Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Outer Mountain Loop => Topic started by: mule ears on July 27, 2018, 03:02:09 PM

Title: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on July 27, 2018, 03:02:09 PM
The first time I have ever seen a report from a July trip (https://www.reddit.com/r/Ultralight/comments/90himc/big_bend_outer_mountain_loop_oml_summer_july_2018/).  He started with 14 liters of water.   :icon_redface:
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: badknees on July 27, 2018, 03:55:58 PM
The first time I have ever seen a report from a July trip (https://www.reddit.com/r/Ultralight/comments/90himc/big_bend_outer_mountain_loop_oml_summer_july_2018/).  He started with 14 liters of water.   :icon_redface:

30 lbs of water is more than this old man is carrying!

I guess I should say well done, but it's still hard for me to condone that plan. He was lucky it rained. That probably saved him a couple of liters of water. It easily could have turned out differently.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Jalco on July 27, 2018, 04:34:36 PM
That was pretty impressive.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: dprather on July 27, 2018, 07:04:28 PM
Tell people "don't" and some will "do" just to show you.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: presidio on July 27, 2018, 10:15:16 PM
Tell people "don't" and some will "do" just to show you.

And, some will say 'hold my beer and watch this.'
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Jalco on July 28, 2018, 08:53:55 AM
Tell people "don't" and some will "do" just to show you.

And, some will say 'hold my beer and watch this.'

And some will say "if you want to experience genuine desert conditions, you go to the desert in the summer."
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: presidio on July 28, 2018, 11:18:08 AM
Tell people "don't" and some will "do" just to show you.

And, some will say 'hold my beer and watch this.'

And some will say "if you want to experience genuine desert conditions, you go to the desert in the summer."

Hey, I said that!
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Jalco on July 28, 2018, 12:10:31 PM
Tell people "don't" and some will "do" just to show you.

And, some will say 'hold my beer and watch this.'

And some will say "if you want to experience genuine desert conditions, you go to the desert in the summer."

Hey, I said that!

 :icon_biggrin:
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Keepa on July 28, 2018, 01:09:36 PM
Nuts! The margin for error in these conditions is nearly zero. A sprained ankle could have led to his death.

He accomplished it, but it was unwise.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: dprather on July 28, 2018, 01:16:26 PM
Nuts! The margin for error in these conditions is nearly zero. A sprained ankle could have led to his death.

He accomplished it, but it was unwise.

and you have to tip your hat to him
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: presidio on July 28, 2018, 10:52:27 PM
Nuts! The margin for error in these conditions is nearly zero. A sprained ankle could have led to his death.

He accomplished it, but it was unwise.

A lot of folks have done unwise things, many of which could (and some did) lead to disaster. But, in many cases succeeded in their quests such as they were.

a) any of the 15th16th century mariners who explored any of the oceans
b) any of the explorers (or invaders/conquerors as seen through the lens of current perspectives) who explored the Americas
c) Lewis & Clark expedition
d) any of the pioneers and gold rush folks who undertook arduous journeys with scant knowledge, skills and provisions (and no one to tell them if Boot Spring had water, for example)
e) the pioneers of aviation
f) mountain men trekking alone across the American west
g) spaceflight (even today)

The point is the margin for error was not a factor in any of the above (save the space activities) when deciding to do something, even though today everyone believes it to be a critical factor.

Again, except for space, all of the above was undertaken with vastly imperfect knowledge, no support or rescue other than what they could provide for themselves, no phones, gps units and, in many of the above, without maps/navigation equipment of any kind (or only rudimentary navigation ability and seriously imperfect maps).

So again, through the lens of a technical/electronic/fully explored world, this guy did a risky thing. But did he really?

For those who want to be told and assured of everything ahead of time, and need trail guides, etc. for success, I guess he did.

But, I say no. After all, he was in the arms of the NPS, who knew who he was, what he was going to do and a permitted trip with known itinerary. Sure, he may have gotten hurt or worse and the NPS would eventually have jumped into action (whether in time or not), so he most certainly was not on his own (any more than HMoD on his recent epic river/land solo journey).

The danger in the desert (and especially in the summer) is real, but also real is the fact that the journey was a far cry from the dangers of the events listed above. In actuality, had he chosen to do this trip in a place not crushed with NPS overregulation, no one would even have known he was out there. THAT perhaps would have been a far more dangerous slog (certainly deemed so by many).

In order to grow in skills, knowledge or competence, you have to push boundaries. Those that cannot function without trail guides, facilities and (false) assurances of safety/success will never know their limits and never will discover anything on their own.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Jalco on July 28, 2018, 10:59:54 PM
In order to grow in skills, knowledge or competence, you have to push boundaries. Those that cannot function without trail guides, facilities and (false) assurances of safety/success will never know their limits and never will discover anything on their own.

 :great:

Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on July 29, 2018, 08:49:18 AM
The first time I have ever seen a report from a July trip (https://www.reddit.com/r/Ultralight/comments/90himc/big_bend_outer_mountain_loop_oml_summer_july_2018/).  He started with 14 liters of water.   :icon_redface:

30 lbs of water is more than this old man is carrying!

I guess I should say well done, but it's still hard for me to condone that plan. He was lucky it rained. That probably saved him a couple of liters of water. It easily could have turned out differently.

He definitely was lucky with the rain and despite his claiming he was well experienced with the conditions what I read says he was not but he was fortunate with the conditions that he did get.

Here in the deep, eastern South we say "Hold my Everclear and watch this"
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: NatureBoyFatAdam on July 29, 2018, 08:56:42 AM


Nuts! The margin for error in these conditions is nearly zero. A sprained ankle could have led to his death.

He accomplished it, but it was unwise.

A lot of folks have done unwise things, many of which could (and some did) lead to disaster. But, in many cases succeeded in their quests such as they were.

a) any of the 15th16th century mariners who explored any of the oceans
b) any of the explorers (or invaders/conquerors as seen through the lens of current perspectives) who explored the Americas
c) Lewis & Clark expedition
d) any of the pioneers and gold rush folks who undertook arduous journeys with scant knowledge, skills and provisions (and no one to tell them if Boot Spring had water, for example)
e) the pioneers of aviation
f) mountain men trekking alone across the American west
g) spaceflight (even today)

The point is the margin for error was not a factor in any of the above (save the space activities) when deciding to do something, even though today everyone believes it to be a critical factor.

Again, except for space, all of the above was undertaken with vastly imperfect knowledge, no support or rescue other than what they could provide for themselves, no phones, gps units and, in many of the above, without maps/navigation equipment of any kind (or only rudimentary navigation ability and seriously imperfect maps).

So again, through the lens of a technical/electronic/fully explored world, this guy did a risky thing. But did he really?

For those who want to be told and assured of everything ahead of time, and need trail guides, etc. for success, I guess he did.

But, I say no. After all, he was in the arms of the NPS, who knew who he was, what he was going to do and a permitted trip with known itinerary. Sure, he may have gotten hurt or worse and the NPS would eventually have jumped into action (whether in time or not), so he most certainly was not on his own (any more than HMoD on his recent epic river/land solo journey).

The danger in the desert (and especially in the summer) is real, but also real is the fact that the journey was a far cry from the dangers of the events listed above. In actuality, had he chosen to do this trip in a place not crushed with NPS overregulation, no one would even have known he was out there. THAT perhaps would have been a far more dangerous slog (certainly deemed so by many).

In order to grow in skills, knowledge or competence, you have to push boundaries. Those that cannot function without trail guides, facilities and (false) assurances of safety/success will never know their limits and never will discover anything on their own.

I see where he will rely on SAR if needed. Which means he's not real worried about putting anyone else in jeopardy when they come looking for his dumb ass. He's probably gonna reimburse the bill for everything related to SAR as well. Not! Maybe you will help pay the next time someone does something stupid like this and doesn't get so lucky. I doubt it.
He made it this time, but might not next time. I hope you're there to help this pompous jackass.

You're comparing explorers to some dummy hiking around BB in the middle of the summer.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: nuggetf5 on July 29, 2018, 09:30:57 AM
Just my opinion but he couldn't have posted a hike like that on a more appropriate site. Not a fan of what goes on there.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: presidio on July 29, 2018, 11:16:42 AM
You're comparing explorers to some dummy hiking around BB in the middle of the summer.

No, you are assuming he's a dummy, and there is no objective evidence that was the case.

If you read his report I'd say he acquits himself fairly well. While all self-reports tend to emphasize correct decisions and minimize bad ones, he seems to be reasonably objective in his comments about decisions made.

