to drink a liter of water and refill my empty bottles. It looked rather unappealing as I looked at the shallow pool, but after pouring it through a bandanna and treating it, it looked fine.

  I continued up the ET drainage and noticed cairns marking a drainage to the northwest, and the other fork that headed more north seemed like it might end so i followed it. this drainage quickly became overgrown and before too long I turned around to try the other fork. It turned out these cairns were a mistake, the drainage ended up turning back southwest, and that's how I realized it was a mistake. The other fork led through a short but really cool slot canyon, and sure enough there were cairns on the upstream portion of the drainage that marked the trail. This proved to be the days reoccurring theme, I had traveled this trail heading downstream, but navigating it upstream proved much more difficult.

   I decided to stay in the wash as much as possible and ignore the ridge walking portion, which proved easy enough, there was only a small portion that left the wash before connecting with Fresno anyhow. But that small portion did cause a bit of confusion when i saw the cairns marking the exit into the wash (and had failed to see where it originally left the was), i had to stop and make sure the trail didn't leave the wash and climb to the high cliffs above, but after an inner debate i decided to continue walking upstream.I arrived at what i thought was Fresno initially, because of the very good flow, but it turned out to be the fork directly south of Fresno. I also saw cairns that led up the northern side of the wash, but I chose to follow the wash and connect with Fresno that way. I never saw where the trail exited onto Fresno. After a breif portion on Fresno a series of cairns marked where one would normally the Fresno drainage, i opted to stay in the drainage. It continued to be easy walking for quite a while.

   The walls began to dramatically steepen further up stream and i came to a pour off, i chose to backtrack a bit and climb  a portion that wasn't quite as steep as where i was before. As i got to a spot where I thought i could make it around the pour off , I noticed a cairn, so I investigated and had run into the ET trail coincidentally. I followed the trail from this point, although from the higher vantage point it seems like one could make it around the series of pour offs with some effort and continue along the drainage. I think  because I chose to follow the trail from this point, I missed what quicksilver calls the "Waterworks" portion of Fresno. But the view of the creek from the cliffs edge was pretty awe inspiring.

   I arrived at the Dodson trail much sooner than expected, it was only 2:30 pm, so I hoofed it over to Fresno Creek, and was quite surprised to find pools of water in the drainage west of Fresno (between the ET trail junction and Fresno), I was good on water and hurried the quarter mile or less to Fresno. I stopped, had a snack, drank as much water as I could, and refilled. The creek was not flowing over the trail like i have seen it in the past, but there was flowing water just off the trail to the south. I felt good, and lots of energy left so I planned on pushing it into the night and cover as much ground as i could.

  I arrived at the Juniper trail junction with about an hour of light left i assumed, and was surprised that I still had not seen another person. The most challenging bit was over and I honestly kind of hoped to see someone. I continued up Juniper as the light began to fade, and arrived at Upper juniper Springs just as it began to become difficult to see without a headlamp. the Spring had a small pool, that wasn't the greatest looking, but was adequate enough for me to drink a liter and refill my 2 empty water containers, scooping a cup at a time. It was about 7:30 pm. I was pretty happy with the distance I had covered in the day, but decided to take advantage of being on an easy to follow trail and continued on. The hike UP Juniper canyon is pretty rough, but the cool night air made it somewhat easy. The clouds that were present throughout the day also seemed to have faded, and i had a clear view of the night sky. I finally called it quits near the Boot Canyon Trail junction,  I was asleep  a bit before 10 pm.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2010, 08:45:50 AM by championbaum »

 


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