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OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary

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Offline ChrisHikes

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Hey Big Bend Chat!

Over the last month or so I have been planning a solo backpacking trip on the OML for mid October.  I've found a great wealth of information and trip reports here, and decided it was time to register and get some first hand advice.  Here is my tentative itinerary let me know what y'all think!  Does it seem realistic?  Would to add or remove anything?  Any extra advice welcome!

Outer Mountain Loop Trail Itinerary
Big Bend National Park

10/13/2018 10/16/18
Clockwise


Day 1: Saturday 10/13
3-5mi // 12-14mi

Depart Austin, Texas at 4 am 7.5 hours to Chisos Basin Visitor Center.
Cache 2 Gallons of water at Homer Wilson Ranch (hour and a half round trip)
Check in and pre check 1pm-2pm.
Begin Hike
0.0 Basin parking lot, 5400
0.3 End of stone cabins road/water tank
0.6 Junction with Chisos Basin Loop trail, right it is .6 miles to the Laguna Meadows trail
1.0 After a steep climb, trail levels out some at Juniper Flats, Juniper Flats campsites
1.5 Boulder Meadows campsites
2.5 Pinnacles campsites at the bottom of the switchbacks up the Pinnacles, 6400
3.2 Pinnacles pass, 7000, Toll mtn. campsite, Jct. Emory Peak trail
Camp at Toll Mountain/ Emory Peak (EP1, TM1 or BC1-4, in order of preference)
SOUTH RIM HIKE IF POSSIBLE
Set up tent and deposit unneeded weight at campsite
0.0 TM1; approx start site
1.0 Boot Springs Trail to Colima trail
2.0 Colima Trail to Southwest Rim Trail
3.7 Junction of Southwest Rim and Boot Canyon trail
7.0 Junction Southwest Rim to Northeast Rim trail
7.5 Junction Northeast Rim trail to Boot Canyon trail
7.8 Boot Spring trail junction to Colima trail
8.8 back to campsite Approx TM1
Drop off pack hike to Emory peak for sunset 2mi round

Day 2: Sunday 10/14
10-12mi

Wake up at 5 am, on trail by 6 am.
4.2 Junction with Colima trail, right it is .9 mile to the Southwest Rim trail
4.2 NPS cabin, outhouse, Boot canyon campsites, Boot Spring
4.4 Junction with Juniper Canyon trail, if no water in Boot Spring there are large pools in the next .4 miles up the Boot Canyon trail before the Northeast Rim trail jct.
Check for water at Boot Springs (from pipe past cabin) and Boot Canyon Pools/ Tinajas upstream from spring)
4.7 JC1 campsite
4.8 high point of Juniper Canyon trail, 7100
7.7 Juniper Camp sign and Upper Juniper Spring, zone CO3 camping starts below here, 5200
11.1 Junction of Juniper Canyon trail and Dodson trail, end of Juniper Canyon road, 4000

Break for Lunch, check cache for abandoned water
14.8 Dodson ranch and Dodson Spring (not reliable)
Continue to Dodson Spring Area, camp (Zone CO4)


Day3: Monday 10/15
8-10mi

Wake up at 4am, on trail by 5am
Follow Dodson to Homer Wilson Ranch
15.8 Fresno Creek crossing
16.3 Junction with Elephant Tusk trail
17.7 High point of the Dodson trail, 5250
18.9 Junction with Smoky Creek trail
19.5 Last high point, dramatic views south and west, 5000
Break for lunch
22.0 Homer Wilson Ranch house, bear box is .2 miles on side trail to Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, 4200
23.1 Begin Red Rocks
Camp sometime in the couple miles on Blue Creek Canyon Trail following water re cache at Homer Wilson (Zone CO5), but before Cedar Springs (24.9)

