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Explore Magazine Inaugural Issue!

magazine. Spring 2013





exploration-hiking-surviving-fishing-history-4x4 tech Explore, Spring 2013




Cover Image:

Rio Grande River looking south from the Contrabando movie set in Colorado Canyon. Big Bend Ranch State Park. Photo: Will Wells


Spring 2012

INAUGURAL ISSUE Departments: Introduction: Letter From the Editor Will Wells, Page 6


Trail Survival: Turning the Table on Survival Daniel Chavez, Page 10


Favorite Fishing in New Mexico Matt Pelletier, Page 20


The Ancient Inhabitants of West Texas Buck Wells, Page 40


Big Bend Travel Will Wells, Page 48

Away From Home:

Ice Fishing Idaho Dave Smith, Page 62

4x4 Trail and Gear: Trail Gear Dirty 30’s Chromoly Birfields: The Ultimate Toyota Axles Install by Daniel Chavez, Page 66

Explore, Spring 2013


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SWDR Blog: The front page, the landing page and the featured page. From here you can read the newest articles from our webmasters and content creators. We will share any new adventures, hidden spots or new techniques we have found. Ranging from cooking to welding, you are sure to find something that catches your eye here. Categories and popular posts are listed on the right hand sidebar and links to the featured articles are sliding across the top. About SWDR: Our mission: Welcome to SWDR 4Ă—4. This is a site dedicated to outdoor life in the southwest. We strive to provide as much information as possible when it comes to fishing, camping, hiking, surviving, and off-roading in the southwest. SWDR Forum: The Forum is a place to share ideas, tips and tricks about anything! We want to hear from you, and we want you to be a part of our community! As always any new legitimate Forum members get a free SWDR4x4 sticker, all you have to do is E-mail one of our admins at or SWDR Gallery: The gallery is a place to view photos from past trips and to get ideas for places you would like to visit! SWDR is on Facebook: The SWDR team is on Facebook and we highly suggest you become a fan there. We often have Facebook only content that could save your life one day. Advertisements: SWDR is offering several advertising packages for companies looking to promote any off road or general outdoor related gear. If you are interested in promoting your products to our audience please contact the admin team at (Daniel or (Will


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Explore, Spring 2013


From the editor: H

ello, my name is Will Wells and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading this, the inaugural issue of explore magazine! This publication is brought to you by the lovely folks at so you know it’s going to be adventurous. If you love the look of a trail that snakes off into the distance, disappears through the trees or is challenged by a few stray boulders then this magazine is for you. Be it a road or a scarcely maintained path, we want to explore it, see where it goes, and share the experience.


ince this is the very first issue of Explore Magazine, we wanted to make sure we cover some of the subjects that are very important to us. The first being outdoor survival, should the worst happen. This is possibly the most important thing to study up on before embarking on any kind of exploration, you never know just when the knowledge can come in handy. As you read on you will learn some of the key points to staying alive in the wilderness from Daniel Chavez, the founder of Later on in the read you will find several pages dedicated to the Big Bend National Park in west Texas. Despite its nine hour drive from home, this is a yearly destination for the SWDR team, and will continue to be as we keep finding new hidden gems to explore.


n each new issue you can expect trip write-ups of our favorite places around the southwest, 4x4 build ideas, gear reviews, history and much more.


Will Wells Ojito Wilderness, N.M. Photo: DJ Rivera Opposite: Jemez Wilderness, N.M. Photo: DJ Rivera

Will Wells: Editor-in-chief, Writer Daniel Chavez: Editor, Writer, Photographer Matt Pelletier: Writer, Fish Enchantment Photographer Buck Wells: Proof Reader, Writer DJ Rivera: Photographer Ollie Olsen: Photographer Explore is published every spring, summer, fall and winter. Copyright 2013 All rights reserved, the usage of articles, photographs, and any reproduction of this publication is strictly prohibited. has always been considered a “social endeavour�, when we created it we wanted to allow the reader to be a part of the conversation as much as they can. The Swdr Forum was created as a place for members to share their outdoor experiences and adventures with the rest of the crew. We would like to continue this line of thinking with Explore Magazine, If you are a member of our forum online, and have a rad 4x4 or an adventure you would like to share with us, please send your submission to In issues to come we would love to be able to have a section in the magazine for readers rigs and adventures!

Explore, Spring 2013


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TRAIL SURVIVAL: Turning the table on survival • Fire • Shelter • Water • Planning • Survival Gear • What your 4x4 can do for you 10

Article and photos by Daniel Chavez


ere at SWDR, survival plays a huge role in any excursion we go out on. Using our rigs to get us safely to beyond and back is always the goal, but what if the tables turn? What if the contents in rig now become our lifeline? Just as with any survival situation, preparation starts in your garage. This article will talk about staying alive using any means necessary, and what items are key to have on you when (yes, expect it to happen) you become stranded. Over the years, I’ve managed to collect a lot of gear that usually gets thrown in a bin and taken with me on trips. I can honestly say that some items have proven useful, while some serve better as paper weights. The thousand dollar question is: what gear should you carry? The honest answer is it depends.. Depends on your level of skill/ creativity, the terrain/environment you will be traveling through, Explore, Spring 2013


head count, among many other things.


