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trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs

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Offline championbaum

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trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« on: April 13, 2009, 11:23:42 AM »
       I bought several USGS maps over the last few weeks and decided to go tromp around off the trails for a few days. I took my son who turns 7 next week and enjoys this type of thing, and i tried to keep it pretty mild. We left on thursday afternoon around 3 with intentions of getting to PJ before six....which we did....we arrived at 5:50 to locked doors and blank stares. One of the rangers opened the door to leave and i asked if we could get a permit real quick, because we had 10 minutes before they closed. She giggled and said they had closed that register, i asked if they could open it because the sign said they didnt close for another 10 minutes.....no luck. I figured i would just say i was on a day hike if i ran into a ranger. I am starting to have less than grand opinion of many BB rangers/ volunteers.

     We cruised over to the mule ears parking lot and were on the trail by about 6:30, no permit, but i had family who knew where i was and when i would be back so i wasn't too worried.

    We first checked out Trap Spring, which was flowing very well. You could easily fill water bottles up here. Mule ears was flowing quite well, as usual. My son was pretty impressed with Mule ears spring. Hesaid his teacher said there was no water in the desert. But here we were at a pond, in the desert. I think it blew his mind that his omnipotent first grade teacher might occasionally be incorrect. He loved all the frogs and tadpoles....and there were so many fireflies after the sun set. It was pretty magical, i am glad i got to experience that with my son. we continued on and got near the smokey creek trail junction, and set up camp.

     We awoke friday to a cloud covered sky and pleasant temps. the plan was to go straight from the mule ears trail cross country to smoky spring, and then see how my son was holding up and make a decision on what we would do next based on that. We plodded through to smoky spring without much trouble and my son enjoyed it more than i thought he would. There was a plethora of wildflowers throughout the creek around the spring. We hung out here until lunch, made some food and decided what to do next.  Champ said he wanted to explore some more so i decided we could climb the ridge to our south and drop into the drainage on the other side and follow it to San jacinto spring. There were a few pour offs as you approach the spring but the slopes on both side of the drainage are mild enough that you can climb up and around. After the first one there was a bit of water seeping through, and then as we continued downhill we came to an overhang, with a 100 ft + drop so we backtracked a bit and went around a low ridge on the west. There were a few more seeps but not a whole lot of water....we continued down to see what the overhang looked like from the bottom. This area was really cool, and i intend on going back alone and looping around to domiguez spring at least.

   we exited via the...er i guess volcanic ash looking area, through some drainages and met up with the smoky spring trail but ended up cutting across and heading straight to mule ears. There were so many washes in that area it would be easy to get a bit turned around if not for the mule ears peaks, compass, and maps (in that order). The walking in that area was extremely easy because the vegetation was spaced out. We ended up back at the smoky creek mule ears trail junction around 5 or 6.

    my son was starting to get tired so i decided to set up camp and make him some dinner. we were running low on water, but i wasn't worried because we could make it to mule ears and get another liter or so to get us out comfrtably in the morning. It was cloudy and windy that night, but never did anything more than sprinkle.

   We left at a relaxed pace the next morning. we drank all our water during breakfast but made it to mule ears quickly enough. we saw 2 different groups of dayhikers between mule ears spring and the trail head, champ commented on how we hadn't seen anyone all day on friday. i thought that was cute.

i will definately be going back to that area soon, maybe over jack's pass or orund the punta de la sierra, there are several springs marked that i would like to check out in that area.......


SORRY ABOUT THE LACK OF PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! in our rush we left our camera in the car..............

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Offline championbaum

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2009, 11:26:16 AM »
oh ya does anyone have a picture of san jacinto spring itself, just so i know i was for sure at that spring and not just a wet patch of creek bed................ ....

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Offline mule ears

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2009, 12:06:19 PM »
Champ is quite a little hiker for sure. Great short trip, I love that area both for it's ease of getting around and lots of water and other interesting features.

The only time I went down towards San Jacinto spring from Smoky spring I too found just some wet spots and was never sure if we had made it all the way to San Jacinto spring itself. Robert has been down to it I am pretty sure and maybe he will chime in.

Thanks for posting.
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Offline championbaum

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2009, 12:15:32 PM »
oh hey mule ears, how do you carry your USGS maps without tearing them up, i folded mine up, but just from puling it out 5 or six times i ripped it and abused it quite a bit more than i wanted to..............str ange question i know but i had never thought about how to avoid tearing up an unlaminated map until i had done it..............


