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Rockport Beach, Texas

3/31/11

Ambushed By AS

Comfort Castle Location: Fort Davis, Texas

The fat body was not doing well during the early morning walk in the campground. It must be time to rest a day was my thought. However even a long, long nap was not restful enough. After most of the day had passed; it finally dawned on me---- Altitude Sickness again. After checking the internet again about altitude sickness, the symptoms seemed correct.

My history is that at 6000 feet my body basically rejects any kind of physical movement in the same day as arrival at the altitude. At 5000 feet it takes a couple of days. Fort Davis is at 5000 feet. According to the internet sources, 5000 feet does not bother most normal humans. But this human is bothered. The cure is to go down lower.

About four pm a ride was taken down to Balmohrea which is at 3800 feet. By the time the Truck got me to Wild Rose Pass, altitude 4500+/- the head ache and nausea was gone. In another few minutes my energy level was back up to reasonable. Well at least it is known what the trouble is from.

Now that needs to be remembered when plans for locations to camp are made. Having altitude sickness is definitely not good for trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

Fort Davis Trail

Comfort Castle Location: Fort Davis, Texas

Adventure Location: Ft. Davis NP, Texas

There was a trail at the NP that had been on my To Do List for several years. It is now an accomplishment instead of a wish. Here is the map of the route. Start at my finger and walk the loop clockwise until you come down the cliff to “You Are Here”.

The trail up the cliff onto the rim is very anticlimactic and almost boring. Then it gets to the top and things get a lot more interesting. This trail will test your balance, ankles, knees and if you are not careful, how tough your skin is against thorns from the bushes. As the well defined trail winds around on the rim there are several good vistas of the fort below and the town. Eventually you come to the interesting part.

Suddenly for the rest of the trail you will be in and out of the rocks and boulders. Ankle twisting spots abound. Places to fall badly are frequent so take your time, drink water often and enjoy the outing. It is less than two miles round trip. The drought has most of the vegetation in a state of death. One cactus was making a decent try at producing flowers.

The trail winds through narrow sections of boulders and lava flows again and again. It definitely does not let you get bored. Be very careful with your steps or your bottom may get to test the hardness of the rocks.

At the top of the ridge is an overlook of the whole fort. The sign explains the layout of some of the buildings on the grounds below.

Now you can understand why some of the buildings and foundations are skewed to each other. By the way the Truck is waiting patiently in the right hand row of vehicles and is the closest vehicle to this end.

You thought the previous part of the trail was tricky; you are in for a treat. From here all the way to the bottom it is a lot more treacherous than before. You almost immediately are staring down a very steep “trail” with handrails. The handrails were a very welcome addition since the footing is very loose gravel.

After fighting the trail forever it seems that you must be nearly at the bottom.

Nope there is still plenty of the trail in front of you. The cliff is so steep that the trail has to switchback several more times before letting go of you. It was definitely a great trail for trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

3/30/11

Santa Elena Canyon

Comfort Castle Location: Fort Davis, Texas.

Adventure Location: Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend NP, Texas

This is the last adventure report from Bibe for this trip. The fine dust was so bad in the air that it was giving me trouble with breathing. So the Team had to pull out on the 29th and head north to Fort Davis for some recuperation and catch the blog up.

The nice short drive from Cottonwood Campground is about eight miles, but there are several “must do” pull offs for you to visit. When you get to the very end you will be in the Santa Elena Canyon Trail parking lot. It has necessity facilities that are normally clean. This trail will not accommodate anyone who needs wheels to help get them around. Children of any age can make the journey and enjoy it.

From the parking lot the trail starts very gently as you move across the boardwalk to the creek bed of Terlingua Creek. If it is dry like this day, the crossing is easy. If it is moist the crossing is impossible without getting mud up to your waist. When exiting the creek bed you head up a walkway with several steep switchbacks. Here is the view from near the top of the switchbacks.

From here it is down hill the rest of the way to the end. The slope coming back to this point is much gentler. You head into a wonder world of tumbled boulders and water worn rocks to wind through. Something changes about your path every few feet so it stays interesting all the way in and back out.

Along much of the trail you can get close to the foot of the cliff and look straight up 1500 feet or rocks waiting to fall down on you. That is an interesting thought.

You get to pic any of several trails through the rocks. The good part is it is impossible to get lost. The cliff is on one side and the river about fifty feet over to the other. So just wander around and over and under to your hearts delight. My path in found a spot that was a suck my gut in spot as my fat body slid through.

There were two other ways to get past this point if this proved too tight.

As you approach the end the canyon noticeably narrows. The canyon walls across the river are part of Mexico. The view when the sun is right can be awesome.

At the finish a sand bar caresses the cliff effectively stopping everyone except Spiderman.

My route in was near the river. To head back out, a route closer to the cliff was chosen. The path was much more difficult but not really hard. Again this is one of the best walks that I have taken in my life. It is not long but has enough things going on that it will normally take a meandering fool like me an hour and a half from start to finish. You will be glad you did the walk.

