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quick trip

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Offline championbaum

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quick trip
« on: March 01, 2009, 11:01:59 PM »
   So i took off for a quick trip on friday afternoon, not the trip i have been wanting to do, but one i thought i could knock out within the time i had. I ended up going from the basin to mule ears, and since i went alone again, as usual.....i planned on hitchhiking back to my car at the basin parking lot....sounds simple right. I also wanted to check out the area between santa elena and mule ears for my upcoming trip.

   I decided to head to the park after getting all my work squared away, and knowing that next week would be busy motivated me to escape for a day at least. I headed out at about 1:00, and got to the basin at 4:30. For whatever reason i forgot the basin closed at 3:30, and had to go back to panther junction for a permit, and let someone know where i would be since i didn't tell any friends or family what i was up to. after getting my permit and filling out a solo hiker form (for the first time in a very long time) i got on the trail at a very late 6:00, i could tell the sun would be down soon.



   I laid down, without setting my tarp up, and made some coffee. I relaxed a bit, kicking myself for coming on my trip after feeling the way i did. I contemplated n putting my tarp up, but it was so nice i just went to sleep at about 8. Around 2 or 3 in the morning, the wind started blowing.....hard, and it started getting cold. I was glad actually because i wanted to try out my new golite quilt, and i can't do that unless it gets cold. It is rated for 20 degrees, and it may be accurate for some, but i sleep cold and usually don't expect a bag to keep me comfortable at its rating. Any way i was very comfortable, i just threw on my down jacket and i was more than warm enough. I had it tucked under my sleeping pad and didn't feel any gusts of cold wind...so i am very happy with bag. It ways only 19 oz and will go down to pretty cold temps as long as i have some layers of clothing to go with it.

   I also brought some new shoes, i was tired of rolling my ankle so often with my other golite spikes, they were too "tippy" so i got some montrail something or others....VERY comfortable. They are basically high top running shoes and i got a size 8, although in the future i will get an 8.5 because i did get a few blisters, but nothing that i couldn't have prevented if i would have broken them in like a smart person.

   I woke up at about 7....nothing like 11 solid hours of sleep in the mountains to pep you up!!! it was  chilly but i felt great. i ate a breakfast of powdered milk and cereal, made coffee and piddled around a bit. I was glad i came, happy to be away from all the "suppose to do's." I had a late start, about 9, but it was chilly and i was enjoying my coffee.

   Heading up laguna meadows i wasn't really in the best of form, my coworkers and i went out for drinks the night before, and i guess since i don't drink that heavilly, i was feeling it. It was warm outside but i felt hot, like fever hot. i had planned on getting down pretty far on the blue creek trail after the sunset, but i ended up stopping at BC1 a little before sunset.



   The photo above is from the ridge on Blue Creek before you start desending to the creek bed. When i got to homer wilson ranch around 11 i realized i had a few blisters. i probably could have avoided them alltogether if i would have taken care of them a few miles back. I slapped some duct tape on them, and put another pair of socks on and they weren't an issue again (i use thin nylon socks).

   It had warmed up considerably now. It was in the high 60's or low 70's i imagine. it felt good to hike in the warmth after so many trips over this winter. I enjoyed the scenery, and was extremley grateful being where i was. it was great. I had lunch at that ridge with the great view.



That is a different photo from my oml trip, but it looks the exact same, unintentional.

   I got to the smokey creek trail, and headed down it. There are plenty of cairnes along the trail, and you follow the creek bed so it is not to bad heading south on it, plus if you miss a cairne and pass a turn you usually come to either a wall of vegitation, or a cliff, this i did twice. here is a photo of a point i got to and realized, without a doubt i need to turn around and look for a missed cairne.



   I missed a cairne, and a turn before this one, i think, and pushed through some brush, only to come to another drop off, similar to this although not as high, before turning around and finding the missed cairnes that marked a turnoff.

   there was one section, that was longer than i expected, that went along a ridge from one creek bed to another, which i quite liked. It was nice, it felt like i was the only person for miles. i came to the creek bed finally, consulted my map, and turned left. i quickly saw cairnes and continued this way.



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Offline championbaum

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2009, 11:28:04 PM »
   I can't remember the places exactly where i missed my turns, but for anybody planning on taking this trail, don't worry, you will notice fairly quickly either because of an deadly impassable drop or thick vegetation filled with venemous snakes and spiders (some content of previous statement added for dramatic effect) in the wash.