Yes little champ is pretty capable, i really try not to push him but he surprises me every time we go. he was really amazed by the presence of water out there, and he has mentioned several times since he wants to go back and find more springs. i need to buy him a better gear...it is pretty bad when my full size adult sleeping bag weighs less than his, and our packs probably weigh the same.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2009, 12:19:35 PM by championbaum »

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2009, 01:04:51 PM »
Glad to hear the trip went so well.  I know many of the folks there are volunteers and things do get pretty slow, but really they should stick to the hours they post.  If faced with that same situation, I would have done the same and took my chances.

If anything, the ranger should have written your permit, taken your money and deposited it the next morning.  Not like it is a large sum of cash.  But then she would have given away the fact she shut down the register early that day.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2009, 01:07:54 PM by dkerr24 »

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Offline badknees

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2009, 06:21:33 PM »
, how do you carry your USGS maps without tearing them up, i folded mine up, but just from puling it out 5 or six times i ripped it and abused it quite a bit more than i wanted to..............str ange question i know but i had never thought about how to avoid tearing up an unlaminated map until i had done it..............

Try printing them on Natl. Geographic Adventure paper....waterproof too!


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Offline Robert

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2009, 07:05:47 PM »
We came from Dominguez around the Punta de la Sierra to San Jacinto. I remember that when we got there that I wasn't quite sure this was it because the flow was so low. We were able to get enough water to filter from.

The spring was right at the base of a pouroff but it was wasn't very big. As you mentioned it was very easy to get around. Above the pouroff I believe there was a hard rock layer that went back a ways.

Here is what I recall about that trip:

Coming from the desert I took the wrong (left) fork of the wash that headed towards the unnamed spring south and west of Peak 2942. We got into a boulder choked section before I realized my mistake and we quickly back tracked to the wash junction before heading up the right fork.

We soon came to a big pouroff where the wash takes a 90 degree left turn only you couldn't see that from the bottom. We chose to hike up the right side which turned out to be another mistake because it climbed higher and away from where the wash was going plus it was very steep.

I think it was right under Peak 2942 where there was another pouroff and we took the left fork to see if we could get around it. This was where the seep was. We continued up the left fork (I think the soil around here was very soft) a short ways and then decided to hike over a low ridge to the right to get back in the correct wash and there was the spring just on the other side below another pouroff. This was timely as we had just run out of daylight.

I hiked a ways further up the wash to see if there was any other water and there wasn't. The wash was fairly straight after this and easy walking with no more pouroffs. So we made camp close by.

The next day hiked towards Mule Ears and took the left fork that points towards the words "Pack Trail" on the map. At the upper end of the wash was a neat overhang that probably has sheltered people for generations. Once above the overhang you climb the ridge that is above Smoky Spring and can descend into that wash.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2009, 07:10:39 PM by Robert »

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Offline Quatro

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2009, 09:29:30 PM »
I'm guessing that Champ didn't carry all his gear himself, right?  If not, how much did your pack weigh?  Maybe you don't want to know.

My reservation about backpacking with my kids is that my own gear + water is a full load.  Adding a portion of my kid's stiff would necessitate more Doan's pills than I could find.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline championbaum

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2009, 10:05:02 PM »
thanks for the paper suggestion badknees, i think i will give that a whirl. do you print the entire map on one page or a few and then put them together to make it bigger........

thanks robert, that overhang sounds interesting, we must have just missed it, i think we descended towards san jacinto spring through the wash east of the one you are talking about. that area in the vacinity of san jacinto spring, south, southwest of smoky spring is so full of washes that criss cross you could spend weeks exploring that few square miles. i have been looking over my maps getting more excited about going back. it is just about to get soooo hot it is hard to plan a trip, and i have several other solo trips i still want to do.....i have so many things i want to do there i am never going to be able to go anywhere else.


I'm guessing that Champ didn't carry all his gear himself, right?  If not, how much did your pack weigh?  Maybe you don't want to know.

My reservation about backpacking with my kids is that my own gear + water is a full load.  Adding a portion of my kid's stiff would necessitate more Doan's pills than I could find.

i am a compulsive freak about my pack weight. he carries his own sleeping bag, food, and 1.5 liters of water, sleeping pad (cheapo blue one cut down to his size, and he uses it as his pack frame) and his clothes (although our last trip we took no extra). his pack weight is about 2.5 lbs without food and water, and about 5-6 with food and water.  I spent some extra money on his sleeping bag and got him a 15 oz western mountaineering bag (better than my bag, i am a bit jelous honestly).

i carry my sleeping bag, pad, food, stove and fuel, tarp/pancho, and 4-5 liters water....which is why most of our trips revolve around finding springs. my pack weight for this last trip was only 7.3 lbs before consumables, and 20 lbs after food, water and fuel. I have attatched my pack weight spreadsheet. i know alot of people may think it is strange but it really keeps me from adding the "oh this little thing doesn't weigh much" type things that add up. All my gear is on the spreadsheet if you want to check it out.

