Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

+-Calendar for sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!


Valentine's get-a-way

  • 20 Replies
  • 5984 Views
*

Offline Cookie

  • Golden Eagle
  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 366
  • "you never slow down, you never grow old" T.P.
Valentine's get-a-way
« on: February 20, 2009, 11:08:32 PM »
I figure I better get this trip posted before I forget everything! El Hombre and I (yup, we are hitched :eusa_dance:) after much planning were ready for our trip February 12-16th. Thanks for all the info here and advice from everyone for itinerary choices.

Here is what the plan was. Park at Homer Wilson Ranch and hike to near the Smoky Creek trail junctin on the Dodson for the first night. Then hike down Smoky Creek, trailblaze down Fisk Canyon and set up a base camp for two nights, explore around Dominquez Springs, then back up to around the Dodson for the 4th night, then home.

With our daughter and our dogs dropped off at their respective destinations, we were ready to pack up. This trip would be a little different for us. Usually we have another friend with us so we are leaving around 8am, get to the park, cache our water (OML) and spend the night at a primitive site and hit the trail in the morning, after packing up our backpacks. This always seems to get us on the trail around 11am. This trip, our friend couldn't make it, so time was better. We decided to pack the packs the night before, wake up early, drive out and be on the trail by 2pm. This would give us an extra night on the trail, and save us packing everything in the morning. We also got to weigh our packs, fully loaded, for the first time :eusa_doh:.......sometimes it is better not to know these things. My pack came in at 48 lbs and my husbands at 53 lbs. Not too bad really, my daughter weighs 51 lbs.

4:30am came really early, as we are not used to having an alarm clock going off. We were up, ate, and on the road by 5:20am. We stopped at Subway in Ft. Stockton and got a couple of footlongs to have for dinner that night. The trip out went by quick with fewer stops since our daughter was not with us. We were in the park by around 1 pm. Stopped at PJ to get our permits. We decided to make the rangers life easier with the permit, so we wrote down our name, address and vehicle description on a piece of paper, so the could just copy that. Didn't even bring in our ID. We really were in luck when our favorite ranger was working the desk. I need to get this guys name, he is great with info and attitude. He also seemed to appreciate all the info written down, so we will just keep that in the glove box from now on. With no questions on wether we were "packing heat" we were off for the ranch.

At 1:50pm were were walking down the trail. A car pulled in just as we started down the steps, those would be the last people we saw until Monday, 5 days later :eusa_clap:
We checked the bear box out of curiosity and found it completely empty. That seemed unusual, but it was Thursday. The weather was great, clear and a slight breeze. We enjoyed the hike in, but it was warming as the day went on.


It took us just over two hours to reach the saddle with that great view of Carousel mtn. We decided to have half our sandwiches since we hadn't eaten in a few hours, quite tastey! We were at our first campsite within the hour. We decided to try "cowboy camping" since the weather was on the warmer side. We had packed the tent, but what the hey, we would give it a try. I have to say, the cowboys new what they were doing. There is something really amazing about being out in the open watching the stars and just being able to go to sleep without getting up to get in the tent. It was a beautiful night, so after our sandwiches and allotted 8 oz each of Crown and a few shooters (stars that is), we were fast asleep.

So with the first night done, we were ready to head down Smokey Creek and into new territory.......... ..

~Cookie



*

Offline Al

  • Dog Face Moth
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4078
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2009, 11:18:03 PM »
Cookie, you have our attention . . . don't stop now!

Al

*

Offline mule ears

  • Global Moderator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4269
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2009, 07:21:00 AM »
Great start cookie, I was wondering when we were going to hear about this trip and here it is  :eusa_clap:

Are the red bottles the "special" Crown bottles? 50 pound packs, ouch.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

*

Offline dkerr24

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1424
  • The worst day hiking > the best day in a cubicle.
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2009, 08:34:47 AM »
Great trip report so far... Did you camp at that site with room for 2 tents which is just above the wash where the Dodson and Smokey creek trails meet?  I used that spot for night #2 on my OML hike and thought it was an awesome spot to camp.

*

Offline DJ

  • Roadrunner
  • *
  • 51
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2009, 10:14:37 AM »
I was on the OML 2/14-17 but did not see anyone from the time I turned off on Juniper Canyon until I was back in the mountains on Laguna Meadow. I took a short hike down Smokey Creek to where the spring emerges and filtered water there...and enjoyed a Mountain House.

