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Brief trip report, first time backpackers, clockwise 3/8-3/10

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Offline alanbernstein

  • Kangaroo Rat
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I finished the OML Sunday afternoon, and I just wanted to post a quick trip report, and to say thanks to all the members here who have posted here and helped us research and plan our trip.

I went with one friend, both of us on our first backpacking trip, aside from a short overnight near home in January to test some gear. Beautiful and brutal, like the ranger told us. We both enjoyed the hike, and I think we took the "don't over-estimate your experience" advice to heart. I carried about twice as much food as I needed, and never got below about 2L of water despite drinking liberally. We tested our limits and learned some good lessons. It was a great introduction to a new hobby, and I'm sure I'll be back to Big Bend.

We arrived at the park on the afternoon of Thursday, 3/7, and set up camp at Chisos Basin after getting our permit and dropping off three gallons at the ranch. That campground was less than ideal for us, we were packed in tight and surrounded by noisy groups and cars. Regardless, we managed to get started a little after 9am on 3/8. We skipped Boot Spring, and collected about 4L (I think) from a trickle at Upper Juniper Spring, it took about 15 minutes to fill our filter bag and filter into our storage bags four or five times (faster than I was hoping). This was my first time collecting, filtering, and drinking water from a natural source on a hike. It felt a bit sketchy at first, but it worked out great. We took a lunch break near that concrete ruin on the way to the spring. We reached the Dodson trailhead around 6, took a bit too long of a break there, and then found a campsite not too far down the trail.

Day 2, we got started earlier, made good time, and got pretty far along the Blue Creek Canyon trail before finding a decent campsite for the two of us. For water, we skipped the Dodson spring, and filled up at Fresno Creek, which was flowing fast enough that we could fill up our filter bag in just a few seconds. This was more flowing water than I expected to see in the middle of a desert hike. We made it to the ranch around 2:30 or 3:00, took a good long break, and collected our three gallons. We figured that would be a bit too much, and we were right, so we washed up a little, refilled our bladders, and then dumped a couple liters, sadly. Day 3 went by quickly, between the nice shade, and the shorter distance. We didn't bother to stop for lunch, and we got back to the amphitheater parking lot by about 12:30.

We got pretty lucky in a few ways. We trusted the forecast and left all rain gear behind, and brought minimal cold weather gear. We didn't realize how few established campsites there would be near the trail, and we kept second-guessing our choices, but somehow ended up at one of the last available sites both nights. I didn't do as much reading on water sources as I should have, but I trusted my buddy, and he knew his way around from his research. I have a tendency to overpack, and I fought my urge to bring a lot of extra junk. I was pretty satisfied with what I did bring, even when dealing with a few minor skin irritants. I think I got cactus'd three times, could have been worse.

This was the least traffic I've ever seen on a trail in a national park. Not too surprising as I've only done day hikes in the past, but we expected more people at this time of year. I think we passed three pairs of hikers going CCW on day 2, and we overlapped with two solo hikers going CW along with us. I think I lost a bandaid on the trail  :-\ but I picked up a few pieces of trash too, so hopefully that makes up for it. Anybody missing a University of Michigan "WISE RP" button pin?

Overall, great trip, and I'm looking forward to more backpacking and more Big Bend visits!
« Last Edit: March 12, 2019, 06:50:35 AM by alanbernstein »

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Offline dprather

  • Mountain Lion
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Re: Brief trip report, first time backpackers, clockwise 3/8-3/10
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2019, 11:40:15 PM »
Great report; great trip; thanks; congratulations
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline mule ears

  • Golden Eagle
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  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: Brief trip report, first time backpackers, clockwise 3/8-3/10
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2019, 07:30:21 AM »
Thanks for the report Alan and glad you made the loop, sounds like you all did proper research and it paid off.  It also sounds like the spring break crowds were not too bad, at least so far.  Did the park seem crowded?

Welcome to BBC!
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline alanbernstein

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Re: Brief trip report, first time backpackers, clockwise 3/8-3/10
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2019, 03:45:35 AM »
Thanks! I think this was the least crowded I've ever seen a national park. Even in the day hike area close to the basin, almost empty on the way out, and we passed maybe a few dozen small groups on the way back.

 


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