   There was so much water on smoky creek also, it was wonderful.



I came to a point where water acually seeping out of the side of a cliff, which was amazing. I was in the desert, it hasn't rained in 4 months at least and there is water pouring out of a wall, making its very own stream.



   It blew me away, it seemed as if water would flow from the ground for a few hundred feet only to be swallowed by the ground again and spit up a few hundred feet down the wash. I bet there is a grand river a few feet under the earth, under the ground i was walking on.



   This is probably out of order, but there is a wooden sign marking the exit from the creek, which i was worried about missing. i wonder why the exit though? Has anybody walked further down this way? I swear every time i missed a turn (twice) there was a beautiful spring beyond.... like they are trying to keep me away from the water, making sure i don't know, for some unknown reason. maybe they think i will foul up the source, like cattle, drinking and excreting in the same spot....

   If any one has been further up the creek let me know please.

   The dams i passed were interesting also, they all seemed to be built facing the wrong way, but dirt may have filled them up ver the years.




I am pretty tired, so i will finish the rest in the morning.....
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 11:32:54 PM by championbaum »

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BigBendHiker

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2009, 07:11:06 AM »
Thanks for the trip report and pictures. 



BBH

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Offline SA Bill

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2009, 07:16:53 AM »
Nice report so far champ! Looking forward to the rest.

That's pretty amazing about the water coming out of the rocks in the middle of the desert!
  Bill
Bill - In San Antonio

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Online mule ears

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2009, 07:50:55 AM »
     This is probably out of order, but there is a wooden sign marking the exit from the creek, which i was worried about missing. i wonder why the exit though? Has anybody walked further down this way? I swear every time i missed a turn (twice) there was a beautiful spring beyond.... like they are trying to keep me away from the water, making sure i don't know, for some unknown reason. maybe they think i will foul up the source, like cattle, drinking and excreting in the same spot....

   If any one has been further up (down?) the creek let me know please.

CB this is the best thread on the area below the wooden sign
http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/hiking-the-desert/dominguez-mountain-pass-t3928.0.html

With this post by Robert having the most detailed description:

Quote
Jack's description of hiking down trail from the signpost in the wash.

"In Reply to: Smokey posted by Robert on December 17, 2003 at 11:36:53:
Yes, once on the trail, its a short hike to the sign, as you know,the topo is incorrect. At the sign, go left and follow the wash. These is a seep at the first turn. The long drop off is easy to get around. Look for the trail on the left. Its easy to follow. Its goes up and around and leaves the wash before dropping you back in. When you're above the wash, you can see slot where it disappears downstream. That where the big drop off is. When you get to it go left. You'll pick up a trail that takes you up, around, and starts you down, then is gone. Its a scramble. Pick out your best path among the rock and thorns. Its a little dangerous, but I've done it 3 times and I'm still kicking. Once down, you'll be in a steep walled canyon with a little scrambling and hiking, you'll be out to the rock chimney in no time. Robert, you'll be amazed at how fast this route is. Its been years since I've taken the trail, but I think this route is at least 30% or more shorter."

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Offline championbaum

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2009, 04:06:20 PM »
      This is probably out of order, but there is a wooden sign marking the exit from the creek, which i was worried about missing. i wonder why the exit though? Has anybody walked further down this way? I swear every time i missed a turn (twice) there was a beautiful spring beyond.... like they are trying to keep me away from the water, making sure i don't know, for some unknown reason. maybe they think i will foul up the source, like cattle, drinking and excreting in the same spot....

   If any one has been further up (down?) the creek let me know please.

CB this is the best thread on the area below the wooden sign
http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/hiking-the-desert/dominguez-mountain-pass-t3928.0.html

With this post by Robert having the most detailed description:

Quote
Jack's description of hiking down trail from the signpost in the wash.

"In Reply to: Smokey posted by Robert on December 17, 2003 at 11:36:53:
Yes, once on the trail, its a short hike to the sign, as you know,the topo is incorrect. At the sign, go left and follow the wash. These is a seep at the first turn. The long drop off is easy to get around. Look for the trail on the left. Its easy to follow. Its goes up and around and leaves the wash before dropping you back in. When you're above the wash, you can see slot where it disappears downstream. That where the big drop off is. When you get to it go left. You'll pick up a trail that takes you up, around, and starts you down, then is gone. Its a scramble. Pick out your best path among the rock and thorns. Its a little dangerous, but I've done it 3 times and I'm still kicking. Once down, you'll be in a steep walled canyon with a little scrambling and hiking, you'll be out to the rock chimney in no time. Robert, you'll be amazed at how fast this route is. Its been years since I've taken the trail, but I think this route is at least 30% or more shorter."



i was wondering about that...thanks, the turn at the wooden sign really takes you on a big loop....