I am looking forward to hearing more on your trip. I will post a trip report when my camera catches up with me. Somehow it wound up on a table in the Boathouse after coming off the trail.

DJ
Tranquility, solitude, serenity...

*

Ray52

  • Guest
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2009, 10:27:27 AM »
What a great start. I'm looking forward to the continuation and also to DJ's.
I was on the OML 2/14-17 but did not see anyone from the time I turned off on Juniper Canyon until I was back in the mountains on Laguna Meadow. I took a short hike down Smokey Creek to where the spring emerges and filtered water there...and enjoyed a Mountain House.

I am looking forward to hearing more on your trip. I will post a trip report when my camera catches up with me. Somehow it wound up on a table in the Boathouse after coming off the trail.

DJ


*

Offline Cookie

  • Golden Eagle
  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 366
  • "you never slow down, you never grow old" T.P.
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2009, 11:13:53 AM »
OK, after way too much time messing with the pictures (thanks Casa Grande for the great tutorial)..........

Day 2:
Woke up just after sunrise, only 50 degrees. It was really nice just to lay there and look around and soak up the mountains from our sleeping pads. After a hot oatmeal breakfast we were packed up and ready to hit the trail. We set off down Smoky Mtn. trail. I don't think we hiked more than 20 minutes when we hit a spring. Most of the water was pretty brackish, but there were a few pools that were clear and clean. It was reassuring to see some water.

We continued on past Pt. 5917, my new favorite landmark!

The above was taken after climbing out of the creek up on the plateau. This top section was great hiking and all down hill to Smoky Spring. We reached the spring and saw the climb up and out, everything was very well cairned. We dumped our packs and heading down the spring to check the water flow. We would be resupplying on the way back. We had hiked in with 1 1/2 gallons each, just in case we didn't find water right away.

After a short break we were up the other side of the creek and walking along the edge. We decided to start our crosscountry trek before the trail dropped into the main wash. So just before we started to drop down we hung a left and began picking our way across the top of the hills. This was my first time off trail backpacking. I was worried about the Lechuguilla the most (Mr. Mean, as my daughter named them), but I would find out later it was all the smaller thorns and stickers that were more annoying.

We had some amazing views, and settled into our hike nicely. We could see the wash to our right as we hiked. After running into some steeper arroyos we decided to drop into the main wash a follow it the rest of the way. We came to a few drop offs, maybe 5-6 ft, and going down was pretty easy. We finally came to a big 20 ft. one, so we just went around to the right. On closer inspection, it was in two levels, with lots of hand holds to climb up. This one would be fun on the way back. As we hiked down we began to see water, so we knew we would not have any problems with water. We opted just to use what we brought instead of lightening the load, what's 8 more lbs anyway! We also began to get glimpses of the Punta de la Sierra's in the distance.

You can just see the edge the Puntas in the distance. El Hombre scouted out for some place to camp up on the top ridge, and found a great spot way back on the plateau on top. Great views.

We had been hiking about 7 hours, and were pretty tired, it was just after 6pm. We shared a 20 oz Mountain house Fiesta Chicken/rice dinner (not bad), laid out the thermarest pads and soaked up the stars and some crown. I had been worried about sleeping in the open, snakes, spiders wanting to share my bed, but it didn't seem to be a problem. Maybe El Hombre's snoring kept them away :eusa_think: Slept like a rock!
Day 3:
Happy Valentine's Day!

After setting up the tent to stow our gear in, having our oatmeal, we were ready for our "easy" day. We loaded up our camelback daypacks and set off for Dominigues Springs. The ranger had told us about a big drop off, and suggested we go around to the west of Pt. 4196 to get to the springs. We saw a pour off a ways up the main drainage and thought we could go up that to go around. So we headed up that about 100 ft and came to our first drop off. Not too big, but we decided to go around it (straight up!). My main worry with this trailblazing in not so much ramming my shin into a cactus as we hike, but that uncontrolled slide into a cactus as you mountain goat up these inclines. We picked our way through, dropped back down into the wash, but had to climb back out due to the massive growth of prickly things in it. As we rounded the corner we got our first glimpse of Jack's Pass.

