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Ascent of Emory Peak on 2016-05-14

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, May 14, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Emory Peak
    Location:USA-Texas
    Elevation:7825 ft / 2385 m

Ascent Trip Report

I decided to do Emory Peak the more challenging and scenic way. A popular route is for people to backpack around the upper Chisos Range and see the South Rim. I figured that I should dayhike it. Unfortunately, my GPS track is a bit messed up from the usual battery problem coupled with my geriatric aversion to just putting new batteries in when needed (they should work forever for $5 a pack!!). I arrived at a roadside backcountry site down in the desert just inside the park at 11:30pm on Friday, so I just passed out and set the alarm for an early drive to Chisos Basin for the big hike.

I set out around sunrise from Chisos Basin on the Laguna Meadows Trail with the intent of picking up a few bonus bumps on the "Texas 7,000 ft peaks" list. I was also very interested in seeing the south rim as I heard it is beautiful. It is. The biggest GPS track gap is on the trail up to Laguna Meadows, so future hikers will fare well without it! I would guess that I lost a mile of distance in that gap. I took the trail east to just past LW1, where I cut south towards Pk 7,140, and then west towards Pk 7,150. It is a bit brushy, but never bad. Much better than many a chaparral-covered peak! The trees provided shade for a good portion of the ascent, so that was nice as the sun had finally crested over the mountains to the east as I arrived near LW1. The peak had a cairn, but no register. Summit pics - check. Onward to the south rim!

I took the trails to a nice early lunch spot near SW4 at the southwest end of the South Rim. The views were incredible!! Don't climb Emory Pk without heading south to the rim to enjoy the views of the southern Chisos, Rio Grande, and into Mexico! I then headed NE on the rim trail to the junction that goes down to Boot Spring. At this point, there is a sign warning that the trail is closed to protect peregrine falcon nesting sites. I made my way down Boot Cyn Trail to the NE Rim Trail. The signs there indicated that the trail was closed beyond NE3. Perfect! I planned on leaving the trail near NE2 to grab Townsend Point. Townsend Point was a pleasant stroll in open country in and out of the trees. The register on top had but 3 other entries in it...

Side note on the closure: It is in effect from Jan 1 - Jun 1 each year for the stretch of the NE Rim trail between the Boot Cyn junction and campsite NE3. Please respect the closure on behalf of the wildlife. This isn't some private property county high point where stealthing is acceptable!

I started to get a bit concerned about the weather as the clouds had been moving in. While they were a welcome break from the hot sun, I knew that I did not want to be on top of Emory Pk in a lightning storm. I made a quick descent to Boot Spring and a hasty ascent to the main trail junction between Emory Pk and Toll Mtn. Right around the junction, the rain started as just a mist. By the time I was halfway to Emory Pk, it was a raging downpour. Then, the first sound of thunder. Shit! I continued upward on the trail, though I knew that I would need to find a safe place to wait it out where lightning was less likely to strike. I stopped short of the summit blocks in a nice area off the trail in the trees where I felt safe(ish). I was pretty much soaked at this point, so I threw my rain jacket on to stay warm. I did not have rain pants, so my boots quickly soaked through as well. Once I had not heard thunder for a few minutes, I headed towards the summit blocks, stopping once again below in the trees after a final thunderclap. I waited about 10 minutes to be totally sure that no more lightning remained. The rain mostly stopped at this point, backing off to a light mist again.

The scramble up to the summit is trivial when dry, but still pretty easy when wet. I just took it much slower that I normally would. The views were spectacular as the clouds moved away from the surrounding peaks. I took the usual plethora of summit pictures for all of the photo albums for lists that this peak is on. Some of them are not that great due to a wet camera lens. Oh well. I had the summit to myself for obvious reasons, and headed down after 10 minutes or so. The hike back to the car was uneventful. Had I not been soaked to the bone, I would have snagged Toll Mtn from the Texas 7k list as well. Oh well, not a list I plan on finishing ever anyway... By the time I was in Boulder Meadow, it was sunny and hot again.

I reached the parking lot at 4:30, hoping that the visitors center would still be open in Chisos Basin so that I could backcountry camp with a permit this evening. It closes at 4pm. I put all my stuff in the car quite hastily and beelined for the main visitors center at Panther Junction. I did not want to resort to camping in a developed campsite as I do not like camping near other people that are not part of my party. I made it there at 4:56pm, just in time for the least friendly interp ranger that I have ever encountered to spend the next 5 minutes talking down to me like I have never camped outside before. "You better have a plan ready for your campsite by the time I get back from taking the flag down. You are the last permit of the day because we are closed." "How do you not know what model of white Chevy your car is?" It's a rental and I know the plate number... Wow... I ended up at Painted Gap #2. After setting up my rented tent and sleeping bag (thank you Fort Sam Houston Army outdoor recreation program!), I made my no-stove/no-cooler dinner of canned herring on crackers with oranges and cookies, and relaxed in the shade.

The volunteer at the visitors center (who was very friendly as compared to her NPS colleague) recommended a sunset dip in the hot spring along the Rio Grande. Thank you friendly NPS volunteer! It was really nice out there and I met some really nice older couples out there. I also swam in the river and added a new Mexican state to my "visited" list...

The following day upon my return to the visitors center and interaction with a much more friendly pair of interp rangers, I earned a patch for hiking up Emory Peak: an all-ages patch that can be earned like a junior ranger patch in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service. Very cool! So, go hike Emory Pk this year and earn the patch!
Pics
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1025 ft / 313 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1025 ft / 313 m
    Route:Pinnacles Tr - Emory Pk Tr
    Trailhead:6800 ft / 2072 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Chisos '16

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1Peak 71502016-05-14 a
2Townsend Point2016-05-14 b
3Emory Peak2016-05-14 c
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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