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Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!

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Offline Cookie

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Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« on: January 09, 2016, 11:14:08 AM »
When my niece graduated from High School last year, she asked if we would take her backpacking as a graduation present. We had taken her and her dad up to the South Rim Thanksgiving of 2014. We called that the Disneyland trip because we carried a lot of her gear, stayed in the same spot two nights, and her and Hiker spent most of the first full day lounging on the rim while we went to get water from Boot Spring. We told her this trip would be different and she would be packing all her own stuff plus extra  water. We thought she could handle it, at 6'1” tall, she has the frame for being a mule in the desert. The only window we had to go was in between Christmas and New Years. El Hombre and I got caught in the big storm last New Years when the park lost power for a few days, so we were hoping to have better weather......NOPE! As we watched the forecast as the departure day drew near, the snow and rain went from bad to worse . We were planning on hanging with Casa Grande and the rest of the Benders Sunday night, but decided to try and get a room in Study Butte. The drive out on Sunday just got worse and worse. It was down to one lane outside of Ft. Stockton with the snowplow trucks running on I-10. We went through Alpine and had a few white knuckle moments as we went up the Glass Mountains but made it to the hotel by evening. As we drove into the park the next morning it was gorgeous! Snow everywhere in the desert. Tule Mountain and the Burro Mesa area were beautiful. It was hard to take it all in.

BigBend.Christmas2015 001 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 002 by Cookie, on Flickr

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 Once we got our turn and the ranger figured out how to pull up our request, the worst was having to wait 40 minutes for 3 people to get permits, and grit my teeth through the rangers lecturing....er.... ....rule review.

I was really expecting the snow to be contained to the north area of the park, but to our delight, the Quemadas had been dusted with snow as well. 

BigBend.Christmas2015 010 by Cookie, on Flickr

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Due to a vibration problem in our Land Cruiser, and a nail in my truck's tire, we were in El Hombre's truck.  An F250 diesel is not the speedster we are use to.  So, we decided to take River Road all the way to get to ET trail head. It was almost 2 hours to get out there, so we weren't on the trail till almost 11. We were going to try and make it pretty far that day, and were worried about running out of daylight. We had a few options for campsites that we had seen in previous explorations of the Quemadas, but our planned goal was always Double Spring. 
 
Red lines indicate water flowing in the wash:
routetodoublespring by Cookie, on Flickr

Much of the snow had melted off by the time we got on the trail.
BigBend.Christmas2015 020 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 023 by Cookie, on Flickr

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interesting jaw bones found on the trail
BigBend.Christmas2015 034 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 035 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 036 by Cookie, on Flickr

beginning of Double Spring
BigBend.Christmas2015 043 by Cookie, on Flickr

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looking back towards ET
BigBend.Christmas2015 051 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 061 by Cookie, on Flickr

We were not disappointed by Double Spring, and it was even more amazing the amount of snow still left in the desert. After filling up on water, 1 gallon extra for each of the girls, and 2.5 gallons for El Hombre, we climbed out of Double Spring and set off to make camp.

We made it to camp just at sunset, and we all went to work on tents, and layering up.  It was getting quite chilly. We enjoyed a nice evening after a long day. With Elephant Tusk, Backbone Ridge, Dominguez Mtn and the Chisos all in view, how could we not?

The plan for the next day was to climb pt. 5476, then hit the three large mountains to the north.

BigBend.Christmas2015 066 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 064 by Cookie, on Flickr

To be continued...
~Cookie






« Last Edit: October 24, 2016, 05:11:42 PM by Cookie »

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2016, 06:33:31 PM »
We told the girls they could “sleep in” the next morning. That turned into a really lazy morning and a very late start to climbing. We set off from camp around 10:30 and  headed up pt. 5476.

BigBend.Christmas2015 072 by Cookie, on Flickr

We were aiming for a break in the rocks up near the top to get us to the final pitch to the top. We ended up going up a little to the right of the break that we could see, and did a little rock scrambling up to the upper ridge.

BigBend.Christmas2015 117.1 by Cookie, on Flickr

We made it to the top, and had a magnificent view of all of the Quemadas and the Rim.

BigBend.Christmas2015 074 by Cookie, on Flickr

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no snow left on the Chisos
BigBend.Christmas2015 084 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 085 by Cookie, on Flickr

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We saw the other three summits to our north...they looked a bit far away. After checking the time and remaining daylight, we decided we would not have enough time to summit even one of them and make it back to camp by dark. We also still had to make the trek back to Double Spring for more water. Water consumption for 3 vs. 4 hikers is a big difference. So we decided to head west to a point at the top of Fisk Canyon. We had a great view down into the canyon, and spent some relaxing time enjoying the sights and seeing the last of the snow on the north side of the mountains.