Day 4: Tuesday
8-10mi

Wake up at 5 am, on trail by 6am
Follow the Blue Creek Canyon Trail to the Laguna Meadow Trail
24.9 Cedar Spring area, spring not reliable, several campsites in area
25.9 Start of climb to Laguna Meadows trail, ~5600, zone CO5 camping ends here
27.6 Blue Creek designated campsites
27.8 Junction with Laguna Meadows trail, 6700
27.9 Spur trail to LM 2,3,4 campsites, outhouse here
28.0 Spur trail to Laguna West campsites
Break for Lunch
28.2 begin descent on Laguna Meadows trail to Basin, 6700
31.3 Junction with Chisos Basin Loop trial, right it is .6 miles to the Pinnacles trail
31.7 Junction with Pinnacles trail
32.0 Basin parking lot
End Back at the Chisos Basin Visitor Center.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2018, 11:02:08 AM »
ChrisHikes welcome to BBC!

Looks pretty good just a couple of things stand out.

1. That first day will be a long one but you can always either cut out the South Rim or Emory, most folks would say cut out Emory if you have to make a choice. 
2. If you can re-water in Boot canyon then you can do the climb with a lighter pack which will enhance your chances of having the energy to do the South Rim loop and maybe Emory.
3. The EP1 campsite no longer exists.
4. Unless you are hiking by headlamp sunrise is around 8:00, light enough to see around 7:30.  The good thing is it is light later sunset around 7:30, light until almost 8:00
5. It can still be pretty hot on the Dodson in Oct. so your early starts are a good plan.

You haven't indicated your water plans other than a HW cache.
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 ChrisHikes

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2018, 12:50:13 PM »
Thanks for the response Mule Ears!

1.  Yes it is a pretty long day.  I had heard the sunset from Emory Peak is fantastic so I wanted to include it.  But if I had to cut something I am willing to do whats needed for a safe and successful trip.  I can always come back!
2.  I will definitely keep up with water reports and such as I get closer to go time.  Though I'm going to be packing out water as if all sources are dry.  1 1/2 - 2 gallons per day.
3.  Removed! Thanks!
4.  I do plan on bringing a headlamp and doing some early am hiking.  those wake up times aren't set in stone, but sort of a guideline to follow.  I'd really like to hike through sunrise every morning!
5.  Yes I'd like to get through as much as possible before the mid day scorch.  break mid day for lunch and to avoid the most intense heat.  I am debating bringing a hiking umbrella to help mitigate some of the direct sunlight.

I won't be able to cache water at the Juniper cache box.  It's not something I will plan or rely on, but I do hear there is often abandoned water left behind in the caches.  But plan on leaving 2-3 Gallons at the HW cache.  I don't think I'll need that much but I will appreciate the flexibility and possibility of leaving some water for other hikers.  my heaviest water time will be the stretch from camp 1 to the HW ranch with the possibility of there being no reliable sources of water I will carry around 3 gallons of water for about 1.5 days of travel.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2018, 12:59:32 PM »
First day of waking up at 3;00 - 3:30 in the morning, then driving 8 hours is going to suck.  But, you got to do what you got to do.  I have done the first day before by leaving at 6:00.  Much better on the body and less deer to hit on your drive to Junction.

Your choices of campsites will be limited because it is a weekend.  TM1 is usually taken.  Plan on Boot,  Juniper Canyon 1, or Colima. 

Hiking in the dark of morning is a waste to me.  Alls you get to see is the glow in front of you on the trail.  The question becomes, are you out there to DO the OML, or are you out there to experience the desert and the changing ecosystems you pass through?

Save your energy for the rim on the last day.  That way you have a choice of how well you feel from the earlier days trail walking you did.  You will also have passed by the pools of water in Boot creek a few days earlier, and will know if you can drink from those that last day.  Big water weight savings leaving Homer Wilson with that knowledge.

Leaving water at Homer for others is basically leaving trash for others to carry out.   If someone is that short on water, cars drive by all the time so they are not going to die.   Juniper is a completely different story.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2018, 01:10:43 PM by elhombre »
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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2018, 01:18:59 PM »
Thanks for the response Mule Ears!

1.  Yes it is a pretty long day.  I had heard the sunset from Emory Peak is fantastic so I wanted to include it.  But if I had to cut something I am willing to do whats needed for a safe and successful trip.  I can always come back!
2.  I will definitely keep up with water reports and such as I get closer to go time.  Though I'm going to be packing out water as if all sources are dry.  1 1/2 - 2 gallons per day.
3.  Removed! Thanks!
4.  I do plan on bringing a headlamp and doing some early am hiking.  those wake up times aren't set in stone, but sort of a guideline to follow.  I'd really like to hike through sunrise every morning!
5.  Yes I'd like to get through as much as possible before the mid day scorch.  break mid day for lunch and to avoid the most intense heat.  I am debating bringing a hiking umbrella to help mitigate some of the direct sunlight.

I won't be able to cache water at the Juniper cache box.  It's not something I will plan or rely on, but I do hear there is often abandoned water left behind in the caches.  But plan on leaving 2-3 Gallons at the HW cache.  I don't think I'll need that much but I will appreciate the flexibility and possibility of leaving some water for other hikers.  my heaviest water time will be the stretch from camp 1 to the HW ranch with the possibility of there being no reliable sources of water I will carry around 3 gallons of water for about 1.5 days of travel.

1 1/2 to 2 gallons a day is too much for a fall hike.  Everyone is different but 4-5 liters a day should be sufficient.  Fresno creek will have water at a minimum.  If water in Boot Canyon and Fresno then no reason to kill yourself with that much water weight, it is the downfall of many an OML attempt, too much pack weight.

Not much shade out on the Dodson, a few big bushed along the eastern end, Fresno drainage/canyon and some more big bushes on the western side of the high point then nothing really from Smoky Creek jct. to Homer Wilson.
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 ChrisHikes

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2018, 01:58:16 PM »
First day of waking up at 3;00 - 3:30 in the morning, then driving 8 hours is going to suck.  But, you got to do what you got to do.  I have done the first day before by leaving at 6:00.  Much better on the body and less deer to hit on your drive to Junction.

Your choices of campsites will be limited because it is a weekend.  TM1 is usually taken.  Plan on Boot,  Juniper Canyon 1, or Colima. 

Hiking in the dark of morning is a waste to me.  Alls you get to see is the glow in front of you on the trail.  The question becomes, are you out there to DO the OML, or are you out there to experience the desert and the changing ecosystems you pass through?

Save your energy for the rim on the last day.  That way you have a choice of how well you feel from the earlier days trail walking you did.  You will also have passed by the pools of water in Boot creek a few days earlier, and will know if you can drink from those that last day.  Big water weight savings leaving Homer Wilson with that knowledge.

Leaving water at Homer for others is basically leaving trash for others to carry out.   If someone is that short on water, cars drive by all the time so they are not going to die.   Juniper is a completely different story.

I often have to be up for work that early, so I'm pretty used to it.  Will definitely keep my eyes peeled and sharp for critters on the road!  I'm for sure going for the experience of seeing the ecosystem, but also want to make sure I'm being efficient with my energy.  Maybe I can plan do just do the early wake up bit heading into the Dodson.

That makes sense with leaving water at HW.  I'll plan accordingly.

Thanks Elhombre!

Quote
1 1/2 to 2 gallons a day is too much for a fall hike.  Everyone is different but 4-5 liters a day should be sufficient.  Fresno creek will have water at a minimum.  If water in Boot Canyon and Fresno then no reason to kill yourself with that much water weight, it is the downfall of many an OML attempt, too much pack weight.

Not much shade out on the Dodson, a few big bushed along the eastern end, Fresno drainage/canyon and some more big bushes on the western side of the high point then nothing really from Smoky Creek jct. to Homer Wilson.

That is nice to know that I will be able to get by with a bit less water packed out. Thanks!

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Offline JeremyHikes

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2018, 11:13:36 AM »
If you can beat the sunset and make it to the South Rim Lookout beforehand, it will make the trip. After caching at Wilson Ranch, if you are worried about the stretch on Dodson, maybe go stoveless the second half.

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Offline twystoflemon

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2018, 01:33:57 PM »
Ditto the water comments: there is always water at Fresno Creek, even during droughts. You just have to be willing to go downstream from the trail crossing during drier times (and feel confident in returning to the trail).

In my book, sunrise or sunset from the Rim is just as good as Emory Peak, but YMMV. My favorite vantage points lie from SE2 southwest to SE1 and on down to the southernmost tip (uphill from SW4). Of course there are many wonderful options throughout the Chisos.

Minor safety note about Emory Peak - there is a short boulder scramble at the very top of the trail that could be tricky in the dark.

Re: Umbrella - I have one of the Gossamer Gear umbrellas, and it can really make a difference as things heat up. You can check the weather forecast from the park's daily report, and use the Rio Grande section as a predictor of weather on the Dodson. The decision to take the umbrella may also depend on whether you use hiking poles and whether you want to strap the umbrella to your pack.

Enjoy!

Good luck!

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Offline ChrisHikes

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2018, 01:18:13 PM »
Thanks for the input!  I'm currently working of reworking my itinerary to take the advice offered here into account.  It look like ill be able to get there Friday evening and get my permits first thing in the morning, so I will have about 5-6 extra hours then I did in my previous Itinerary.

I do have a question about what I would like to do for convenience/ time sake,

I would like to cache my water at Homer Wilson Friday Night, So I don't have to wake up and drive back out there in the morning.  Is this something I can do?  I realize I would be night hiking, which I am comfortable with.  Only about a 1/2 mile round trip.

thanks all!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2018, 01:41:04 PM »
Thanks for the input!  I'm currently working of reworking my itinerary to take the advice offered here into account.  It look like ill be able to get there Friday evening and get my permits first thing in the morning, so I will have about 5-6 extra hours then I did in my previous Itinerary.

I do have a question about what I would like to do for convenience/ time sake,

I would like to cache my water at Homer Wilson Friday Night, So I don't have to wake up and drive back out there in the morning.  Is this something I can do?  I realize I would be night hiking, which I am comfortable with.  Only about a 1/2 mile round trip.

thanks all!

Definitely cache the HW water Friday night, the cache/bear box is only a few hundred yards down the trail from the HW overlook/parking area.  I assume you are going to camp in the Basin on Friday night and get your permit first thing at the Basin Visitor center?  The Basin VC opens at 8:30, half an hour earlier than PJ
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 ChrisHikes

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2018, 02:03:24 PM »
Yes Sir, that is the plan!

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Offline ChrisHikes

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2018, 02:53:50 PM »
Here is an updated Itinerary.  Most of the changes are in the beginning of the trip.  I'm going to attempt to do the South Rim on day 1, even though it was suggested to do it at the end, I think it will be a great intro to the hike, and like the guide here said, it will be cool to look up at the rim and make a comparison to where I had been.  I'll be carrying 5L of water at the most during the hike.  A 32 oz and 48 oz Nalgene and my 2.5L reservoir.

Outer Mountain Loop Trail Itinerary
Big Bend National Park

10/12/2018 10/16/18
Clockwise

Day 1: Friday 10/12
Austin TX → Chisos Basin Visitor Center
Depart Austin After work
Take I-10 to 385 S
385 turns into Main Park Road, Follow to Panther Junction VC
Turn Right to Follow Gano Springs Road
Turn Left at Ross Maxwell Scenic Dr.
Continue to Homer Wilson Ranch
Cache Gallon of water in box
Go north back to Gano springs Road, Turn Right
Turn Right at Basin Junction
End at Chisos Basin Visitor Center

Day 2: Saturday 10/13
8-9mi
Check in and pre check 8:30am.
Begin Hike
0.0 Basin parking lot, 5400
0.3 End of stone cabins road/water tank
0.6 Junction with Chisos Basin Loop trail, right it is .6 miles to the Laguna Meadows trail
1.0 After a steep climb, trail levels out some at Juniper Flats, Juniper Flats campsites
1.5 Boulder Meadows campsites
2.5 Pinnacles campsites at the bottom of the switchbacks up the Pinnacles, 6400
3.2 Pinnacles pass, 7000, Toll mtn. campsite, Jct. Emory Peak trail
4.2 Colima Trail Junction, Right.
5.1 South Rim Junction, Left
7.1 SE1/ Boot Canyon Tr, Left
8.0 East Rim Junction, Cont North
8.4 Juniper Canyon Junction, Right
Camp @ BC 1-4, CO1, or JC1.  Refill water at Boot spring.  If no water in Boot Spring there are large pools in the next .4 miles up the Boot Canyon trail before the Northeast Rim trail jct.

Day 3: Sunday 10/14
10-12mi
Wake up at 6 am, on trail by 7 am.
8.4 JC1 campsite ( or near by equivalent)
8.5 high point of Juniper Canyon trail, 7100
11.3 Juniper Camp sign and Upper Juniper Spring, zone CO3 camping starts below here, 5200

Day 3: Cont.

14.4 Junction of Juniper Canyon trail and Dodson trail, end of Juniper Canyon road, 4000
Break for Lunch, check cache for abandoned water
18.1 Dodson ranch and Dodson Spring (not reliable)
Continue to Dodson Spring Area, camp (Zone CO4)


Day 4: Monday 10/15
8-10mi
Wake up at 5am, on trail by 6am
Follow Dodson to Homer Wilson Ranch
15.8 Fresno Creek crossing
16.3 Junction with Elephant Tusk trail
17.7 High point of the Dodson trail, 5250
18.9 Junction with Smoky Creek trail
19.5 Last high point, dramatic views south and west, 5000
Break for lunch
22.0 Homer Wilson Ranch house, bear box is .2 miles on side trail to Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, 4200
23.1 Begin Red Rocks
Camp sometime in the couple miles on Blue Creek Canyon Trail following water re cache at Homer Wilson (Zone CO5), but before Cedar Springs (24.9)

Day 5: Tuesday
8-10mi

Wake up at 6 am, on trail by 7am
Follow the Blue Creek Canyon Trail to the Laguna Meadow Trail
24.9 Cedar Spring area, spring not reliable, several campsites in area
25.9 Start of climb to Laguna Meadows trail, ~5600, zone CO5 camping ends here
27.6 Blue Creek designated campsites
27.8 Junction with Laguna Meadows trail, 6700
27.9 Spur trail to LM 2,3,4 campsites, outhouse here
28.0 Spur trail to Laguna West campsites
Break for Lunch
28.2 begin descent on Laguna Meadows trail to Basin, 6700
31.3 Junction with Chisos Basin Loop trial, right it is .6 miles to the Pinnacles trail
31.7 Junction with Pinnacles trail
32.0 Basin parking lot
End Back at the Chisos Basin Visitor Center.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2018, 05:11:48 PM »
Now that's my kind of OML walking!  I would bet you could get a camp site either on SE 4 or NE 1-5.  Since you have so much time Saturday, I would make one of those my goal.  It takes about 4- 4.5 hours to walk all the way up to those sites.  You could extend it a little and grab some great views by going all the way up Boot, then head east along the rim.  From that corner of the Chisos,in the morning it will take about 6 hours to make it down the Juniper trail parking area.   Fresno creek/springs is 4 hours from there.  Great camp sites 1 mile down the Dodson from the Juniper junction when you come out of the either of the creek beds.  Have fun!
For 2 years the Fake News Media, Obama's FBI, CIA & DOJ, and Swamp dwelling Politicians COLLUDED, Illegally Spied,and LIED to America about POTUS in order to overturn an election

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Offline ChrisHikes

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2018, 02:48:42 PM »
That is a good idea.  Not a big modification either.  If the sites are available I'll definitely snag one!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML in mid October, looking for advice/ recommendations for Itinerary
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2018, 04:25:36 PM »
Definitely get a SE rim campsite through NE4, you will have plenty of time like el hombre said to get down to the Dodson.  The best pools in Boot Canyon are between the NE rim trail junction and the Juniper canyon junction which you would pass by the 2nd morning or the first afternoon if you do as suggested and go up Boot canyon to the rim.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 


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