Big Bend Chat
Big Bend National Park Q&A => Outer Mountain Loop => Topic started by: petes_za on December 02, 2018, 12:50:17 PM
Terrific hike! Thank you to all of the contributors to the OML FAQ thread, made preparation much easier (though I still bonked on a few key elements). The OMLY definitely met the expectations on difficulty and exceeded expectations on natural beauty. Easily one of my top three hikes I've done in my life. Couple of general thoughts/observations...
1. Very happy with my route, clockwise from the Chisos Basin to Juniper Canyon, and on to Dodson for Night 1, then to Homer Ranch, up Blue Creek and down to the South Rim sites for Night 2. I hiked back up to Boot Spring on day three, then over Colima to Laguna Meadows and back to the Chisos Visitor Center. My total mileage was around 37 over three days. I don't know that I'd want to do that in the heat of summer, but with high's around 80 and low's in the mid-40's, and two water sources on the trail, it worked out perfectly.
I agree with gclark in the previous post that you could do it in one night by starting and finishing from Home Ranch and cutting out Chisos Basin. Starting in the basin, though, was actually pretty nice. The Pinnacles are a nice hike and camping at the South Rim on night two felt like more of a reward after two days of hiking. Also, hiking down through Laguna Meadows early in the morning on day three was the perfect way to end it. Perfectly quiet.
2. Water: another reason to hike this in November. The recommended 1.5gal/day seemed excessive (though is probably appropriate in the summer) given that there was water out there. I brought capacity to carry three liters (about 0.8 gallons) and didn't cache anything at Home Ranch. I regretted that big time, and thankfully someone had left a free gallon at the cache. With water at Boot Spring and on Dodson Trail, though, I was able to save considerable weight and push the pace coming down Juniper Canyon and along Dodson.
3. I think hearty trail shoes are totally appropriate. There were a few sections of loose rocks, but the overwhelming majority of the trail pretty well worn and easy to navigate. Pants definitely a good idea, too. It adds to the heat, but makes it so much easier to just push through some of the more crowded parts of the trail.
4. Map -- should have saved twelve dollars on the Nat Geo map and just printed one from here. Using the map for mileage was nice, but the trail was not too difficult to follow. I missed cairns a couple times on Dodson but never more than a few minutes, and just backtracked to the cairns.
5. My biggest blunders: Didn't cache water at Homer Ranch; forgot sunblock and a long sleeve shirt for Dodson Trail and Blue Creek (very little shade); Should have brought an additional 2L bladder and filled it at Boot Spring, or maybe even Fresno Creek to save having to carry the extra weight. I was pretty dehydrated by night 2 and left the camp site early in the AM. I got back to the spring earlier, but missed out on South Rim sunrise. Also should have brought more food. I brought around 1,000 calories for days one and three, and about 1,800 for day two. I wasn't starving, but definitely annoyingly hungry on day 3. Last blunder, hiking out from South Rim at 4am. Though observing the canyon under moonlight is pretty incredible, I missed out on really seeing much of Boot Canyon. Also saw a mountain lion about ten feet off the Colima trail, which absolutely terrified me.
Overall, such a great park! Wish I had more days to explore more of it but definitely plan on coming back. Thank you to the folks who contribute to the forum. Great community!
Congratulations! Thanks for your additions.
petes_za thanks for the report. Glad you made it around and I definitely think that the OML without the South Rim is a tragedy. Yes you should have cached some water at Homer Wilson and should have had enough so that you were not so dehydrated and would have been able to catch the sunrise from the South Rim. Sounds like you were moving along pretty well and with a light pack I would assume. Good job.
Sounds like the OML did for you exactly what itís supposed to do. Beauty, challenge, solitude, a dollop of terror. Good job, Pete. As for any regrets, the OML is a hike that bears doing more than once.
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