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OML Trip Report Feb 6-10

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Offline Fry

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OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« on: February 14, 2017, 10:22:48 AM »
I've read a lot of great info from this site, so I wanted to take a moment to contribute. I finally made my first trip to Big Bend last week, and it was awesome. Already looking forward to going back!

Here are my trail notes..........I hope it's not too long. Perhaps you can find some useful information in there somewhere.

Day 1 (Monday)
-Drive to Big Bend. Arrive late at night.
-Cache water at Homer Wilson Ranch-Very easy to get to. Drive up to the HWR sign, then walk down the trail to the bear box (5-10 minutes).
-Cache water at Juniper Canyon-Not so easy....... I had read about this road quite a bit, and how you need a high clearance vehicle. Some folks were saying you don't need one, so I thought I'd go out there and see for myself. Let's just say, I did it in a Jeep Compass (small SUV, low clearance, no 4WD) .............BUT!!! I will never do it again. LOL! That vehicle had no business being out there, and I still can't believe I made it back. It took about four hours to go the 12-13 miles and back. IT'S NOT WORTH THE TROUBLE. Just get water at Fresno, or Upper Juniper.
-Slept in the car

Day 2 (Tuesday)
-Slept in. Looked around a bit, checked my gear, and ate a bite.
-Got a permit from the Panther Junction Visitor Center with no problems. Completed solo hiker form, which to me, was pretty painless.
-Finally got on the trail at 12:15 PM.
-Hike up the Pinnacles Trail to JC1. Arrive at 3:30 PM.
-Set up camp, then hiked out to the Rim via Boot Canyon. Was back at JC1 by 6PM.
-Coldest Temp was 40 degrees at about 3AM.

Day 3 (Wednesday)
-Leave JC1 at 7AM. Beautiful hike (downhill).
-Ran across the first noticeable backcountry campsite at 8AM.
-Visit to Upper Juniper Spring at 8:50AM. Flowing nicely.
-Arrived at Juniper Canyon Road/Dodson Trailhead at 10:49 AM to pick up water from my cache.
-Begin the Dodson Trail at 11:45AM, after a little break.
-Very hot, up/down hike............... ...yet beautiful. To me, this was the hardest part of the OML and the most memorable at the same time.
-Arrived at Fresno Creek at 3:20PM. Water flowing nicely. Made camp.
-Coldest Temp was 50 degrees at 4AM.

Day 4 (Thursday)
-Leave Fresno at 5:45AM.
-Trail begins to go downhill not far after Fresno Creek
-Arrive Smoky Creek / Mule Ears Trail at 7:32AM
-Arrive Homer Wilson Ranch at 9:40 AM. Pick up water. Rest.
-On Blue Creek Trail sometime around noon, as I forgot to make note of the time. Continued hiking to the very edge of the zone camping area.
-Made camp around 4PM.
-Temp:  70 degrees at 7PM, and 50 degrees at 4AM.

Day 5 (Friday)
-On the trail at 5:45AM.
-Passed BL1 Campsite at 7:56AM.
-Arrived at the Chisos Basin parking lot at 9:45AM.
-Ate a Chicken Fried Steak and a cold one.
-Checked in at Basin Visitor Center.
-Shower at Rio Grande Village. Coin Operated 2$ for 5 minutes.
-Camped at Grapevine Hills 1, roadside campsite.
FULL MOON

Day 6 (Saturday)
Travel home

This was an amazing trip and I would highly recommend it. If you've never been, just read as much on this website as you can, then prepare. Like me, you won't have any problems.

God Bless!

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Offline Robert

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 10:51:33 AM »
Thanks for the report. I've been up Juniper Canyon road a few times in my truck and agree that taking a low clearance vehicle is not recommended.

We were out backpacking last week as well. Those early starts later in the week probably helped you deal with the heat. What time were you waking up to get that early start? We were leaving between 7 and 8 most days after waking up between 6 and 6:30. I think we had a low on Tuesday of just under 40 degrees but not after that.

