Big Bend Conservancy
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I'm not experienced enough of an outdoorsman to cast much judgment on this couple although I do think I would have fared a little better in that I'm a little geeky about maps so I'm usually carrying something and I know how to use the GPS in my phone. However, for a day hike, I don't usually carry much extra water and often only an orange or a granola bar to eat. In short, in at least some areas, I am only prepared for a successful trip--not for contingencies. So, I'd be interested hearing some thoughts on preparing for day hikes in Big Bend. I understand some trails, like the Window trail would take some work getting lost from. On the other hand, I've heard (but not yet experienced) that some other trails (Mule Ears?) are sometimes a little hard to follow in places. How about a few general guidelines, independent of the trail, on how one should prepare for a simple day hike at Big Bend. Given this story, I'll toss out a recommendation to have a decent map coving the area and knowledge of how to use it. Also, a simple compass. And at least minimum food and water in case you have to spend the night. Maybe a light jacket for some warmth at night and to rig some shade by day. Another thing I'd say is to always try to know where you are. Last year my family and I camped at La Noria and made a few trips to scount the area, see the old town, check out Tornillo Creek etc. With all of the gravel mounds in that area, you didn't have to venture far before you couldn't see your campsite down in the little valleys. My wife later remarked that it made her uncomfortable. I shared with her that before we set out, I had made a mental note of a tall mound with a little tree on top near one of the La Noria campsites. Also I knew that the Old Ore Rd runs pretty much north/south and that if I got lost, I just had to head east until I ran into the Old Ore and then North to the turnoff to La Noria. I knew I could even pull this one off after dark. In the odd event that wouldn't work, I knew that Tornillo creek heads south and under the main park road. What I later realized is that I had never told my wife or kids that I was thinking those things. They aren't geeky about maps like I am. They just go wherever I take them. I need to be explaining these things so they learn and, in case I become incapacitated, they can fend for themselves. Other suggestions for novices appreciated.
... Also I knew that the Old Ore Rd runs pretty much north/south and that if I got lost, I just had to head east until I ran into the Old Ore and then North to the turnoff to La Noria. I knew I could even pull this one off after dark. In the odd event that wouldn't work, I knew that Tornillo creek heads south and under the main park road...
A space blanket is a worthy addition to anyone's kit, even for a short day hike.
One thing I never leave without, which is small and invaluable in a survival situation, is a disposable lighter to start a fire.
Then you can head down the west side and wind your way through the washes etc. you can see Trap mist if the wayang if course mule ears so getting lost would be pretty hard.
the ranger told us the basic rules including no ground fires. He actually was specific in saying no building signal fires. I just thought, really, if it's life or death you expect me to not build a signal fire. Really?
He also quizzed my 11 yr old on how long the blade on her swiss army knife was. Very young ranger.
I'm not sure if a signal mirror would have worked well due to the setting sun, but it may have expedited their rescue.
common sense stuff (keep your head covered and drink water) to making a survival kit to take with you on hikes.
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