Assuming his recollections of interaction with the funny hatters is accurate, he got the expected routine response upon first contact (where the NPS makes outrageous statements ... 'SAR will not come'), and speaking with a perhaps more rational employee who suggests itinerary modifications, all parties seemed to end up informed. Again, anywhere but in the NPS, this kind of interaction would not occur; he'd just go do what he wanted without needing the type of concurrence the NPS thinks it needs.

While the NPS conceivably could (and sometimes probably unfairly does) deny backcountry permits, I doubt they would have had any authority or even reason to do so in this instance (whether they agreed with his plans or not) given that the regulatory reasons for permit denial (occupancy limits reached, wildlife closures, fire closures, etc.) all were inapplicable in this instance. Being the only person out there makes it easy to do what you want.

As I earlier said, he certainly is in the company of other explorers (but better informed and equipped). The NPS does court dummies; some of whom have expired while surrounded by support, due entirely to profound ignorance or stupidity (there is a difference).

Just because someone does something of which you apparently disapprove, it does not follow that the participant is either a dummy or cannot succeed.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Slimkitty on July 29, 2018, 12:38:42 PM
Wow.  This guy successfully completed the OML in extremely tough conditions.  Were he a member of this site, congratulations would be in store for his ďepicĒ accomplishment.  Instead Iím seeing a bunch of salty responses. This is a site where we celebrate our love for Big Bend and the adventures of those who choose to explore it.  I only wish this guy was a member of our group so we could pick his brain a little more.


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Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: wrangler88 on July 29, 2018, 01:13:48 PM
Wow.  This guy successfully completed the OML in extremely tough conditions.  Were he a member of this site, congratulations would be in store for his ďepicĒ accomplishment.  Instead Iím seeing a bunch of salty responses. This is a site where we celebrate our love for Big Bend and the adventures of those who choose to explore it.  I only wish this guy was a member of our group so we could pick his brain a little more.


Exactly.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Keepa on July 29, 2018, 03:28:14 PM
Quote
In order to grow in skills, knowledge or competence, you have to push boundaries. Those that cannot function without trail guides, facilities and (false) assurances of safety/success will never know their limits and never will discover anything on their own.

I agree. Clarke's second law says: "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."

But, there is a difference between going into the unknown (as in explorers) and knowingly taking risks.

I do not diminish his achievement. I just think it was dumb-luck. He says so himself, his training was not adequate for the terrain at Big Bend. Had he died, I am sure everyone here would have criticized him for putting himself in danger.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: presidio on July 29, 2018, 04:33:42 PM
But, there is a difference between going into the unknown (as in explorers) and knowingly taking risks.

Had he died, I am sure everyone here would have criticized him for putting himself in danger.

You're probably right,  though it would depend upon the accuracy of the reporting and the facts surrounding the demise.

Even with accomplished outdoors persons, sometimes the luck runs out and the odds get them. Many outdoor activities essentially are high risk. Look at the fatalities in mountaineering (the folks who are acknowledged experts, not the trendy day trippers in way over their heads due to action-adventure tours). There's always an element of unknown as conditions change on the rock, but the risks are well-known and accepted. And, all explorers (the real deal ones) are both in the unknown and they certainly are taking risks just by being in such conditions.

Bad judgment can crop up anywhere, not just in the desert in the summer. Going left instead of right on a climb and learning it was the wrong move. Activities relying heavily upon technical equipment can be deadly through no one's fault (rockfall severing a rope; lightning strike from unforecast weather; even catastrophic failure of equipment known to have a  more than adequate safety margin).

Admittedly, there always will be those who go off on adventures without a clue, or skills or equipment (tends to happen far more often in NPS areas than elsewhere due to the uniquely inept clientele they attract. Witness the dolts (and they ARE dolts) traipsing down into the Grand Canyon in shorts, tank tops, sandals, no hat, no pack, sometimes no water or clearly not enough). There are signs everywhere warning of the dangers and still they go unprepared; many/most are lucky (and may learn from it), some don't make it.

But, our correspondent very much did have a clue about what he was getting into. The fact that he deemed his training inadequate for the effort does not change that he clearly knew the conditions he would be operating in. Humping an enormous load of water says he well-understood the demands and the risk of not having enough.

Was he wise? Depends. Did he exceed his limits? Obviously not.

Elsewhere on this forum I have opined in the past that you really do not experience the desert unless you are in conditions such as he described. Everyone should get a taste. Not by undertaking a long waterless slog, but by doing at least several short hikes, on circular routes so you are never more than halfway from your vehicle (and an opportunity to be able, and know when it's time, to bail out).

I've hiked Big Bend in the summer. Yes, it's brutal. But it's also exhilarating. The wise hiker emulates the wildlife by not moving too much about in the middle of the day, and never wasting a piece of shade (tree, arroyo wall, etc.) to take a break and a drink. You cannot learn this if you don't try it.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: jeffblaylock on July 29, 2018, 05:19:29 PM
Quote from: presidio
Even with accomplished outdoors persons, sometimes the luck runs out and the odds get them. Many outdoor activities essentially are high risk.

As my wife and I remind each other, "It's not the first mistake that kills you. It's the third one, compounding the second one."

A lot of my hiking history, including off-trail hiking, has been solo, and some of those hikes have been the most beautiful, meaningful and emotional. Hiking solo is inherently more risky than hiking on well-developed, well-traveled trails with a group of people, at least one of whom is more experienced and better prepared.

Of course, driving in traffic every day is inherently riskier.

This guy seemed prepared and seemed to understand the risks and issues of hiking the OML in July. I wouldn't have done it then, and I wouldn't advise it, but that's my personal preference. I've hiked the South Rim in July a couple of times, and those were some great trips even though it was hot ... and dry ... and I had to carry a LOT of water. I've been in other hot places hiking in July (like Canyonlands).

If hiking solo in these places in July is a mistake, just don't make a second one. If you don't, then the third one can't kill you.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Hang10er on July 29, 2018, 06:13:50 PM
I gotta agree with Slimkitty and Presidio, I think the guy deserves some admiration. 

Reading his account he seemed like he knew what he was getting into, although he said something about not having been to BiBE in 20 years.  He said he had a plan B and C (although not sure what that was).  The people that lived in the area a hundred years ago, did they only go outside October through May?  I agree that it's too damn hot to be outside this time of year.  I wouldn't want to do what he did but he made it and it didn't seem like it was a near death ordeal to him.  I think the average person shouldn't.  I think it's dangerous.  I wouldn't. 

He wasn't the guy that comes on here and has to ask "how do you hike the OML?".  I'm more suspicious of those guys.  Remember a year or so ago the military guy who asked a bunch of questions and everyone warned him of how hard it was and he constantly countered with his number of combat tours and the excessive heat he was used to.  If I remember, he bailed a day into the OML.

Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: presidio on July 29, 2018, 08:42:34 PM
The people that lived in the area a hundred years ago, did they only go outside October through May?

Oh, man. You shouldn't ask tough questions like that.

Of course they didn't go outside back then. They hunkered down sipping their lattes and watched the world go by from the comfort of their climate-controlled hideaways.  :s_laugh:

Folks today mostly are wimps, and when courage and resourcefulness are needed they don't have any.

The great majority (at least in the US) survive today by dint of technology; they give little thought about disaster. Facebook not working or delayed flights are what constitute crisis. But just let a real disaster occur: earthquake, hurricane, wildfire, etc., and you see, on the nightly news, how coping mechanisms immediately fail and they wait for someone to come save them.


Quote
Remember a year or so ago the military guy who asked a bunch of questions and everyone warned him of how hard it was and he constantly countered with his number of combat tours and the excessive heat he was used to.  If I remember, he bailed a day into the OML.

Reality check.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on July 30, 2018, 08:30:18 AM
Wow.  This guy successfully completed the OML in extremely tough conditions.  Were he a member of this site, congratulations would be in store for his ďepicĒ accomplishment.  Instead Iím seeing a bunch of salty responses. This is a site where we celebrate our love for Big Bend and the adventures of those who choose to explore it.  I only wish this guy was a member of our group so we could pick his brain a little more.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=88143)

I'm not seeing "salty" responses.  Essentially everyone has said it was an amazing feat that he actually completed it but at the same time experienced heads shaking at what could have been.

He rightfully talked about the miscues he made and because he appears to be young and in good shape he was able to push through them, not necessarily because he really had the depth of experience to overcome them.  Walking with a day pack around the hills near San Antonio does not equate to the elevation and conditions on the OML.  I think if he was a member here we would have similar questions of him.  I counted at least a half a dozen things he said he did or didn't do that made me wonder about his level of experience. 

