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Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Early Feb OML Advice

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Offline FiveStar

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Early Feb OML Advice
« on: December 25, 2018, 02:22:37 PM »
Greetings and Merry Christmas Benders!  I need to pick your brains for my first trip to BiBe Feb. 3-8.

Background:  I'm a 55 y/o male from NE Alabama with lots of section-hike experience on the AT.  Have also done a week in the Winds, etc.  Generally do 10-12 mile days, and figure that in BiBe that'll drop a bit, so I'm looking to do the OML plus South Rim over 4 nights.  I have a 9 lb. baseweight (working gear list is here https://lighterpack.com/r/eje56o ) and am prepared to carry 8-10L of water.  I go through more water than most even in the Appalachians, it'll be worse in the desert.  I am a dogged hiker and generally finish the mission.

First quesh- I plan to start at the Visitors Center and have Sunday the 3rd free to cache water after obtaining my permit.  Would like to cache at both Homer Wilson and Juniper Canyon TH.  I have a Ford Expedition.  Would like to confirm that it can handle the Juniper Canyon Rd.  I'm thinking probably so.

Second, I'd like some recs on potential campsite.  Thinking of first night somewhere on the JCT roughly halfway down to the trailhead.  Second night, maybe a little ways past Fresno Creek.  Third night, somewhere roughly halfway up Blue Creek Trail.  Night 4 will be at the South Rim campsite by the privy (hopefully) unless you guys have one with a better view in mind.  5th day I'll hike back to the car via Laguna Meadows.  Total roughly 35 miles in 4 1/2 days.  I plan to carry 10L from Homer Wilson (3 for that afternoon and dinner, 5 for the day to the rim, and 2 to get out).

Also plan to leave some free water at the caches and take out trash.

Oh, one final question- from reading reports I'm thinking I should be prepared for night-time temps possibly into the 20's, but should expect things to warm up quickly with the sun.

Thanks in advance-

FiveStar

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Offline dprather

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Re: Early Feb OML Advice
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2018, 02:43:43 PM »
Your Expedition should make the trip up the JC road to the trailhead just fine.  Just prepare for Juniper Canyon Pin-striping - the desert plants encroach on the road so much that scratches are unavoidable.  Plan on taking  your time - the road is deeply rutted.

Take a look at the availability of water along the OML - you will probably be able to carry less water than you indicate if you are willing to filter.

Regarding temps, the deserts of West Texas can be all over the place.  You'll just have to pay attention to weather reports.  In general, when the sun is shinning (and it almost always is) daylight temps are considerably higher.

Potential campsites are everywhere.  You'll pass good ones that have been used before regularly  . 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline FiveStar

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Re: Early Feb OML Advice
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2018, 03:02:01 PM »
Thanks dprather.  I consider pinstripes badges, and already have a few.

I will definitely be aware of water reports, and will put my filter and tablets to work (and carry a little less) if able.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Early Feb OML Advice
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2018, 03:05:33 PM »
Five Star welcome to BBC!  I know you from Backpacking Light and your food posts.  I am sure you have already found the OML FAQ but if not, study it well.

Yes your Expedition will make it to the Juniper Canyon trail head just fine.

You make me cringe with the carrying 8-10 liters, especially this year when there is still lots of water out there.  Check here before you go but I cannot imagine that there will not be adequate water the first week of Feb.  I would start out with a few liters to make the climb up Pinnacles as easy as possible and then refill in Boot Canyon and/or Upper Juniper Spring.  There are several great campsites just below Upper Juniper Spring with nice views.  You are basically talking about 7 mile days which is very leisurely.  Second day with water at Juniper trail head and Fresno you should only have to carry a few liters.  There are good campsites along the Dodson past Fresno but others can chime in.  Third day with water you carry from Fresno again a few liters to get to your cache at Homer Wilson.  You will only go a few miles up Blue Creek to camp (there are several sites near the Cedar spring area) so you only need a few liters that afternoon and then you will climb Blue Creek in the cool of the morning (wise).  To further drop water weight you can cross over on the Colima trail to Boot Canyon and refill again after the climb with enough for the night and to get to the car the next day, then head to the South Rim.  The campsite you refer to near the outhouse is SW4, no view there but close by.  The only one with a view from the site is SW3, great site  but if you go to SE1-3, they all have views close by.

I have had it be both warm and cold the first week of Feb. so you can play it by ear.  Yes the low can be in the 20's but more likely the 30's or even 40's down low it all depends on the fronts.   How much water do you normally use in a day?  I am from NC and when warm in the desert use 5 liters a day.
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 FiveStar

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Re: Early Feb OML Advice
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2018, 07:12:27 PM »
@Mule Ears

LOL, small world :)  I actually hadn't been planning to cook on this trip (would save both weight and water) but if the water situation is like you allude to in February, I might have to reconsider.  And yes, I've been studying the OML FAQ.  It's really pretty amazing that this site is so helpful with regard to trip planning.

Well, if I don't HAVE to carry 8+ liters I'm sure not going to!  If I can reasonably count on Upper Juniper Spring I'd probably carry 5-6 liters out from the visitors center (4 to use for sure, the rest for just in case), and that would help a lot.  I typically drink 3-4L on a 10-12 mile day on the AT fall/winter/spring, and I'm sure I'd drink more in our summer humidity if I were to brave it.  Once a few years ago in July, I worked an all day outdoor swim meet in 97 degree heat, drank 7 quarts of Gatorade and never whizzed.  So I guess I sweat a ton.

Your suggestion to cross  on the Colima on Day 4 to get water at Boot Canyon would certainly prevent a 10L water carry from the ranch....yeah, I'm down with that, presuming water reports are favorable.  I hadn't thought to do that, appreciate the tip.  That might naturally lead me to the better view rim campsites as well.

I'm targeting 7-8 miles a day both because I suspect my mileage will be a fair bit less than normal, and because I want to SEE what's all around me....that's why I'm coming.

Worst case scenario though, if I have to carry all the water I mention in my OP, my pack will weigh 32 lbs.  Almost, but not quite cringeworthy to my 55 year-old knees.


 


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