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Offline Quatro

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2009, 12:24:39 AM »
OK.  I'll grant the label "compulsive" to anyone that sets up a spreadsheet, let alone carries the weight to the 1/100,000,000th of a lb.  If I spent the $ necessary to get a Wetern Mountaineering or Feathered Friends bag, I'd be setting up a spreadsheet as well though.

My first real backpacking trip when I was 16 had a pack that weighed in at 82 lbs - way (& weigh) too much for someone that tilted the scales at only 130 or so.  Granted it was a 4-5 week early summer NOLS trip in Wyoming.  Nonetheless, that set my expectation for what a pack might weigh.  I finished physical therapy for my back today and need to adopt your go-lite approach if I'm ever to don the pack again. Hats off to you for setting the standard.

Don't know if I'm willing to forgo a tent, however.  That "Rifleman" TV episode where Chuck Connors wakes up with a rattlesnake in his bedroll still scrolls across my brain when I think of tentless camping. Of course, that snake ended up with 7 slugs through his body.  Chuck never missed.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline Al

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2009, 12:35:25 AM »
.

Don't know if I'm willing to forgo a tent, however.  That "Rifleman" TV episode where Chuck Connors wakes up with a rattlesnake in his bedroll still scrolls across my brain when I think of tentless camping. Of course, that snake ended up with 7 slugs through his body.  Chuck never missed.

Q, an upside of winter camping.  No snakes, particularly at night.  There is nothing like sleeping under the stars, especially in Big Bend. 

Get that back fixed and go light or just primitive camp under the stars.  If there is a full moon you'll have to wear shades . . . the future is so bright.



Al

Richard, this is kind of Big Bend like with the desert, rocks, burros and all.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 12:40:58 AM by Al »

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Offline badknees

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2009, 08:16:54 AM »
thanks for the paper suggestion badknees, i think i will give that a whirl. do you print the entire map on one page or a few and then put them together to make it bigger........


It depends on how big an area you are interested in. I usually print multiple pages so the resolution is usable. If you print too big an area, the details are too small.
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Offline championbaum

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2009, 10:20:33 AM »
ya i bought the emory peak usgs, and then printed the cerro castellan map on just one 9.5 x 11 sheet for this trip and the detail was a bit tough to read although i have seen compass' with a magnifying glass.....

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Offline championbaum

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2009, 10:32:29 AM »

Don't know if I'm willing to forgo a tent, however.  That "Rifleman" TV episode where Chuck Connors wakes up with a rattlesnake in his bedroll still scrolls across my brain when I think of tentless camping. Of course, that snake ended up with 7 slugs through his body.  Chuck never missed.

you know what is strange.....i have NEVER even seen a rattle snake in BiBe. I know they are there. i doubt one would visciously attack anyone in their sleep, maybe cuddle a bit.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: trap, mule ears, smoky, san jacinto springs
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2009, 04:27:26 PM »
Coming from the desert I took the wrong (left) fork of the wash that headed towards the unnamed spring south and west of Peak 2942. We got into a boulder choked section before I realized my mistake and we quickly back tracked to the wash junction before heading up the right fork.

Great, accurate description of this area Robert. When we were headed from Dominguez to Mule Ears we went up the boulder choked wash and past the unnamed spring and over the volcanic ash hills to Smoky Creek and on.  Good route, saw panther tracks in the wet sand near that spring.

The next day hiked towards Mule Ears and took the left fork that points towards the words "Pack Trail" on the map. At the upper end of the wash was a neat overhang that probably has sheltered people for generations. Once above the overhang you climb the ridge that is above Smoky Spring and can descend into that wash.

I rememeber that overhang, we scared up some javelina that ran up into it.

oh hey mule ears, how do you carry your USGS maps without tearing them up, i folded mine up, but just from puling it out 5 or six times i ripped it and abused it quite a bit more than i wanted to

I fold them like road maps and then have it folded open to the section I am in and put them in a quart size ziplock so I can see the section I am in thru the plastic.  The ziplock protects them pretty well from in and out of the pocket abuse and if it rains. I have printed out sections some times but I never feel it gives me a big enough area to orient myself to the other features around me for route finding. It just depends on where I am hiking though.
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