Like jeffblaylock said, congratulations on doing it, not what I would do or recommend but there it is.  The other obligation we have is to point out to others who may run across this July OML report, is that it is not always possible or a good idea.  The problem with the internet is people read things and say "hey I can do that" which the NPS rangers see all too often and have to deal with.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: badknees on July 30, 2018, 11:24:22 AM
Quote
Clarke's second law says: "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible

Badknees' Law.......keep repeating Clark's Second Law and an untimely end is a certainty. You may get away with it once, or twice, but the 3rd time might just get you.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: austin gorpchomper on July 30, 2018, 12:29:43 PM
Wow.  This guy successfully completed the OML in extremely tough conditions.  Were he a member of this site, congratulations would be in store for his ďepicĒ accomplishment.  Instead Iím seeing a bunch of salty responses. This is a site where we celebrate our love for Big Bend and the adventures of those who choose to explore it.  I only wish this guy was a member of our group so we could pick his brain a little more.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=88143)

I'm not seeing "salty" responses.  Essentially everyone has said it was an amazing feat that he actually completed it but at the same time experienced heads shaking at what could have been.

He rightfully talked about the miscues he made and because he appears to be young and in good shape he was able to push through them, not necessarily because he really had the depth of experience to overcome them.  Walking with a day pack around the hills near San Antonio does not equate to the elevation and conditions on the OML.  I think if he was a member here we would have similar questions of him.  I counted at least a half a dozen things he said he did or didn't do that made me wonder about his level of experience. 

Like jeffblaylock said, congratulations on doing it, not what I would do or recommend but there it is.  The other obligation we have is to point out to others who may run across this July OML report, is that it is not always possible or a good idea.  The problem with the internet is people read things and say "hey I can do that" which the NPS rangers see all too often and have to deal with.

How many times have I thought "Mule Ears said exactly what I was thinking?" (Emphasis mine.)

I respect the Reddit poster's accomplishment, but sort of in the same way I respect Keith Richards every time I see another interview with him. Amazing, but kids: don't do that!
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: get lost on July 30, 2018, 05:48:58 PM
Wow!!! First for surviving Texas extreme heat& a mountain lion. Jealous, been going for 20 plus years& only stories of seeing them. Kudos man


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Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: marufo on July 30, 2018, 08:44:07 PM
Quote
I respect the Reddit poster's accomplishment, but sort of in the same way I respect Keith Richards every time I see another interview with him. Amazing, but kids: don't do that!
:great:
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: dprather on July 30, 2018, 11:12:32 PM
Keith Richards, or Ann Richards?  Or are they actually the same - have you ever seen both of them in the same picture?
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Jonathan Sadow on July 31, 2018, 03:03:24 AM
While the NPS conceivably could (and sometimes probably unfairly does) deny backcountry permits, I doubt they would have had any authority or even reason to do so in this instance (whether they agreed with his plans or not) given that the regulatory reasons for permit denial (occupancy limits reached, wildlife closures, fire closures, etc.) all were inapplicable in this instance. Being the only person out there makes it easy to do what you want.

The NPS won't deny anyone a permit to go backcountry camping for something other than the regulatory reasons you mention.  The visitor may be advised that the proposed itinerary may be unwise and the permit notated as such, but you won't be denied a permit just because the ranger thinks you've got more guts than brains.

He rightfully talked about the miscues he made and because he appears to be young and in good shape he was able to push through them, not necessarily because he really had the depth of experience to overcome them.  Walking with a day pack around the hills near San Antonio does not equate to the elevation and conditions on the OML.  I think if he was a member here we would have similar questions of him.  I counted at least a half a dozen things he said he did or didn't do that made me wonder about his level of experience.

I did chuckle when the poster said hiking Hill Country State Natural Area prepared him for the OML.  I used to hike in HCSNA some, and while it's about as rugged as one can get around the San Antonio area, it's only a pale imitation of what one faces in BIBE.  I'm sure you'll agree that your training hikes in the Appalachian foothills are a meager substitute for the real thing.

Quote
Like jeffblaylock said, congratulations on doing it, not what I would do or recommend but there it is.  The other obligation we have is to point out to others who may run across this July OML report, is that it is not always possible or a good idea.  The problem with the internet is people read things and say "hey I can do that" which the NPS rangers see all too often and have to deal with.

The main job of the rangers in these cases is to inform the visitor so as to cut down on the number of potential SARs.  In the specific case of the Reddit poster, the rangers did just what they were supposed to do, although it probably could've been done in 15 minutes rather than two hours(!)
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Buck on July 31, 2018, 08:25:18 AM
I used to do dumb $h!t like this.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Talusman on July 31, 2018, 09:39:13 AM
Nuts! The margin for error in these conditions is nearly zero. A sprained ankle could have led to his death.

He accomplished it, but it was unwise.

A lot of folks have done unwise things, many of which could (and some did) lead to disaster. But, in many cases succeeded in their quests such as they were.

a) any of the 15th16th century mariners who explored any of the oceans
b) any of the explorers (or invaders/conquerors as seen through the lens of current perspectives) who explored the Americas
c) Lewis & Clark expedition
d) any of the pioneers and gold rush folks who undertook arduous journeys with scant knowledge, skills and provisions (and no one to tell them if Boot Spring had water, for example)
e) the pioneers of aviation
f) mountain men trekking alone across the American west
g) spaceflight (even today)

The point is the margin for error was not a factor in any of the above (save the space activities) when deciding to do something, even though today everyone believes it to be a critical factor.

Again, except for space, all of the above was undertaken with vastly imperfect knowledge, no support or rescue other than what they could provide for themselves, no phones, gps units and, in many of the above, without maps/navigation equipment of any kind (or only rudimentary navigation ability and seriously imperfect maps).

So again, through the lens of a technical/electronic/fully explored world, this guy did a risky thing. But did he really?

For those who want to be told and assured of everything ahead of time, and need trail guides, etc. for success, I guess he did.

But, I say no. After all, he was in the arms of the NPS, who knew who he was, what he was going to do and a permitted trip with known itinerary. Sure, he may have gotten hurt or worse and the NPS would eventually have jumped into action (whether in time or not), so he most certainly was not on his own (any more than HMoD on his recent epic river/land solo journey).

The danger in the desert (and especially in the summer) is real, but also real is the fact that the journey was a far cry from the dangers of the events listed above. In actuality, had he chosen to do this trip in a place not crushed with NPS overregulation, no one would even have known he was out there. THAT perhaps would have been a far more dangerous slog (certainly deemed so by many).

In order to grow in skills, knowledge or competence, you have to push boundaries. Those that cannot function without trail guides, facilities and (false) assurances of safety/success will never know their limits and never will discover anything on their own.

Well said
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: RedditLowlife on January 07, 2019, 09:31:39 AM
Hi all,

I’m the OP who did the July OML trip.  Just stumbled across this thread as I prepare for another trip to BiBe.  Interesting to see how many people who don't know me quickly call me foolish for doing a hike I knew from experience to be within my abilities.

“Thank you” to those who didn’t automatically assume I was an unprepared dolt who got lucky by not dying.  I’m a “traditional” backpacker from way-back-when, and have recently drank the Ultralight koolaid (and I like it). 
You’ll note in my post the many things that I said didn’t work well during this hike; that’s because I’m still (always) trying new things to perfect my kit and technique - not because I’m clueless.

Here is my response to some of the questions, criticisms, misunderstandings, or inaccuracies I saw in this thread.

My favorite:

Quote
Just my opinion but he couldn't have posted a hike like that on a more appropriate site. Not a fan of what goes on there.

REALLY curious what this means, lol.  Are you not a fan of people lightening their pack?  Supporting each other to achieve bigger and better things?  Maybe you are not a fan of HYOH?
I’m also a paid member at BPL, am I good enough for you now - or do you not like “them” for some reason either?

Quote
He was lucky it rained. That probably saved him a couple of liters of water.

I disagree. The hail on Friday cost me almost an hour moving time, and the threat of rain on the Dodson saw me choose to walk through the heat of the day instead of taking a siesta. Overall I feel the rain was a net negative.

Quote
A sprained ankle could have led to his death

While technically true, that’s pretty dramatic.  Walking down the sidewalk could lead to your death this afternoon.  You talk like if I sprained my ankle I would just say oh-woe-is-me and lay down and die.  How many options do I have before death?  I started typing out a list, but it was getting really long so I just gave up and laid down to die instead.

