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Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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First Timer Questions

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Offline Hang10er

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First Timer Questions
« on: October 21, 2013, 03:53:07 PM »
Will be in BBRSP Nov 23, 2013 for a first time trip.  Myself and my 12 year old son.  Primary purpose, just to experience Texas. 
We are not new campers, we usually do 1 or 2 state park tent trips a year but we usuallly do Hill Country river type trips.
I'm googling and researching all I can and found this site.  First of all, thanks to all you wonderful people for writing down your experiences
 and patiently helping new people like me.   So, I'll list my questions, please answer and feel free to give answers
to questions I didn't think to ask.

We will bring wood for the fire ring (we love to sit around a fire at night).  Is there a BBQ pit like other parks?  If not, we can bring a camp stove. 

We have reservations for La Posta camp site.  I can't imagine a bad camp site, but anyone have an opinion on that site?

I plan to stop for extra ice for my cooler prior to entering the park.  I see 3 choices, get ice at the ranger station if they sell it there. 
Get it in Terlingua (we are coming from the coast and plan to go thru Terlingua so we can see the ghost town. 
Or, after driving the river road should I go into Presidio, get ice and return to Casa Peidra road to enter the park.  Recommendations?

I saw one string mention a possible rule against generators?  I don't usually use one but have access to one, should I? 
I'd just use it in case I want a heater in my tent or to charge cameras.  Yes, I said heater in my tent.  Coming in late
November and I'm use to South Texas winter nights, low 70's!! ha ha ha 

Speaking of weather, I was born and raised in Texas and I know November here in Corpus can have lows at night anywhere from 75 degrees to freezing. 
I expect the normal there in BBRSP to be nice and warm during the day, how cold is normal at night for late November?
We will be in a tent, on an air mattress in sleeping bags.  Do we need more??

Once I enter the park, I don't plan to drive out until we leave (staying 3 nights).  Should I reconsider and drive the River Road to do some hiking? 
We will arrive that way, but my truck will be full of all our gear so I don't want to
go on any hikes then.  Once in the park, with only 2 full days it seems like enough to see inside.

My son really wants to see some caves.  They don't have to be deep, just some indentions that we can hike to and see. 
I saw Cueva Larga noted on this site and that looks easy to get to, any others?

Finally, when I was a kid, my grandparents ran a cactus and rock shop in Sanderson.  I remember Horned Toads everywhere there. 
We plan to stop and look around on the way thru, anyone know, can you still find horned toads there?

Thanks again for anyone that takes to time to answer my questions.  My son and I are pretty good with our GoPro camera and digital camera. 
We'll post pics and a video when we get back and will definitely throw the link on here for you to see.

Thanks
Henry

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Offline Hoodoo

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2013, 05:57:39 PM »
We will bring wood for the fire ring (we love to sit around a fire at night).  Is there a BBQ pit like other parks?  If not, we can bring a camp stove.
We have reservations for La Posta camp site.  I can't imagine a bad camp site, but anyone have an opinion on that site?

The sites I have camped at in BBRSP have a fire ring with grate, but based on this photo from the TPWD website, La Posta appears to have a fire ring but no grate.
 


I usually bring a grate, camp stove and plow disk to cover all bases, particularly if there is a burn ban in effect.

I plan to stop for extra ice for my cooler prior to entering the park.  I see 3 choices, get ice at the ranger station if they sell it there. 
Get it in Terlingua (we are coming from the coast and plan to go thru Terlingua so we can see the ghost town. 
Or, after driving the river road should I go into Presidio, get ice and return to Casa Peidra road to enter the park.  Recommendations?

I would top off in Terlingua/Study Butte on the way in and make a run to Sauceda or Presidio if necessary.
According to this thread from 2008 you can get ice at Sauceda.

Hopefully someone else will have more recent info.

We'll post pics and a video when we get back and will definitely throw the link on here for you to see.

Looking forward to the trip report!

Don
« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 06:20:48 PM by Hoodoo »
Don
Fort Worth

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Offline dillomaster

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 07:12:31 PM »
First, welcome!  You have found the right place. I'm comfortable saying the collective knowledge you will find on this site exceeds all the information available on the rest of the world wide web! I would take a good read of all the BB Ranch posts as well as the ones on desert camping and hiking.

There are no BBQ pits at the camp sites, but usually a fire "ring" of some sorts.  Bring your own wood, and a back-up if there should be a fire ban.

