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OML planned in November.

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Offline 19steve69

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OML planned in November.
« on: March 25, 2017, 03:25:12 AM »
This will be my second try on the OML. My first attempt was with a buddy who suffered knee problems and we had to turn around. I've been to Big Bend 4 times since that last failed trip but have only done day hikes with the family. Although, I did hike up the Blue Creek Trail so now I know what to expect.  Now I'm ready again for another attempt but this time I'm going solo. Reason being is that I cant find anyone that doesn't think I'm crazy for trying such a hike. But also I haven't tried very hard finding anyone either. It might sound selfish but I want to only have to worry about my self and see what I'm really made of. I've hiked solo quite a bit but only day hikes were I end back at my car campsite. All my backpacking trips have been with 1 or 2 more people so this solo trip with be a first. I'm working on getting my pack even lighter for this trip. It was 32#s with 4.5Ls of water last time but I'm shooting for 25 this time around. I haven't picked an exact date yet but looking at November so far.

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2017, 11:10:57 AM »
Going solo is kind of like sleeping out under the stars. Not for everyone, but once you try it, many find it to be very rewarding. The OML in November should be a good time to take your first solo trip. If you did have some issues, you could expect to run into a few people per day. Sounds like you've thought it through carefully, and aiming for a low pack weight is definitely a way to enhance the experience and minimize risk of injury.

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Offline GaryF

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2017, 11:55:12 AM »
I've always found group hikes and solo hikes to each be rewarding in their own ways. But the solo trips where I really pushed myself were the most memorable.  Like DesertRatShort said, there will be other people out hiking the OML if you do have issues. I think it sounds like a fine plan!

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Offline nuggetf5

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2017, 12:41:47 PM »
This coming November will be my third year in a row at BB around the same week. I've enjoyed the weather--it can move quickly between hot and cold. You will run into me doing a reverse OML starting at Homer Wilson if you're there early in the month. I'm bypassing the Basin, spending a night on the South Rim.

I did my first solo OML last November, clockwise from the basin. Saw 3 people between the top of the Pinnacles across the Dodson and then to the top of Blue Creek. I loved it. Met two young guys looking absolutely miserable that claimed they'd gotten lost on the Dodon and were aborting the hike, backtracking. Guessing they didn't get back to the Basin that day and if they did, ouch. They were going uphill near Upper Juniper Springs looking bad enough I stopped them to check on their condition. A young lady from Odessa was solo hiking the same direction and ended up camping about 20 yards from me. She stopped and checked on the them after I did. We chatted for maybe a half hour and that was it.

I think it's really important to find Upper Juniper Springs, even if you're caching water where you hit the Dodson. Great place for a break, not nearly as obvious as Fresno Creek, and not difficult to find if you follow instructions easily found here. Lots of very good advice on this forum and many people that have done it many, many times.

I personally find something really special about being alone out there. It was a hike I'll never forget that left me exhilarated for weeks it seemed. I hope you can find that same solace. Now I'm all pumped up and thinking about the hike again.
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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2017, 03:08:17 PM »
+1 on everything nuggetf5 said, especially about the joys of Upper Juniper Spring. And +1 on DesertRatShorty's comments on pack weight. Which, I must say, you seem to have a very good handle on. As nugget said, check this forum for trip reports and wisdom about the OML. It is overflowing with tips, data, warnings, and encouragements. Stay in touch between now and when you depart and we'll all help you in any way we can. I love going solo for all the reasons you mention. You are going to have such a great time.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline horns93

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2017, 12:33:52 PM »
nuggetf5,

Do you normally go to BB during Thanksgiving week? I am planning to do the OML (with a night on the Rim) and ideally would like to do Thanksgiving week due to time off from work, but I am a little concerned with the amount of people in the park at that time. My initial plan is to arrive the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving day to get my permit and cache water and backpack through Sunday, but I cannot determine if that is too late in the week for arrival. I checked El Campo for site activity last year and nearly everything was occupied but a good chunk of the Chisos was closed so I'm not sure if its an accurate representation.

Any insight you can provide would be appreciated.

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2017, 01:24:52 PM »
I can offer a little beta, Horns93.

I took my family (wife and two kids under 13) on a four-day backpack into the Chisos during the week of Thanksgiving 2015.  We had the luxury of having the entire week off, so we drove out to BIBE on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, arriving in Study Butte around 6pm, staying in the motor inn there.  We got up around 5am on Monday, ate breakfast, checked out, and then drove to Panther Junction to get our permits. We arrived around 7:30am and were not the first in line, but the line moved quickly. The permitting rangers were still fresh and cheerful that early in the week and we sorted out our permit fairly quickly. We'd hoped to make it to the top of the Pinnacles that day and camp at Toll Mountain but those sites were taken. Rangers swore there was ABSOLUTELY NO WATER in Boot Canyon, despite vigorous push-back and grilling from me. No water meant I would carry almost all we needed, which put my packweight close to 90lbs(!!!!).  We opted to take one of  the Pinnacles campsites down low, fine by me, as that was less water I had to hump up the Pinnacles. Our next two nights were up on the Northeast rim and then we hiked back down to the Basin for a Thanksgiving dinner at the Lodge. The upper Chisos were fairly populated while we were up there, but not unpleasantly so. Except for Emory Peak. Huge crowds at the top of the Pinnacles: mostly dayhikers going to and from Emory Peak. Once we left Emory behind and hike up Boot Canyon and onto the NE Rim, we saw only two or three families or mixed parties. Boot Canyon was, of course, FULL of water. :pissed: After that we were alone for most of the next day and a half. We heard a few hikers pass near our campsite on Tuesday and Wednesday, but none stopped to camp nearby, so we were feeling pretty isolated (happily). On our exit Thursday, we circuited the NE Rim to Boot Canyon and headed down, seeing only three more parties of backpackers until we neared the Emory trailhead, which was, once again, packed with dayhikers. We climbed Emory and it was as crowded as I've ever seen it. The path up looked like the Chilkoot Trail during the Gold Rush and the summit, plus all the false summits, were packed with wall-to-wall hikers. After summiting, we then headed back down to the Basin, arriving at dusk on Thanksgiving Day, and headed to the Lodge's restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. Had to wait about two hours (a drag) which we filled with chips from the Basin store (the kids) and beer from the Lodge's bar (me), then ate a great dinner and drove back to a waiting motel room in Study Butte.