Quote
He says so himself, his training was not adequate for the terrain at Big Bend.
Quote
Walking with a day pack around the hills near San Antonio does not equate to the elevation and conditions on the OML. 
Quote
I did chuckle when the poster said hiking Hill Country State Natural Area prepared him for the OML.

That’s just plain not true.  I said I realized that I was tiring myself out trying to keep up the paced I use on 400-ft climbs at other parks, so I dialed it back a notch.  (edit: I did mention being tired in my decision to pitch camp early, I was tired but not exhausted and that was only a small factor - the increasing intensity of the rain was the primary factor).

Regarding my regular hiking / training:  Those assumed “day hikes” are actually 3 full days spent in the backcountry, covering as many miles as possible (generally 15-20 miles/day), and dialing in my kit and technique for hot/desert hiking.  Do you have any better suggestions?

Wow, I didn’t know OML was the most strenuous hike that ever existed, when did that happen?  What if I said the OML hike wasn’t the most strenuous hike I’ve done in the last 6 months?  The OML trip wasn't "THE" hike, it was actually training/preparation for a bigger hike.

Quote
He said he had a plan B and C (although not sure what that was)

Plan A: 3 day/2nights
Plan B: 4 day/3nights
Plan C: Hitch a ride from HWR

Quote
I respect the Reddit poster's accomplishment, but sort of in the same way I respect Keith Richards every time I see another interview with him. Amazing, but kids: don't do that!

That made me laugh

Quote
I counted at least a half a dozen things he said he did or didn't do that made me wonder about his level of experience.

I’m open to feedback and constructive criticism, but not insults (not saying ME’s comment above was insulting, but plenty others were).

Feel free to ask me anything.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: jim2 on January 07, 2019, 10:24:55 AM
Welcome to BBC!
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on January 07, 2019, 10:44:31 AM
RedditLowLife another welcome to BBC! 

As with all of the internet, folks can get carried away especially when the subject not actually being part of the discussion.  I am also member of reddit, you have to admit, it can get snarky over there too.  I think most of us were well impressed with the feat.  Your preparation was as good as you could have done and the fact that you got by the rangers was equally impressive.

I can't remember all of my questions and did not put together that you were doing your training hikes back to back but they were day hikes correct?  The big thing that I would have tried to do was to get there early enough the day before to get my permit in the afternoon so I could hit the trail at first light.  I always appreciate trip reports that include what went well and what didn't.

I am not sure anyone said the OML is the most strenuous hike that ever existed but it is certainly more than most folks expect which is why more than half don't finish it even in cool weather.

What was the big trip you were getting ready for and what are you planning for your next Big Bend hike?
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: RedditLowlife on January 07, 2019, 11:25:05 AM
As with all of the internet, folks can get carried away especially when the subject not actually being part of the discussion.  I am also member of reddit, you have to admit, it can get snarky over there too.   
Totally agreed.

Your preparation was as good as you could have done and the fact that you got by the rangers was equally impressive.
  Lol, I was not prepared for that "challenge", for sure.

I can't remember all of my questions and did not put together that you were doing your training hikes back to back but they were day hikes correct?
I did not really specify, so I think many people assumed they were basic day hikes.  My normal itinerary for a local weekend looks something like: take a half day vacation Friday and try to get to the park in time to do 10+ miles Friday afternoon, then 20 miles Saturday, and 10-15 Sunday morning before lunch (and departure).  Unfortunately no parks around here are even a fraction the size of BiBe, so to get that kind of mileage I often have to hike circles around the park. In context of BiBe it kind of sucks, but it's better than sitting at home, right.

The big thing that I would have tried to do was to get there early enough the day before to get my permit in the afternoon so I could hit the trail at first light.
Indeed, I would say that is a significant key point.

What was the big trip you were getting ready for and what are you planning for your next Big Bend hike?
The big trip wasn't THAT big (PCT thru-hike or anything).  It was 6 days in the San Juan mountains with some old friends, all at high elevation, although poor weather kept us off any peaks.  Next for Big Bend I'm planning to do OML again with 2 friends in Feb, and I might have some time off this month (January) so I was here researching other areas.  Right now I'm looking maybe at something in Mesa de Anquila because I want to practice some off-trail skills.


Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Hang10er on January 07, 2019, 12:05:33 PM
Welcome to BBC.  You survived a summer OML and a BBC grilling,  Not sure which was hotter. 

I think it's only fair to introduce yourself.


Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: House Made of Dawn on January 07, 2019, 12:12:10 PM
Hey, there, Lowlife!  (nice handle  :icon_wink:)

I didn't participate in this thread when it was first posted, even though I'm a regular here, but I did pop over to Reddit right after ME posted this, and congratulated you, saying your hike was the latest summer OML I knew of, exceeding my (very painful) June OML in 2017 with temps in the One-teens. What you did is amazing. If you look around here, you'll find another trip report by HomerWilson in which he and a couple of friends did it in August this year as an epic day-hike!!!!  You guys are all way beyond my 61-year-old draggy butt.

I'm curious about your water load and the thinking behind it.  The first time I did the OML (20+ years ago) I left the trailhead at Homer Wilson with 5 quarts, and my brother carried a quart. And that was for two people. I've done the OML many times since as a solo and never (even in June) started out with more than 2 quarts in my pack. Boot canyon has always had water, and if didn't I'd go over to Cattail Canyon near the Laguna Meadows campsites. Heading down to the Dodson....Upper Juniper Spring, Dodson Spring, Adler Spring and Fresno drainage always have water, too.  That said, I've never even THOUGHT about doing and OML in July, like you did, and am not sure what the water sources would be like during that time of year.  I can't remember the details of your trip: did you find water in any of those (or other additional) natural sources along the way?
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: RedditLowlife on January 07, 2019, 04:46:14 PM
I think it's only fair to introduce yourself.
I'm a Texas native, Husband, Father, Aggie, Engineer who enjoys cars, cycling, hiking, and all sorts of DIY.

... another trip report by HomerWilson in which he and a couple of friends did it in August this year as an epic day-hike!!!! 
Yeah, that's ultrarunner territory - not my thing...  All credit to the fitness that takes, I'm not at that level.

I'm curious about your water load and the thinking behind it.  ... Boot canyon has always had water, and if didn't I'd go over to Cattail Canyon near the Laguna Meadows campsites. ....Upper Juniper Spring, Dodson Spring, Adler Spring and Fresno drainage always have water, too.  ... am not sure what the water sources would be like during that time of year.  I can't remember the details of your trip: did you find water in any of those (or other additional) natural sources along the way?
Mainly my choice to carry so much water was based on uncertainty.  There weren't any water reports on BBC less than 4mo old, and I wasn't planning to get any info from the rangers.  I did read up on water sources here on BBC, but my takeaway from that research was that Fresno was "likely" to have water, and other sources "may" have water.  Since I departed on this trip at the last minute, I just just grabbed a buttload of water and headed out. I didn't look for water anywhere other than Fresno. When I go back in Feb (hopefully) I will definitely carry much less and plan to use sources that you and others have mentioned. 
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on January 07, 2019, 07:27:07 PM

... another trip report by HomerWilson in which he and a couple of friends did it in August this year as an epic day-hike!!!! 
Yeah, that's ultrarunner territory - not my thing...  All credit to the fitness that takes, I'm not at that level.


Not really ultrarunner, they really did hike at a regular 2 mph pace just did it in a day including walking through the heat of the night. (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/members-only-photos-and-reports/one-helluva-bender-82418-to-9818/)

  Next for Big Bend I'm planning to do OML again with 2 friends in Feb, and I might have some time off this month (January) so I was here researching other areas.  Right now I'm looking maybe at something in Mesa de Anquila because I want to practice some off-trail skills.

This is a good winter to do the MDA, should be plenty of water in the big tinajas.  Not a bad place to test off trail skills, it is rough terrain but you can see really well where you are going.

BTW, if you want you can change your BBC name to something more appropriate like July OML man, or Heat Walker, or Carries Big Water.  Just sayin'   :icon_biggrin:
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: House Made of Dawn on January 07, 2019, 08:39:50 PM
Walks In Furnace would be a good one.



I'm curious about your water load and the thinking behind it.  ... Boot canyon has always had water, and if didn't I'd go over to Cattail Canyon near the Laguna Meadows campsites. ....Upper Juniper Spring, Dodson Spring, Adler Spring and Fresno drainage always have water, too.  ... am not sure what the water sources would be like during that time of year.  I can't remember the details of your trip: did you find water in any of those (or other additional) natural sources along the way?