ets begin with an example. In 2006 a man named Ricky Mcgee picked up a stranded hitchhiker in Australia. The hitchhiker drugged Rickey, and left him for dead in the middle of nowhere. After a 10 day barefoot hike through harsh terrain, he stumbled into a damn, where he proceeded to set up shelter. He survived 71 days of extreme heat by living off critters and insects, until he was found. When he was found, he was described as a walking skeleton. With absolutely no gear to use, determination and ingenuity kept him alive. If he could survive the odds, imagine what you can do if you are prepared! Now that I’ve got your attention, remember this rule: You cannot survive more than: 3 seconds without hope - 3 minutes without air - 3 hours without shelter - 3 days without water - 3 weeks without food


helter: Duct-tape and para cord. Yes I said it, and once you get over your laughing, check this out: - Duct-tape was used in WW2 for several military uses; waterproofing ammunition boxes, site repairs on jeeps, and even used to pull vehicles. It’s not a matter of what you can do with duct-tape, but what can’t duct-tape do for you! Para cord is cheap, strong and ultra-lightweight.. And best of all, it can be made into fashionable wrist bands and belts; making it a true always on hand resource.



ater: Realistically, if you A large are to be stranded for cottonwood weeks at a time, you normally tree is always will not be able to have enough a great sign water stored in your rig. So of where the having a solid plan on where to water is! find water, and a reliable way to disinfect it is critical. Have at least a couple ways of storing it. Plan and portion your water so that you absolutely have no risk of dehydration. Consider performing labor intensive tasks before/after the hottest times of the day. I’ve invested in several methods of disinfecting water, and also a method of storing emergency water.

An ultra small/light emergency water filter, capable of filtering 20 gallons of water. Easily kept in my pocket while exploring. Explore, Spring 2013


Echinocereus Stramineus (Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus). Produces strawberry tasting fruits which can be eaten raw or made into a jam


ood: This is usually the most challenging topic, as it so heavily depends on the area and situation. For example, if you happen to find yourself in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert, it’s not like there are fresh meals left and right. Even worse, the less nourishment you intake the worse your body/brain will react. Knowing where and what to look for can be the deciding factor for if you live. You should always bring food, preferably high calorie/fat foods which will give you the most energy per portion. If you must attempt surviving off the land, remember the 24 hour universal edibility test which will make sure you don’t poison yourself:


If you have made it through all of the waiting without any illness, then you may assume that eating that one part of the plant is safe Explore, Spring 2013


(so long as it is prepared in the same manner). Time consuming Yes, but worth saving your life - definitely! Also, there is tons more information regarding eating plants.. Knowledge of such info is worth it’s weight in gold if you ever need it! The remains of a scorpion on my beer can. If this guy was more intact, he would be roasted over a fire and consumed.. Another day perhaps.


ith just a few lbs of gear you could cover all of the topics above. But I promise you the most important piece of equipment anyone can carry is knowledge.. After all, what use is all of that gear without a brain that knows how to use it efficiently. Do I suggest you go to the nearest REI and purchase hundreds of dollars of lightweight compact gear? Hell no.. Most of the gear I have is dirt cheap, and serves it’s purpose well. Do research, and buy only equipment that is sure proof and usable with little training. Here is my list of items/gear I tend to bring with me in my rig on excursions: - 1 sleeping bag per person (if possible brightly colored), and a couple heavy blankets if winter is in season. - Several layers of clothing, preferably both cotton and synthetic/


water-proof - 2 quality/sharpened pocket knives and/or leatherman - 1 or 2 good tarps - Shovel and/or Axe - Cell phone charger - Work Gloves - Several Flash Lights w/ Extra batteries - 3 (or more) methods of producing fire; Lighter, Swedish fire steel, battery with steel wool, petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls. - Tool box w/ lots of tools; wrenches, sockets, a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, zip-ties, tire plug kit, electrical wires/ connectors, and several Toyota specific tools and parts - 1 Roll of premium Duct-Tape - At least 100ft of good para cord, along with a couple carabiners - Granola Bars and misc. high calorie/fat junk food that won’t go bad - Mess kit w/ enough gear to feed 2-3 people in one sitting. Includes pot and pan - Hiking stove with 2 tanks of gas - A few cans of soup/beans, several packs of Top Ramen, a few packs of dehydrated hiking food - Compass and GPS - Compact Mirror or 2 Explore, Spring 2013


- Fully stocked first aid kit w/ handful of meds for stomach/head issues - 2 large trash bags - At least 2 filled water-bottles, preferably stainless steel. - 5 Gallons of potable drinking water from home, sealed tight. - Paper w/ several pencils/pens All of this gear, aside from the large items, fit in 1 small action pack container; which when kept filled/updated, can easily be tossed in the rig and are ready for action. Unless you want to lug some/all of this gear with you if you are stranded, it is a good idea (and statistically increases your chances of survival) to stay with your rig. Here are a few tips when staying with your rig: - Find a large sturdy branch and a light colored piece of clothing to tie as a distress flag. If you have a tarp or unused sleeping-bag/blanket, this could also be used. - Avoid using the vehicle heat for more than 15 minute periods. - While the engine is running, avoid sleep at all costs.. - Make sure that the exhaust pipe is openly exposed and free-flowing. - Absolutely do not run any electronic items without the engine running.

