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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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Safety question

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Offline kdhorn1

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Safety question
« on: September 15, 2017, 01:19:40 PM »
Hi folks - I am new to the big bend chat and have been attempting to go through the numerous outstanding information posts that have been provided by hiking and camping experts and adventureous folks.

I have been interested in getting to Big Bend for the past year.

However, several friends that I routinely hike with are very concerned about the recent border activity - (the cartel to be specific) and are very hesitant to go any where near Big Bend in general.

So guys, can you help me out by telling me where a good place to backpack in, hike around and experience at least a bit of Big Bend would be??

Any information, suggestions and advice is really appreciated.

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Offline badknees

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2017, 02:11:29 PM »
Hi folks - I am new to the big bend chat and have been attempting to go through the numerous outstanding information posts that have been provided by hiking and camping experts and adventureous folks.

I have been interested in getting to Big Bend for the past year.

However, several friends that I routinely hike with are very concerned about the recent border activity - (the cartel to be specific) and are very hesitant to go any where near Big Bend in general.

So guys, can you help me out by telling me where a good place to backpack in, hike around and experience at least a bit of Big Bend would be??

Any information, suggestions and advice is really appreciated.
Border activity concern is pretty low on  planning a Big Bend hike.

What time of year are you talking about? Heat dictates where one would pack in and that is dependent on season and elevation.

Are you interested in well maintained trails, less maintained trails or no trails? What length of duration are you talking about?

Give us a bit to work with and I'm sure we can help.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline Demon Deacon

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2017, 02:20:31 PM »
Welcome. The questions above are a good place to start.

While I have no doubt that your friends' advice is well-intentioned, I believe it's short-sighted and unnecessarily alarmist.  No doubt the 388,000+ people who safely visited Big Bend National Park last year will agree.  It's good that you are skeptical enough to seek other opinions, particularly from those of us who have actually been to or those that live in the area, because heeding your friends' advice would lead to you missing an awe-inspiring place.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2017, 03:15:03 PM »
The Bend is a fairly safe place as far as cross-border crime is considered. There is a robust Border Patrol presence, as well as regular patrols by NPS enforcement rangers. There are also frequent overflights by NPS, and by at least one former ranger as well.  If you're still worried, then avoid the areas adjacent to the river and you shouldn't have a thing to worry about. The central and northern areas, including the Chisos and Outer Mountain Loop are as close to 100% safe from cross-border crime as any place in the U.S. can be. I've been visiting the Big Bend backcountry for over 20 years and never had a single criminal encounter anywhere. That's a way better average than I've had in my hometown of Dallas. That said, I've had way more black bear and mountain lion encounters in Big Bend than I've had in Dallas.  ;)
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline presidio

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2017, 03:19:22 PM »
However, several friends that I routinely hike with are very concerned about the recent border activity - (the cartel to be specific) and are very hesitant to go any where near Big Bend in general.

Based on your query, your friends know nothing about the region. From afar, news hype may make it appear the border is a war zone. Far from it. Big Bend in particular is very far from it as there is nothing south of the park for a very long way. It's not an attractive region to do illegal things in because of distance and, with the light population, odd behavior (well, excluding that which is endemic in Terlingua) sticks out quite visibly and attracts attention.

It is most likely you never will see a thing related to border issues, beyond the Border Patrol checkpoints as you leave the area, unless you happen to witness a hapless illegal trying to cross the park on foot (I have, years ago south of the road to RGV). Other than that one instance, I have never encountered anything related to illegal border activity in 45 years of going to Big Bend at least once a year.

The people in funny hats are a greater danger to enjoying your time there.

Common sense is necessary, just like anywhere else. Don't leave things visible in your vehicle when you park in isolated area, and especially along the river. Break-ins and thefts do occur, but it's uncommon and low intensity.

One thing I do when leaving a vehicle for an extended period of time (anywhere, not just Big Bend), and definitely overnight, is to pull the fuel pump relay and/or injector relay. Can't easily steal a vehicle you can't start and nobody seeing a target of opportunity in Big Bend is going to have the parts needed to make it go even if they can figure out why it won't start. Just don't lose the relay(s).

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So guys, can you help me out by telling me where a good place to backpack in, hike around and experience at least a bit of Big Bend would be?

As a first time visitor you'll be excused if you do all the official touristy things. Undoubtedly, many will tell you to backpack the Chisos. It's as good a place as any for a first-timer. However, if your time is limited, I suggest doing a little hiking and a lot of driving to see the whole place. If you have enough time and a suitable vehicle, include the gravel roads. The Chisos may be the iconic draw but they are not representative of the entire park. If you add the Maverick road, the Old Ore road and the River road to the mix, you will get a complete sense of the vastness and variety. Prepare to be overwhelmed.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2017, 03:28:55 PM »

What time of year are you talking about? Heat dictates where one would pack in and that is dependent on season and elevation.

Are you interested in well maintained trails, less maintained trails or no trails? What length of duration are you talking about?

Give us a bit to work with and I'm sure we can help.

I agree with Badknees. Tell us what you're interested in, and I'm sure one (or twenty) of us can give you good advice.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline horns93

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2017, 04:00:44 PM »
As others have already stated, BiBe is probably one of the safest places along the border. The cartels prefer to conduct their business in other places away from the steady stream of park rangers, border patrol, and visitors.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2017, 04:06:23 PM »
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The people in funny hats are a greater danger to enjoying your time there.