The most surprising thing about the loop to the west after the wooden sign was the inability to see the actual mule ears peaks. But every time i started thinking i had missed acairne i would see the peaks and continue on, there are a few sections where the cairnes are a bit spread out. i figured if i was in the wrong wash i could cut across and catch up to the mule ears trail when i got near the peaks. But that wasn't needed.



From looking at my topos, and from what i remember about this area when i last visited (8 years ago) it was not as flat as i remembered or thought it would be. I brought my National Geographic topo.....pretty inadequate, if i plan on doing any exploring around there in the future i will most definately take the appropriate usgs topos.

The mule ears is marked by 2 large cairnes on the west side of the wash, and when you go up the trail a hundred yards or so there is a sign, i thought the sign was in the wash itself but it isnt. I got to this point around 5





   my plan was to eat at mule ears spring, which, as desert springs go, is perfect. A literal oasis. I ate there, and just hung out there until after dark, hanging out and relaxing in the wonderful weather, scenery and solitude.

here is a flower on the springs edge.


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Offline championbaum

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2009, 04:30:30 PM »
   


There were so many frogs in the spring and it was flowing like a garden hose. I hung out here until about 8:30, the sun had set and i decided to get closer to the parking lot. There are no campsites in between the spring and parking lot though and i ended up at the parking lot before i knew it. I ended up laying in the bushes around the parking lot and sleeping.



  For anyone who has never been to the mule ears spring, i definately recommend it, it is an oasis. you can see it from a mile away, it's green vegitation standing out more so than many other springs.


I woke up on sunday morning at about 7:00 am to the sound of a truck pulling in, so i got up and tried to gauge whether or not i could bum a ride from them. they were going for a day hike so i ate another breakfast of powdered milk and cereal.

i got on the road at about 8:15, and only saw cars going the opposite direction from which i was heading. I passed goat mountain by a bit before a blue car passed...i stuck my thumb out, but the car was full and the driver gave an apologetic shrug. Next a green mini van, 2 elderly people, they looked confused, slowed down, seemed to be arguing, then hit the gas. Next came an RV, which pulled over and opened the door, i hopped in and they were going to terlingua, so i was more than grateful to ride until they made the turn the opposite way from which i was going and they obliged. They were from germany, on a trip from florida to LA, very nice. The lady was a police officer, and the man was an engineer.

I hopped out at the appropriate intersection, and thanked them as much as i could, and stuck my thumb out and immediately got another ride to the road heading into the basin from a couple out of houston. I had a 50% success rate. they were nice and were going for a day hike on grapevine hills. I hopped out and continued up the road.

Next a ranger passed and for some reason i got terribley frightened, like he would scold me or something so i did not stick out my thumb and tried to walk as if i was supposed to be walking there....i have no idea if bumming rides is accepted there, and i don't want to know so i can plead ignorance truthfully.

Next came along the same green minivan with the elderly couple, i coifed my hair and tried to look as respectable and well mannered as possible.....they continued on, wondering how i had gotten in front of them i am sure.

I finally got a ride to the basin a few minutes later from a retired shell employee, who was now a memeber of the sierra club. He and his wife were both very nice, and we spoke of the contradictions of working in the petroleum industry, and trying to be enviromentally consiencous.

all in all it took me 2 hours to get frommule ears to the basin by thumb, i went into the ranger station to see if my favorite ranger was in, whos name i have found out is blake. He wasn't so i went to get some lunch, and paid for the lunch of the last couple who gave me a ride to show my appreciation.


On the way out i made a quick trp to dog canyon. It was nice, but i left my camera in the car....


All in all, mule ears spring was by far the highlite of the trip, and i learned that my NG topo seems to deny the existance of some elevation changes......so i will be investing in some usgs topos for my future trips cross country, when i go from the basin to santa elena... i should have taken off monday and knocked it out on this trip, but it was so last minute i didn't want to leave anybody hanging...not to mention we just had a round of layoffs.