Happy Exploring, and stay safe! Written by: Daniel Chavez ~ DangerRanger


Filled, and ready to rock! View from Black Gap Road Bid Bend National Park Photo- Daniel Chavez

Explore, Spring 2013


New Mexico

Fish Enchantment by Matt Pelletier 20


t’s Favorite Spots

Explore, Spring 2013



ello, my name is Matt Pelletier and I’m a fishoholic! Born and raised in Albuquerque new Mexico I grew up fishing northern lakes with my father and grandfather as a child. We would troll Christmas tress rigs for Kokanee and Coho Salmon at Heron, El-Vado, and Eagle Nest Lake. At that age I didn’t enjoy fishing very much but I would never pass up the chance to reel in a fish my father or grandpa hooked. In my high school days I didn’t do any fishing at all and was too busy causing trouble and having what I considered fun at the time. I’m glad I got all that out of me when I was young because after high school it was time to get a job and make a life for myself. I was working in Santa Fe building a facility for hosting tennis tournaments. During my time there we hired a new worker that happened to be my age. As luck would have it Shawn Jones became my work partner and within a few days I learned he was a big time fisherman. It didn’t take long for us to plan our first fishing trip. One day we decided to bring our fishing gear to work so we could stop at the Cochiti spillway after we clocked out and wet a line. Shawn showed me tips for fishing moving water because at that time the only fishing experience I had was trolling from a boat and waiting for a bite. We caught our limit of trout, took them home, and had


a fish fry! From that day on I was hooked on fishing and we made it a ritual to stop at the spillway 2 or 3 days a week for some fishing. Then I started wondering what other fishing holes there was for me to explore. I started in town and did a lot of fishing on the local ditches in town. Over time I figured out how and where to catch bass, trout, and catfish consistently. I remember catching a carp one day and really enjoyed the hard fight the fish gave me. Soon after I developed a passion for carp fishing; I found myself looking for the murkiest, froggiest water I could find and fish for carp all day. That was fun for a while but then I wanted to fish new water and catch other species I hadn’t targeted yet. I started by setting a goal of fishing at least 15 new bodies of water a year. I did that for a while and along the way started fly fishing; and of course with that came the vise, fur, and feathers so I could tie my own flies. Then I got an old used boat and started crossing lakes off the list that I had once fished from shore but now had the chance to get to new waters. Not long after, I started getting into ice fishing; time to create a new “lakes to fish list”... In a short period of time I had become what I call a Multi species/ Multi tactics angler and my motto was, “If it has fins and swims, Explore, Spring 2013


I’M IN! The variety of species of fish in New Mexico is as diverse as the scenery our state offers. Even though we have been in a serious drought for a long period of time we still have plenty of great waters with trophy fish waiting to be caught. An annual fishing license is less than $40, what other hobbies can you enjoy all year for that much money! It’s fun, affordable, and there’s always somewhere new to go. Whether you are just getting into fishing or are an avid angler like myself you’ll love It’s a website based on fishing in New Mexico and we have forums for anglers to share tips, pictures, and reports. This is a great place to meet new fishing buddies and stay in touch with what’s going on out on the water before you plan a trip of your own. We also have blogs, videos, an arcade room, and recently launched New Mexico’s only E-Magazine based entirely on fishing the Land of Enchantment! It’s become a one stop site for any and all fishing information in New Mexico. Come join New Mexico’s online fishing resource and


angling community; it’s free and the information archived on our site is sure to help you become a better angler and make the most out of fishing New Mexico. Go to today and register for the free magazine “Tails of Enchantment”. The next issue will be out in April and it’s sure to have some great reads and awesome pictures. There Rainbow Trout from Santa Cruz Lake are interactive departments Photo: Matt Pelletier for our subscribers to contribute to and chances to win free fishing gear from our sponsors. So subscribe and share Tails of Enchantment today; then get out and go fishing tomorrow! Here are a few places to consider visiting around New Mexico that offer great fishing during the spring. Remember that being prepared so that everyone remains safe is the only way to guarantee a fun and successful trip so be sure to: 1) Know the weather before you go, 2) Don’t drink and operate a boat, and 3) Always wear your life jacket! When you get back from a fishing trip be sure to check in on so you can post a report and show off your catches on our forum.

Explore, Spring 2013


Santa Cruz Reservoir Location:

This lake hides in the mountains between Pojaque and Chimayo. From Highway 285, go East on exit 103 for approximately 13 miles and turn left on Santa Cruz Lake road.


Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Bluegill.

Suggestions for Tackle:

We used to call Tasmanian Devils the Santa Cruz Killa. Troll them slowly or cast and retrieve very slowly. I also do great casting a variety of suspending jerkbaits and fishing them at different depths along the lakes shoreline. Try Lucky Craft suspending jerkbaits in sizes 65, 78, 100 pointers, Staysee’s, and Deep Diving jerkbaits. Small


Rapala Shad Raps or Dynamic Lures HD Trout are great baits you may consider if you’re not trying to pay $20 for a trout lure though! Santa Cruz Reservoir is a deep canyon lake operated by the BLM. Boats with gas motors are allowed but it’s a no wake lake. Expect to pay the standard BLM day use fee when you visit. It’s another put and take fishery but trout can survive the summer and the holdover rainbows will be fat and healthy if you can find them. There are tons of 10-15” Browns in this lake but if you’re lucky you may find yourself hauling in a trophy Brown Trout. I’ve personally had 3 encounters with browns over 25” from Santa Cruz but it’s not something to expect seeing. I’ve fished over 1,000 hours on this lake in my lifetime and have great memories of fishing here with my father as a child. Now that the bluegill population has taken off it makes for great bluegill fishing which is always a blast for kids of any age.

Explore, Spring 2013


San Juan River Location:

From Bloomfield New Mexico, head east on US-64/E Broadway Ave for approximately 11.5 miles and turn left onto NM-511 North. 8 Miles up you can turn left onto NM-173 W/Navajo Dam Rd and fish downstream or continue on 511 North closer to the dam.