Mainly my choice to carry so much water was based on uncertainty.  There weren't any water reports on BBC less than 4mo old, and I wasn't planning to get any info from the rangers.  I did read up on water sources here on BBC, but my takeaway from that research was that Fresno was "likely" to have water, and other sources "may" have water.  Since I departed on this trip at the last minute, I just just grabbed a buttload of water and headed out. I didn't look for water anywhere other than Fresno. When I go back in Feb (hopefully) I will definitely carry much less and plan to use sources that you and others have mentioned.

That makes complete sense. Having never personally contemplated a July OML, it hadnít occurred to me that thereíd be zero recent water reports for it. Díoh!

Again well done, man!


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=88143)
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: RichardM on January 08, 2019, 02:24:18 PM
Quote
Just my opinion but he couldn't have posted a hike like that on a more appropriate site. Not a fan of what goes on there.

REALLY curious what this means, lol.  Are you not a fan of people lightening their pack?  Supporting each other to achieve bigger and better things?  Maybe you are not a fan of HYOH?
Iím also a paid member at BPL, am I good enough for you now - or do you not like ďthemĒ for some reason either?
I thought he meant Reddit. Hopefully he'll drop in and clarify. After all, we wouldn't want to jump to conclusions. ;)

Welcome to the board and thanks for having tough skin!
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: webnotions on July 17, 2019, 05:30:01 PM
This is great to hear. A friend and I are planning to hike the OML next week [that's the timeframe available to us]. We've done our research, are already hot-weather folks, already both been hiking at BB before, and feel reasonably confident we can complete it.  Not too many trip reports from the serious summer months, so it's nice to see that dying on the trail in the summer is not a certainty, lol.  Still interested in any advice from people who have hiked OML in severe heat tho, so if you can share anything, please do. Sprained ankles are definitely not fun, but not a death sentence.  We understand the risks, and are not embarking upon this in a naive manner or unprepared.

The first time I have ever seen a report from a July trip (https://www.reddit.com/r/Ultralight/comments/90himc/big_bend_outer_mountain_loop_oml_summer_july_2018/).  He started with 14 liters of water.   :icon_redface:
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: jim2 on July 17, 2019, 05:41:53 PM
Welcome to the board. Let us know how it goes and please post pictures!
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on July 17, 2019, 08:06:00 PM
So my first question is why the hell do you want to do it in July?  I know it's when you have time but it will be a horrible experience.  Every year we get folks who want to do such a thing and most of them give it up, never try it or bail early.  This guy (RedditLowLife) hit a lucky weather window and was moving fast.  The only other person I know who has tried it is one of the most experienced desert hikers and he said it was on the edge of a near death experience.  There is a reason that there are no trip reports for this time of year because it is basic insanity.

You do know that the moderator here just died on the Marufo Vega trail two weeks ago when it was 106 degrees and he was a very experienced Bender.

Okay, all that said, what is your plan?  Where are you going to start?  What is your water plan?  How many days?  Where do you plan to camp?  I assume you know you have to start before first light and try to find some shade mid day (essentially none on the Dodson).  You say that you have hiked in BB, what have you done?  What does being a hot weather folks mean?  We have had Afghanistan veterans bail on such an attempt.

We do have a general rule around here that if folks want to try such a thing we know we will not dissuade them so we might as well try and give the as much info as possible.

BTW welcome to BBC!.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: jeffblaylock on July 17, 2019, 08:49:08 PM
A friend and I are planning to hike the OML next week [that's the timeframe available to us]. We've done our research, are already hot-weather folks, already both been hiking at BB before, and feel reasonably confident we can complete it ....  We understand the risks, and are not embarking upon this in a naive manner or unprepared.

I've done all or parts of the OML several times, and I don't recommend it during summer to anyone. There is no escape from the heat. Much of the hike in the desert is in washes and the broad ridges between them. Almost no trees. Extremely little shade. Long stretches between them. And not a whole lot of options for abandoning it once you're down on the Dodson Trail. So, unless you get extremely lucky with the weather (A cold front with rain that holds temperatures in the 70s/low 80s), you're likely going to face desert surface temperatures (100ļ-120ļ F) similar to those of asphalt parking lots or astroturf football fields in Texas in summer. While wearing a heavy pack. And you'll be alone on the trail.

Desert hiking is doable in summer, but I only recommend it if you're already halfway to where you're going by sunrise and able to return to your vehicle no later than noon.

I would have given this same answer (and I have) prior to RichardM's death in the park earlier this month, on another desert trail. That loss reminds us all that "Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death." You say you're "reasonably confident" and I have no reason to doubt it. My question to you is, "Is that enough?"

I also want to echo mule ears: Welcome to BBC. We look forward to hearing all about your trip, which I sincerely hope is a wonderful two-night backpack in the high Chisos Mountains, where there's plenty of shade, some water and people around who can help if something goes wrong.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: trtlrock on July 17, 2019, 09:16:12 PM
So my first question is why the hell do you want to do it in July?  I know it's when you have time but it will be a horrible experience.  Every year we get folks who want to do such a thing and most of them give it up, never try it or bail early.  This guy (RedditLowLife) hit a lucky weather window and was moving fast.  The only other person I know who has tried it is one of the most experienced desert hikers and he said it was on the edge of a near death experience.  There is a reason that there are no trip reports for this time of year because it is basic insanity.

You do know that the moderator hear just died on the Marufo Vega trail two weeks ago when it was 106 degrees and he was a very experienced Bender.

Okay, all that said, what is your plan?  Where are you going to start?  What is your water plan?  How many days?  Where do you plan to camp?  I assume you know you have to start before first light and try to find some shade mid day (essentially none on the Dodson).  You say that you have hiked in BB, what have you done?  What does being a hot weather folks mean?  We have had Afghanistan veterans bail on such an attempt.


BTW welcome to BBC!.

All of this.

My sister & her husband once did the OML in May, and (frankly) are only alive because they got really lucky after some poor decisions in the planning & implementation stages resulted in them running out of water while heading up the Blue Creek trail, and getting 'lost' on the Dodson several times.

I have a feeling you're a better planner than that -- but the thing you need to realize is that you are literally flirting with death to do this trail at this time.

It doesn't even have to be 'your' mistake that causes the tragedy -- maybe something just happens that's out of your control, despite your skills and confidence and experience...

...but afterwards the consensus will be that it actually was your mistake, as you shouldn't have been out there in the first place at that time of year.

So -- Is it worth it? Why?

And yes -- a genuine welcome to BBC. Don't misinterpret our collective disapproval of your idea -- we're all hurting right now.

But what we say is the truth.

There are prominent large placards on the Boquillas Canyon trailhead, and the Marufa Vega too. They show a fatality being removed by a litter team. The top line says (iirc) EXTREME HIKER RISK! In red. The 1st bullet-point underneath says "BE BACK WELL BEFORE NOON". I don't know if these placards are also on the Dodson trailheads -- if they aren't, they should be.

Best of luck if you choose to press on with this...idea.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: House Made of Dawn on July 17, 2019, 10:24:19 PM
I've done it.  My advice is don't.  I'll PM you tonight.


This is the god's honest truth:


The thing you need to realize is that you are literally flirting with death to do this trail at this time.

It doesn't even have to be 'your' mistake that causes the tragedy -- maybe something just happens that's out of your control, despite your skills and confidence and experience...

Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: DesertRatShorty on July 18, 2019, 08:43:56 AM
I keep thinking back to this warning from the park's press release on Richard's death: "Under these conditions, a hiker will lose more moisture to sweat and evaporation than can be replenished by drinking". In other words you may have water constantly in your belly but the body simply can't absorb it fast enough. It's not just about your comfort level in extreme heat.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: nuggetf5 on July 18, 2019, 10:17:11 AM
Quote
Just my opinion but he couldn't have posted a hike like that on a more appropriate site. Not a fan of what goes on there.

REALLY curious what this means, lol.  Are you not a fan of people lightening their pack?  Supporting each other to achieve bigger and better things?  Maybe you are not a fan of HYOH?
Iím also a paid member at BPL, am I good enough for you now - or do you not like ďthemĒ for some reason either?
I thought he meant Reddit. Hopefully he'll drop in and clarify. After all, we wouldn't want to jump to conclusions. ;)

Welcome to the board and thanks for having tough skin!

That would be me.