BigBend.Christmas2015 095 by Cookie, on Flickr

looking down into Fisk Canyon
BigBend.Christmas2015 096 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 097 by Cookie, on Flickr

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We made it back to camp around 4:30, dropped packs and headed to the spring to refill. We had another great night in the desert.

BigBend.Christmas2015 114 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 116 by Cookie, on Flickr

We back tracked the same route to the ET trail.  From there, we detoured up the creek to get a look at Elf Spring.  After seeing water, we went on down to Elegant Spring and decided to descend the canyon proper instead of the trail.

BigBend.Christmas2015 139 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 140 by Cookie, on Flickr

 Just passed the group of Cottonwoods, we started seeing a lot of trash. Not backpacker's trash either. Mexican trash.  It was obvious someone had been spending some time in this canyon. They had even had a fire going.  In all of our trips to the Quemadas I have never seen so much trash. Maybe the occasional wrapper that was dropped by accident, but nothing like this.  We found trash from just below the Cottonwoods all the way down to the opening of the canyon.   Just sad. 

BigBend.Christmas2015 148 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 143 by Cookie, on Flickr

made it past the choke stone. Much less water than last  March
BigBend.Christmas2015 150 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 155 by Cookie, on Flickr

We pumped some water, and headed up out of the canyon to set up camp. It was an easier day and we enjoyed the evening at the foot of Elephant Tusk.

BigBend.Christmas2015 160 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 162 by Cookie, on Flickr

BigBend.Christmas2015 163 by Cookie, on Flickr

The next day was cloudy and cool.  My niece was slow climbing up, so I paced her while El Hombre and Hiker climbed up to the bottom of the chimney. It took us over 2 hours to make it to the bottom of the chimney.

BigBend.Christmas2015 167 by Cookie, on Flickr

me niece battling the scree
BigBend.Christmas2015 171 by Cookie, on Flickr

Saw this on a large rock on the way up
BigBend.Christmas2015 170 by Cookie, on Flickr

climbing up "the crack" with a top rope:
BigBend.Christmas2015 174 by Cookie, on Flickr

view from the junction at the top of the crack
12.31.15 161 by Cookie, on Flickr

12.31.15 165 by Cookie, on Flickr

El Hombre had the ropes ready. Hiker had already climbed up with no rope!  He used a top rope on my niece and myself, and we made it up the 25 foot crack. Once on top of the crux, I was overwhelmed looking UP at what we still had left to climb. It was 1:45pm when we stopped after the first section going up. I knew my niece and I were not going to have enough time to summit and come down. She also admitted she was tired. So we made the call to turn around. ET would be there the next time I wanted to summit. El Hombre and Hiker continued to the top and bagged the summit! No Audad on the summit this time. We waited for them at the top of the chimney.

Hiker and my niece down climbed the crack. Me and El Hombre repelled down. The scree climb down was tedious and tiring, and I am happy to say...uneventful. We were back at camp a little after 5pm. We had debated hiking out that afternoon because our weather check the day before showed rain starting later around midnight with big winds. We had not planned on getting back so late, so we decided to stay the night. The wind started around midnight, but without the rain. It shook the tents all night, keeping us awake. We were very blessed to not have rain with it, or it would have been miserable breaking camp and hiking back out. At day break, the low clouds had already moved in, covering the top of ET.

BigBend.Christmas2015 190 by Cookie, on Flickr

We ate a quick cold breakfast, packed up and headed out. We made it back to the car before the rain started. As we drove out we could see it raining in different parts of the park. We had one more night of car camping planned, but after fighting the snow coming in, we really didn't want to get caught in another storm. We dropped off permits and I told the ranger about the trash in the canyon below Elegant spring. He was very interested and had me clarify where on the map so he could let BP know. He said there had been an increase in traffic through the park since all the publicity over the “unmanned” border crossing. My niece was a real trooper and had a great time! We were happy to show her around the Quemadas. Only her second backpacking trip, and she survived an off trail hike, and climbed halfway up ET. She is ready for the next trip and so are we!

~Cookie

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Offline Andreas

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2016, 06:45:47 PM »
Most exciting stuff, outstanding pics (except the part with the trash, of course - very sad, indeed, but important to document). Enjoy this TR very much, thank you so much for sharing!
"Any time you're throwin dirt you're losin ground."

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

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Offline Flash

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2016, 08:04:53 PM »
Thank you, Cookie, for posting a great report with very informative photos. The views from 5476 are beautiful, especially enjoyed those looking southward into the upper reaches of Fisk canyon.

Saw this on a large rock on the way up
BigBend.Christmas2015 170 by Cookie, on Flickr
Very curious indeed. What do you think it is? Looks like a very deliberate pattern. Did it look like paint or fossils or what?  :eusa_think:

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2016, 08:25:32 PM »
Thank you, Cookie, for posting a great report with very informative photos. The views from 5476 are beautiful, especially enjoyed those looking southward into the upper reaches of Fisk canyon.