La Posta is a good site. Perfect base camp for exploring Fresno Canyon, either by 4x4 or on foot.

There is ice available at the Ranger station at Sauceda - for a cash donation.  Good to have some small bills.

I'd pass on the generator.  Regardless of the rules, back country etiquette would say to leave it at home.  (Having said that, your nearest neighbor will be at least a mile away... but sound does travel.)

It can definitely get a special kind of cold at night.  I'd throw in a couple extra blankets in addition to your sleeping bags and you should be fine.

Once in the park, I'd plan to stay for the duration.  There is plenty to do and see for several days.  Plus it is over an hour back out the River Road.

Cueva Larga is a must see for your son.  An easy hike.  There are no true "caves" at the Ranch - all the features are formed by erosion.  If you have a 4x4 vehicle it is worth taking your son out the Las Burras road.  Toward the end there is an area with all sorts of crazy erosion features - including many small "caves" to explore.  Great place for kids.  There is a post here with some pictures.

Have never seen a horned toad there - but it has been a long time since I've seen them anywhere.  They don't seem to be fairing to well these days...

Hope you have a great trip!  Standard words of caution when visiting the Ranch - its not like any other state park.  No water. No fuel. No food. (Except meals at the bunk house.) Be prepared!

Can't wait for the trip report and pics!

Carson

 

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Offline Geezer

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2013, 11:28:06 PM »
I seem to be the gloomy Gus in this outfit. That said, you ought to look at this:

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/big-bend-ranch-state-park-qa/bbrsp-rescue/msg126465/#msg126465

Or maybe you've already seen it.

Best wishes,

Geezer

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2013, 09:22:33 AM »
Geezer, Don & Carson,

Thanks for the info.  I'm sure I'll think of more questions before we go (31 days!).  What you said about the generator hit home and
we are definitely passing on that.  We'll pack some long johns and throw in a pair of extra blankets.

Cueva Larga is on the "to do" list definitely. 

I have a Chevy truck but not 4X4 so it sounds like Los Burras road is out, although those formations sounded interesting.  We'll try
Fresno Canyon probably.  We're still bouncing around this site researching places.

We plan to have wood, a portable grate to set over it and a gas camp stove for back up.  Will leave unused wood for the next camper if that's ok.

I'll top off with ice and gas in Terlingua and then get ice if need be at Sauceda.  Will have small bills, thanks for that tip.

Geezer, don't fret being gloomy.  20 years as an officer with my local PD has taught me to consider, plan for and expect the worse.
My son and I are planning to just do short hikes, maybe a few hours in the morning then head to camp for lunch and then a few hours in
the afternoon.  Even with that, we plan on each carrying a daypack with water, power bars, whistle and a fire starter.  We'll have a basic first
aid kit and we've already been discussing plans on what to do if we become hurt or separated.  I'm printing maps from the web site and we
plan to plan out our hikes prior to settting out, discussing what way the closest roads are, what direction we are heading, etc.  We've also
found some good packing lists on here with things like lip balm, sun tan lotion, etc.

I have 2 hand held GPS's and we'll throw in some extra batteries.  I plan to teach my son how to use them while out there and want to
actually have him mark our truck location prior to a hike and then have him navigate us back.  Got an old Army compass as back up. 

Our itinerary, which is constantly changing is as follows (please critique).

We'll leave Corpus around 5am.
Stop enroute for a BOB (Whataburger breakfast on a bun is a tradition for us).
Stop in Sanderson to look around a bit (family history like I mentioned earlier)
Stop in Terlingua to see the ghost town. Top off fuel and ice.
Should arrive sometime early evening.  Make camp and just explore around the campsite.

Next day we'll make breakfast, warm up and then a morning hike, maybe Cueva Larga.
Lunch back at camp.
Afternoon exploring, maybe Las Cuevas Amarillas that I read about on here.  We'd like to see
the Native American rock art and then Ojito Adentro?

Next day, same thing, morning hike and then an afternoon exploration.  Not sure where yet.  We
will also have supplies to take lunch with us in case we want to do a little longer hike where we
set out in the am and be able to eat out on the trail. 

Last day, we will hang out around the camp or somewhere reallly close since we will need to
break camp and start to head back that day. 