Primarily Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Common Carp.

Suggestions for Tackle:

Check in with Float-N-Fish before fly fishing the quality waters to see what hatches have been taking place on the stretch of river you’ll


be fishing. Here are some of my favorite patterns that tend to work well throughout the majority of the year. Dead chickens, Griffith gnats, Turks tarantulas, midge larvae in red, olive, grey, black, or white. RS2 foambacks in grey, chocolate, or black. Flashback midges, black beauties, and other midge variations. San Juan worms can also be deadly when bounced along the bottom. For fishing the rest of the river I would Joseph Banik recommend Rapala Countdowns or Husky Jerks. Dynamic Lures HD Trout, HD XXL’s and Yozuri Pinns Minnows are other great minnow baits to consider. Spinners can be deadly and whether you like throwing Panther Martins, Rooster Tails or Fish Creek Spinners; they’ll produce tons of year round action. This gem of a river is home to the largest population of trout per mile of river in the entire state. Big fish on small flies is the name of the game for most people here but don’t hesitate to fish unorthodox patters here for a chance at monster fish. Big streamers and mouse patterns can be a lot of fun to fish and the bites are ferocious when a fish commits to these large flies. Explore, Spring 2013



Explore, Spring 2013


Doug Manley

Fish Enchantment Guide Service Bluewater Lake| |505-264-2999


Stone Lake Location:

From US-550 N at the McDonalds/Shell gas station in Cuba; continue northeast for 21 miles then turn North East at NM-537 N for 50 miles. Take a right onto J-15 and continue East for 7 miles where the road comes to a “T”. Turn right onto J-8 and you’ll be able to see Stone Lake off to your left.

Greg Cotton


Rainbow Trout is the most common catch from Stone lake but on occasion big Brown Trout and Largemouth Bass are caught.

Suggestions for Tackle:

Anglers fishing spin gear do well casting or trolling a variety of lures like spoons and jerk/crank baits. Fly anglers should bring a sinking line and fish large streamers around the weed lines. Anglers should also consider trying there favorite caddis, mayfly, or damsel nymphs while fishing here. This lake is very fertile and trout often grow 2” per month in Stone but the fishery often goes through winter kills and algae blooms that can set the lake back a couple years. If fish survive 3 years anglers had a great opportunity to catch Rainbows near or over 10 pounds. Explore, Spring 2013



Explore, Spring 2013


Cochiti Lake


From the intersection of I-25/I-40 in Albuquerque, go North on I-25 for 32 miles and take exit 229 left/West onto NM-22 and travel for approximately 13 miles before you take a right on Cochiti Lake Road. Be sure to pay for day use pass as this isn’t a BLM or NM State Park.


Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Walleye, White Bass, White Crappie, Channel Catfish, Common Carp, White Suckers, and a variety of sunfish. Occasional Rainbow and Brown


Trout are also caught but aren’t very common.

Suggestions for Tackle:

Because of the diversity of species in the lake there are a lot of different techniques used here. Plastics, crankbaits, jerkbaits, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and buzz baits are all good options to consider. Depending on what species you’re after you should make necessary adjustments and fish with what you’re confident in. The east side of the lake is shallow and has a lot of vegetation and trees the fish use as cover making for challenging but productive for fisherman along the shore. The gate on the east side is also closed during winter months so shore anglers have to focus their efforts along the rocky banks near the dam. Known as “The Dead Sea” to most New Mexicans; Cochiti actually offers great fishing for those that put in the time to figure it out. It may not have a lot of fish in it but the average catch will be bigger then that of the same species for most lakes here. It’s the closest lake to Albuquerque so it gets a lot of pressure at times but it’s also a nowake lake so visitors tend to be anglers and opportunists on sailboats driven by the often heavy winds that push across Cochiti Lake.

Explore, Spring 2013



Explore, Spring 2013


The Ancient Inhabitants of West Texas By Buck Wells

The Indians who lived in West Texas have been the subject of various publications of the University of Texas, and various other authors have contributed to the subject. In the following essay, I will just attempt to relate some of what has been learned in a general way. Early Spanish explorers sometimes referred indirectly to these various stone age populations by various terms. One of my favorite expressions refers to the unknown Indian population as Indios Patarabueyes ... for which no one has found a suitable translation to English. This seems to be a Spanish colonial nick-name for those Indians in the mountains along the lower reaches of the Rio Grande, in the early 1600’s. This also seems to be


somewhat a pejorative term which tends to refer to their general level of cultural development and lack of understanding of Spanish ways. I think it seems like an “ Army Term “ and may mean something like “ Ox Kickers “ … I have found no translation in any reports I have read. Old literature of the Spanish Entrada period contains a somewhat wide-spread name relating to the Indios Faraones, which is also seen in several old maps. This seemingly general term does not refer to a certain tribe, but to their practice of setting fire to the mountain tops when there were strangers or trespassers passing along the trail

Tools of wood and flint, for cutting Yucca stalks- Excavated by SRSU Archaeology team from an Indian Cave near the University at Alpine, Texas. These tools are supposed to date from the Archaic time period thousands of years ago. systems in the area. Faro is a Spanish word related to a fire, especially in a Light House context. The Mountain Indians that met Lieutenant Whiting’s trail survey expedition in 1845 told him as they were setting a fire, that it was for the purpose of bringing the other Indians from all the countryside for the purpose of attacking his survey

party and destroying the Americans. The old local man that told this to Lt. Whiting also said that he was not afraid of death, and that the Indians were so numerous that they would surely “ Come and Wipe Him Out … “. They were called Apaches in his report. This term was also used for the territorial and war like natives in the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas and New Mexico.