By golly this trail is a very good way to try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

Sublett-Dorgan Trail

Comfort Castle Location: Fort Davis, Texas Adventure Location: Near Castolon, Big Bend NP, Texas

The temperature this morning in Fort Davis was 34 deg F. The ground fog was moderately dense. All the dust from Bibe is still being coughed up. All in all it looks like a good time to catch up on publishing adventures from Bibe.

A relatively newly developed trail caught my attention so it needed a good check out. The pullout on the main road is marked as the Dorgan-Sublett Trail with a large sign. There is room for three vehicles. The trail is not wheel chair friendly. Crutches, canes and walkers could make it but would definitely be a strain on the user.

The first thing you find is a sign explaining about the Sublett farms and buildings. The first buildings are only a few feet past and up the hill from the sign. These buildings show signs of modern work imitating old style building techniques. They are still fun to wander through the area and consider how tough these early settlers had to be. After examining all the old buildings and the other remnants in the brush including a few foundations, it was time to head on out on the trail. No water went with me because the trail head sign said a half mile trail. Take water it is a good bit more than a half mile trail. You follow the trail around and around through the brush heading toward a hill nearby. Pass another new “old” building and head up the hill on a decent path. At the saddle of the hill is a sign pointing to the right to the Sublett house. The sign points left to the Dorgan house. The team went right first.

The house site is pretty well shot from the old policy of letting historical structures deteriorate. Once again you need to use your imagination to get a feel for the old time lifestyle. The sign attempts to explain about things here. Now the Team backtracked a couple hundred feet to the trail to the Dorgan house. The trail followed the ridge up and down for a nice walk until the Dorgan house came into view. It is a lot less ruined but is still in bad shape. The sign tells the story of dreams and hopes. The fireplace was impressive. Hopefully this will give you an idea of the work that went into the fireplace. A little walking around the site let me get a feel for living in this location. Colder than miserable in the winter and hotter than a blast furnace in the summer is my opinion. The view of the vegetables growing might have been pretty in the spring.

Now all you need to do is carefully retrace your foot steps to your vehicle. This is a nice trail with good historical information about the area. It is a very pleasant way of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

3/29/11

La Harmonica

Comfort Castle Location: Fort Davis, Texas

Adventure Location: Near Castolon, Big Bend NP, Texas

Written 3-28-2011

The morning started cold at 44 degrees F. A short morning walk to check out the river was taken with the benefit of a horse on the Mexico side seeing me. It whinnied out a greeting and got a wave in return.

Very close to across the main road from the Cottonwood campground is a historic site. The history is well explained with the sign at the entrance. A short walk up a hill brings you to the store area and its three buildings. The have obviously been reworked but are still neat to see. The interior is one big room as was expected. A surprise to me in the historical buildings is all the poured concrete floors and some walls. That much cement must have been a real pain to haul out here in wagons pulled by critters. There was an old rusty steel pipe running off into the brush from the store building. That seemed odd so an attempt to follow it was made. Using my famous dead reckoning as my feet dodged in and out and around the brush and trees this cistern suddenly appeared in the brush. As my exploring continued a small building appeared. Close examination of it through a window identified it as a pump house. Scattered all through this area are remnants of when it was irrigated crop land. But growing crops on a flood plain that floods and changes every few years makes it hard to continue a profitable operation. The last big flood here was in 2008 and even Cottonwood campground was flooded.


The big event was the return to the Truck. The white horse from across the river had come to visit. It must have been used to getting a treat because it looked very expectantly at me for a good while. Then it headed on down the road at a gentle clip clop. It did not have horse shoes on it. horse pic A volunteer said that there are several horses and cows that wander back and forth from Mexico to the park. The horse looks like it is eating well to me. This was a nice adventure in the trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

Cottonwood Campground

Adventure Location: Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend NP, Texas

This is where the Team ended up after leaving Stillwell Campground in the middle of the morning. We drove clear through Bibe and out the west side for diesel. It was $4.299 a gallon and the stupid pump stopped at $75 so the tank was almost full instead of full. Good enough for now maybe. Then a stop at Cottonwood grocery in Study Butte provided a needed influx of groceries and an unneeded out flow of cash. The Team took the very scenic route down to Castolon, Texas. Cottonwood Campground is the National Park campground near Castolon. The campground is very minimal services at the sites. No electricity, water, sewer and a fairly flat packed dirt spot to park. There are pit toilets scattered among the thirty or so sites. Here is the Team in site 5. This is a shot of the crowded conditions of the campground. The park does supply recycle bins and regular bins for your garbage. Drinking water is available from a reverse osmosis system housed in this building. The water faucet is available for filling your bottles to carry back to your campsite. That is it for amenities except for the occasional wildlife critter meandering through the campground. But what was found is a trail near the entrance to the campground. Hmmmmm. So the Walking Team headed down the trail to explore. Well that did not take long. About fifty feet and there we were on the banks of the mighty Rio Grande River. Straight across from the Team is Mexico. This is a very pleasant place and shade is available from the trees for most of the camping spots. $14 a day for normal humans and $7 a day for old humans is the price tag. Of course it helps that it is at the end of a long road that staying in Study Butte would make a long daily drive to the area. But this Team is already working hard at trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.

