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johnbenton's Logbook

Stats

Total Log Entries: 5 (Rank: 110th) [List Them] [Map Them]
Total Distance: 71.20 Miles (Rank: 36th)
Average Distance: 14.24 Miles

Average Rating: (4.32)
Average Difficulty: (3.53)
Average Solitude: (3.72)

Earliest Log Entry: 6/12/2005
Latest Log Entry: 12/27/2010

Average ratings are based on the published values and not the values entered in your own log entries.

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Log Entries

A Great Desert / Mountain Hike
Big Bend Ranch SP - Rancherias Loop - 12/27/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 22.00 Miles Duration: N/A
This is a wonderful hike with plenty of solitude and scenery. Somewhat similar to Big Bend National Park (the 'Outer Mountain Loop' hike), but without the "crowds" that one will find there (at least during Christmas and Spring Break) and this loop is shorter with less elevation gains and losses! Being in a state park, however, it is a different experience. The trail conditions are worse (or more primitive or natural) than the well maintained NP trails. But you have more freedom and solitude than at BBNP. The entire loop is ~22-23 miles (including the stretch on Hwy 170 between the trailheads). Almost everyone goes counterclockwise and the trail markings seem to be setup for people hiking in that direction. The hike is usually done in 3 days, 2 nights, which makes for some short daily distances, but the trail conditions make it seem longer!! Don't underestimate the difficulty of this trail unless you are in great shape and have excellent weather. You could do it in 2 days, 1 night, but then you would have to really keep moving and would miss the fun of being alone in this wonderful desert park. A good topo map is a must and the park now sells a laminated park topo map for $6. They also hand out a 3 page paper printout of a topo map of just the loop. Both are great for showing the actual route and where the trail leaves the canyons for the 'bypasses'. The trail marking are very much improved now days, but one can still get lost easily if not paying attention. (Note, the abundance of wild burro trails near Rancherias Spring makes following the official trail there very difficult. We just bushwacked our way for the last 1/2 mile to the springs!) There are several 'bypasses' (where the trail climbs up the sides of the canyon) when going up the eastern trail that are optional. You could go directly up the canyons and "boulder climb or hop" over some huge boulders and pour-offs, but going with the by-passes is usually easier and you don't have to fight some vegetation in some narrow canyon spots. With the 2 springs, one doesn't have to haul alot of water and they make great camping sites for each night. You will have to filter the water, as the burros and other animals use the springs for EVERYTHING. At the Rancherias Spring, it is a series of pools over about 1/2 miles. The best pools for filtering water, when the levels are low, are further down the canyon. The biggest thing about this trail is that the trail conditions are tough. It takes longer than you expect due to the trail conditions, but the scenery is wonderful and makes up for it. There are some stretches with very loose, rocky, steep, narrow pathways on some the climbs and descents; especially going up and down the 1st and 3rd days. Hiking poles are a must!! Also, you must be careful for the thorns and cactus spines that prevail everywhere. I would wear long pants regardless of the weather; except possibly on the northern stretch on the Jeep trail and the western side from the Guale Mesa down to the road. I would not recommend this trail for dogs due to the massive amounts of rocks, thorns and cactus. We actually camp the 2nd night on the Guale Mesa so I can experience the wonderful sensation of the big skies of Texas and the stars. That means hauling some water, but the sights are well worth it. Plus you won't be disturbed by the wild burros packs that visit Rancherias Spring every morning and evening. There is alot of wildlife in the park, but you must be careful and look for it. Javalinas are very common. So are the burros. Lots of birds. If you really want to watch the wildlife, then spend you time near the two springs. The rangers at the Warnock visitor center were excellent. Lots of information and help. Unfortunately, the web site for the state park doesn't show any good maps, trail description or guides, list all the new hiking trails that are being added, or even the zones for the backpacking zone camping requirements. So, call ahead or make sure you talk with them about the trail and the latest conditions before attempting it. I haven't talked about the weather. I have done this hike in December and March. I would never dream of doing it in the summer heat (unless you hike it in a full moon at night!). The night time lows were in the 30's (Dec) and 40's (Mar) and the daily highs were 60's (Dec) and 80's (March). Like all deserts, plan on lots of sunshine, very dry air, and temperature that drop quickly when the sun goes down. Final thoughts, this a a great hike in the high Texas deserts and mountains, but one must be prepared for it. I love the hike (and have done it twice) but it should only be done if you are experienced in this terrain and decent shape.
A nice hike withing 2 hours of DFW
Cross Timbers Trail - 12/28/2006  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 12.00 Miles Duration: 6 hours
This is another good prepatory hike that is close the DFW, yet it can provide some good conditioning and experience. There are stretches of solitude, but many homes and marinas along the trail so one is never really in the country. Although there is no relative elevation gain, the trail has enough ups and downs to provide some workout. Plus the trail conditions are much more natural and excellent for getting one ready for my adventursome trails in more rugged spots. Well worth the effort for a conditioning hike in preparation for a bigger backpacking trip elsewhere. I haven't tried the camping sites yet, but plan to do so later this year in preparation for my New Mexico trip.
A stout hike into a beautiful area - excellent!
Big Bend - Emory Peak Trail - 11/25/2006  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: 6 hours
My son and I hiked Emory Peak two days after Thanksgiving in 2006. The weather was really great and the view outstanding. We saw deer and other wildlife near the trial and both javelina and gray fox elsewhere in the National Park. The hike provided little challenge for my 19 year-old son, but at almost 51 years of age I found it a pretty stout workout. Emory Peak isn't nearly the tallest point in Texas (there are at least 8 mountains of 8,000 ft. or more in the state), but it is the highest in the Chisos Mountains and certainly worth the effort. Highly recommended.
A good place for a conditioning hike close the DFW
Ray Roberts Greenbelt Corridor - 4/20/2006  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 20.00 Miles Duration: 8 hours
The Greenbelt is not really a hard hike, but it is the best "long distance" hiking trial I have found near my home that can be used for preparation for longer hikes. I use the horse trail if I want some more realistic hiking conditions and the foot/bike path to make better time. It can be crowded on nice weekend days, but almost vacant if you can go on weekdays. I have hiked this trail many times. You can make it as short or long as you desire by where you start and finish. For a really long hike, start at Hwy 380 and hike up into Lake Ray Roberts State Park and its trails.
A great hike! A must for all Texans!
Guadalupe Mountains National Park - 6/12/2005  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.20 Miles Duration: 6 hours
This is probably my favorite hike in Texas. (Only difficulty is the drive from DFW to the park.) The trail up Guadalupe Peak is steep and rocky, but at 4.2 miles most can do it. The beginning and end are the hardest parts. Inbetween it is a very enjoyable stretch of hiking. The altitude is a problem for flatlanders like me, but less of a problem if you are in condition. If going in summer, start before sunrise so you don't bake in the desert heat. In spring time, be prepared for the winds. Be ready for the hike. It is a desert, there is no water on the trail, it is steep, hot and sunny in summer, and the footing is rough due to the rocks. But, I beleive it is probably the best hike in Texas (or tied with some Big Bend hikes.)