Explore, Spring 2013


In that part of Texas and adjacent New Mexico, The term Apache has been used in the sense of Apaches Mescaleros – or Cactus Eaters, as that name has been translated. These dry land native

ers and fluids were for the making of dinner on the roasted plant hearts, and making alcoholic and hallucinogenic drinks from the fermented plant juice. Archaeologists working for the

Basket found in a West Texas dry cave. Collection of SRSU

people made a lot of their living by annually harvesting the mescal cactus, which was early slang for their practice of harvesting of Sotol and Agave. The plant fib-


Sul Ross State University and the Museum of the Big Bend have done some fine work, and have also excavated numerous sites, and the reports are available.

The studies have shown that a treated to the North; the desert population was pretty continuous culture has remained much the

Excavated in Terlingua on Rough Run, by SRSU team, from Alpine, Texas

throughout the Archaic Period, but in a Hunter and Gatherer or a Stone Age stage of Cultural development. Since the Ice Age ended , about 10,000 years ago, and the ice re-

same. The Indians used stone tools, had lances, and knives made of flint, baskets and water gourds, and by perhaps 1,000 AD they were using delicately made arrows, and made bags and cloth-

Explore, Spring 2013


ing out of a variety of skins and other available items. They wove may artifacts, clothing, and accessories from native plant materials Names in Spanish literature and early reports show such names


as Laguneros, Salineros, Tobosas, Conchos, Tepehuanes, and Chisos. These names were used as early as the early 1600’s to identify some of the tribal groups encountered by the new people travelling North and upriver. Al-

though Cultural groups have been is the most common and perhaps recognized through archaeologi- also the best descriptive word cal studies, mostly based on tool available at this time. types and other cultural items, no names are traceable to any living tribe name today. Maybe Apache

Explore, Spring 2013


F I S H E N C H A N T M E N T . C O M 46

Videos Reports Reviews ARTICLES Interviews BLOGS CONTESTS Much more!

Explore Magazine is now on Facebook! Tell your friends and share the adventure!

Explore, Spring 2013


Big Bend 48

by Will Wells Photo by Daniel Chavez

Explore, Spring 2013



f New Mexico is our home, then the Big bend is certainly our home away from home. The “Big Bend” refers to the bend that the Rio Grande makes to form the bottom point of west Texas. The river at this point also forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico. It has been a popular destination for us for many years now, and why shouldn’t it be? There are so many things for an adventurer to do here. The trip from my home in Albuquerque takes about nine hours if you drive steady with minimal stops. I would say on about hour six, you start to see another car only every fifty miles or so, which is really exciting. That’s when you know you’re


getting lost! Usually such a long trip takes us through the night, especially after a long day of packing and getting the group on the same page. This is by no means a problem, in one way you miss all the incredibly boring scenery of I-10, and as an added bonus you get to see the sunrise across the Christmas Mountains when you get closer to the park. These can be quite spectacular, the shades of red can be compared to Moab, UT; or Sedona, AZ, easily. Some features that set this landscape apart from the others is that it’s hundreds of miles from nowhere, there are hardly any people, and it’s quite a bit more rugged. You should prepare for a very harsh landscape if you plan on visiting. The heat and sun can be quite intense, and it almost

seems like everything that does live here has got it out to poke or sting you. On the plus side there is quite a lot to do, from water sports to all the hiking you can get, even some decent bars and restaurants in the ghost town of Terlingua, which can be refreshing. Everywhere you look there is something else to see and find, be it a fossil or a painted cliff face, flowers on the cacti, or even just an inspirational sunset. In some areas of west Texas you can go off roading, and the terrain can be as rough as you like. In some areas you can go fishing and kayaking, but the Big Bend has been most popular for the National Park and all the Hikes and activities you can do there. A lot of people would be

surprised at what you can find here, to the untrained eye it looks barren, hot and uninhabitable, which it mostly is, or at least it feels that way. The beauty of it is just the opposite actually; in almost every canyon throughout the park you can find another oasis, tall green trees, and pools of fresh water, all of what is needed to sustain the desert wildlife. Which is actually a very interesting experience when you’re out for a hike in this place, the environment is loaded with surprises you would never expect. In the next few pages I’m going to share some of our favorite spots, hikes and adventures throughout the park. Enjoy!

Explore, Spring 2013


Ernst Tinaja What is it?

Ernst tinaja is a natural pool of water carved into bedrock formed by erosion. The word tinaja (pronounced ti-NA-ha) is Spanish for “large earthen jar”.


From the highway, about 18 miles east of panther junction you will turn north on Old Ore Road. After about 5 miles you will find Ernst Tinaja Spur road, after a few short minutes you arrive at the parking area. Old Ore Road and Spur Road are both primitive dirt roads and will require high clearance and possibly 4x4. Check with the rangers for any questions regarding road conditions.

The Hike: The hike is a relatively easy one, once you get to the parking area its only a matter of a half mile trek up a dry river wash. One of the real beauties of the area is the geology, while walking in the creek bed you can see some serious layers and formations here. After twenty minutes or so you will come to an opening in the cañon, and the layers start to feel like steps leading up to something. A few more steps and your there, super easy hike to a refreshing oasis in the barren desert. There is plenty of shade here from the cañon walls and this makes for a great picnic spot, or photo opportunity. Ernst is one of those hidden gems you might not expect from such a hot and dry landscape. As you turn off the highway your thinking to yourself, I hope I don’t break down, a walk back to civilization would surely kill me... Just kidding... And as you can tell from the map to the left it isn’t too far. A real exploration would be to continue up the wash past the eroded rocks further into the desert. There are also several primitive campsites in the area if you want to stay the night. Wherever you go in the Big Bend, remember to take loads of water with you and be prepared for heat.