Haven't posted or visited in awhile but I've done the OML a couple of times solo, documented here over the years, and a few other hikes in the park so a pretty good idea of the extreme heat and bitter cold that can occur--all within the same day. Just back from finishing up the last half of the Coast to Coast hike in England. Just not a fan of Reddit in the larger scheme of what they will allow--about anything--and nothing else.

People out here know what they're talking about. Some of them are a bunch of wily old cusses (even older than me, a feat in itself!) that don't mince words. I like that. If you're looking to hear what you'd like to hear, this isn't the place. The advice is always solid and if it isn't it gets called out.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: steelfrog on July 18, 2019, 11:15:03 AM
You've gotten enough of the warnings--yes it's dangerous but do-able if u r smart.

Did it last August as a dayhike; also, don't know what your forecast is but in July, Aug the forecast can still be quite favorable depending on the monsoons etc.  It was 21 degrees hotter in Dallas a couple days ago than Panther Junction.  Dayhiked it in 2018, 2x in March, once in April (solo), August and October.  Did it once earlier this year (March I think)

I will probbaly day hike it this August again, if reasonable temps are forecast.  Can't rule out July just schedule is hectic right now.

Biggest thing for me is not temps so much as dewpoint.

To me, you've got to get across the Dodson completely at night, which is pretty easy to do; it's only 11 miles or so.  And, moreover, the Dodson at night is a magical place.  The stars.  Night-blooming flowers, night birds, animals active, snakes and scorpions everywhere.  My guess is you see A LOT more wildlife at night on the Dodson than you ever would during the day.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: webnotions on July 18, 2019, 02:59:09 PM
These are all the exact kinds of questions that are most constructive, so thank you. :)

Y'all should know upfront that we just invested $4500 into a couple of portable air-conditioning units that attach to the top of the backpacks and dump cold air on us every 10 minutes.

Just kidding. :P

So my first question is why the hell do you want to do it in July?  I know it's when you have time but it will be a horrible experience.

Yes, this is the best window of time for us to try it, and we've been wanting to do the OML for a long time. My friend has already hiked it in August several years ago, and I've hiked several days w/ packs in summer in south texas over the last several years, some w/ elevation and some w/o. I grew up in South San Antonio and worked outside in the heat a lot. Yes, triple digit heat is not pleasant, but that doesn't necessarily make the experience too horrible to not even try. We like the challenge of not only the physical push but the planning and prep as well.

Every year we get folks who want to do such a thing and most of them give it up, never try it or bail early. 
Challenging situations tend to have that effect. That's what makes the attempt "worth it" as trtlrock asked.
I won't cry if we have to give up or bail early.

This guy (RedditLowLife) hit a lucky weather window and was moving fast.  The only other person I know who has tried it is one of the most experienced desert hikers and he said it was on the edge of a near death experience.  There is a reason that there are no trip reports for this time of year because it is basic insanity.

I've heard that before on other projects we've tackled. Psych report will accompany trip report. :)

You do know that the moderator here just died on the Marufo Vega trail two weeks ago when it was 106 degrees and he was a very experienced Bender.

That sucks. Glad people aren't dying on the trail more often.  I was looking through the DEATH ON THE TRAIL Big Bend book the other day reviewing those incidents and their circumstances.

Okay, all that said, what is your plan? 

Considering a counter-clockwise circuit.
Plan A is to cache water at HWR sunday and roadtrip out to hit the hot spring, then camp at Chisos Basin, heading out LM early Monday morning. Driving up from way south Texas so our start day is flexible too.
We don't really WANT to try to rush it, because REST is key to hydration being effective and letting your body recover helps a lot. DesertRatShorty nailed it -- your perceived comfort isn't enough to make it through. Resting when you don't think you need to is critical.
The NPS itinerary is a 3-day/2 night plan, and we will probably do a 4-day/ 3 night plan.
Will speak w/ the Rangers when we get there for any advice and suggestions on switching stuff up.

What is your water plan? 
caching at HWR will allow us to carry less water on our first day thru LM/ BC. We figure that will be a decent test run to decide at HWR whether to continue through Dodson or just head back.  If we are wiped and need to just stop and camp at midway then we'll have enough water for a 2-day hike to HWR, and plenty cached to rest then make it back to the car. We do have a dozen collapsible water pouches, other containers, life straw, and lightweight backpacking water filtration system. Lots of electrolyte powder packages too. It would be nice to cache at JC but we are not driving a suitable vehicle to try that (Dodge Caravan). We were actually thinking that some enterprising teen w/ a proper vehicle should offer to cache water there for visitors for a fee, lol.

Speaking w/ Rangers on site about what the NOAA weather reports are showing vs what they are actually seeing out there around the springs and assessing the water availability and our situation on the trail will determine how we proceed. Current reports show scattered showers out there this week and early next.  That's a plus for collecting water at the various springs. Fresno along the dodson seems to be a good bet, even in the summer, and will certainly help as a place to rest and cool off. Not counting on it tho.

How many days?  Where do you plan to camp? 
Packing enough shelf-stable food for 4 days. Don't like to cook on the trail. If we are handling the trek better than expected, will do it in 3. But I'd prefer not to rush.
We are carrying a tent [more for bugs and shade] and are still tweaking camping plan. Trying to remain very flexible tho.  We aren't too picky, so any advice there is great.

I assume you know you have to start before first light and try to find some shade mid day (essentially none on the Dodson). 
Yes. bringing our own shade and planning substantial siestas mid day. Will have restocked our water and dumped a day's worth of food by the time we hit Dodson. Reviewing other videos and pics of the trails to help w/ familiarization.

You say that you have hiked in BB, what have you done? 
*I* have only done Emory Peak twice in BB (the second time we hiked 5 kids ages 3-12 up), which was child's play in the grand scheme of things and not what I'd consider prep for the OML, just . My friend has done the OML in August w/ a small group a few years ago. Both of us have hiked a lot of west/ south texas, both on marked trails and just out n about.

What does being a hot weather folks mean?
Both of us grew up in hot weather [west texas/ south texas]-- doing physically demanding work in blistering outdoor sun and heat for days in a row is something we are used to. That's what I'm gauging the most in this scenario. Hiking is the easy part. The physically exhausting work in triple digit temps is a whole different thing that a lot of hikers don't seem to be able to handle. Again-- back to the concept of REST in heat like this. It's no coincidence that the siesta is a huge southern tradition. Neither of us are interested in dying from exhaustion -- heat or otherwise.

We have had Afghanistan veterans bail on such an attempt.
That's unfortunate. And duly noted.

We do have a general rule around here that if folks want to try such a thing we know we will not dissuade them so we might as well try and give the as much info as possible.
I understand wanting to dissuade people from doing something that people have literally died from doing. But there's a lot of information on this trail, plenty of preparedness tactics, strategies, and gear to mitigate the risks, and we are taking satellite comms in case one or both of us falls and breaks our dang neck, bleeds out on the rocks or has a compound leg fracture or whatnot. A bad fall is of more concern to me than the heat, and that is something that can happen year-round. I twisted my ankle stepping off a freakin CURB wearing hiking shoes last year. Nasty swelling and bruising. Just a weird freak accident that someone else mentioned as a happens-TO-you problem. Took a couple months to recover sufficiently. Risks abound. I'm not interested in insisting on dying yet. ;)

BTW welcome to BBC!.

Thank you :)
Will be happy to let y'all know if we bail and how far we made it.
Unless we die.
Have the Rangers get the pics off my phone if that happens. And delete my browser history, please.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: webnotions on July 18, 2019, 03:30:00 PM


To me, you've got to get across the Dodson completely at night, which is pretty easy to do; it's only 11 miles or so.  And, moreover, the Dodson at night is a magical place.  The stars.  Night-blooming flowers, night birds, animals active, snakes and scorpions everywhere.  My guess is you see A LOT more wildlife at night on the Dodson than you ever would during the day.

