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Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Newbie to the Board and Newbie to Big Bend

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Offline rharmer

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Newbie to the Board and Newbie to Big Bend
« on: March 14, 2007, 09:27:07 AM »
Good Morning,

First off, let me introduce myself, the name is Rowan - from the DFW area. I'm so glad I found this board, it's a great source for excellent info. I've been reading through all of the posts trying to suck as much info as possible.

My girlfriend and I are heading to Big Bend in a couple of weeks for my birthday weekend (she asked if I wanted a big party, I said no want to get as far away from civilization and people as possible). I am so excited, so I find myself here several times a day.

We're planning on back country camping. I'll be driving a 4x4 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and would like to explore most of the back country roads (with the exception of Black Gap - I think I may be a little scared of that one)

My newbie questions:

We're leaving Dallas early in the morning, about 4am, on Thursday and expect to be at Big Bend at about 2-3pm, we'll head straight for Panther Junction to get permits etc and then head to our site. Can y'll recommend a good central, off the main roads back country campsite? I'm thinking of the primitive sites on Grapevine Hills road...but am definitely open to suggestions.

Is it safe to leave the tent up during the day while we explore the park? All we'll leave in there is the sleeping bags, and clothes....NO food items whatsoever or anything of too much value. I'm sure therer aren't vagrants just wondering about, but worry that we get back from a day trip to find our temporary home gone!!!

I'm sure I'll have more questions as it gets closer. Thanks again for a great site.
Rowan

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Newbie to the Board and Newbie to Big Bend
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2007, 09:43:05 AM »
Welcome the board!  Be sure and take lots of pictures when you go.  We like pics. :)
Quote from: "rharmer"
Is it safe to leave the tent up during the day while we explore the park? All we'll leave in there is the sleeping bags, and clothes....NO food items whatsoever or anything of too much value. I'm sure therer aren't vagrants just wondering about, but worry that we get back from a day trip to find our temporary home gone!!!

I'll let someone else handle the backcountry site recommendations, but I've long heard that it's a good idea to flatten your tent when leaving to discourage the javelinas from entering it looking for food.  Not that you'd ever store food in your tent as you said, but the javelinas don't necessarily know that.

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Newbie to the Board and Newbie to Big Bend
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2007, 09:45:09 AM »
Quote from: "rharmer"
I'll be driving a 4x4 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and would like to explore most of the back country roads (with the exception of Black Gap - I think I may be a little scared of that one)


Don't be scared of Black Gap!  Just be cautious!  There is really only a small portion that'll make your butt cheeks pucker and that is from the Glenn Spring to the bottom of the switchback....and then there's what I like to call "pinch canyon."  You'll most likely make it down without a problem just take it slow and methodical.  But try it!

There are many many sites out in the backcountry that are great.  Grapevine sites are probably not my favorite, especially this time of year with the crowds.  The grapevine sites are sitting on top of each other.  Try these:

"Central" Location:
1. Glenn Springs 2 (not 1)
2. Elephant Tusk (on black gap)
3. Fresno (near Mariscal Mine)
4. Juniper Canyon 1
5. Pine Canyon 4

In the North:
1. Nine Point Draw

In the East:
1. Roy's Peak
2. Ernst Tinaja 1 (although it may be crowded there as the Tinaja is a popular destination during the day)
3. Willow Tank is interesting

In the West:
1. Chimney's (near Luna's Jacal on Old Maverick Rd.)

Your Jeep should make it just fine to any site you wish. Your problem is going to be the crowds in the park.  Finding a site this time of year is tough and you may have to settle with just about anything you are offered.  You're lucky to have a vehicle that will get you to most any place  depending on road conditions.  (check with the rangers)

You'll have fun for sure!

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Offline jeffblaylock

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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2007, 10:30:11 AM »
I would recommend taking your sleeping bags with you, just in case something happens to the Jeep while you're exploring. It only takes a second to move it from tent to vehicle. Although you won't need them, you will definitely want them if you need them.

One of the biggest advantages to backcountry camping is you get away from folks. And you can do some serious exploring of the surrounding area.

One of the biggest disadvantages is it's usually a long way to anywhere. If it's your first visit to the park, you will find yourself spending a lot of time in your Jeep just getting back and forth from your campsite to any destination you want to get to. As I read between the lines of a request for a "good central campsite," I intrepeted it to mean, a site where we can get away from everyone but still be able to do a lot of first-time sight-seeing.

Although all of David's recommendations are excellent, many are an hour or more from a paved road.

If you're looking for mobility but still backcountry, I'd think about places like Hannold Draw, Paint Gap 1, K-Bar, Robber's Roost, and Candelilla. These sites are all within a few miles of a paved road.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline rharmer

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Re: Newbie to the Board and Newbie to Big Bend
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2007, 10:35:23 AM »
Quote from: "RichardM"
I'll let someone else handle the backcountry site recommendations, but I've long heard that it's a good idea to flatten your tent when leaving to discourage the javelinas from entering it looking for food.  Not that you'd ever store food in your tent as you said, but the javelinas don't necessarily know that.