We had talked about going this way from Mule Ear's, but I am glad we opted for the other way. It did look like a challenging path!
It took us about 2 hours to hike around, with a 2 breaks. the spring was flowing, but not like the other one's had been. There were a few spots below the dam to pump, but we still were on our rainwater from home.




After a relaxed lunch in the shade, we talked about the best way back. We could head back the way we came, or venture up the main wash north and see how far we could make it. since it only took us about two hours to get there, we thought we would try the wash, and worse case we could back track around. We started up the wash, easy hiking, and saw a few lonely wildflowers.

we kept waiting for this huge dropoff around every corner, but after only an hour we were back at the cairn for our campsite. :eusa_think: With no big challenges, and knowing our campsite was getting baked by the sun, we continued up the creek to one of the main springs and explored around that area.

We kept getting this stealth sticker on us, mainly arms and torso. It was like an aerodynamically shaped sticker. They were the true annoyance of the trip, since we weren't sure what they were, we called them Satan's Spur :icon_evil:. We soon found out they were coming off some nice looking bushy grass in the wash near the water. We headed back to camp about 5:30 for dinner, shots, and stars. As we were getting dinner ready, sitting on our sleeping pads, my husband saw a jumpy spider crawling towards our pads. He was going to pick him up and relocate him, thinking it was a wolf spider. But on closer inspection if was a very large (Big Bend size) brown recluse! :willynilly: Needless to say that is not what you want to see crawling around by your bed. We still opted to sleep outside, and after 7 hours of day hiking, it was time for bed. Another awesome day! We could get used to this........
conclusion coming, it is hard to type when you have a 5 year old bouncing around you......
~Cookie
« Last Edit: February 21, 2009, 11:46:37 AM by RichardM »

*

Offline Cookie

  • Golden Eagle
  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 366
  • "you never slow down, you never grow old" T.P.
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2009, 11:19:45 AM »
Great start cookie, I was wondering when we were going to hear about this trip and here it is  :eusa_clap:

Are the red bottles the "special" Crown bottles? 50 pound packs, ouch.
Yes, 3x16 oz of crown and 1 x16 oz of tequila. Apparently we bought the crown to soon, because we seemed to be almost out when it was time to load the bottles. The crown went down soooo smoooth out there, we saved the tequila for the last night, and only drank about 1/3 of it. I think I will take my tequila in a margarita, thank you very much!
~Cookie

*

Offline homerboy2u

  • The Chipewa Cris tribe,Canada:
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 5103
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2009, 12:49:35 PM »
Cookie, your trip report is coming real good.I assume on your first post that your second pictures corresponds to El Hombre,since it showing just El Brazo and it is sooo TWWG...i love that shot!!.

 Who would have known,you two are married... :eusa_clap:

 
Stay thirsty, my friends.

*

Offline badknees

  • Actually, I was there once
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4374
  • I think I know that place
    • Through the Mirror
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2009, 08:43:13 PM »
Nice trip and photos. You did have me confused about "Smoky Spring", however. I believe you are talking about a different place entirely. Do have a GPS track from you trip?
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

*

Offline Cookie

  • Golden Eagle
  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 366
  • "you never slow down, you never grow old" T.P.
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2009, 09:32:48 PM »
Nice trip and photos. You did have me confused about "Smoky Spring", however. I believe you are talking about a different place entirely. Do have a GPS track from you trip?
Sorry, no GPS. I may have the name wrong. It is a great spring just NW from pt. 4026. I hope that helps clarify it.... I just checked the map and see "Smoky Spring" much further south.. :eusa_doh:
~Cookie

*

Offline Cookie

  • Golden Eagle
  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 366
  • "you never slow down, you never grow old" T.P.
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2009, 10:17:51 PM »
Ok, things are much quieter in the house with my daughter in bed. I have my camping margarita to sip on as I finish the trip..........
Day 4:
Woke up to another beautiful day in The Bend! Go figure...
I think it was right around 40 degrees. After another hot oatmeal breakfast it was time to pack up and head out. We topped off our 100oz camelbaks and got everything squared away. so glad to not have the extra gallon of water in the pack. we got back down to the drainage and starting heading up. we decided to take the drainage all the way up, or as far as we could, to the Smoky Creek trail.

The day was a little breezy but still really nice. We were making good time, and then hit the first big pour off.


