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Another OML question

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Offline Horns 98

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Another OML question
« on: November 07, 2007, 01:11:06 PM »
As mentioned in an early post, a buddy and I are headed out to Big Bend next week to do the OML.  I can't wait to get out there, it is getting hard to concentrate on much else especially work. 

I have just a few questions, that might make our trip a little easier that I am hoping someone can help with.

1.  Water, always a concern and I am fully aware and willing to carry what we need. However, it would make things a little more enjoyable if I did not necessarily have to carry it all.  Has anyone been out recently and know if there is any water at Boot Springs, Upper Juniper Springs or Fresno creek, or any ohter location?  Anyone going out this weekend that could report back?

2. Homer Wilson Cache,  we are planning on caching water at Homer Wilson,  is that cache box only for water or is it safe to store food in as well.  I've haven't done a trip before that I had to cache, are there any standards for doing so.  What containers do most of you use, or do you just put a couple of the gallon jugs that you would get at the grocery store in the box? 

3. On the last day we are looking at camping at one of the sites along Laguna Meadow Trail at either, Laguna West or Laguna Meadows sites, anyone have a recommendation on any of those sites?

I appreciate the help.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2007, 02:18:57 PM by Horns 98 »

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2007, 01:34:52 PM »
I'll let someone who's actually done the OML comment on #1 and 3, but the bear box at the Homer Wilson Ranch Overlook is for food as well as water.  Most folks use gallon plastic jugs for water.  I've seen food in plastic bags, cardboard boxes, and even a plastic jug with the top cut open and then taped closed.  Just remember to be prepared to pack everything out with you.  I'd probably put all of my water jugs and food in a garbage bag to discourage any curious tourons from rummaging through my stuff.

  • Do not store water in the ranch house or any other historic structure. Use the cache box.
  • When caching water, make sure to mark each bottle with your name and the date you plan to pick up the water.
  • It's a cache box, not a trash box; always pack out empty bottles and other cached items.

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2007, 02:22:22 PM »
There's been a lot of rain this year, so I'd expect you could find water at Boot Spring and where the Dodson Trail crosses Fresno Creek. Juniper Spring and Dodson Spring are overgrown, but both also had water when I hiked the OML in November 2004.

I prefer the Laguna West sites, though they are located on a seemingly endless spur trail that traverses waist-high grass. This is a view of Emory from the LW campsites:



The only drawback to LW is its distance from the composting toilet. The LM sites are much closer to it.
Jeff Blaylock
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splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline badknees

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2007, 04:16:49 PM »
There's been a lot of rain this year, so I'd expect you could find water at Boot Spring and where the Dodson Trail crosses Fresno Creek. Juniper Spring and Dodson Spring are overgrown, but both also had water when I hiked the OML in November 2004.

I prefer the Laguna West sites, though they are located on a seemingly endless spur trail that traverses waist-high grass. This is a view of Emory from the LW campsites:



The only drawback to LW is its distance from the composting toilet. The LM sites are much closer to it.

JeffB
I agree that spur trail seems really long at the end of a long hike. It can't be more than 1/4 of a mile, but it feels long

One advantage of staying at LW is the possibility of finding water in Cattail Canyon as well as the fact that it is a great day hike from LW.
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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2007, 07:33:37 PM »
Hey Horns98 I was on the Dodson 2 weeks ago and have hiked it in it's entirety before.
- water is everywhere, all named Springs on the topo EXCEPT Cedar Springs in Blue Creek are flowing.  Fresno is especially nice with water flowing almost continously for several miles below the trail crossing.  Cedar Springs is always dry - never count on it.
- Upper Juniper Springs is reliable but many people make the mistake of taking the wrong sidetrail and end up at the cement ruins about 100' downhill from the springs itself.  These same people fail to realize the springs are just uphill out of sight and pronounce the springs "dry".  You will see a big metal sign that says "juniper camp" on the main trail and follow the sidetrail to the springs taking the uphill fork - the downhill fork leads to the cement ruins which are just barely below the springs but out of sight of them.
- Skip Dodson springs and go on to Fresno - better water and better campsites
- When you get to the Smokey Creek Trail Junction - you can find more water about 5-10 minutes hike down the Smokey Creek Trail so can refill or top-off there.  No other water exists between Fresno and the Bear Box at Blue Creek.
- Boot Canyon will have water in it either at the springs below the Cabin or in the Tinaja's near where the Juniper Canyon Trail cuts off the main trail.
- You will probably find water in Upper Cattail Canyon about 1/2-1 mile or so downstream from LW3 Campsite, just head downhill from LW3 into the canyon and follow it until you find the first pools of water.  Other than that there is no water between the Blue Creek Bear Box and the Basin.
LW1 is the best campsite and has great views - well worth the extra 1/2 mile hike.
- The Blue Creek Bear Box usually contains unclaimed water and food for previous trips but trash that is left in the box is usually cleaned up by helpful hikers or NPS staff.  When I looked in it 2 weeks ago there was water with dates from 6 months ago.   It's OK to leave food (canned/dried) in the bear box for your trip but please put initials/dates on it.   You could probably leave some "liquid painkiller" in the box also as long as it was in a water bottle so that everyone thought it was water.  Tourists will open and look in the box frequently.
- The OML is BADLY overgrown this year with cats-claw and other nasty stuff so wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and carry a big hiking stick.  The trail crew doesn't work in this area until winter and it is the worst I have ever seen it with something scratching or ripping at you every 100' or less.   In several areas (eg Blue Creek) you will have to push your way through thickets of cats-claw.  It slowed my normal pace of 2-3 mph down to 1-2 mph just having to slow down and pick through the veg.   This is a great hike - the best in the SE USA as far as I am concerned, just "Be Prepared" for it... TWWG