The only time I have heard of problems is when the rangers round up the Mexican horses that have wandered over to the American side.  The Mexicans don't take kindly to this, and they take out their frustration by smashing windows and breaking into cars down by the river.  The rangers know this will happen as it was a ranger who told me about the connection.  Ask the rangers at Panther Junction if they have pissed them off lately for taking their horses recently before staying near the river.

The cartels are all over Ciudad Acuna (Del Rio), and the border patrol has been asking for more agents to help with Ojinaga (Presidio) patrols.  Just steer clear of those places and you should be fine. 
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 11:28:19 AM by RichardM »
For 2 years the Fake News Media, Obama's FBI, CIA & DOJ, and Swamp dwelling Politicians COLLUDED, Illegally Spied,and LIED to America about POTUS in order to overturn an election

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Offline Al

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2017, 04:13:24 PM »
When driving near the river or camping by the river I have seen a number of Mexicans who have crossed over into the park. They were in no way threatening.  A few years ago I saw a couple of guys with pack mules bring back forage to Mexico during the drought and when camped at a primitive site on the river I watched a Mexican cowboy and his dog cross the river several times in the course of several days to herd his cattle back into Mexico.  If a ranger catches a cow in the park they will take it off rather than return it to Mexico.  Again, in the over 40 years I have been hiking and camping there, I have never felt threatened by anyone from Mexico.  Having said that, if you camp by the river at certain locations I would be concerned about the potential for theft if you leave your stuff unattended.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2017, 04:32:42 PM »
When driving near the river or camping by the river I have seen a number of Mexicans who have crossed over into the park. They were in no way threatening.  A few years ago I saw a couple of guys with pack mules bring back forage to Mexico during the drought and when camped at a primitive site on the river I watched a Mexican cowboy and his dog cross the river several times in the course of several days to herd his cattle back into Mexico.  If a ranger catches a cow in the park they will take it off rather than return it to Mexico.  Again, in the over 40 years I have been hiking and camping there, I have never felt threatened by anyone from Mexico.  Having said that, if you camp by the river at certain locations I would be concerned about the potential for theft if you leave your stuff unattended.

Al has infinitely more experience in The Bend than me, but mine has been, in all respects, exactly as he describes.


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"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2017, 08:07:15 AM »
KD,
Get your friends up and away from the tv.  Sounds like they need a good hike. Big Bend is safe.  The Texas border is safe.  "Don't leave valuables in your car", "secure your belongings" is all good advice. It's good advice for people in my neighborhood too.  Common sense is the best thing.
Border violence is rare ( it does happen, yes, the jet skier shot on Falcon Lake). Being victimized by some petty crime ( your car broke into) is more likely at some border areas, but there's a good chance of that happening in an apartment complex in YOUR neighborhood if you leave your laptop in your car, again, common sense. 

Don't plan for a "similar to Bibe experience" when you can safely have the real thing.

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2017, 01:09:49 PM »
KD,
Get your friends up and away from the tv.  Sounds like they need a good hike. Big Bend is safe.  The Texas border is safe.  "Don't leave valuables in your car", "secure your belongings" is all good advice. It's good advice for people in my neighborhood too.  Common sense is the best thing.
Border violence is rare ( it does happen, yes, the jet skier shot on Falcon Lake). Being victimized by some petty crime ( your car broke into) is more likely at some border areas, but there's a good chance of that happening in an apartment complex in YOUR neighborhood if you leave your laptop in your car, again, common sense. 

Don't plan for a "similar to Bibe experience" when you can safely have the real thing.

+1

I've camped at some of the sites down close to the river.  Didn't have any problems.

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Offline dprather

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2017, 03:47:46 PM »
I'll respond to the OP in two ways.

(1) Yes, YES, YESSSSSSSSSSS!  The Bend is a terribly unsafe place for visitors, especially those who were in front of me in the long back country permit line a few spring breaks back.  Those unaccustomed to the terrors and risks should remain on Interstate 20 and should never venture south of US 90.  There are plenty of things to keep you safely busy and entertained at Five Flags over Texas.

(2) No, the  Bend and the circumstances bordering the Bend represent very little risk to visitors.  I'd be surprised if the Border incidents to sprained ankles ratio is higher than 1:100,000.

DISCLAIMER: sooner or later, there will be a significant incident.  I'm not a prophet, I just know that stuff happens and stuff will happen.     
« Last Edit: September 16, 2017, 10:41:59 PM by dprather »
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2017, 04:12:53 PM »
I'll respond to the OP in two ways.

(1) Yes, YES, YESSSSSSSSSSS!  The Bend is a terribly unsafe place for visitors, especially those who were in front of me in the long back country permit line a few spring breaks back.  Those unaccustomed to the terrors and risks should remain on Interstate 20 and should never venture south of US 90.  There are plenty of things to keep you safely busy and entertained at Five Flags over Texas.

(2) No, the  Bend and the circumstances bordering the Bend represent very little risk to visitors.  I'd be surprised of the Border incidents to sprained ankles ratio is higher than 1:100,000.

DISCLAIMER: sooner or later, there will be a significant incident.  I'm not a prophet, I just know that stuff happens and stuff will happen.   

 :icon_lol:  Which is to say, come on down, you'll be fine. And then, having enjoyed the amazing solitude and survived, you'll do your best to discourage anyone else from following in your footsteps to ruin it.  ;)
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: Safety question
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2017, 09:30:44 PM »
Been there 30 or 40 times (every chance I get). Going again in November. I bring my wife and grandchildren with me when I can. I've (obviously) never felt threatened. Take a half day in Boquillas (passport required) to get over any jitters you might have. There is no "near BB experience" I'm aware of. Have fun.

 


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