Again, thanks for the words of wisedom.  Throw in your ideas and comments.  Carson mentioned Fresnos Canyon,
so I'll be browsing for topics on that.

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Offline VivaTerlingua

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2013, 09:24:43 AM »
Closed Canyon is not a cave, but I bet your son would enjoy it as much as a cave.  It's right off the highway and worth the stop.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2013, 09:25:25 AM »
Haven't seen horny toads in a long time.  Heard it was due to the fire ants killing them.  I only remember the big red ants growing up, so it makes sense in a non-scientific way. 

I was going to suggest you do something about your air mattress.  Everyone I know, including myself, started out with an air mattress because they look so good in the store.  But the first real cool/cold night, that air mattress will suck the heat out of your body and make you hurt bad the morning.  Worse than sleeping on the ground in my opinion. 

Could be warm, or could be freaking cold.  Either way, it will look like you brought too much stuff, but being prepared for all weather options can make or break a great trip.

The drive out to Presidio is a long one, so do everything you can to stay in the park.  If you are going to drive a lot, bring some extra gas.  I know I should have brought more than 5 gallons extra, but we were there 5 days.
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

All the while demanding censorship and removal of opposition Conservative "hate speech" voices.  Globalists Hate Freedom

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Offline presidio

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2013, 11:39:03 AM »
Geezer, Don & Carson,

Geezer, don't fret being gloomy.  20 years as an officer with my local PD has taught me to consider, plan for and expect the worse.
My son and I are planning to just do short hikes, maybe a few hours in the morning then head to camp for lunch and then a few hours in the afternoon.  Even with that, we plan on each carrying a daypack with water, power bars, whistle and a fire starter.  We'll have a basic first aid kit and we've already been discussing plans on what to do if we become hurt or separated.  I'm printing maps from the web site and we plan to plan out our hikes prior to settting out, discussing what way the closest roads are, what direction we are heading, etc.

I have 2 hand held GPS's and we'll throw in some extra batteries.  I plan to teach my son how to use them while out there and want to actually have him mark our truck location prior to a hike and then have him navigate us back.  Got an old Army compass as back up. 

I would suggest that taking at least one actual topo sheet for someplace you'll be or will be passing through (so that it's relevant) and a compass (a bit better than your "old army compass"...a Suunto or Silva is not all that expensive and very handy) would be far more instructive for your son. Rather than carrying your web maps and current compass as a "back up", they should be a principal tool for at least a little while on your trip.

Having maps and compass as a back up, but not knowing how to use them effectively, is not much better than not having them.

He should learn how to use map & compass and navigate without the nifty devices we all use, but which can fail at the most inopportune times. Undoubtedly, there's an extremely high percentage of people who rely upon GPS units that have absolutely no experience or ability to use map & compass since the technology many have in their cars seems to eliminate any need to know how to navigate. While that's minimally okay in urban areas, it's not okay in the wild.

The desert is the perfect place to learn to do this as landmarks easily are visible and the terrain also can be easily correlated to the map depictions, thus enabling the ability to visualize terrain from the map only and before you get to it.

I have met people who simply cannot understand that closely spaced contour lines mean very steep terrain. To them, a map is a bunch of squiggly lines.

You don't have to make your son use the map and compass in lieu of the GPS, but he needs exposure to the principles of real navigation...shooti ng azimuths, determining position from sighting those azimuths on multiple points, analyzing which way to go based on depicted terrain, etc.

You will make him a competent outdoorsman and a member of a sadly diminishing pool of skilled navigators.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Beatrice

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2013, 07:56:51 PM »
I've read studies that show that a single individual loses ability to navigate in space when he starts using a GPS. In the obverse, cabbies who have to memorize roads and connections without GPS help have measurable increases in the size of certain navigating regions of the brain.

Our brains are actually changing as we offload information storage and retrieval for facts, maps, etc. And it isn't a slow and gradual change over many generations, but one that is measurable in a single person as he transitions from maps and memory to a GPS.

We likewise are changing the way we read, skimming for content over short (often one-line) paragraphs. Again measurable in individuals, we're loosing the ability to process a deep and complicated story line and want facts fed to us piece-meal. The parts of our brains that are creative and problem solving apparently are growing in exchange so we can do something with all this info we're bombarded with in the Information Age.

It's worth realizing that the brains themselves are not the same as they were a generation ago and to compensate for that with extra training and experience and with multiple back-up options.