You didn't mention gear but your travel times suggest you were traveling light. Did you bother taking a tent or just sleep out (under that blinding moon)? Were you eating or cooking breakfast before taking off for the day?
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 11:36:52 AM by Robert »

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 10:59:50 AM »
Robert's questions are good ones. I'd be interested in the answers. But whatever they are, I'd say you were doing everything just right for you because your trip sounds like a darn-near perfect circuit of the OML. Well done, Fry.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2017, 12:00:03 PM »
Walking at 5:45?  It is flat dark then, can't really see without a headlamp until about 7:00.  You must have had a strong headlamp and carefully watched for the trail and cairns along the Dodson.  It was darn hot last week for sure!

Thanks for the detailed notes and yes, not worth it to drive to Juniper to cache water when Fresno and Upper Juniper are running so well.
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 Robert

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 12:08:36 PM »
Walking at 5:45?  It is flat dark then, can't really see without a headlamp until about 7:00.  You must have had a strong headlamp and carefully watched for the trail and cairns along the Dodson.  It was darn hot last week for sure!

Thanks for the detailed notes and yes, not worth it to drive to Juniper to cache water when Fresno and Upper Juniper are running so well.

I remember the moon still up on Friday morning, perhaps there was some moonlight on Thursday as well.

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Offline Fry

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 02:56:22 PM »
Thank you for the questions:

I ate oatmeal/coffee at breakfast, cliff bars for lunch, and pasta/ramen style dinners in the evenings. I use a one-burner backpacking stove to heat water. I cook in freezer bags to reduce weight and washing.

I do take a one man tent, although the weather was nice. When I'm out, I enjoy the comfort of a tent and getting out of the wind, etc...

When I left the Basin and had 5.5 L of water, my pack weighed 37lbs.

As far as the early mornings........... .. I have small kids at home, so sleeping more than 8 hours would be hard for me to do. :)
That being said, honestly, I was so tired at the end of the day that I was asleep by dark (7-8 PM) every evening. Then I would naturally wake up about 3-4AM every morning. The moon was huge and bright enough I had a dark shadow while hiking each morning. Also, have a good light. The washes were tricky early morning on the Dodson. I just went very slow, and if I wasn't 100% sure of the trail.....I'd stop, back up, or re-evaluate.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2017, 03:44:34 PM »
As far as the early mornings........... .. I have small kids at home, so sleeping more than 8 hours would be hard for me to do. :)
                                                                                                                 :s_laugh:
Been there, done that!  :icon_lol:  Sounds like you have your methods well-refined. Also sounds like you're a pretty robust hiker. Well done, Fry. Well done.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Fry

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2017, 05:52:09 PM »
Thank you. I think I was just excited to be out there, perhaps I went a little bit fast. One day, I hope to go back and hike fewer miles, in the same amount of time. Go a bit slower.

And many thanks to bigbendchat for the great information.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2017, 06:23:03 PM »
Walking at 5:45?  It is flat dark then, can't really see without a headlamp until about 7:00.  You must have had a strong headlamp and carefully watched for the trail and cairns along the Dodson.  It was darn hot last week for sure!

Thanks for the detailed notes and yes, not worth it to drive to Juniper to cache water when Fresno and Upper Juniper are running so well.

I remember the moon still up on Friday morning, perhaps there was some moonlight on Thursday as well.

You are correct in that, especially out on the Dodson with the moon moving unencumbered across the sky.  We were in canyons that would let it/force it to mercifully set between 4-6 am so we had at least a few hours of darkness.
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 jmac56

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Re: OML Trip Report Feb 6-10
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2017, 10:16:56 AM »
Great summary - confirmed my decision not to try stash water at the East end of the Dodson. And wish I'd known about the showers at the Rio Grande Village!!!! Was getting a little ripe by day 5.

 


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