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Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!

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Offline Cookie

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Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« on: January 17, 2015, 04:05:22 PM »
I promised ElHombre I would get this trip report up today, since it is way past due.
We were in Big Bend  in November for about 10 days and had some big plans. The first part of the trip would be  a 4 night back pack trip from the Basin down to Castolon. Then we had a few nights car camping in the back country. The final weekend my brother-in-law and my 18 year old niece would join us for a two nighter up on the rim. We had taken my b-i-l backpacking in the Quemadas before, but this would be my niece’s first time to backpack.

We obtained permits for the trip. We headed to the basin lodge to set up a shuttle. It was easy-breazy at the lodge and we had a shuttle arranged for the next morning. The driver would pick us up at Castolon and drive me, ElHombre and Hiker to the basin to start our trek. We spent our first night at Chilicotal campsite, since it would not be a windy night. We decided to cowboy camp so we could get out of camp quicker in the morning. It was an uneventful night except for a rat running across ElHombre sleeping bag and giving him a start. We decided the rats were so used to scrounging dropped scraps we would have to always put up a tent in the future. The site was not bad, our first time to stay there. I would not want to be there on a windy day. 

BigBendNov14 001 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

BigBendNov14 002 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

We cached our supplies on the way to Castolon and arrived 15 minutes before we were supposed to meet the shuttle. The van was right behind us as we pulled into the parking lot.  We loaded our packs into the van and headed back to the Basin. Being able to have a shuttle definitely has opened up all kinds of possibilities for one way hikes. We were hoping for SW3 for the first night but it was taken, so we had SE1. It made the first day a little easier and we would still have a nice rim sunset.

BigBendNov14 008 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

We had a beautiful sunset on the rim and were ready to get this trip going in the morning.
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sunrise-my favorite shot of the trip
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We saw a few groups heading up to the rim as we approached the Blue Creek Trail. Once we left the rim, we didn't see anyone until we were in the parking lot at Castolon. ElHombre thought we would get to Homer around 4pm.
BigBendNov14 055 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

 We made good time and were there around 1pm. Hiker was feeling a little tired and her feet were hurting. This meant we had to decide if we were going to bail at Homer or continue on. We grabbed our cache and relaxed at the ranch house. 
BigBendNov14 057 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

BigBendNov14 059 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr
After lounging and lunching for a few hours she felt a lot better was ready to continue on. We were ready to leave the trail for the rest of the trip. We walked about another hour or so past the ranch and found a nice spot to spend the night.

BigBendNov14 063 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

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continued.....
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 03:17:57 PM by Cookie »

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2015, 04:11:09 PM »
The next day was a beautiful. Everyone was feeling good.  We were ready to get out into the desert and leave the cars and people behind. Our second night would be spent near Mule Ears at one of my favorite spots. We followed the wash and had some nice walking.
BigBendNov14 071 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

BigBendNov14 072 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr
We came to a horseshoe shaped pour off and could hear the water echoing off the walls. It was an oasis in the desert.
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We took a break and cooled off a bit. As we were leaving ElHombre noticed a wild life camera on one of the trees. We could guess this would be a busy spot at night. We came across a lot of water in the wash before we hit the Smoky Trail.
BigBendNov14 080 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr
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It was nice to be not slogging through the wash and be on the trail again. We were relieved to make it to our spot
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and only find it occupied by this little guy.
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We set up camp and headed to Mule Ears spring to grab some water.

BigBendNov14 094 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

We had a nice break there and enjoyed the shade. Everything had grown back from the flash flood that had wiped out all the vegetation a few years back. With our water refilled we headed back to relax and catch the sunset.
BigBendNov14 107 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr
BigBendNov14 109 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr


The next day we would hike down Smoky, then head off trail south of Mule Ears and loop back up, camping south of Mule Ears.
BigBendNov14 130 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr
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 There was no doubt we were on the right track when we came across this “sign”.
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The last night we camped in the shadow of Castolon peak.  We had just one more day and we would be back in civilization. It was amazing to see the rim in the distance and know we had been sitting up there, looking down across the desert just a few nights ago.
BigBendNov14 166 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

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In the morning, we packed up and started heading south.
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We weren't real sure about the route once we crossed River Road, but it worked out real well.
BigBendNov14 187 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

We made a few climbs and one final descent; then we could see Castolon and the end of this trip.
BigBendNov14 191 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr
BigBendNov14 193 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

 Hiker was a bit tired towards the end, and who could blame her! She is a great hiking partner. No complaining and she always finds something to entertain her on the trail. It was a great 5 days and a real accomplishment.
We enjoyed a few days off in the back country. We made a trip to Boquillas Canyon (Hiker has to do the sand wall every trip) and the hot springs. Also got some laundry done in the Basin and got ready for our last trip. Met a nice couple on Old Ore Road and they showed us these rock cacti. They just happened to be blooming!
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My b-i-l, Bubbling Thunder (BT) and my niece arrived and we were ready to hit the rim. Since this was her first time to back pack, we decided to give her the Disneyland version. She had one of our larger day packs and carried -maybe- 20lbs. BT was carrying HEAVY.  He likes to be prepared for everything. We headed up Pinnacle and stopped at Boot Spring to grab water.

BigBendNov14 211 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr It was flowing great out of the pipe. Then it was up NE trail and over to SE3. We set up camp and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening on the rim.
BigBendNov14 218 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr
BigBendNov14 219 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

The next day me, ElHombre and BT day hiked back the boot to refill water. It was nice hiking with such light packs. Hiker and my niece relaxed back at camp. We joined them for the afternoon, it was nice to be lazy and not have to worry about getting to the next spot for the night.