This one was a lot of fun. El Hombre went up with the rope, and hauled up the packs, then I got to scramble up, there were easy hand holds. We came to maybe 4 more smaller pour-offs. we only had to take off the packs twice more, just to make it a little easier, but didn't have to use the rope again. We passed the spot were we had dropped in on the second day. we were able to go a bit further, then we hit a monstrous pour-off. the banks were steep all around, and it looked like even if we climbed around it, it might be tough to get back in. So we just starting treking across the top to make it to the trail.

After less than an hour we were back on the trail, it was like a sidewalk after trailblazing through the cactus! we reached the top of the creek and had some great views before we descended down into the creek.

we refilled for what water we would need for the rest of the trip, which wasn't much. By now the wind was picking up, but still a great day. we went up and up to the top of the plateau, and looking back, we could see the mountains, and below them was the drainage we had followed. It was nice that there were some easy landmarks to follow.

we reached the top of the trail before it drops back into the creek, making it's way back to the Dodson. We talked about heading up the trail and camping on the Dodson to take some time off of the hiking for the last day, but the lure of the wide open mesa won over, so we stopped for the night. El Hombre took this shot from way up above our site.

Our last night out. very bittersweet. After 4 days, a shower was going to be nice, but leaving the solitude and quiet out there is always so hard to do. The wind began picking up all evening. By the time we had  about 1/3 of the tequila, it was time for bed. this was the worst night. The wind was gusting well over 20mph. we were tucked in and zipped all the way up in the sleeping bags. Around midnight we talked about setting up the tent, but neither of us wanted to get up. Tried to sleep the rest of the night. At about 4 am I awoke to "......I think it is gonna rain". Not what I wanted to hear. so now we were up, and it did look and smell like it was gonna let loose any second, and got the tent up in record time. we settled back in, listening to the wind whipping down the canyon. We woke just before daybreak.

 No rain all night, but it did look like it could rain, or even snow.

We had a quick breakfast (yes-oatmeal again) and stuffed our packs and hit the trail. We made it back on the Dodson fairly quickly, and started taking bets on if we would see anyone before we made it back to the car.
We stopped at the saddle for a quick break and a few more pictures.


The hike back was quick and easy. It was still windy and threatening rain, but it never happened. we made it to just past the ranch and we saw to figures up at the top of the trail. We said a quick hello and started up the last ascent. We checked the bear box and found several gallon+ water containers and lots of food. I guess we were just lucky to have so much solitude.

Overall, this was a great off trail hike for me. No major cactus injuries, although I am still finding little thorns in interesting places. This is an area I would definately do again!

One last picture and we were off for home...........I can't think of a better place to spend a romantic weekend!


~Cookie

*

Offline Al

  • Dog Face Moth
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4078
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2009, 10:53:01 PM »
A special trip to be remembered.  Great report.  Thanks!

Al

*

Offline badknees

  • Actually, I was there once
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4374
  • I think I know that place
    • Through the Mirror
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2009, 12:24:12 AM »
Nice trip and photos. You did have me confused about "Smoky Spring", however. I believe you are talking about a different place entirely. Do have a GPS track from you trip?
Sorry, no GPS. I may have the name wrong. It is a great spring just NW from pt. 4026. I hope that helps clarify it.... I just checked the map and see "Smoky Spring" much further south.. :eusa_doh:
~Cookie


Thanks. That clears it up.

My daughter and I hiked up Fisk Canyon in November and came to a halt at this pouroff in your photos, but we climbed out and around on the right side.



That whole area is a great place to wander. Lots of water too. Glad to see it is still running especially during the driest part of the year.


Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

*

Offline mule ears

  • Global Moderator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4269
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: Valentine's get-a-way
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2009, 09:02:02 AM »
Great report cookie, I would say you are hooked on off trail hiking now. I am also glad that you seem to be a convert to sleeping outside the tent, the only way to go as far as I am concerned.

I have been down through there twice and other than the two big pouroffs on the east side (top op Fisk canyon), which are pretty easy to get around, I find it to be a fairly easy walk. I think the ranger either hadn't been down Fisk canyon before or had forgotten where the big pour offs were. The west side wash going down to the Smoky creek trail is really easy too, I am sorry you worked so hard to take the side hills back across to the trail.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 


©COPYRIGHT NOTICE

All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments