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Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route

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Offline jshan

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Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« on: January 13, 2019, 06:29:00 PM »
Hey all,
New to the forum, thanks to all the past posts they've been helpful.

Hopefully the lovely government shutdown is done next week and out trip is not affected.  Since I've never been out there I wanted to get some feedback on my potential itinerary.  Suggestions welcome.

Day 1: Start at Chisos Basic Visitors Center and hike clockwise around the Outer Mt. Loop.  Planning to skip Emory Peak (will catch it on the way back).  Take Juniper Canyon to Dodson trail. Finish around Dodson Spring, or somewhere around there after 14-15 miles. 

Day 2: Continue around Dodson trail and get our cached water from HW Ranch.  Continue up to the South Rim for night number 2. Any suggested camp site while we're there? That would be another 14-15 miles.

Day 3: Continue around the South Rim Trail and head back up the Chisos Mt. Loop (counter clockwise now) so we can hit  Emory Peak.

Curious what the water is like out there right now and how much you'd recommend carrying. 

Thanks in advance,
-Justin

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Offline dprather

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2019, 07:47:01 PM »
You'll love the OML.

If I understand your proposal, your Day #2 seems way too ambitious.  Unless you are something akin to a Special Ops warrior, doing all of the Dodson and all of Blue Creek in one day is a non-starter.  This is not to say that it cannot be done (even though it cannot be done by many people), but my opinion is that it cannot be enjoyed.

Traditionally;
Day 1 - Basin to Juniper Canyon/Dodson trailhead.
Day 2 - JC/Dodson Trailhead to Homer Wilson.
Day 3- HW back to the Basin.

Even this is ambitious for many people, and it does not include a side trip to the Rim.

Don't look at the quantity of miles without also considering the quality/difficulty of the miles.  The Dodson is listed as some 11 miles (+/-).  But those are some pretty tough miles (after doing tough miles up Pinnacles and looking at more tough miles up Blue Creek).

You would do well to check the many OML reports on here.  They give a clearer picture of the quality of OML miles.

Best wishes.




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

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2019, 06:46:03 AM »
Welcome to BBC!

My first question is how much experience do you have?  With mileage days like those I am assuming you are a fairly experienced long distance hiker.  Most of the folks who have reported here doing that kind of itinerary have been thru hikers or have done lots of high mileage days on other trails.  I also assume you have found the OML FAQ.

As to campsite on the South Rim try and get SW3 or SW4, SW3 has the only view from the rim from the site, the rest are just a short walk.

Water is plentiful right now.  My recommendation is to make the climb up Pinnacles with only a few liters and then fill up in Boot Canyon with enough to get to Fresno Creek the next day.  The carry just enough to get to Homer Wilson and your cache.  Carry enough to get to your S. Rim site and you can then get more water in Boot Canyon the next morning on your way out.
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 devin

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2019, 07:41:46 AM »
I'm planning a trip of my own just a couple of days after you. Sounds like the water is flowing well, but I'd appreciate any updates! I'm concerned about the shutdown too, but my plan is just to take the risk, since I'm flying in. Would appreciate an update on that too, if you don't mind. Best of luck with your trip!!

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Offline jshan

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2019, 08:48:33 AM »
Devin & Mule Ears, thank you for the feedback. 

Its always hard to know what's the trails are like when you haven't even been to the area.

Devin, I was thinking of going a few miles into Dodson trail (Dodson Spring or Fresno Creek) the 1st day so the 2nd day wouldn't have been as long on Dodson.  That would make the 1st couple of days about 15 miles. Understanding that the hike up Blue Creek will be tough.  We can see how we feel and if its too ambitious, you're route sounds pretty good too. I was trying to stay on the RIM but since the sites don't overlook the RIM just hiking them will probably be fine.  Is Emory Peak worth the extra 3 miles? Also, if we were to stay along Dodson trail, any good sites along the way?

Mule Ears, I've done some hiking but I run marathons and trails so I feel like I'm in shape enough to handle the distance.

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Offline jshan

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2019, 08:57:54 AM »
I'm planning a trip of my own just a couple of days after you. Sounds like the water is flowing well, but I'd appreciate any updates! I'm concerned about the shutdown too, but my plan is just to take the risk, since I'm flying in. Would appreciate an update on that too, if you don't mind. Best of luck with your trip!!

Will do!

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Offline jshan

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2019, 09:10:34 AM »
One other question. I'm trying to figure out what the temps will be like while there.  Most of the weather sites (weather.com, accu weather, google) all say different things.  Some say highs in the 60s and 70s. Others 50s with lows in the 20s.  Makes it a little harder to prepare.  Is there a good place to check forecasts?

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Offline nuggetf5

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2019, 10:09:37 AM »
It would seem if you don't want to get caught camping in back country without a permit you'd start at Homer WIlson, skip the basin. Some here will recommend that. My first solo OML was from the basin, the second counter clockwise from HW skipping the basin at the suggestion of some very wise folks posting right in this thread. Second night camped on the South Rim--perfect. I speak only for myself but I'd bypass the basin another 20 times before including it in the OML. Not an essential part of the OML in my opinion, and better access to the best parts of the loop.  I'd also agree that second day is over the top. I've run marathons. That's not not a marathon --that's an ultra marathon with an incredible amount of climbing. If it's hot, and it can be, the decision will get made for you regardless of intentions. Another good reason to go counter clockwise is that hike *down* Blue Creek is much kinder than slogging up the gravel. Have a great hike, report back please!
Mandolin Cafe
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Offline jshan

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2019, 10:21:48 AM »
It would seem if you don't want to get caught camping in back country without a permit you'd start at Homer WIlson, skip the basin.

Thanks nuggetf5!
What is considered the basin? Which trails did you take?  I was trying to make Homer Wilson a midway stop given the water cache but if there is enough water out there that might night be necessary.

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Offline nuggetf5

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2019, 10:37:53 AM »
The Basin is where the Chisos Mt. Lodge, restaurant, ranger station, convenience store, camping, etc. is located. Sort of park central outside of Panther Junction. So lots of ways to carve up that hike which others can chime in but Homer Wilson going East on the Dodson first day. Second day up Juniper Canyon to Boot Canyon at which point you have options but can get to South Rim in a couple of miles. Then from South Rim down Blue Creek is a pretty modest last day ending back at HW. Cool thing is once you cross the Dodson the first day you can get a real idea of where you were from the South Rim. But, I'm a guy 13 hour drive away. Lots of more seasoned folks here. I was just following their recommendations but I think that hike bypassing the basin is the hike I want to keep doing.
Mandolin Cafe
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Offline mule ears

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2019, 10:54:49 AM »
It would seem if you don't want to get caught camping in back country without a permit you'd start at Homer WIlson, skip the basin.

Thanks nuggetf5!
What is considered the basin? Which trails did you take?  I was trying to make Homer Wilson a midway stop given the water cache but if there is enough water out there that might night be necessary.

You need to study the maps more and the OML FAQ.  Most folks fail due to not enough knowledge of the route and it's difficulty and only look at the mileage.  LIght pack, light pack, light pack. 

I find Intellicast about the most accurate for Panther Junction weather, the mountains can be 10 degrees cooler and the Dodson 5-10 degrees warmer than the PJ temps.  In particular climbing Blue Creek in the afternoon can be a real oven.
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 steelfrog

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2019, 11:03:05 AM »
I couldn't agree more with the opinion of avoiding the Basin part of the hike.  By far the most people encountered here, and little in the way of views.  None to speak of on the Laguna Meadows leg, and very few on the Pinnacles leg.

The "best" way to do OML IMO is from HW going counterclockwise; you've got a fairly heinous 800' or so up on the early part of the Dodson, but once you reach the intersection with Elephant Tusk trail, after that, the hike to Dodson/Juniper junction is quite pleasant.  Can be done even with a heavy pack in 7 hours or less (11.5 miles); explore and add that time.  There has always in my experience been extra cached water in the bear boxes at the junction, although you should be prepared and have a plan if there isn't.  The Juniper Springs are only about a hour and a half past the junction, so that's usually my backup plan (you need a filter). 

I find Juniper much more pleasant to go up than Blue Creek. 

A reasonable/enjoyable itinerary IMO would be HW-a couple miles up Juniper first day (i.e., complete Dodson, and go past a mile or two)

Second day, Up Juniper and find a good place to camp on rim (SE3, NE4, SW3)

Maybe keep camp there and spend another day doing Emory and exploring the rim.  Boot Canyon for water

Once you are up on rim, especially at SW3, down BC is only a few hours to your car (6-7 miles, downhill)

People make the OML out to be more threatening/dangerous than it is.  Assuming a reasonable level of experience/preparedness, it's a great hike, with numerous options for water etc.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2019, 12:18:16 PM »
I concur with nuggetf5 and steelfrog on a CCW starting at HW for all the reasons stated.

I also even agree with
Quote
People make the OML out to be more threatening/dangerous than it is.  Assuming a reasonable level of experience/preparedness

except that so many don't finish it who are in good shape but are unprepared for the desert conditions and the elevations gains.
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 nuggetf5

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Re: Hoping to hike the OML 1/21-23 - Validating route
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2019, 12:38:01 PM »
Wasn't going to comment further on this but... some advice.

Don't make the dumb mistake I made on my second OML which started from Homer Wilson Ranch. Walk *clear up to the home* before starting your hike. There's a sign about 50, maybe 100 feet or so before you get to the house pointing down the wash and like a dummy I took off that way in partial darkness last year... the trail actually runs right by the house. Take the turn at the sign and you'll likely be fumbling around looking for the trail for a good while--there are even cairns out in the was which confuse the matter further. I was lost for a good 45 minutes before finding the trail last year. How do I know people besides me do this? I was there late December with the missus (her first trip there) who is not a hiker. Was showing her the home and came upon a married couple already lost. I could tell they were confused so directed them up to HW's house where the trail is and off they went like a rocket.
Mandolin Cafe
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