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Trip Nov 21-26th

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Offline badknees

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Trip Nov 21-26th
« on: November 26, 2008, 08:06:08 PM »
Can't put together anything much right now but, LGK and I did what we planned and here are a few teasers
« Last Edit: December 15, 2009, 11:53:55 AM by RichardM »
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline The Scorpion

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2008, 08:34:23 PM »
nice...caint wait for more....

James
everything is better with bacon!!!

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2008, 09:37:32 PM »
I am already at it, on my TR. I look forward to a lot of pics from yours as well.
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline badknees

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2008, 11:24:01 PM »
I am already at it, on my TR. I look forward to a lot of pics from yours as well.

Mine might be a little boring compared to what I have seen of yours!

You guys put together quite an adventure.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2008, 06:10:49 AM »
BK, can't wait. Looks like you got to Jack's pass and looked down at Domiquez spring, is that right?
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline badknees

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2008, 09:10:20 AM »
BK, can't wait. Looks like you got to Jack's pass and looked down at Domiquez spring, is that right?

That is correct.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2008, 09:36:05 AM »
I am already at it, on my TR. I look forward to a lot of pics from yours as well.

Mine might be a little boring compared to what I have seen of yours!

You guys put together quite an adventure.

 There is absolutely NOTHING boring on this webpage,except......POLITICA!!  :vomit:
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline badknees

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2008, 10:37:19 AM »
I'm going to start this one now but , Thanksgiving, work, etc are going to make this a slow process.

Prelude

LGKnees and I typically do a trip at Thanksgiving and Spring Break, however this year with the number of school days missed in the aftermath of Ike, it didn't appear possible for Thanksgiving. The district finally decided to adjust the schedule later in the year and our trip was on.

The plan was to drive out on Thursday night (21st), camp in the Basin on Friday - get permit, pack, and hit the trail Saturday morning. It seems like no matter how much you plan and how well organized you try to be, the last day at work never goes smoothly and quietly. This time was no exception, but at 12:15 AM we finally rolled out. The overnight via Hwy 90 was fairly uneventful and we slid into the Basin at about 10:30 AM. We immediately grabbed Campsite # 2 and setup.




The Basin Campground was surprisingly quiet and we made our way to the Ranger Station to get a backcountry permit. When we arrived at the station, the store, station and part of the lodge were without power and we told to wait or go to PJ to obtain said permit.




After the glide down the hill to PJ we made our way around back to the "Permit Office" and were the only people there. It was setup like a command center with whiteboards and tables, ready for the onslaught of Thanksgiving backpackers. We quickly obtained a zone camping permit for 3 nights. Lower Smoky, Dominguez, and Upper Smoky.

The plan was to park at Mule Ears Overlook, hike in and overnight near Smoky Spring on Day 1. Day 2 was to take us up over Jack's Pass and on through Dominguez Spring to settle for the second night at a suitable spot in Fisk Canyon. Day 3 would take us North, then NE into the Smoky Creek drainage, where we would spend our thrird night, before hiking back to Mule Ears Overlook on Day 4. Sounded like a plan!



...to be continued




« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 06:49:10 PM by badknees »
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline badknees

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2008, 02:46:47 PM »
Day 1

After an early breakfast and a pleasant drive from the Basin to Mule Ears Overlook, we loaded up some final items in our packs and proceeded down the trail. It was a cool, but not cold morning and the trail was devoid of any other hikers. Our first break was at Mule Ears Spring, and not surprisingly it was full and flowing. We rested awhile and listened to the steady sound of water while contemplating what the rest of the day/s would bring.





A quick shot of the old rock corral looking back toward the SW




After a brief rest, LG Knees and I headed past the spring and bisected the drainages that would eventually lead us uphill to the escarpment that overlooks the braided washes of Smoky Creek. We again rested here for a while and looked out across the creek in the direction of our destination for Day 1... Smoky Spring.



Once down the escarpment and across the low rolling hills, we reached the braided wash and the big cairns that mark the beginning of the Smoky Creek trail. Knowing that a 105 deg heading would lead us toward Smoky Spring, we took off, up and out of the wash directly toward the spring. In retrospect, it would be far easier to travel downstream and enter the wash that leads to the spring. We did a little bushwhacking and a few short detours, but eventually ended up in the wash just below the spring.






Water was flowing/seeping over a small pouroff below the spring and we continued above the spring and found a suitable place to set up camp for the night. Dinner was in order, so we fired up the JetBoil and did the Stroganoff thing....I think that has become my favorite MH meal



We explored the general area around out campsite, drank cups of hot sweet tea, and settled into our bags early and watched the stars. It was great to be able to laugh, and tell jokes, and listen to LGKs without the daily distractions. Life was good!











We had travelled 5.2 miles that day and achieved our goal. Little did we know that tomorrow would be significantly different than today. But ignorance was bliss and we slept like babes....

........to be continued





« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 11:49:32 PM by badknees »
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline badknees

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2008, 03:12:29 PM »
Day 2

We both had a pleasant night's sleep after counting satellites and shooting stars in a cloudless sky. We knew that today would be a tough hike.... mostly off trail in the wash above Smoky Spring and then off trail up over Jack's Pass and down again to Dominguez.