If your debating whether or not to jump in, make sure you have a way out. This could be a serious trap without a rope. When we were there it was a solid six feet of slippery rock to climb if you wanted out. The pool was about twenty feet across, about 6-8 feet deep.

Some things do still grow in the desert, especially if there is a big pool collecting nearby. Here you can see a Rocknettle plant trying to stay alive in the ninety degree heat.

Explore, Spring 2013


The Window When you visit the Big Bend Park Headquarters, you will most likely find yourself hiking to the window overlook. It is one of the more popular day hikes.

What is it?

The Window follows a creek bed trail out of the Chisos Basin down the mountain. It stops short when the creek falls off a cliff. (Pictured right) The resulting “window” view is breathtaking on a clear day.

Where is it?

The trail head is easy to find, when you get to the parking area of the lodge you’re there. The trail starts right from the lodge. This is probably why the trail is so popular.

The Hike:

Moderate Difficulty 2.8 miles one way The trail starts off with a pretty extreme descent into the canyon. All is going well until you realize you have to come back up this later. After the first mile you descend quite a bit and now start to see a change in the vegetation. What was cactus and yellow things turns green during the hike. This can be quite refreshing



View from the window.

Oak Creek, as it trickles over a polished rock cliff face. Photo: Ollie Olsen

Below Trail Stairs.

on a hot day, although this doesn’t guarantee you will find running water. Be sure to carry plenty with you, on the day these photos were taken the temperature was in the 90’s. When you get deep into the canyon, you are almost there. You start to notice some serious trail improvements like the stairs. (Bottom right of the next page) The hike down is a quick one, and can be done in about an hour, this is best done in the morning so you don’t have to hike back out during mid day. The steep elevation and the heat can be a bad combination. Explore, Spring 2013


Big Bend Tips: The desert can be a very dangerous place despite its beauty. One who finds themselves adventuring through the big bend would do well with a few preliminary precautions. Water Water WaterThere isn’t any of it anywhere and you need to make sure you have plenty of it on hand. There are springs and tinajas, but you can’t always count on them to be healthy or running. It can be a long, hot and dusty trail in between decent drinkable water sources.

Average Temperature and Precipitation: Month

Average Average Monthly Max. Temp Min. Temp Precip. Av(°F) (°F) erage (inches)

Cumulative Precip. Average (inches)

January February March April May June July August September October November December

60.9 66.2 77.4 80.7 88.0 94.2 92.9 91.1 86.4 78.8 68.5 62.2

.46 .80 1.11 1.81 3.31 5.24 7.33 9.68 11.80 14.07 14.77 15.34


35.0 37.8 45.3 52.3 59.3 65.5 68.3 66.4 61.9 52.7 42.3 36.4

.46 .34 .31 .70 1.50 1.93 2.09 2.35 2.12 2.27 .70 .57

Proper clothesMost people go to the desert thinking since it’s hot, we should wear shorts. This is normally a mistake. Most things in the desert have evolved to protect themselves, and usually that means bad news for us. All the plants have thorns and all the animals bite, most are even poisonous. Basically, when packing clothes, think “cactus and snakes�. The sun can be intense as well, it is a good idea to wear a good hat, carry sunglasses and sunscreen. First AidBecause everything in the desert is looking out for itself, it can be quite dangerous, be sure and carry a first aid kit.

Explore, Spring 2013


Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena can be a real sight to see, on right side of the canyon is Texas, the left side is in Mexico. This is where the Rio Grande river separates our two countries. This is a breath taking canyon that you can actually drive right up to. As you enter the park from the west, take Old Maverick road south for about 8 miles, the canyon will be in view the entire time. This spot is very popular for river sports like kayaking and tubing‌ Great place to catch some monster catfish as well. Be sure to check with the park entrance for permits for these activities. A little south of the canyon is the ranger station at Castalon. Great place to pick up information and some snacks at the store. If you wanted to, you can actually follow the river on a moderate 4×4 trail the whole length of the park. At least a full days journey and a full tank of gas. There are many camp spots along the river to enjoy as well.


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Explore, Spring 2013


Closed Canyon


What is it? Closed canyon is a narrow slot canyon about ten minutes hike off the highway, one of the best slot canyons in Texas and for good reason.

Where is it? Be sure to check in with Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center in Lajitas for the applicable permit. The canyon is located on the south side of Big Bend Ranch State Park; along FM-170.

The hike: Distance: the trail is about 1’5 miles round trip, an easy day hike. Contrary to it’s name, Closed Canyon is not closed, but rather a 1.4 mile slot canyon lined with 150 ft walls. Depending on the time if year or weather the trail can be real easy, mostly walking on a dirt path. If there has been heavy rainfall in the last few days it could be more challenging, be it small pools to wade through, or debris that has washed up from flash floods. The canyon features several small tinajas, and a few cool spots where we were challenged to not fall into the water. The farther you go in, narrow walls and deeper tinajas are what you have to look forward to.

