Dog Canyon to Marufo Vega, almost.
Feb. 2nd-9th, 2014
79 miles walked, 68 with pack, 11 without
I always have trips in the planning stage, some take years to get around to actually doing, this one was just such a case. The idea of a long walk, north to south down the long eastern side of the park that would tie together many interesting places I had never been to was the basic idea. The initial sparks for the actual route came from threads on Big Bend Chat about some out of the way places not normally seen by folks.
2013 marked the 40th anniversary of my first trip to Big Bend but we couldn’t get it together to do a December trip which has become my normal window. Early February would do nicely but the crazy winter weather of 2014 would conspire against us a bit. Scott and Lee would both return to the park with me, the first time back for each of them since Scott walked with me across the eastern half of the park in 2004 and Lee the western half in 2008. Just getting to the park was its usual endeavor.
Flying into Austin, Lee’s flight was delayed by 5 hours and put us into Ft. Stockton at midnight, long day. Up early with rain and wet snow it begins to clear and warm up as we drop down out of the Glass Mountains, the clouds spilling down off the mesa after us.
A stop at the Marathon Café for the last real meal for a week then into the park where we drop a cache off the Dagger Flat road and then to Panther Junction for a permit. Our exit is the Marufo Vega/Strawhouse/Ore Terminal trailhead which we don’t want to leave a car at for a week, overnight OK but not 7 nights, so we drive down to the Boquillas border crossing station to see if we can leave it there in the relative safety of the Border Patrol etc. and it would only be about a mile and a half walk from the trailhead. They say sure. We drive back to the Rio Grande Village visitor center to finish packing and meet our shuttle by 11:30.
I had put out a feeler on Big Bend Chat for a ride and got a reply about a week before we were to leave. Casey showed up right on time and had us to Bone Spring draw by 1:00. It was great to meet him, found out we even graduated from the same high school! Without his help the logistics of getting to the trailhead would have been more difficult and expensive, we cannot thank him enough!
Off down Bone Spring draw, just about a mile, to the Devils Den exit for the night. I had planned this first day to be just a short walk in as I was not exactly sure how long it would take to drop a cache, get permits and get back to the starting point so we carried in an extra gallon of water each just for the afternoon and next morning with the rest of the water in the packs that would get us to our cache on the third day. You can see Devils Den cutting its way down the slope directly ahead.
It was a beautiful day but windy, we found a campsite up on the flats mostly sheltered behind some big creosote bushes and settled in for a late lunch. Late afternoon we day hiked on down into Dog Canyon with its flat bottom and tortured geology, especially on the southern Sierra del Carmen side.