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Quemada quickie

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Offline Cookie

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Quemada quickie
« on: January 27, 2012, 11:40:39 PM »
Me, El Hombre, and my brother-in-law, Bubblin' Thunder (BT) headed out to the Quemadas last weekend.This trip has become an annual trek, and BT joined us last year for his first backpacking trip. I guess we didn't scare him off because he was excited to get back out in the desert again. Our trip last year was a good one, making a loop from Homer Wilson east on the Dodson, cutting down ET trail (to just north of Elephant Tusk), then west across to Fisk Canyon, then up Smoky Creek and back out the Dodson the way we came in. All this was over 4 nights. That was a big way to start BT's backpacking experience, so I think anything would seem easier after that. We discussed a few different options, but in the end due to some lingering knee issues on me and BT's part we opted for a “kinder, gentler” trip.

Here was the plan:
Day 1: Juniper TH to Tortuga Mtn.and set up base camp
Day 2: Day hike up the west of the camp and explore the area
Day 3: Summit pt. 5476
Day 4: hike out & car camp at Pine Canyon 2, hit the hot springs
Day 5: drive home

It looked like we were hitting a good weather window, even if the highs/lows were around 85/52. We were hoping for 60/40, but still not bad. We did have some wind to deal with, but it is Big Bend afterall. We were up at darkthirty and cruisin down I-10 making some good time. El Hombre noticed that some of the counties still have not taken down the “nightime 65” signs, not that 80 mph at night on I-10 is such a great idea with all the deer running around. We hit Ft. Stockton by 10am and headed to Subway to get our “trail dinner”. We all grabbed some footlongs and stashed them in the icechest for a nice dinner in the desert. We stopped off at Sonic for an early lunch...next time we'll just get 2 sandwhiches at Subway. We were getting permits by 12:30. The ranger had our permits written and warned us about some bear sightings. He said that all the Juniper Canyon sites and Glenn Springs sites were closed because a bear had gotten into someones camp there. He also said they had  dumped their cooking water out and left some stuff out. Apparently the bears have moved out of the mountains. I asked him about the bear up in the basin we had seen at Thanksgiving, and he said that bear had been “relocated”. He then mentioned there was a group of 21 backpackers staying in the same zone as us the second night . He said to keep an eye out for them because a lot of the group were newbies. We also snagged PC2 for our last night there. Our plan was to be on the trail by 3 pm, so we were right on schedule. The drive out was great, we noticed it was still as crispy as it had been in November. We also couldn't smell the creosote like we usually could. Maybe it was going dormant from the drought? We made it out to the TH, after checking the bear box (empty) we were happy to have boots on the ground at 2:30 and started our 3 ½ hour trek in.



Me, El Hombre, and our daughter Hiker had done this same hike back in November and had come out from Tortuga via the Dodson drainage, taking at least 2 hours off our trek. My pack felt much lighter since I didn't have her sleeping bag, therma-rest, food, and other misc. gear. We were also lighter on water knowing we had some water in the area. We were pleased to see more water that last time has we headed south down the Dodson drainage. The pools were much larger and you could see them flowing.


We arrived at our campsite just as the sun was hitting the top of ET. Perfect timing, we got camp set up and still had time to relax and take in the beautiful evening. The view from this site is amazing: Elephant Tusk, Sierra del Carmens, Tortuga, and the South Rim.



The morning was a cool 45 and looked like it would be a great day as the sun warmed us up. A very large red tailed hawk also enjoyed the sunrise with us. He looked like a large penguin sitting on the rocks soaking up the morning.

Our first days plan was to get water and then explore the area. We headed to the same spring we had pumped from last November, and it was still looking good. We filled up then headed to a tree we had found in the drainage to hang up our food, just in case the bears were hanging out here. As we started heading west up the drainage (west from Tortuga just off the ET trail) we saw a large pool of water that had not been there the last trip.

This was a really great place to explore.





 
We hit a nice little pouroff that was easily scaled. It would have been more challenging with a backpack on.

We hiked till we hit a fork. We went left (southwest) first. After hiking a bit we went into a different eco-system. This area really looked like upper Pine canyon near the waterfall. There were tons of trees, the ground was thick with golden leaves, and water came through the ground at different spots, causing thick green grass to peak through the dead parts.



We saw the remains of dinner, a grey bird of somesorts. There was some older bear scat and cat scat. It was hard to tell how old. Then we found this mark:



It looked like bear to us, marking the tree. We found a similar, but smaller, mark on the tree right before the climb up to our campsite.

 I showed it to the ranger, and she confirmed it was probably a bear. We climbed another stair step pour off and decided to head back down.

We explored up the right fork for a bit too.


El Hombre scouted the ridges looking for campsites and anything else interesting as BT and I headed down the drainages.