Explore, Spring 2013


Ice Fishing in Spring Valley Reservoir, Idaho By Dave Smith


live in Pullman WA now and was looking for a place to go ice fishing. This is supposed to be the northwest right? And its supposed to be cold here, so I thought Id look into it. I’m in eastern Washington and the elevation here is only about 2500 ft, so its still cold, but maybe not cold enough for ice fishing. The lakes on my side of the state, for example Lower Granite Lake and the Coeur d’Alene lakes, are large dammed rivers so they don’t freeze over very easily. With that in mind I went looking for the closest place to fish. I ended up just north of the town of Troy at the Spring Valley Reservoir, in Idaho. Spring valley is a fairly small reservoir that is nestled between a bunch of trees. It is close to some of the only BLM land in the area, so lots of people go shooting out there. I kind of laughed to myself because I was what seemed like so far away from


civilization when half way through the day I started hearing a hunting rifle crack through the air. Someone was having fun target practicing, and this continued the for the rest of the time I was there. It’s all good, I’ll probably go shooting out there pretty soon also.

Explore, Spring 2013



Its a really nice little lake in the middle of the forest. It was covered in about 5 inches of snow so it didn’t really seem like I was on a lake. Also I had brought an axe not an auger so I had to look for previously drilled auger holes in the snow, which was a little challenging. My dog Sunny helped out a bit though by tracking down a few of the holes and proceeding to dig down to them for me. So I cracked open some holes and started to fish. I found about five that were about 20 feet off shore. They were fairly spread out which was nice so I could move from hole to hole if the fish weren’t biting. At the end of the day I had caught 5 trout that were all around 10 inches long. I released them all except for one which had a tag on it. I wanted to see if I had won something from the Idaho Game and Fish Department. I was happy to register it also in order to help them with their research and what not. Next I plan on going to Rock Lake just south of Spokane. The trout fishing should be pretty awesome this time of year. I hope to catch some browns as I hear they’ve been biting quite a bit lately.

This fish was caught with a perch colored Lindy Rattl’n Flyer Spoon they work great.

Explore, Spring 2013


4x4 Tech: 66

TRAIL GEAR DIRTY 30's CHROMOLY BIRFIELDS: The Ultimate Toyota Axles The engineering behind the product: Stock vs. TG Installation Summary Written, Performed and Photographed By Daniel Chavez Explore, Spring 2013



Ask anyone what the weak link of a solid axle Toyota is, and the first response is always the stock 27 spline birfields. Lucky for us diehard Toyota freaks, Trail-Gear has a bulletproof solution. Trail Gear’s Dirty 30 chromoly axles are put through some of the harshest terrain possible.. Most notably on their buggy which competes in the King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley CA. So what makes these the last birfields you will need for your rig? Well, the proof is in the numbers. These axles are %100 chromoly, with an average failure point of 8500 ft lbs of torque @ 30 degrees; that is double the stock strength! So if you’re not into grasping numbers, lets put that into perspective. The stock Toyota 27 spline shafts (most of which have been abused for 28+ years) were rated for no larger than 31” tires, and mild terrain. There are lots of rigs running 40” or larger tires on these 30 spline chromoly axles.. With great results! Those are some exciting statistics, and furthermore they are backed by a no questions asked lifetime warranty. I enjoy knowing what power/research is behind the products I throw at my rig, and I can assure you this is the strongest part of my rig at the moment. Aside from the numbers, this was also about fighting the battle we all eventually face with our rigs; moving the “fuse” to something cheaper and easier to deal with. This investment of upgraded axles meant that I no longer have to worry about changing an axle in an awkward climb, or even in the desolate desert. Sure the downside may be that the next weak link on my rig may be my ring and pinion or (preferably) my ASIN lockouts.. Those are both easier to fix/find than a busted birfield in my opinion. Alright, you’re probably saying enough yapping and more pictures right?? Here we go!


Explore, Spring 2013


What tools you will need to install these: - Hammer - Brass Punch - Snap Ring Pliers - 10, 13, 14, 17 and 19mm sockets - ½� Torque Wrench - A container of your favorite grease - Toyota Hub Socket - Reliable Jack-Stands

Step 1. First things first. Stay organized, stay safe. If you are having difficulty with any of these steps, be patient and do not force anything. Your body will be under the rig at some point during this install.. The last thing you want is a few thousand lbs of Toyota coming down on you. Use your jack stands, put your parking brake on, engage your transmission to 1st gear, and chuck your rear wheels. Step 2. Once your rig is safely suspended on jack stands, go ahead and remove the front tires and set them aside. At this point I like to get all of the tools in order, and have 1 or 2 paper towel on the ground next to me to keep track of all of the parts you take out. Pick one side to disassemble, and once completed you can move to the other side.


Step 3. Remove the 6 10mm Hub dial bolts, and set the dial/clutch/spring unit aside. Using your C-clip pliers, now remove the outer birfield C-clip. Step 4. Loosen the 6 bolts/washers holding the manual hub to the hub body; leave the bolts threaded onto the tips of each stud. Taking your brass punch, and lightly tap each stud until you see the cone washers loosen. Sometimes these are stubborn, and require some ingenuity to get off.. This method has yet to fail me. Once all are lose, you may remove the nut/flat-washer/cone-washer, followed by the manual hub itself. Next, remove the caliper, and tie it out of the way in such a way that it is not stressing the brake line. Step 5. Using a flat-head screw driver (or alike object) straighten out the large washer tabs securing the inner/outer nuts to the spindle. Using the large hub socket, remove the outer nut, washer, inner nut, and washer with the tab and set aside. Lightly slide the hub body (rotor attached) off the spindle; be careful as the outer bearing may slide out and fall. If you suspect these bearing need replacement, you could remove the inner seal and inspect both bearings/races, and Explore, Spring 2013