I'd be more worried about getting lost -- missing markers in the day seems difficult enough-- but I suspect that checking gps coordinates every 15-30 minutes or so might help.
If we make it through LM/BS to HWR at a decent pace, taking a late nap and heading out at midnight could be interesting.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: steelfrog on July 18, 2019, 10:51:37 PM
temps looking good this weekend 63/84. About 20 degrees hotter in Dallas
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: House Made of Dawn on July 19, 2019, 01:17:40 AM
temps looking good this weekend 63/84. About 20 degrees hotter in Dallas

Steelfrog, are you using a NOAA/NWS point forecast?  Mine shows the Dodson to be averaging about 5 degrees warmer for this Saturday and Sunday. Still, MUCH cooler than Dallas.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: VivaTerlingua on July 19, 2019, 07:13:35 AM

What is your water plan? 
caching at HWR will allow us to carry less water on our first day thru LM/ BC. We figure that will be a decent test run to decide at HWR whether to continue through Dodson or just head back.  If we are wiped and need to just stop and camp at midway then we'll have enough water for a 2-day hike to HWR, and plenty cached to rest then make it back to the car. We do have a dozen collapsible water pouches, other containers, life straw, and lightweight backpacking water filtration system. Lots of electrolyte powder packages too. It would be nice to cache at JC but we are not driving a suitable vehicle to try that (Dodge Caravan). We were actually thinking that some enterprising teen w/ a proper vehicle should offer to cache water there for visitors for a fee, lol.


I've driven to the JC trailhead a couple of times in a Dodge Caravan without any problems.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on July 19, 2019, 12:23:34 PM
temps looking good this weekend 63/84. About 20 degrees hotter in Dallas

Steelfrog, are you using a NOAA/NWS point forecast?  Mine shows the Dodson to be averaging about 5 degrees warmer for this Saturday and Sunday. Still, MUCH cooler than Dallas.

Steelfrog is trippin'.  Here is the NOAA forecast for PJ  (https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=29.32711476304926&lon=-103.20831298828125&site=maf&unit=0&lg=en#.XTH8H-hKiUk)and it is always hotter on the south side of the Chisos along the Dodson.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: trtlrock on July 19, 2019, 12:41:27 PM
temps looking good this weekend 63/84. About 20 degrees hotter in Dallas

Steelfrog, are you using a NOAA/NWS point forecast?  Mine shows the Dodson to be averaging about 5 degrees warmer for this Saturday and Sunday. Still, MUCH cooler than Dallas.

Steelfrog is trippin'.  Here is the NOAA forecast for PJ  (https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=29.32711476304926&lon=-103.20831298828125&site=maf&unit=0&lg=en#.XTH8H-hKiUk)and it is always hotter on the south side of the Chisos along the Dodson.

Advisability of the idea aside, I more or less dropped a pin on the Dodson, and was surprised to see NOAA's low-temps forecast. Their algorithms seems to be pretty darn accurate with lots of other pin-drops down there that I've been able to verify with feet on the ground.: 

https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-103.30530166625974&lat=29.20814496261083

Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Flash on July 19, 2019, 01:04:11 PM
temps looking good this weekend 63/84. About 20 degrees hotter in Dallas

Steelfrog, are you using a NOAA/NWS point forecast?  Mine shows the Dodson to be averaging about 5 degrees warmer for this Saturday and Sunday. Still, MUCH cooler than Dallas.

Steelfrog is trippin'.  Here is the NOAA forecast for PJ  (https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=29.32711476304926&lon=-103.20831298828125&site=maf&unit=0&lg=en#.XTH8H-hKiUk)and it is always hotter on the south side of the Chisos along the Dodson.

Advisability of the idea aside, I more or less dropped a pin on the Dodson, and was surprised to see NOAA's low-temps forecast. Their algorithms seems to be pretty darn accurate with lots of other pin-drops down there that I've been able to verify with feet on the ground.: 

https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-103.30530166625974&lat=29.20814496261083

In any case, with regard to forecasted high and low temps, the weather appears to moderate some Tuesday and following due to the arrival of a front.   :eusa_think:
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on July 19, 2019, 01:14:15 PM
These are all the exact kinds of questions that are most constructive, so thank you. :)

Y'all should know upfront that we just invested $4500 into a couple of portable air-conditioning units that attach to the top of the backpacks and dump cold air on us every 10 minutes.

Just kidding. :P

So my first question is why the hell do you want to do it in July?  I know it's when you have time but it will be a horrible experience.

Yes, this is the best window of time for us to try it, and we've been wanting to do the OML for a long time. My friend has already hiked it in August several years ago, and I've hiked several days w/ packs in summer in south texas over the last several years, some w/ elevation and some w/o. I grew up in South San Antonio and worked outside in the heat a lot. Yes, triple digit heat is not pleasant, but that doesn't necessarily make the experience too horrible to not even try. We like the challenge of not only the physical push but the planning and prep as well.

Every year we get folks who want to do such a thing and most of them give it up, never try it or bail early. 
Challenging situations tend to have that effect. That's what makes the attempt "worth it" as trtlrock asked.
I won't cry if we have to give up or bail early.

This guy (RedditLowLife) hit a lucky weather window and was moving fast.  The only other person I know who has tried it is one of the most experienced desert hikers and he said it was on the edge of a near death experience.  There is a reason that there are no trip reports for this time of year because it is basic insanity.

I've heard that before on other projects we've tackled. Psych report will accompany trip report. :)

You do know that the moderator here just died on the Marufo Vega trail two weeks ago when it was 106 degrees and he was a very experienced Bender.

That sucks. Glad people aren't dying on the trail more often.  I was looking through the DEATH ON THE TRAIL Big Bend book the other day reviewing those incidents and their circumstances.

Okay, all that said, what is your plan? 

Considering a counter-clockwise circuit.
Plan A is to cache water at HWR sunday and roadtrip out to hit the hot spring, then camp at Chisos Basin, heading out LM early Monday morning. Driving up from way south Texas so our start day is flexible too.
We don't really WANT to try to rush it, because REST is key to hydration being effective and letting your body recover helps a lot. DesertRatShorty nailed it -- your perceived comfort isn't enough to make it through. Resting when you don't think you need to is critical.
The NPS itinerary is a 3-day/2 night plan, and we will probably do a 4-day/ 3 night plan.
Will speak w/ the Rangers when we get there for any advice and suggestions on switching stuff up.

What is your water plan? 
caching at HWR will allow us to carry less water on our first day thru LM/ BC. We figure that will be a decent test run to decide at HWR whether to continue through Dodson or just head back.  If we are wiped and need to just stop and camp at midway then we'll have enough water for a 2-day hike to HWR, and plenty cached to rest then make it back to the car. We do have a dozen collapsible water pouches, other containers, life straw, and lightweight backpacking water filtration system. Lots of electrolyte powder packages too. It would be nice to cache at JC but we are not driving a suitable vehicle to try that (Dodge Caravan). We were actually thinking that some enterprising teen w/ a proper vehicle should offer to cache water there for visitors for a fee, lol.

Speaking w/ Rangers on site about what the NOAA weather reports are showing vs what they are actually seeing out there around the springs and assessing the water availability and our situation on the trail will determine how we proceed. Current reports show scattered showers out there this week and early next.  That's a plus for collecting water at the various springs. Fresno along the dodson seems to be a good bet, even in the summer, and will certainly help as a place to rest and cool off. Not counting on it tho.

How many days?  Where do you plan to camp? 
Packing enough shelf-stable food for 4 days. Don't like to cook on the trail. If we are handling the trek better than expected, will do it in 3. But I'd prefer not to rush.
We are carrying a tent [more for bugs and shade] and are still tweaking camping plan. Trying to remain very flexible tho.  We aren't too picky, so any advice there is great.

I assume you know you have to start before first light and try to find some shade mid day (essentially none on the Dodson). 
Yes. bringing our own shade and planning substantial siestas mid day. Will have restocked our water and dumped a day's worth of food by the time we hit Dodson. Reviewing other videos and pics of the trails to help w/ familiarization.

You say that you have hiked in BB, what have you done? 
*I* have only done Emory Peak twice in BB (the second time we hiked 5 kids ages 3-12 up), which was child's play in the grand scheme of things and not what I'd consider prep for the OML, just . My friend has done the OML in August w/ a small group a few years ago. Both of us have hiked a lot of west/ south texas, both on marked trails and just out n about.

What does being a hot weather folks mean?
Both of us grew up in hot weather [west texas/ south texas]-- doing physically demanding work in blistering outdoor sun and heat for days in a row is something we are used to. That's what I'm gauging the most in this scenario. Hiking is the easy part. The physically exhausting work in triple digit temps is a whole different thing that a lot of hikers don't seem to be able to handle. Again-- back to the concept of REST in heat like this. It's no coincidence that the siesta is a huge southern tradition. Neither of us are interested in dying from exhaustion -- heat or otherwise.

We have had Afghanistan veterans bail on such an attempt.
That's unfortunate. And duly noted.