Saw this on a large rock on the way up
BigBend.Christmas2015 170 by Cookie, on Flickr
Very curious indeed. What do you think it is? Looks like a very deliberate pattern. Did it look like paint or fossils or what?  :eusa_think:

Definitely not paint. I thought it looked like some kind of fossil. It was about the size of my palm.
~cookie

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2016, 08:27:38 PM »
What an epic trip, Cookie.  Y'all are now forgiven for not meetin up with us. Lol....Nice report and pics!

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Offline Talusman

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2016, 09:18:42 PM »
Great report Cookie and congratulations to El Hombre for the ET summit. You'll get it next time. Thanks for posting a report, as I know it takes time to write up and post pictures. Glad you were able to give the hiking bug to your niece! That is a great gift! I do think that is a fossil imprint in the stone. Very cool find!
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Online alan in shreveport

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2016, 09:21:21 PM »
You guys are really troopers. we got caught in last years ice storm (took 3 days for our normally 12 hour trip to get home) and decided to pass this year.
I think the pattern you saw on the rock are called dendrites, formed when the minerals segregate in the molten rock and are kind of pushed or excreted into (I think) already existing cracks in the surrounding rock. Or maybe not - any real geologists out there ?

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Offline Flash

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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2016, 09:53:13 PM »
You guys are really troopers. we got caught in last years ice storm (took 3 days for our normally 12 hour trip to get home) and decided to pass this year.
I think the pattern you saw on the rock are called dendrites, formed when the minerals segregate in the molten rock and are kind of pushed or excreted into (I think) already existing cracks in the surrounding rock. Or maybe not - any real geologists out there ?
Bingo, Alan gets the kewpie doll! Check out this link. Those patterns are likely Manganese Dendrites. Cool find by Cookie & Co.  :great:

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2016, 10:21:49 PM »
Great report and pics, Cookie!

My son and I made the climb up ET's scree field on our Thanksgiving 2014 trip (coming down is just as scary!).  We made it as far as the chimney.  We could have easily scrambled up the chute, but, without any rope, we were afraid of not being able to descend safely.  "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day".....

I have pictures of the dendrites as well.  I thought it might be some kind of fossil algae, lol.  Thanks, Alan, for clearing that up.

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Offline tusker

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2016, 10:38:22 PM »
Thank you!  Great story. 

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2016, 06:37:56 AM »
Great report and pics, Cookie!

My son and I made the climb up ET's scree field on our Thanksgiving 2014 trip (coming down is just as scary!).  We made it as far as the chimney.  We could have easily scrambled up the chute, but, without any rope, we were afraid of not being able to descend safely.  "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day".....

I have pictures of the dendrites as well.  I thought it might be some kind of fossil algae, lol.  Thanks, Alan, for clearing that up.

One of our family motto's is "getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory". El Hombre read it in a book about climbing Everest, I believe. Hiker is very proud of her ET summit. She is probably one of the younger climbers to stand on that awesome place. She will be 12 next month!

Thanks for the info on the Dendrites! And also for all the kind comments, it was a great trip!
~Cookie

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2016, 06:56:43 AM »
Beautiful report Cookie!  It was certainly an odd weather week to be running around the Quemadas.  As we stood on top of Pt. 5168 on the same day we looked over at ET and wondered if you all were up there and looking our way.  I joked with Robert "I think I can see elhombre standing on on top of ET".  Thanks.

Our trip report is coming I promise.   :icon_rolleyes:
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Offline Lance

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2016, 10:41:23 AM »
Great trip report and fantastic pictures of the Quemadas covered in snow.  I had the same feelings after getting up the chimney the first time and thinking that the rest of the climb up was steeper and more exposed than I had expected.  In my mind the crux was the chimney, but you really have 500 feet of 2nd and 3rd class rock left after that.  Quite an accomplishment for Hiker!  Give her a high five me!

Interesting that you found trash in the ET drainage.  I'm not surprised though.  That's kind of a perfect spot to hide out and has close access to water.  That little stretch of drainage is a cool area to hike through.  I need to do it again sometime.  Thanks for posting!!

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Snow capped Quemadas & and an ET summit!
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2016, 04:52:20 PM »

You guys are really troopers. we got caught in last years ice storm (took 3 days for our normally 12 hour trip to get home) and decided to pass this year.
I think the pattern you saw on the rock are called dendrites, formed when the minerals segregate in the molten rock and are kind of pushed or excreted into (I think) already existing cracks in the surrounding rock. Or maybe not - any real geologists out there ?
Bingo, Alan gets the kewpie doll! Check out this link. Those patterns are likely Manganese Dendrites. Cool find by Cookie & Co.  :great:


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