repack with new grease. Set the hub body aside. Step 6. Remove the 6 14mm bolts holding the spindle to the knuckle. The spindle may not come loose from the knuckle, so use a few light blows from a mallet to break it loose. Inspect the spindle for damage, and set aside. Step 7. Remove the 8 10mm bolts from the back of the knuckle. These hold on the felt/rubber seals, and the cover holding them onto the knuckle ball. Allow for these seals to just sit on the housing, no need to remove them unless you plan to replace them. Step 8. Loosen the 4 17mm nuts holding the upper arm to the knuckle (in my case, this was a TG high-steer arm) until they are flush with the head of the studs. Using the same methodology for removing the hub cone washer, lightly tap these studs until you visually see all 4 cone washers loosen up. Remove the nuts/flatwashers/cone-washers, and set them aside. Lightly tap the upper arm until it pops off the knuckle. Assuming your knuckle is centered


properly on your housing, keep the shims attached to the upper arm. Also assuming you have no need to inspect/replace the trunion

bearings, there is also no need to remove the lower knuckle cap. Tilt the knuckle gently and it should slide right off the housing, exposing the birfield in the housing. Pull the axle out completely, you should have no resistance. Step 9. At this point you should be looking at (hopefully) a bunch of grease inside the knuckle Explore, Spring 2013


ball. If your knuckle is filled with what we like to call “birfield soup” (a mixture of gear oil and grease), either your knuckle isn’t properly centered or your inner seal is wasted (or both). NOTE: My inner axle is still shown because I had previously mar-tac’d them, thus no need for the inner birfield clip that normally holds them together.

Step 10. Repeat steps 3 - 8 for the other side of the axle. Step 11. Clean out all of the grease (using clean paper towels/rags) from the knuckle balls. Remove the new inner birfield clip (one on each axle), located on the straight shafts. These are used to lock the birfield cage onto the shaft, and will not be needed until final assembly. Align the axle shaft splines into the birfield star, and push together. This is only temporary, and will be assembled properly later on. Step 12. Attempt to insert the axles into the housing. You should not have difficulty sliding the straight shaft portion in (if you do, get


ready to open up your wallet and buy a new housing since yours is bent).. You may however have difficulty getting the birfield section into the knuckle ball (as I did); remember to put a paper towel in the inner axle seal area while grinding (see below).. A little bit of grinding on the inner bottom side of the balls, and they both slid right in. When you are satisfied that the axles slid all the way into position, remove them and separate the birfield from the straight shafts.

Step 13. Attach the knuckle back onto the housing (making sure your trunion bearings are in place), and attach the upper steering arm. Do not use force, as everything should come together fairly easily. Install the knuckle cone-washers/flat-washers/nuts, and torque to 71ft.lbs. Slide only the outer birfield onto the spindle, and temporarily install the spindle to the knuckle with 2 adjacent bolts.

Explore, Spring 2013


Turn the steering wheel from lock to lock, while gently spinning the berfield by hand at several points in the steering cycle. If you hear any sort of metallic grinding sounds at any point during the cycle, clearance on the inside of the knuckle ball is required. To do this, you would need to rattle-can the inside of the ball, and reperform step 13 to see where contact is being made. Eliminate contact points by using a dremel/grinder (remember to stuff a rag into the housing Note the grinding marks on the inner so metal dust does bottom of the ball. not get past the inner seal), until you are able to rotate the birfield without smoothly at any angle. Lucky for me, I didn’t have any contact, so the clearance was ok. Step 14. Remove the spindle/birfield from each side, and prepare for final installation. Attach the inner birfield clip back onto the straight shafts, and assuming yours were greased by Trail-Gear,


go ahead and finally connect the inner shafts to the birfields. Pack the knuckle ball with a generous amount of grease, and install the complete axles into the housing, making sure they are fully inserted into the carrier. Step 15. Install the spindle backing plate and seal, and torque the spindle bolts to ft.lbs. Install the assembled hub body (bearings/ races ready for action, and seal installed) onto the spindle, and install the washer with the tab, and the inner spindle nut on. I’ve had great results with the 4crawler method of setting preload for the wheel bearings, so it is what I suggest. Step 16. Torque the spindle nut to 43ft.lbs; spin the hub left 5x and right 5x, then loosen the spindle nut. Repeat this exact same

Explore, Spring 2013


sequence one more time, and then final torque the spindle nut to 21ft.

lbs. Install the locking tab washer, and the outer spindle nut. Tighten the outer nut snug, and bend one tab of the washer towards the inner and outer nuts respectively. Step 17. Install the hub onto the hub body studs, and secure in place with the cone-washers, washers and nuts (hand tight at first).


Torque the 6 12mm nuts in a star pattern to 23ft.lbs. Install the C-clip onto the birfield. Install the hub dial and torque the 6 10mm bolts to 10ft.lbs. Install the inner knuckle felts/rubber seals, and tighten the 8 bolts snug. Step 18. [Finally] Install your wheels/tires, and torque your lug nuts in a star pattern to 90ft. lbs. Lower the vehicle off the jack stands, and grab a beer and congratulate yourself for installing some of the strongest Toyota axles in existence. Hopefully you won’t have to dig into the axles to replace a birfield again.. But if you do, now you have the knowledge of doing so.. just incase! Questions/ Comments, visit www. forum and ask away! Explore, Spring 2013


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