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First (real) desert adventure! (help?)

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2018, 11:05:31 PM »

Here are the points I'm a little unsure about:
1. How hard is it to find an area to pitch a tent/tarp? I marked a few flatter looking regions on the map but don't have a real sense of how difficult it will be to find a sleeping spot out in the desert.


Good question. Tents generally take up a little less space than tarps. My Integral Designs Silshelter tarptent has a HUGE footprint which sometimes presents problems in Big Bend. But I've always found a spot and a way to pitch it. Another problem in Big Bend, if you're using a non-free-standing shelter, is that the substrates don't always accommodate stakes well. You may find the substrate too loose to hold a stake (mud, sand, gravel). Or you may find it simply impenetrable (slab rock, or copious subsurface rocks the size of softballs, or basketballs, or small cars). In those cases, you may have to improvise: which can mean tying off to sturdy vegetation, or using rocks, or even using stuffsacks full of your own gear (I've had to rely on all of those).

As far as camping in washes. Yes, it flies in the face of conventional wisdom but, then again, the specific case is more important that the general case. Unlike in red rock country or in the Rockies, most of the washes in Big Bend are independent and drain fairly small watersheds. If it's not raining in that watershed, it's not going to flash-flood. There are exceptions: Tornillo, Alamo, and Terlingua Creek come to mind (plus, I'll add those like Blue Creek, etc., draining the Chisos, in the rare times where those mountains receive heavy sustained rains). And the Rio Grande can rise astoundingly fast from precipitation occurring tens, even scores, or miles away, because its watershed is so huge. Also, seasonality is important. Most flash-floods in Big Bend occur in the summer or fall when the rains come heaviest. The rest of the year, the rains are fairly tame. Certainly they are almost always too modest to produce flash-floods. On the other hand, anything's possible. There are always outliers and flash-floods can occur at any time. It's true that you never hear the one that kills you. Just as you never hear the lightning strike that hits you (I didn't) or the mountain lion that attacks you from behind, or the rattlesnake that strikes without warning. But these are all extremely rare and I've found that worrying too much about these outliers just isn't worth it.

I could be wrong. If so, feel free to lord it over me at my funeral.  :icon_wink:
« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 10:44:51 AM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline dprather

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2018, 11:40:12 PM »
HMoD- how would you like to have your very own chapter in the refreshed DEATH IN BIG BEND - he drowned there?
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 2406
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2018, 12:02:27 AM »
HMoD- how would you like to have your very own chapter in the refreshed DEATH IN BIG BEND - he drowned there?

Go big, or go home.  :icon_wink:
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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