The wind had been picking up all day, but it kept us cool and wan't bad in the drainage. We hoped for calmer winds for the next day and our summit attempt. We had a great evening back at the camp, enjoying the views and some adult beverages.
This pictures for you SA Bill!!

The next morning broke calm and beautiful. I woke just as it was getting light. The sky was the most amazing shade of indigo I have every seen. A few stars still shone in it. I glanced at the horizon, seeing a band of silver clouds separating the indigo from a glowing orange sky, just about the Carmens. The contrast in colors took my breath away. I hate to say I didn't get a picture, but a picture would have not done it justice. So with a great start to the morning, we had breakfast and set off from camp straight up the "little" hill. It did seem straight up.


The camp is in the middle of this shot:


 We had planned the route after studying the map. We would head west from camp, up and over (or around) several smaller points. At point 5170 we would start heading south and follow the ridge to pt. 5476(far left below)

El Hombre had picked this one out as probably having one of the best views. After seeing pictures in Lance Sneeds TR a few weeks ago, it had us wanting to summit it even more. The hiking was not bad, since most of the lechugia was dead it made the walking less painful. We had great views along the way, from Tortuga, the south rim, and of course Elephant Tusk and Backbone Ridge.
here's the drainage we had hiked the day before.





Once we made the southern turn, we could see that a few other hikers had been here before.

a bit steep at times...


As we got closer I was beginning to wonder how hard that last scramble up was going to be.

 we found this great camp spot close to the summit


I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of the summit,

and was not disapointed with the view.






and my favorite shot...


 It had taken us about 3 ¼ hours to hit the the top. We spent about an hour on top, enjoying ourselves and having lunch. The weather was perfect. Overcast most of the day, with only slight breezes. I think the hike down was harder. It was so steep for the majority of the hike and sideways walking around the hills, I ended up with a blister on the side of my foot. The last hill down to the camp site was the hardest. It was loose rock, steep, and we had some tired legs. El Hombre and BT were below me.

 I was picking my way down, looked up and saw BT sideways! He was 20 yards from the bottom of the hill (and our campsite) and had relaxed, thinking he was done. He hit  a slick spot and went sideways. He was heading straight for a big ol' cactus but caught all his weight on his brand new hiking pole. It held him just enough for him to miss the cactus, but bent the pole pretty good. $20 well spent. He was able to bend it back enough for it to work again.





We had made it back in time to pump some more water to get us back to the truck and enjoy our last ET sunset. The clouds had been moving in all day, and we were curious to see if the weather would hold another day. The wind hit about 4am, blowing dust and whipping at our sleeping bags. El Hombre and I had opted to “cowboy camp” even though we had brought our tent. Even with the wind it was fabulous. By the third night I could tell what time it was by how much Orion had walked across the sky. Morning broke, we packed up and hit the trail. We made it from the campsite to the Dodson trail in just over and hour. The hike out was much more enjoyable from our November trip, when El Hombre & I had both gotten sick. We had been on the Dodson about 30 minutes and were heading into a wash when I noticed something blue behind some cactus. I called out for El Hombre and BT to come back over. We went up behind the cactus to investigate and found what looked the contents of someones backpack. There was a sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries, Mountain House, pants, a LOT of jingle bells, and other miscellaneous stuff scattered around. It was a little creepy, (thanks Laurence).

We did NOT find a backpack or any water. Our best guess was someone reached there breaking point and was “done”, dumped everything out but water to get our, and left. We reported it to the rangers at RGV when we got out. They didn't think anyone was missing, and they were sending someone out the next day to check it out. They said it did happen a lot to have people bail on the trail and leave all their stuff. The rest of the hike out was uneventful (good). Right before we got to the car we came across a huge flock of birds. We had never seen so many like this out in the desert.

We were able to have cold drinks and lunch at the trail head.

It was really windy that day, on the trail at times it was pushing us sideways, I felt like I had a big sail on my back. WE headed to RGV for supplies, then to the hot springs to soak, and on the PC 2 to set up camp and enjoy our last night in the Bend. The wind was down to a nice breeze by sunset too.
An overall excellent trip. This is such a great area. We also did not see a single person from when we left the ranger station with our permits until we hit the RGV. Not even the group of 21. It doesn't get better than that!

~Cookie

« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 09:25:34 AM by Cookie »

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Offline Al

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2012, 12:12:03 AM »
Cookie, you guys have the best trips that show how wonderful and remote the park is when experienced through Zone camping!  We have hiked several times and Zone camped from the same established trails, in the same area, without going where you went.

What's amazing about that area of the park is you can go one way or another a few hundred yards and find things you had no idea were there. 