I suppose the takeaway is Thanksgiving is do-able, but the earlier in the week you hit the park, the more likely you are to find spots in the Chisos. I will say, from many past experiences, that the Chisos lodge books up months in advance for holidays, but Study Butte and Terlingua, not so much. Not sure about the campgrounds.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 01:37:33 PM by House Made of Dawn »
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Offline PacingTheCage

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2017, 03:44:19 PM »
I'll be hiking the OML with my son and his father-in-law the week of November 13th.  We plan the reverse route begining at Juniper Canyon.  We're planning to get there the 14th and make it a 3 night trip and enjoy the South Rim.

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Offline horns93

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2017, 12:30:32 PM »
HMoD,

Thanks very much for sharing your insight. I suspected a mid-week arrival may a bit more challenging and you basically confirmed that.

I hope that two hour wait at the Lodge was worth it!

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2017, 12:50:32 PM »
It was actually a pretty darn good meal! Plus you can't beat the scenery. Or the company. Everyone in the restaurant had hiked the Chisos that day. Probably even the fox that wandered by the window. ;)


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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2017, 01:04:06 PM »
nuggetf5,

Do you normally go to BB during Thanksgiving week? I am planning to do the OML (with a night on the Rim) and ideally would like to do Thanksgiving week due to time off from work, but I am a little concerned with the amount of people in the park at that time. My initial plan is to arrive the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving day to get my permit and cache water and backpack through Sunday, but I cannot determine if that is too late in the week for arrival. I checked El Campo for site activity last year and nearly everything was occupied but a good chunk of the Chisos was closed so I'm not sure if its an accurate representation.

Any insight you can provide would be appreciated.

If you go back and look at 2015 it was still pretty full but not completely.  Of course who knows what the bear situation will be this fall.  Your best bet for a south rim site is to get it for Saturday on your way out (assuming you will start in the Basin), always much easier to get a Chisos spot a few days out than the first night but it means you have to get down into one of the zones the first day or get lucky with JC1 or one of the Blue Creek sites, they were open on the Wed. before Thanksgiving in 2015.
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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2017, 03:52:40 PM »
I think Mule Ears is right: better chances of getting a Chisos spot late in the weekend. And you could start somewhere other than in the Basin, somewhere down low, and head down the Dodson first, hitting the Chisos toward the end of your trip.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline horns93

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2017, 02:18:37 PM »
nuggetf5,

Do you normally go to BB during Thanksgiving week? I am planning to do the OML (with a night on the Rim) and ideally would like to do Thanksgiving week due to time off from work, but I am a little concerned with the amount of people in the park at that time. My initial plan is to arrive the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving day to get my permit and cache water and backpack through Sunday, but I cannot determine if that is too late in the week for arrival. I checked El Campo for site activity last year and nearly everything was occupied but a good chunk of the Chisos was closed so I'm not sure if its an accurate representation.

Any insight you can provide would be appreciated.

If you go back and look at 2015 it was still pretty full but not completely.  Of course who knows what the bear situation will be this fall.  Your best bet for a south rim site is to get it for Saturday on your way out (assuming you will start in the Basin), always much easier to get a Chisos spot a few days out than the first night but it means you have to get down into one of the zones the first day or get lucky with JC1 or one of the Blue Creek sites, they were open on the Wed. before Thanksgiving in 2015.

Ideally I wanted to start at Homer Wilson and hike clockwise with the 1st night in the Chisos, but I will need a plan B if that's not possible. Thanks, ME.

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Offline nuggetf5

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2017, 12:54:02 PM »
nuggetf5,

Do you normally go to BB during Thanksgiving week? I am planning to do the OML (with a night on the Rim) and ideally would like to do Thanksgiving week due to time off from work, but I am a little concerned with the amount of people in the park at that time. My initial plan is to arrive the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving day to get my permit and cache water and backpack through Sunday, but I cannot determine if that is too late in the week for arrival. I checked El Campo for site activity last year and nearly everything was occupied but a good chunk of the Chisos was closed so I'm not sure if its an accurate representation.

Any insight you can provide would be appreciated.

Sorry for missing your reply for a few days but looks like you're receiving good advice. I've always been there early in November, avoiding Thanksgiving because I'd assume more people then. Also part of the reason I'm starting on Wednesday, Nov. 1 and finishing on Friday.
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Offline 19steve69

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Re: OML planned in November.
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2017, 07:48:01 PM »
I haven't checked the forum in a while but thanks for all the replies. I've been doing a lot of running lately and have gotten a bad heel injury. Planter fasciitis. It is taking a long time to heal so I've stuck with cycling for exercise instead. I'm still planning on doing the OML as planned, but it all depends on if I can get full recovery from my foot. Last thing I want is for it to flare up on the hike. Fingers crossed, I'll be back in hiking shape by November.

 


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