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Offline dkerr24

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2009, 04:44:46 PM »
Great trip report...  In a way, I'm not surprised you had pretty good luck getting rides on the way back... I mean you'd think you could trust a hitchhiker out there considering most criminals are pretty lazy and would stay near busy highways.

I've considering doing that myself so I can enjoy some 'point A to point B' type of hikes instead of just loop hikes.

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Online mule ears

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2009, 04:53:45 PM »
Man CB, you are the king of the fast trip! Nice report and pictures

...I learned that my NG topo seems to deny the existance of some elevation changes......so i will be investing in some usgs topos for my future trips cross country, when i go from the basin to santa elena...

I've had that experience when I had the 7.5 minute topo then went off it and onto the NG map. It's like trying to do cross country navigation with a state road map, doesn't show any kind of detail you can work with.  :willynilly:
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Offline championbaum

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2009, 05:16:08 PM »
Man CB, you are the king of the fast trip! Nice report and pictures

...I learned that my NG topo seems to deny the existance of some elevation changes......so i will be investing in some usgs topos for my future trips cross country, when i go from the basin to santa elena...

I've had that experience when I had the 7.5 minute topo then went off it and onto the NG map. It's like trying to do cross country navigation with a state road map, doesn't show any kind of detail you can work with.  :willynilly:

well i would like to take longer trips, and i will. i might just wait until your next trip and follow behind quietly. I could learn some map reading skills that way, which i have come to the realization i need to become better at. I thought that area was much more level, but lesson learned, i will have to shell out a few bucks for better maps....do they sell ALL the usgs maps at panther junction?



Great trip report...  In a way, I'm not surprised you had pretty good luck getting rides on the way back... I mean you'd think you could trust a hitchhiker out there considering most criminals are pretty lazy and would stay near busy highways.

I've considering doing that myself so I can enjoy some 'point A to point B' type of hikes instead of just loop hikes.

hitching is the way to go i think if you are like me and take off at very uncertain moments and don't have time to schedule, or want to spend money on shuttles...but i allow myself a whole day, just in case you dont get a ride....like i set aside all day sunday, because you won't get a ride after dark, i briefly thought about trying to make it to santa elena and then making a late night hitch to my car, but i doubt there is much traffic on sunday nights....and i was so tanned i bet some people would have thought i was a smuggler with a pack full of something illicit. which i must state there is never anything illicit in my pack.

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Offline Pedreo233

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2009, 06:04:05 PM »
Dittos on the report!  Great photos too.  You must have had good moon for night hiking?  And man those springs looked very nice.  What a story.

I have had the same poor luck with NG topo (50 states Backroad Explorer) which is based on 1:100,000 USGS maps.  I think NG National Parks Explorer goes to the same detail which is not adequate for hiking.  But the NG state topo version is based on USGS 7.5 minute maps which are 1:24,000 (1"=2000').  I do not have them, but I think the TX maps are about $100, well worth it, if you ask me.

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2009, 07:24:46 PM »
Regarding the ranger, I doubt they would have ticketed you.  I've read plenty of trip reports from folks hiking in the Grand Canyon that have even hitched rides from rangers to get from one trailhead to another along the south rim.

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Offline championbaum

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Re: quick trip
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2009, 08:49:41 PM »
Dittos on the report!  Great photos too.  You must have had good moon for night hiking?  And man those springs looked very nice.  What a story.

I have had the same poor luck with NG topo (50 states Backroad Explorer) which is based on 1:100,000 USGS maps.  I think NG National Parks Explorer goes to the same detail which is not adequate for hiking.  But the NG state topo version is based on USGS 7.5 minute maps which are 1:24,000 (1"=2000').  I do not have them, but I think the TX maps are about $100, well worth it, if you ask me.

it was a clear night, but i use a cheap led headlamp for night hiking, i do it pretty often, because i usually go with limited time so i hike a few hours after dark. i only do it if the trail is fairly easy to follow, i doubt i would do it cross country. i like it though, its a different experience. i definately plan on getting some 7.5 minute maps, i have already purchased a few for big bend ranch state park, although i havent been yet. the ng map is fine for established trails, but i don't think i will be using them for any cross country travel.


Regarding the ranger, I doubt they would have ticketed you.  I've read plenty of trip reports from folks hiking in the Grand Canyon that have even hitched rides from rangers to get from one trailhead to another along the south rim.

i bet he would have given me a ride, but it was like when you see a dps and you slow down even though you are going the speed limit....and try to sit especially still like they won't see you.....ya i don't know why either

 


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