Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Hiking the Desert => Topic started by: crgowo on March 18, 2018, 06:43:45 PM

Title: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: crgowo on March 18, 2018, 06:43:45 PM
From what Ive read in the guide book mid April is already pretty warm to be out in exposed sun.  I'll be in Big Bend for 3 days mid April staying at Rio Grande village and dont know what to hike the 1st day.  The 2nd day is already dedicated to the chisos south rim loop with a stop at Emory Peak.  3rd day before we head out short hikes, like Ernst Tinaja, maybe grape vine hills, and Santa Elena canyon.  Its the first day I'm a little unsure what to hike.  Some of us will be camping out the night before(arriving late at night) and some will be arriving by lunch time. 

So I was thinking maybe hiking the hotsprings trail from Rio Grande Village when everyone arrives but not sure if it would be too hot.  Whats recommended for a desert hike early morning and after lunch.  I would like to squeeze a quick trip over the Border at the port of entry in Big Bend but only if I have the time to do so.  Anyhow Thanks for the recommendations. 
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: dprather on March 18, 2018, 08:33:33 PM
From what Ive read in the guide book mid April is already pretty warm to be out in exposed sun.  I'll be in Big Bend for 3 days mid April staying at Rio Grande village and dont know what to hike the 1st day.  The 2nd day is already dedicated to the chisos south rim loop with a stop at Emory Peak.  3rd day before we head out short hikes, like Ernst Tinaja, maybe grape vine hills, and Santa Elena canyon.  Its the first day I'm a little unsure what to hike.  Some of us will be camping out the night before(arriving late at night) and some will be arriving by lunch time. 

So I was thinking maybe hiking the hotsprings trail from Rio Grande Village when everyone arrives but not sure if it would be too hot.  Whats recommended for a desert hike early morning and after lunch.  I would like to squeeze a quick trip over the Border at the port of entry in Big Bend but only if I have the time to do so.  Anyhow Thanks for the recommendations.

The great, scary statements of CAUTION!!!! about the Bend in April have most to do with backpackers who might try longer and exposed trails.  The day-in and day-out exposure and exertion have a cumulative effect, plus there is all the water to carry.

Although April can get hot, day hikes in exposed areas are not that bad (as long as you compensate for the heat, sunshine, and low humidity).

Most would not want to do the long, exposed Dodson as April warms, but day hikes like Pine Springs, Lost Mine Trail, Grapevine Hills, and some others are doable in average April conditions if you (i) remain hydrated- Hydrated - HYDRATED, (ii) wear loose-fitting, full-coverage garments and hats, and (iii) take precautionary rests in all available shade. 
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 18, 2018, 08:58:47 PM
+1 on dpratherís advice. Some other possible hikes for Day 1: Dog Canyon, Tuff Canyon, Cattail Falls, Ward Spring, The Window and/or Oak Spring. All are less than half-day hikes and feature reasonable parking near the trailhead. Many offer great sunset views.


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Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: Imre on March 18, 2018, 09:22:18 PM
Quote
So I was thinking maybe hiking the hotsprings trail from Rio Grande Village
It has been quite a few years since I have hiked from RGV to hot springs and I doubt I shall do so again. It struck me as rather unexceptional for the big bend. I'll suggest you spend some time at sam nail ranch. You can sit under a pecan tree and wait for wildlife to come to the water. Many tourists will walk through in less than 10 minutes; I find if I wait for them to move on, in another 5 to 10 minutes the place is again quite active. I haven't seen a mountain lion at sam nail but I have seen almost everything else. (Including rattlesnakes -- stay alert and watch your step!) You should be able to find varied bunting, blue grosbeak, yellow-breasted chat, and bell's vireo easily enough. Keep your eyes open for a verdin; they're shy. I've seen scaled quail, coyote, and coachwhip (red racer) at the water. One year I spotted a chestnut sided warbler! There are so many great hikes in the park it's always tempting to try one more hike but at sam nail patience is rewarded.
Hope this helps,
Imre
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 18, 2018, 10:19:00 PM
+1 on Sam Nail. If youíre looking for a quiet, meditative place to commune with wildlife for an hour or two, Sam Nail is the place.