That is a great point. Wouldn't want to find a surpize guest sleeping on my bed when we get back from a day trip. Thanks
Rowan

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Offline rharmer

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Re: Newbie to the Board and Newbie to Big Bend
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2007, 10:40:09 AM »
Quote from: "Casa Grande"
Don't be scared of Black Gap!  Just be cautious!  There is really only a small portion that'll make your butt cheeks pucker and that is from the Glenn Spring to the bottom of the switchback....and then there's what I like to call "pinch canyon."  You'll most likely make it down without a problem just take it slow and methodical.  But try it!


Hahaha, I like the "pucker" comment. I've definitely had those feelings before while in my jeep.

Thanks so much for the great recommendations on campsites. I'm definitely going to take your advice. I'll check the maps and see which may be best for us.
Rowan

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Offline rharmer

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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2007, 10:46:47 AM »
Quote from: "jeffblaylock"
I would recommend taking your sleeping bags with you, just in case something happens to the Jeep while you're exploring. It only takes a second to move it from tent to vehicle. Although you won't need them, you will definitely want them if you need them.


Great Idea, didn't think of that.


Quote from: "jeffblaylock"
Although all of David's recommendations are excellent, many are an hour or more from a paved road.

If you're looking for mobility but still backcountry, I'd think about places like Hannold Draw, Paint Gap 1, K-Bar, Robber's Roost, and Candelilla. These sites are all within a few miles of a paved road.


Thanks again for the recommendations.

You guys have been very helpful, thanks so much.
Rowan

Newbie to the Board and Newbie to Big Bend
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2007, 01:18:36 PM »
Rowan, welcome aboard.

I think it is best to break camp and take it all with you, even if you plan to return at the end of the day (I suppose it can be a different story if you have a lot of stuff in camp.  If you're not traveling light, then it becomes more of a tradeoff).

This is certainly not a hard and fast rule, but Big Bend is so spread out, and circumstances can change during the day, and you may decide to do something different by the end of the day--either by choice, or necessity.

If you have a GPS with topo software, that can be helpful is figuring out where you are--both while driving, and when hiking.

Also, if you havenít already read this link, you may want to check it out:

http://www.bigbendchat.com/viewtopic.php?t=2996

Carry plenty of water, and have a great birthday.  I can think of no better way to spend your birthday.
"No, that did not happen to me.  You have me confused with someone else."

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Offline 01ACRViper

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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2007, 01:32:02 PM »
your GC will handle the whole black gap road without breaking a sweat, my old (95) GC did fine when it was the muddiest i have ever seen it. enjoy yourself, backcountry camping is the best way to enjoy the solitude of Big bend :cool:

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2007, 04:57:40 PM »
I think I would leave everything "set up" and just take your essentials like wallet, keys, phone, anything valuable etc..  Almost all thefts occur within a few miles of the River and your stuff is probably safer than it would be in your own backyard but there is no 100% answer.   I would not flatten the tent either but DO NOT leave any food in it.   This time of year if you take everything someone may move into your site while your gone (happens frequently this time of year).
I would also have a "Backup Plan" in case all sites are full or things don't work our like:
1- call ahead to Stillwell Store and RV Park and see what's available, you might also ask about Jeep Tours or whether for a Fee $$$ you could drive your jeep on their private property??
2- Study Butte and Terlingua also have a host of lodging options, your GF might appreciate a night or two in a bed with a flush toilet, electricity and showers.   No backcountry site has either one and most have nothing that would be considered "comfortable" by most GF's (and even fewer wife's).
3- Some other ideas might be Raft Trips (a great alternative to more hiking/driving), horseback riding, visiting the Warnock Environmental Center, Lajitas, renting Mtn Bikes, etc..  
Have fun and post a report when you get back... TWWG

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Offline rharmer

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« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2007, 07:46:29 AM »
Thanks so much guys, all great reponses and great info.

Reading all the responses has got me even more excited (if that's possible)

TheWildWestGuy, I considered spending a night or two in a lodge/motel and brought it up to the GF, and she seemed quite happy with the prospect of "roughing it" for the entire time we're there, so we'll see. I'm not sure she understands how rough it will be. You're right though, if she ever gets upgraded to a wife, she'll probably not accept these budget-type vacations anymore. We'll play it by ear and if things are too uncomfortbale we'll head out of the park in search of lodging.

Oh yeah, thanks for the votes of confidence on my jeep and my driving skills from y'all. Maybe I will try Black Gap road, and just turn around if I get to any section that scares the hell out of me.

Thanks again.
Rowan

 


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