Thank you very much,
Al

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2012, 07:00:11 AM »
Great report cookie, thanks!  I am still trying to pinpoint where your camp was, as I was  trying to follow along on the map it would make much more sense if I knew exactly where it is.  If you don't want the world to know you can PM me with the location.
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Offline Cookie

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2012, 09:26:05 AM »
Cookie, you guys have the best trips that show how wonderful and remote the park is when experienced through Zone camping!  We have hiked several times and Zone camped from the same established trails, in the same area, without going where you went.

What's amazing about that area of the park is you can go one way or another a few hundred yards and find things you had no idea were there. 

Thank you very much,
Al

Thanks Al! The more we zone camp out there, the more we love it! There is so much more to the park "off the beaten trail".  :dance:

Great report cookie, thanks!  I am still trying to pinpoint where your camp was, as I was  trying to follow along on the map it would make much more sense if I knew exactly where it is.  If you don't want the world to know you can PM me with the location.

Not a big deal, I don't think a lot of people are making it to this area. The campsite is easy to find as you are hiking down the ET trail .Here's the map:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=29.18626,-103.27681&z=15&t=T&marker0=29.15743%2C-103.26740%2Celepahant%20tusk%20Tx
Hope that helps with your bearings!

~Cookie

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Offline SA Bill

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2012, 10:20:31 AM »
Hi Cookie!
What a great trip! Thanks for the TR!  :notworthy:

I suspect that BT is now hooked on backpacking in BB. Thanks for the pic of the tent! Hope it worked okay.
   Bill
Bill - In San Antonio

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Growing up is optional.

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2012, 10:20:53 AM »
Again, great trip report Cookie. You guys strive to record places in Big Bend very few people get to post.....But you must forgive here. Once again, I have to ask you: What is it wih the red shirts?...You all were trying to flag somebody there. Post a red spot for Google Earth?....just spur of the moment?. What is it?................... What gives? :sign0144:
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline Homer67

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2012, 10:28:29 AM »
Great report of an adventurous hike!  I want to get out there so bad!
Ah Big Bend, we will soon return to reacquaint ourselves in our ritual of blood, exhaustion and dehydration. How can we resist the temptation to strip ourselves of the maladies of civilization?

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Offline Lance

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2012, 01:57:58 PM »
Great job y'all!  The pictures are good too.  I love seeing different perspectives in the park, especially of the Quemada.
The view from PT 5476 was fantastic!  I agree with Al, all you have to do is go a couple hundred feed and you're exploring something new!

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Offline desertflwr

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2012, 05:09:21 PM »
I enjoyed your pictures and trip report Cookie!  Its a part of the Park I've never been to, but hope to go to someday.
...in the wild places man is an unwelcome guest but its here that I'm found and here I feel blessed...

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2012, 09:11:11 PM »
Wow, amazing cookie!  Another trip report added to my bookmarks to research for a trip!
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline Al

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2012, 10:16:17 PM »
Cookie, love this shot of the south end of the del Carmens and the Maderas!



Al

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2012, 07:14:12 PM »
I told BT that it is a good idea to wear a bright color shirt when hiking because, if you get in trouble and want to be found, a bright color shirt may just be what a rescuer needs to find you.  Obviously, he realizes that I am a trend setter and he wants to be like all the cool people in the desert..........me. ........so he wore a red shirt like me.     :great:

He also follows my recommendation of wearing a natural silk undershirt as a first layer to keep the sun off of you, along with being cooler.  This was a great idea until I tried to buy a new silk shirt to replace the cat claw ravaged one I have now.   Seems they have gone from $20 to $44 at REI and Cabela's just in the last few months.  But I am told there is no inflation.  Must be a silk worm plight.... :vomit:

First Russian Collusion, then Obstruction, then illegal payment to Stormy Daniels, then tax returns subpoenaed. Now no formal vote on impeachment for a 30 min. phone call to Ukraine

No crime. No evidence, just more secret investigations

Drain the Swamp.  America will survive.  God Bless America

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Offline Flash

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2012, 08:16:45 PM »
Cookie,
I love this shot also, but which direction precisely are you looking and which mountains are those? Is that the Punta or the area north of Jack's Pass or something else?
Thanks,
Flash

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Offline Lance

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2012, 08:58:23 PM »
Cookie,
I love this shot also, but which direction precisely are you looking and which mountains are those? Is that the Punta or the area north of Jack's Pass or something else?
Thanks,
Flash


Those are the back side of the Puntas.  The direction he's facing is basically SSE.  The tallest blocky peak in the center is PT 4885.
This is a great shot!

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Online Robert

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Re: Quemada quickie
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2012, 09:19:30 PM »
I like this one a little better. You get to see the Punta, Fisk Canyon, and can make out where the route from Jack's Pass comes down to Dominguez.  It's the same angle as the other one but not zoomed in.


 


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