Me & ElHombre enjoying the sunset
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We were up and moving the next morning, knowing we had to hike out then drive the rest of the day in order to make it home.
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My niece loved her first backpacking trip and was ready to come out again. We told her next time she would be carrying ALL her stuff since she did so well on this first trip. It was nice to be able to pass on our love for Big Bend to my niece, and have her be so excited about coming back.
BigBendNov14 260 by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2015, 04:22:04 PM »
Bravo!

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Offline tx1c

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2015, 07:46:30 PM »
That's the kind of trip I want to do. Unfortunately, I haven't even done a simple overnight to the south rim. Someday.
Anyway, nice report!

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Offline catz

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2015, 09:44:54 PM »
Cookie, you and El Hombre do some of the most amazing hikes.  And the pictures are great, too.  Thanks very much for sharing.

PS  I'm not familiar with the Chilicotal camp sites--are they on Maverick Road?

   
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline Lance

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2015, 10:03:57 PM »
Nice hike!

PS  I'm not familiar with the Chilicotal camp sites--are they on Maverick Road?
It's on Glenn Springs road a little before Rice Tank.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2015, 07:49:56 AM »
cookie and elhombre I have been looking forward to this and savoring it too as I knew this was the general plan for the trip.  I would love to see a bit more detail or a map of your route from Mule Ears to Castolon as it is an area I may head to on my next trip.  Did you see any water at the spring near where you crossed the River Road West?

Hiker is getting to be an old hand now and I am sure made it easy for your niece to make her first trip.

Thanks and some really good pictures too!
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Cookie

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2015, 08:08:51 AM »
Thanks :icon_lol: It was one of my favorites trips so far!

tx1c-We did our very first backpacking trip on the South Rim about 12 years ago, just a two nighter. You have to start somewhere! Just do it!!

Catz- Chilicotal is fairly new, it has nice views although most of the Chisos are blocked, you can enjoy Nugent, Elephant Tusk, Chilicotal and the Sierra Madres. It is VERY exposed so check the weather for wind before you stay there if you are tent camping.

M.E.- now that I got my part done, I am sure ElHombre will have a map up very soon. We did not see water around River Road, but we didn't really look. Hiker was getting the "horse to the barn" feeling and was ready to have some ice cream at Castolon and a cheeseburger in the Basin.

~Cookie

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Offline elhombre

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Info on the The Shuttle
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2015, 09:25:24 AM »
Some may remember that I had asked for help on BBC for a ride from Castolon up to the Basin.  A very kind person had said they would help out, but as the world goes, an emergency came up the day we left town and their plans had to change.  Someone here said that the Lodge in the basin offered a shuttle service, so we went to the check-in desk and inquired.  For $50 bucks (flat rate) they will have someone drive you from the Basin to somewhere in the park.  Or in our case, pick us up and take us to the Basin.  We asked, and went for a 1.5 hour stroll around the Basin.  When we returned, it was set up.

They run these shuttles all the time in the park to move workers from Panther Projects up to the Basin, or Panther down to Rio Grande village.  Pretty much where ever they need someone to work that day in the stores and lodge.  It was a big 12 person van.   

Our driver was a nice guy, and it was intresting to talk with him about the park service.  He had worked for the consession company for a while.  They have the contract for most all National Parks, and they allow their employees to move about the country when job openings occur in other parks.  He had some intresting insight into the people who run the park compared to other National parks.  He said that BB is unique in their attitude towards visitors.  It is what we all knew already, and can be basically summed up in, "The rangers seem to just be bored.  They are nice and friendly people when you see them around Panther, but they act differently when working out in the park".

I had asked his opinion about the rangers because this was the same morning we had the volunteer harass us, and subsequently, the LE ranger asked to illegally search our car for a non-compliant bear-proof container.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 08:47:19 PM by elhombre »
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 Robert

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2015, 06:00:58 PM »
Thanks for an excellent report and photos Cookie. elhombre, that is good information about the shuttle service. I stayed at Chilicotal a year ago and didn't see any rodents. However, as you mention, it is exposed and in the morning the wind made me resort to sitting in my truck to eat breakfast.

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Offline tusker

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2015, 06:39:04 PM »
Super pictures!

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Offline Talusman

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2015, 10:26:55 PM »
Very Nice!!!
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Offline Cookie

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2015, 08:24:11 PM »
As promised, ElHombre put our route down on the topo starting with our first night off trail.

3RD DAY MAP by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

4TH DAY by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr


5TH DAY by hike.Cookie.hike, on Flickr

Enjoy!
~Cookie

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Offline Robert

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2015, 09:46:54 PM »
Super! Thanks for the maps.

I recognized Mesa Bonita Spring(where the water trickles over the ledge) below Goat Mountain and the route down from Blue Creek. Also the section from Mule Ear trail junction down Smoky Creek to the old trail that heads back northwest. Did you find water at the confluence of the Smoky drainages at Santa Spring (just east of 3845)? Sometimes water comes to the surface where the hard rock layer is exposed. I have the same photo of the S-m-o-k-y trail sign. That section of old road is very clear but then we lost it as it went into the big wash and then picked it up on the ridgetop. Did you have a water cache along Ross Maxwell before you turned south again? Seems logical as you were so close and otherwise would have had to lug a lot of water for two full days.

Thanks again.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Thanksgiving--it's 3 trips in 1!
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2015, 06:34:02 AM »
Thanks cookie and elhombre for the maps, I had estimated that was your route.  The spring I was referring to is the one south of your route near where is says "ruins".  Did it look like one could get down the drainage southeast of your last camp?  I am hoping to explore that area this coming winter.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 06:39:55 AM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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