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A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit

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Offline Buck

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #30 on: July 31, 2018, 08:25:18 AM »
I used to do dumb $h!t like this.
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Offline Talusman

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #31 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
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Offline RedditLowlife

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #32 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:

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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?

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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.

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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.

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He says so himself, his training was not adequate for the terrain at Big Bend.
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Walking with a day pack around the hills near San Antonio does not equate to the elevation and conditions on the OML. 
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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.

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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

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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

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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.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 07:24:43 AM by RedditLowlife »

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Offline jim2

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2019, 10:24:55 AM »
Welcome to BBC!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #34 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?
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline RedditLowlife

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #35 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.



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Offline Hang10er

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #36 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.



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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #37 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?
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline RedditLowlife

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #38 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. 

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Offline mule ears

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #39 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.

  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:
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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no shade, no water
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #40 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 hadn’t occurred to me that there’d be zero recent water reports for it. D’oh!

Again well done, man!


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Offline RichardM

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #41 on: January 08, 2019, 02:24:18 PM »
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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?
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!

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Offline webnotions

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #42 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.  He started with 14 liters of water.   :icon_redface:
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Offline jim2

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #43 on: July 17, 2019, 05:41:53 PM »
Welcome to the board. Let us know how it goes and please post pictures!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: A JULY! OML trip report from Reddit
« Reply #44 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!.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2019, 02:33:33 PM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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