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Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: RichardM on March 18, 2018, 10:26:09 PM
I've only hiked the Hot Springs Canyon hike from RGV to the Hot Springs once, in late November when the air temp was mid 70's. Probably got up over 80 as the hike wore on, but it felt like 100.  I would not recommend it in April unless you like feeling like you are walking in an oven. You might get lucky and have cooler weather, but don't plan on it.

Check out past temps in April for RGV (if you can find it). It can get pretty warm there and stay that way through the night.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: DesertRatShorty on March 18, 2018, 10:46:24 PM
From what Ive read in the guide book mid April is already pretty warm to be out in exposed sun.  I'll be in Big Bend for 3 days mid April staying at Rio Grande village and dont know what to hike the 1st day.  The 2nd day is already dedicated to the chisos south rim loop with a stop at Emory Peak.  3rd day before we head out short hikes, like Ernst Tinaja, maybe grape vine hills, and Santa Elena canyon.  Its the first day I'm a little unsure what to hike.  Some of us will be camping out the night before(arriving late at night) and some will be arriving by lunch time. 

So I was thinking maybe hiking the hotsprings trail from Rio Grande Village when everyone arrives but not sure if it would be too hot.  Whats recommended for a desert hike early morning and after lunch.  I would like to squeeze a quick trip over the Border at the port of entry in Big Bend but only if I have the time to do so.  Anyhow Thanks for the recommendations.

Trying to pack in Santa Elena and Ernst Tinaja on day 3 would be a long day. The drive between them would be 2.5 hours. If you want to hit both of those postcard sites (a worthy goal) I would try to schedule a day on the east side of the park and another on the west.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: Jalco on March 18, 2018, 10:50:48 PM
I agree with DRS on your day 3 schedule.  Why not do Ernst on Day 1, since it's a short day and you're on that side of the park.  Day 3, you can hit several short hikes - Sam Nail, Ward Springs, Santa Elena, etc - along Ross Maxwell.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: crgowo on March 19, 2018, 10:26:07 AM
From what Ive read in the guide book mid April is already pretty warm to be out in exposed sun.  I'll be in Big Bend for 3 days mid April staying at Rio Grande village and dont know what to hike the 1st day.  The 2nd day is already dedicated to the chisos south rim loop with a stop at Emory Peak.  3rd day before we head out short hikes, like Ernst Tinaja, maybe grape vine hills, and Santa Elena canyon.  Its the first day I'm a little unsure what to hike.  Some of us will be camping out the night before(arriving late at night) and some will be arriving by lunch time. 

So I was thinking maybe hiking the hotsprings trail from Rio Grande Village when everyone arrives but not sure if it would be too hot.  Whats recommended for a desert hike early morning and after lunch.  I would like to squeeze a quick trip over the Border at the port of entry in Big Bend but only if I have the time to do so.  Anyhow Thanks for the recommendations.

The great, scary statements of CAUTION!!!! about the Bend in April have most to do with backpackers who might try longer and exposed trails.  The day-in and day-out exposure and exertion have a cumulative effect, plus there is all the water to carry.

Although April can get hot, day hikes in exposed areas are not that bad (as long as you compensate for the heat, sunshine, and low humidity).

Most would not want to do the long, exposed Dodson as April warms, but day hikes like Pine Springs, Lost Mine Trail, Grapevine Hills, and some others are doable in average April conditions if you (i) remain hydrated- Hydrated - HYDRATED, (ii) wear loose-fitting, full-coverage garments and hats, and (iii) take precautionary rests in all available shade.

True.  Thanks, I'll make sure everyone is properly prepared for desert hiking.    I always prefer long sleeve than just adding sunscreen too.  Feel cooler without the sun hitting my skin.  I'll pass this along to everyone else.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: crgowo on March 19, 2018, 10:28:11 AM
Trying to pack in Santa Elena and Ernst Tinaja on day 3 would be a long day. The drive between them would be 2.5 hours. If you want to hit both of those postcard sites (a worthy goal) I would try to schedule a day on the east side of the park and another on the west.

Thats true.  I Guess I figured we'll be heading out right after doing the Canyon but I'll try and plan it better  and look into what Jalco recommended. 