We do have a general rule around here that if folks want to try such a thing we know we will not dissuade them so we might as well try and give the as much info as possible.
I understand wanting to dissuade people from doing something that people have literally died from doing. But there's a lot of information on this trail, plenty of preparedness tactics, strategies, and gear to mitigate the risks, and we are taking satellite comms in case one or both of us falls and breaks our dang neck, bleeds out on the rocks or has a compound leg fracture or whatnot. A bad fall is of more concern to me than the heat, and that is something that can happen year-round. I twisted my ankle stepping off a freakin CURB wearing hiking shoes last year. Nasty swelling and bruising. Just a weird freak accident that someone else mentioned as a happens-TO-you problem. Took a couple months to recover sufficiently. Risks abound. I'm not interested in insisting on dying yet. ;)

BTW welcome to BBC!.

Thank you :)
Will be happy to let y'all know if we bail and how far we made it.
Unless we die.
Have the Rangers get the pics off my phone if that happens. And delete my browser history, please.

Good thorough answers but from those answers I still think you don't have the experience to pull this off, especially desert backpacking experience.  Even if you manage to make it it will be a totally uncomfortable death march.  It is so hot that even with shade you will not get any good rest or sleep in the lower desert. 

Your plan sounds mostly solid especially the counter clockwise start so that you can evaluate before heading across the Dodson.  Get to the Homer Wilson house and rest in the cool shade of the porch until nearly dark and then go on out the Dodson just around the backside of Carousel Mtn. where there should be some shade and a campsite just before the big climb.  Next morning walking before light and you should get to Fresno in about 3 hours where you can rest in the shade in the little canyon below the trail and get water.  If you head on across there might be a little shade around the Dodson place and then in some of the south flowing drainages up against the cutbanks.  You will want to find shade by noon and stay there until 6 or so before heading back out.

Once you get near the eastern end of the Dodson there is NO shade and the first part of the Juniper Canyon trail is the same until 6 p.m. or later.  Lots of campsites in the first parts of the Juniper Canyon trail.  Climb Juniper in the cool of the morning, stopping to get water and shade at Upper Juniper Spring.  You will be in the sun almost the whole way up other than the tree shade in places and near the top.  Water up in Boot Canyon and camp on the rim to celebrate that you are still alive and lucky to be so.

Forget the tent, no bugs and it will be lousy, hot shade.  Bring a tarp but mostly just a ground sheet to cowboy camp.  Bring a closed cell pad to insulate yourself from the hot ground, inflatable pads suck in the heat.  The lightest possible sleeping bag or quilt or sheet.  Definitely go no cook and don't bring any extra clothing short of a light rain jacket for warmth, if needed, and spare socks.  Consider an umbrella, many people swear by them for wide open, hot desert hiking.  Sturdy trail runners, not heavy hot hiking boots.  Light, long sleeves and pants and wide brimmed hat.  Definitely electrolyte mixes, I am a fan of Nunn tablets.  Cut everything you can to accommodate the water load and exertion.  You will need upwards of 10 liters a day, especially across the Dodson, here is a discussion of how much water one might need (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/big-bend-questions-and-answers/carrying-large-quantities-of-water-on-your-back/msg109078/#msg109078).

Again, I wouldn't do it if for no other reason that it will be a totally miserable experience, wait and do it when the weather is better and enjoy the walk and everything around you.

BTW it is Death in Big Bend not Death on the Trail.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: elhombre on July 19, 2019, 01:35:20 PM
ME is correct on the ground insulation.  The rocky ground will not cool off over night.  A friend told me a "great" story about how they couldn't even lay down because it was so hot one time in the summer.  I too, have experienced it myself at a car campsite in the summer.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: congahead on July 19, 2019, 02:11:29 PM
Good luck if you decide to go ahead with this. Based on my experience, your absolute best possible outcome is that you will be miserable the entire time. I know because I have been, and have bailed on both day hikes and multi-nighters in the Bend because I was having zero fun and doing nothing but surviving due to the intense heat, from which there is no possible respite along most of your route. And these trips were not in July. Hereís hoping your experience is different.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: steelfrog on July 19, 2019, 03:04:53 PM
Sorry, I was looking at NEXT weekend (when I might run down there myself) where temps are looking better--62/84 or so.  Nighttime Dodson run could be in the offing.  Start at HW about 10pm, head across D; get to other side about 3-330; head up JC then fart around on the rim but not too long then the hot jaunt down BC, To car by noonish.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Lissa on July 19, 2019, 03:10:28 PM
A suggestion for hiking this at this time frame and assuming cars can make it to Juniper would be a CW route starting at Juniper.  Would start out at dusk / whenever it was manageable, throw down for a few hrs along Dodson, then get to HWR well before noon. Pick up cached water (and book!) at HWR and chill in shade 12-6 if not longer.  Can bail there easily if miserable, if not continue up the wash that evening when it cools and night hike up to the Rim. Spent a couple nights in the Chisos.

But basically act like a desert animal and hike when itís cool(er), siesta when itís not.

Get good headlamps though since it will probably be close to a new moon.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Lissa on July 19, 2019, 03:12:42 PM
If it matters to you to have the ďofficialĒ full OML, can always do a trip down to the Basin as a packless sidr trip to get water, cold drinks and a meal.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: mule ears on July 19, 2019, 03:19:39 PM
A suggestion for hiking this at this time frame and assuming cars can make it to Juniper would be a CW route starting at Juniper.  Would start out at dusk / whenever it was manageable, throw down for a few hrs along Dodson, then get to HWR well before noon. Pick up cached water (and book!) at HWR and chill in shade 12-6 if not longer.  Can bail there easily if miserable, if not continue up the wash that evening when it cools and night hike up to the Rim. Spent a couple nights in the Chisos.

But basically act like a desert animal and hike when itís cool(er), siesta when itís not.

Get good headlamps though since it will probably be close to a new moon.

Also a great option.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: steelfrog on July 19, 2019, 03:23:19 PM
The Basin parts of the OML suck, LM and P.  Worst parts, easily.  You cover almost as much mileage going around the full rim and it's much more scenic.

Caching a car at JC is tough because if you need a ride back to it, good luck finding someone willing to take you there.  Getting a ride to HW or Basin much more feasible.

Having done OML every conceivable way, I've found my favorite is starting at night from HW across Dodson, up JC across Rim (or, if tired or slow, across Colima) and down BC to car.

Second favorite is start HW in early morning and head up BC while it's still shaded, around the Rim, down JC when it's mostly shaded, and then across Dodson at night to car.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: Flash on July 19, 2019, 03:31:47 PM
Steelfroggy, you definitely gotten the wheels going in Flash's head over a possible evening/sunset hike out to the first Dodson saddle and than back to the car at HW by headlamp.  :eusa_think:
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: steelfrog on July 19, 2019, 03:40:50 PM
Sure, it would be great; that's about what, 2.5 miles and 800' vert?  Honestly, especially for animals, not the best part of the Dod; there are plentiful snakes in about the eastern 3 miles.

Dodson is so cool at night.  So peaceful but lots going on out there, great night sky.  A bit of an edge when you are alone as there are things out there that could harm you potentially.  Although that's more in your mind than reality.
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: jtemples on July 19, 2019, 08:56:33 PM
Read and heed.   
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: jim2 on July 20, 2019, 07:11:08 PM
Steelfroggy, you definitely gotten the wheels going in Flash's head over a possible evening/sunset hike out to the first Dodson saddle and than back to the car at HW by headlamp.  :eusa_think:
Flash. one of my most memorable hikes in BBNP. It was a winter trip, I did something easy in the AM/early PM, in the late afternoon I went to the saddle on the Dodson.  Truly the place to be is the top of the little hill at the saddle on right hand side as you go up, it opens up the view to a surprising degree.
I was there a little too early, about an hour, it's such a great spot I did not mind. The whole landscape turned a golden green close to sunset and only got better as time went on. I watched the sunset and several backpackers go by. Well into the sunset I slowly started to descend into the sunset lit surroundings. I was in the sunset, the rocks glowed and the sotols glistened. I can still see it as I type this. Truly a unique experience
Title: Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
Post by: TexasAggieHiker on July 21, 2019, 12:16:33 AM
Doing the OML in July is not smart. Best case scenario, you complete it and are absolutely miserable the whole time. You are very likely to die.  I can almost guarantee that you will bail at Homer Wilson and have to hitch back to the basin. Working in the heat in San Antonio is nothing like backpacking at Big Bend.

Iíve done the OML a dozen times. Itís my favorite hike in the world. My advice is to find another hike to do. Itís not worth risking your life this time of year. Donít try it.