3/26/11

Nine Point Draw

Adventure Location: Big Bend NP, Texas

To orient you my friends, here is a map of the walk area of today.

The walk started at the left end of the dashed line and meandered under the pencil writing "OK for" at the tip of the red pencil and finally returned to the left end of the dashed line.

Naturally walking the normally used trail to a national park planned destination was not for this Walking Team to try. It had been done and reported a couple of years ago so something new was tried. Nine Point Draw tent camping spot where the little tent shows on the map, was driven to and checked out for taking the Castle to there for camping. That is Dog Canyon above and left of the Truck back in the mountains.
The Castle will easily fit in this site.

Then the Team drove to the Dog Canyon trailhead on the main road. The trail head is where the dashed line meets the highway. From there a meander back across country to the Nine Point Draw campsite was the sort of goal. Here you can see where the trail leads out to the left. The big gash in the mountains in the back ground is where the trail leads.
In the Laurence Parent guide book for Bibe, it mentions an old attempt at a concrete road that runs through this area. That was the first objective of the meander. Here is part of it where it crosses the Dog Canyon trail.
It quickly disappeared. It is not known what happened to it. There are other places out here where it appears for several feet and disappears again. The general direction it was headed was followed in hopes of finding the old bridge over a gully. My dead reckoning missed it by about fifty feet after a long walk.
From the bridge my senses led me over hill and gully for quite some time. A long high ridge ran across my path so it was up to the top. From here you can see Devils Den Canyon as the long zig zag scar on the side of the hill. That was a secondary target for today but it was not to be.
Suddenly the first goal was down below the Team.
That is the parking lot where the picture of the Truck was taken earlier. At the top of this hill was lots of evidence others had been here before. There were rock cairns all over the place.
Some one BK had gone to a lot of trouble to make out their initials in large rock letters. They moved a lot of rocks to make the letters. But they were just one of many items left behind as reminders of the human race being there.

From here it was down off the hill by way of a loose shale slide to the desert floor below. A start was made toward Devils Den but before long it was obvious more food and water needed to be carried for that long of a walk. So it was head back to the Truck. The Truck was over yonder that way sort of, just keep walking and it will come into view. Eventually it did come into view. See it in this picture. Click if needed.
After all this walking and the temperature was going up, it was time to head for the Castle. Lunch was prepared, eaten and a few minutes of horizontal time was taken. Please note that yogurt coated granola bars are not right for carrying in hot weather outdoor walking.

Even soft sticky granola bars did not cut into the excitement of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


3/25/11

Stillwell Store

Comfort Castle Location: Stillwell Store, Texas
Adventure Location: Stillwell Store, Texas

The late start worked out well. It was getting to be dawn by the time my eyes opened. It was eight am before the Team left San Pedro campground. The decision was made to do the dump and fresh water routine so we could check out the Diablo East facilities that the NPS provides for the campers to use.

The dump station is a two holer but the paving slopes the wrong way so blocks had to be put under two tires for proper drainage. The approach and departure space is wonderful. That is a fish cleaning table to the back left.

Next we looped around and took on a LOT of drinking water. It must have taken fifteen minutes to fill the tank on the Castle. Again the facility was first class with great ingress and egress.
Seems to me to be great value for $2 a night.

By now it was nine am and off on the travel adventure we went. The traffic was non-existent for the whole 150 miles or more. Here is one view that we saw on the road north of Amistad.

All the way to Marathon the highway was without traffic. In Sanderson diesel fuel was purchased for $3.749 a gallon. The apple fried pie was great also. About thirty miles down the road in Marathon the stations were getting $4.259 a gallon. Make your own conclusions about that. Any way at the outskirts of Marathon at a historic marker site, lunch was served. The sandwich was good but the view was better.
It was not known how full the campgrounds would be in the Bibe area.


Stillwell Store campground ( http://stillwellstore.com/ ) was chosen as a first attempt for somewhere to stay with electricity. It was still 93 at six pm. The campground was nearly empty. The choice was available between w/e/s or w/e. No sewer is needed since they have a dump station available. So $2.50 a day was saved. In this next picture of the campsite there is a notch in the hill in the back ground. The highway to get here runs through that notch. When the Team topped the notch and this campground section was nearly empty, joy sprang up since this is a great location for this side of Bibe and other things.
Here is something closer to an overall view from the gate of the bustling campground.
This is a very level dirt /caliche parking lot with excellent tasting water and electricity. The isolation makes San Pedro look like it is in down town San Antonio. The nearest full grocery is in Alpine, Texas about 70 miles away one way. Choose your site and set up. The stars tonight should be something else.

The elevation is around 2400 feet at the campground, but the mountains around are known to top 6000 feet. So that makes some steep climbs with the Truck or Sightseer. Maybe a bike ride is in order. Of course you have several options as to direction. To the left when you exit the campground is Mexico only thirty miles away. To the right is Bibe or even more choices. Six touring bikers were passed on the way here today. It certainly is getting late in the year to be on a bicycle in this heat. The next three or four days are expected to peak in the high 90’s. It is a long way between towns and absolutely no nothing in-between.

As for me, my body will be working in a much lower energy state than cross country bike riding as it tries to have tooooo much fun, TheOFM.