Thanks again everyone.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: catz on March 19, 2018, 10:42:46 AM

I think DPrather meant Pine Canyon rather than Pine Springs.  Anyway, Pine Canyon is definitely worth seeing.  The first mile or so (and the last since it's an out-and-back) are exposed, but the canyon itself is shady and very different from almost any other hike in the park.

Rather than hiking all the way to the hot springs (and back), just go the first mile or so, to where it tops out.  You will have a great view of the river below and the Sierra del Carmens.

I concur on allowing one day for the east side of the park and one day for the west.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: crgowo on March 19, 2018, 10:55:39 AM

I think DPrather meant Pine Canyon rather than Pine Springs.  Anyway, Pine Canyon is definitely worth seeing.  The first mile or so (and the last since it's an out-and-back) are exposed, but the canyon itself is shady and very different from almost any other hike in the park.

Rather than hiking all the way to the hot springs (and back), just go the first mile or so, to where it tops out.  You will have a great view of the river below and the Sierra del Carmens.

I concur on allowing one day for the east side of the park and one day for the west.

Is the dirt road to the Pine Canyon trailhead usually in good condition or do you need high clearance like on the River road?
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: dprather on March 19, 2018, 11:16:04 AM

I think DPrather meant Pine Canyon rather than Pine Springs.  Anyway, Pine Canyon is definitely worth seeing.  The first mile or so (and the last since it's an out-and-back) are exposed, but the canyon itself is shady and very different from almost any other hike in the park.

Rather than hiking all the way to the hot springs (and back), just go the first mile or so, to where it tops out.  You will have a great view of the river below and the Sierra del Carmens.

I concur on allowing one day for the east side of the park and one day for the west.

Is the dirt road to the Pine Canyon trailhead usually in good condition or do you need high clearance like on the River road?

Oops - I did mean Pine Canyon...and, yes, the road in has always been easy going for me, even when driving my wife's car.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: RichardM on March 23, 2018, 04:02:07 PM
Check out past temps in April for RGV (if you can find it). It can get pretty warm there and stay that way through the night.
Attached is some data from last April obtained from http://mesowest.utah.edu/cgi-bin/droman/meso_base_dyn.cgi?stn=RGET2
Highs got up to 107 on April 20 and first hit 100 on April 8. Those seem to be normal for that area of the park.

The TS645 (http://mesowest.utah.edu/cgi-bin/droman/meso_base_dyn.cgi?stn=TS645) station used to be at RGV, but was moved sometime back. It still has data from way back, but I'm not sure of it's pedigree.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: crgowo on March 23, 2018, 04:43:56 PM
Check out past temps in April for RGV (if you can find it). It can get pretty warm there and stay that way through the night.
Attached is some data from last April obtained from http://mesowest.utah.edu/cgi-bin/droman/meso_base_dyn.cgi?stn=RGET2
Highs got up to 107 on April 20 and first hit 100 on April 8. Those seem to be normal for that area of the park.

The TS645 (http://mesowest.utah.edu/cgi-bin/droman/meso_base_dyn.cgi?stn=TS645) station used to be at RGV, but was moved sometime back. It still has data from way back, but I'm not sure of it's pedigree.

Damn!  I wasn't expecting it to get that hot in April.  :/   Thanks for the info.
Title: Re: Desert hikes in mid April
Post by: RichardM on March 24, 2018, 04:55:50 PM
Check out past temps in April for RGV (if you can find it). It can get pretty warm there and stay that way through the night.
Attached is some data from last April obtained from http://mesowest.utah.edu/cgi-bin/droman/meso_base_dyn.cgi?stn=RGET2
Highs got up to 107 on April 20 and first hit 100 on April 8. Those seem to be normal for that area of the park.

The TS645 (http://mesowest.utah.edu/cgi-bin/droman/meso_base_dyn.cgi?stn=TS645) station used to be at RGV, but was moved sometime back. It still has data from way back, but I'm not sure of it's pedigree.

Damn!  I wasn't expecting it to get that hot in April.  :/   Thanks for the info.
Attached is April 2017 data from Chisos Basin for comparison.