Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => General Questions and Answers => Topic started by: dprather on February 13, 2019, 08:44:51 PM

Title: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: dprather on February 13, 2019, 08:44:51 PM
Good News: after many years of trying, I have convinced my oldest son to go backpacking with me. 

Bad News: the only week he has available is the week of March 10, exactly the same week as the vast majority of Texas colleges and very many public schools will be out for spring break.

I was out there during Spring Break about three years ago and it was just miserable.  Multi-hour lines to get backcountry permits (maybe) do not make for an enjoyable trip.  Multi-hour restaurant lines; no parking in the Basin; camp sites all filled, and etc.  The darned thing about it was that so many of the spring breakers were clearly not enjoying the place.

Background: he is mid-30s, strong and well-enough conditioned (he runs and lifts regularly), but he is a backpacking rookie.  I can cover his inexperience, but I was so looking forward to an OML as an easy-breezy intro for him.  I'm concerned that some of the other Bend choices might be a bit over his head.

Questions:

Will Mesa de Anguila likely be crowded that week (assuming I can stomach long permit lines)?  What about a Quemadas loop starting/stopping at Mule Ears parking?

What about BBRSP?  I'm a bit concerned that the Rancherias Loop would be a less-than-optimal baptism into backpacking due to its challenges.  Are there other 3/4 day & 2/3 night trails with adequate water at BBRSP?  Will BBRSP be awash in the great unwashed?

I'm bummed out about this.  The Eagle Rock Loop in Arkanas is ordinarily a good "Plan B," but East Texas, Louisiana, and, I fear, Arkansas has had a terribly, terribly wet winter.  Those several wet crossings along the ERL that can be hopped across in average weather turn into 20+ crossings that require stopping, changing clothes, and etc. with a couple of them becoming near-treacherous. 

Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: Ranger Tim on February 13, 2019, 09:19:35 PM
Permit me to meditate on the issue and get back with you at a slightly later date. I suspect that we can find something tenable at BBRSP. You might jump on the TPWD reservation system now and see what is available as that may advise my advice.

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Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: dprather on February 13, 2019, 10:45:29 PM
The kindness of a friend - thanks.
Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: dprather on February 13, 2019, 10:46:38 PM
Hold it - what reservation system?????????????????
Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: possum on February 13, 2019, 11:14:58 PM
https://tpwd.texas.gov/business/park_reservations/
Braaaand New!  Haven't had opportunity to try it yet, supposed to be able to reserve specific sites.
 
Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: Jalco on February 14, 2019, 02:23:59 AM
How about something a little further afield?  I've been looking at sections of the Ozark Trail in Missouri, specifically the Eleven Point River section, https://www.ozarktrail.com/maps/

There are a couple of loop trails that look interesting,
Whites Creek Trail, https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7025407/whites-creek-trail
Brushy Creek Trail, https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7048291/brushy-creek-trail
Several trails in the Big Spring National Park Area that could be combined to make a loop.

SE Missouri may be wet as well, though.
Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: mule ears on February 14, 2019, 06:29:34 AM
Can you get out there Friday the 8th and beat the crowd a bit and make getting a permit easier?  A Quemadas loop won't necessarily be any easier than the Rancherias loop especially if you go over Jack's Pass and it will mostly be off trail but there is a lot of easy water there so that makes a big difference.  How many miles a day are you thinking?
Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: congahead on February 14, 2019, 07:05:16 AM
2009 Spring Break, my then-15 year old son and I did our first-ever backpacking trip from Homer Wilson down Dodson to Smoky Creek, down Smoky Creek to Mule Ears and then out Mule Ears to the ME trailhead. Easy navigation, easy trailfinding, mostly easy walking (except a couple of fun pour-offs on Smoky Creek, lots of water and only one other group, on the Dodson leg (they were doing the OML).  It was one night and around ~12 miles if IIRC. If you're looking to make it 2 or 3 nights then you could probably knock around Smoky Spring and/or explore Mule Ears.
Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: wotantx on February 14, 2019, 07:35:37 AM
https://tpwd.texas.gov/business/park_reservations/
Braaaand New!  Haven't had opportunity to try it yet, supposed to be able to reserve specific sites.

When it works. They've had a lot of kinks to work out.

It also isn't finding existing park passes, which means you will have to pay entry fees, etc, and then get refunded when you get to the park.
Title: Re: Spring Break Conundrum
Post by: elhombre on February 14, 2019, 09:33:45 AM
Can you make it out to Elephant Tusk trail head?  Start there and make your way around to Domiquez Spring and back.  We did it one Spring Break and only saw people at the road.  I'm pretty sure you already know, but for those who may be reading, don't park in the Elephant Tusk campsite parking area.  Park 100 yards west along the side of the road.  No body wants to stare at your car while tent camping.