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Online dprather

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2013, 10:14:23 PM »
Five words: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core.

While regular air mattresses will suck the heat out of you, these will not.  Although the Big Agnes "system" (sleeve in their sleeping bags for one of their air mattresses) seems like a gimmick, it isn't.  Their system gives a great, and warm, night's sleep.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline dillomaster

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2013, 06:33:35 AM »
Thermorest Neo Air has a thermo-reflective membrane (like that in emergency blankets) that is also very warm.  Be careful - everything in the area has thorns - not very friendly to anything design to hold air - including tires!

Getting back into the spririt of the orignal post, if you stop at Cuevas Amarillas be sure to check out the rock shelter "cave" and the rock art.  Entering the park it will be just past the creek crossing at Cuevas Amarillas on your right.  There is a little interpretive display, but it would be easy to drive right on by if you are not looking for it!

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2013, 01:00:46 PM »
Getting back into the spririt of the orignal post, if you stop at Cuevas Amarillas be sure to check out the rock shelter "cave" and the rock art.  Entering the park it will be just past the creek crossing at Cuevas Amarillas on your right.  There is a little interpretive display, but it would be easy to drive right on by if you are not looking for it!

Thanks! That's the tidbits (the stuff about easily missing Cuevas Amarillas and the rock art nearby), I'm really looking for! 

All the map orienting tips are very much appreciated and we will do some learning and practicing prior to going. 
We will have some fun doing some orienting while out there.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 01:12:12 PM by RichardM »

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Offline mellbell64

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2013, 02:26:44 PM »
Henry
Welcome to Big Bend. I am also in Corpus! Just wanted to chime in and say that i went to BBNP at Thanksgiving for the past 4 years and tent camped. This year we are going between Christmas and New Years.

We experienced varying temps at night ranging from mid teens to low 40s. And its a very dry cold so in my opinion its easier to take than the wet cold we have in Corpus. As has already been mentioned and we learned from experience- the air mattress sucks for cold weather camping! The air inside gets very cold and is just no good for keeping warm. What we do now and find it just as comfy is sleeeping on a cot with a 30 degree sleeping bag and a fleece blanket when necessary...Its much warmer to be up off the ground. We paid $25 for ours on Amazon. I sleep in workout leggings and runnners shirts. A knit hat is probably the most important thing you need to stay warm while sleeping. I often start out with wool sox and mittens on as well only to shed them at some point during the night!

Have fun!

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Offline MikeW

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Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2013, 04:55:08 PM »
Hi,

I'm going to answer where I can.

We will bring wood for the fire ring (we love to sit around a fire at night).  Is there a BBQ pit like other parks?  If not, we can bring a camp stove.
Bring the stove - I don't remember a grate at any of our campsites.

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I plan to stop for extra ice for my cooler prior to entering the park.
Never a bad idea but it is available at the ranger station inside the park.


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...go thru Terlingua so we can see the ghost town. 
Terlingua is a great experience - it's worth driving through to get a taste then plan to come back another day and soak it up.

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...go into Presidio, get ice and return to Casa Peidra road to enter the park.  Recommendations?
We did this to maximize the amount of gas we had - and also carried in 10 extra gallons. But we were there a full week and drove a good bit.

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Once I enter the park, I don't plan to drive out until we leave (staying 3 nights).
Good call. It takes so long to drive in and out that it seems a waste of precious time. Go in and stay in, I think.

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Once in the park, with only 2 full days it seems like enough to see inside.
We were in there a full week and didn't see it all. I love that park!

Couple of tips:
The roads are HARD on your tires. Be sure they're in good shape. Be prepared for a flat.

There's a delightful fellow named Gary Nored that volunteers in the park. Track him down (Flickr is a good way) ahead of time, tell him your plans, and heed his advice. He likes to visit, takes great photos, and knows the park inside and out.

Way down at the end of Fresno Canyon there's a delightful hike / scramble up to a waterfall and an oasis. If you're fit and capable, nice hike! Talk with Gary.

There are petroglyphs to be seen in Fresno Canyon. Watch for rubber mats and a trail just off the road. In the overhang - lay down and look up.

HTH,
Mike

Re: First Timer Questions
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2013, 01:17:50 PM »
This is the fire ring at Pila Montoya 2 and Pila Montoya 3 in 2010.

Untitled by utpmg, on Flickr

 


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