The beginning of the hike was pretty brushy and overgrown just above Smoky Spring, but after about 1/4 mile, it opened back up to a sandy, gravelly wash with easy walking. After about 2 miles we came headlong into our first (but not toughest) obstacle of the day.......a 15' pouroff stared us in the face. We managed, without too much difficulty, to circumvent it by climbing up and out of the wash on the right side and continued on the trek.

We continued on up the canyon seeing deer on the slopes way above us. They were very skittish, as though they had never seen people before and climbed higher on the slopes as we passed. This canyon is typical of the Quemadas, winding steep walled and remote. Very peaceful and quiet as if we were the only people in the world.

Without too much confusion after 3.4 miles, we reached the junction of the wash that led to Jack's Pass. My first impression was dismay. Although it wasn't exceptionally steep, or terribly far, the path was choked with rocks and brush. We struggled threading our way through cactus, rocks, sotol and lechuguilla and after about an hour managed to make our way to the top of the pass. Total distance from bottom to to was only 0.5 miles with an elevation change of about 380 ft.

I didn't take any pics on the way up (It was hard enough just getting there) but below is looking back down from whence we came. You can just make out a fence post in the lower left of the photo. This was just one along a line going up to the pass. I assume that this was built by the Fisk family.





This was our approximate path



Looking back toward Mule Ears and Santa Elena from the pass


On top of the pass looking toward Elephant Tusk







We could see Dominguez Spring below us and knew what we had to do, but the path was going to be difficult. The path down was VERY steep, rocky, brushy and gashed by a at least one deep gully.

Taking a well deserved rest and the time to survey our path down, we eventually came up with a plan and started on down.

I must admit that this was a physically challenging and slow trek that needed the utmost care and patience. It took about an hour but we eventually reached the lower slope after descending about 880' over about 1 mile. We then followed an old fenceline until we could drop into the wash that led to the Spring.



By the time we reached the spring we encountered a impenetrable thicket and decided we did not have the energy to go around it that day. We were both whipped after only 5.6 miles. Total elapsed time from Smoky Spring was 7:43. The total elevation change for the day was over 2300 ft. (1400 up, and more than 900 back down). We set up camp and checked out the wounds.






Our original plan was to move on through Dominguez that day and make camp in Fisk Canyon a mile or so North of Dominguez. Since there was water available near our location and considering what we had just done, we called it a day. Although the views are great from the pass, it is not an easy hike for an old guy with bad knees a little girl with good ones.






We had a good hearty MH meal, pumped some water, rehydrated and turned in early..exhausted.

I had a fitful night sleeping, knowing we would have to get through or around the Spring in the morning and make up the 2 or so miles we came up short on this day.

Jeff Blaylock was also doing a trip at the same time as we were and was planning to do Jack's Pass in the opposite direction of us. We had the possibilty of crossing paths the next day, either in, or North of Fisk Canyon. I wouldn't want to climb Jack's Pass from the Dominguez side and would give him my impressions if we crossed paths. That never did happen and I'm curious if he did that climb and what he thought of it?

Although we knew that we had a long day ahead of us tomorrow, Fisk Canyon should be pretty easy travelling and we were confident we could make our 3rd night campsite without too much difficulty, however........Big Bend is full of surprises.......... ....

...to be continued
« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 06:51:53 PM by badknees »
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Ray52

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2008, 06:23:35 PM »
For beginners and to state the obvious, this is a fantastic trip report.  How cool it must be to share this experience with your daughter.  My son begged me to take him backpacking when he was 9-10 years younger and probably about her age but I was afraid my own "bad knees" wouldn't hold up.  I finally tested them a few years ago and know I just have to deal with the pain.  Now I just need to get him back on board. He graduates in May and I think we'll be able to plan a trip, but for now I'm sure enjoying your experience and looking forward to the next installments.

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2008, 08:34:48 PM »
We thought we saw y'all's bootprints as we made our way the opposite direction. We frequently saw two distinctly different-sized prints tracking together. Glad you guys had a great trip!
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline badknees

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2008, 09:34:58 PM »
We thought we saw y'all's bootprints as we made our way the opposite direction. We frequently saw two distinctly different-sized prints tracking together. Glad you guys had a great trip!

How was your ascent up to Jack's Pass?
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2008, 09:51:00 PM »
We thought we saw y'all's bootprints as we made our way the opposite direction. We frequently saw two distinctly different-sized prints tracking together. Glad you guys had a great trip!

How was your ascent up to Jack's Pass?

It's a tough climb. We went up to the right (so the opposite side y'all came down):



With about 100 vertical feet to go, Ay Chihuahua! and I split up, each taking a route we were more comfortable with. He went up the gully and then cut across, while I dropped sharply down into it, climbed out of it, and then huffed it straight up the gut. We considered the route y'all took but concluded (from our vantage point at the old dam) that the rock outcrops would produce tough scrambling. We crossed the wash just below the spring and never recrossed it until the very end. Thus we mostly avoided the heavy brush.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline aggiehiker

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Re: Trip Nov 21-26th
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2008, 10:34:13 PM »
You are so lucky to have a daughter that wants to hike with you! My daughter started camping and paddling with me at 8 years and lasted through high school, but I never could get her out hiking. That bond you develop is really something special and will help a lot when she hits high school and boys!!

 


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