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2007, 07:50:06 PM »
Here is some more useful info:
Best backcountry (zone) campsites are located at:
- about 1/3 mile below Upper Juniper Springs before you cross the valley and go on the old road.  This is about the only flat spot around that isn't full of cactus.
- near the Juniper Canyon Road trailhead, slightly west along the main trail.  Several sites.
- at Fresno Springs (several sites), Dodson has one flat site but the water is tough to get to and muddy.
- about 1/10 mile West of the Smokey Creek/Dodson trail junction on the Dodson Trail "3 Dog Campsite".
- at Cedar Spring in Blue Creek Canyon (no water in this "spring").  Several sites.
- LW1 with view of Emory Peak and the meadows.

Hope this helps... TWWG

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Offline Drifter

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2007, 08:53:50 PM »
Hey TWWG, I just got back from a solo in the ET area and it was hot. How was the weather and temps. two weeks ago.
If you climb mountains, no explanation is necessary, if you don't , no explanation is possible.

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2007, 06:09:42 AM »
as usual, very good info TWWG...thanks..my January OML party and I thank you!

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2007, 07:15:14 AM »
2 weeks ago ~mid Oct it was sunny and warm during the day (80-90) but cool and comfortable at night (60-70) down on the Dodson Trail.  When I moved up to the Basin Campground it was about 10 degrees cooler.
There were a few black flys (the kind that annoy and bite) around the springs and they were bothersome enough that you might want some protection but by the first hard freeze they will probably have all died off.  I only noticed them when I was around water so 95% of the trail is free of flys.
The days were barely long enough for my taste and it got flashlight-dark about 7:45pm (6:45pm now).  I slept for 9-10 hours every night and tried to end every day by reading by alpenglow and getting cleaned-up an hour before sunset.   In Nov-Jan this would mean making camp by about 4pm so you have time to set up camp and relax before dark.... TWWG

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Offline Horns 98

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2007, 08:44:54 AM »
Great information!  Thanks for all the responses. With the short days, it looks like I will catch up on some much needed sleep.
 

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Ray52

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2007, 09:42:18 PM »
Quote
as usual, very good info TWWG...thanks

Definitely true.  I'm planning to make this hike the week after Thanksgiving.  More than likely solo, but if any of you are going to be in the park then and are interested in pairing up let me know.

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Offline Burn Ban

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2007, 10:53:26 PM »
this is why i come to this site so often...current, relevant information. 

i too will need this info in a couple of months, thank you.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2007, 09:05:27 AM »
I just got back from a solo in the ET area

Come on Drifter, don't hold out on us, give us a trip report.  How did you like the pass between the peaks of Dominguez?
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline TomJ

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2007, 09:52:41 PM »
My buddies and I just finished (Monday, 12 November) a thru-hike from Juniper Canyon trailhead to Mule Ears trailhead, combining Dodson, Smoky Creek and Mule Ears Trails.

We didn't check Dodson Spring, but the creek was dry where the Dodson Trail crosses it.

Fresno Spring was flowing well - probably a half-gallon/minute where the Dodson Trail crosses the creek.

We followed Smoky Creek all the way from Dodson to Mule Ears. We didn't exit Smoky Creek as shown on the Trails Illustrated map, preferring instead to negotiate the pouroffs that make this a fun hike! Smoky Creek was running intermittently all the way from about a mile below the Dodson Trail to a mile or so above the Mule Ears trail.

Mule Ears Spring was flowing quite well, too.

But, good gosh was the weather hot!

TomJ

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Offline Robert

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Re: Another OML question
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2007, 01:05:21 PM »
Tomj- how were the pouroffs? Could you descend them or did you have to go around? What about if you were traveling south to north, could you do it? Thanks

 


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