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First (real) desert adventure! (help?)

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Offline SrawberryJam

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First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« on: December 27, 2017, 05:26:38 PM »
Hi all!

First off - this forum/community is amazing. Perusing the forums in the past 3 weeks has opened my eyes to the glory beyond the Basin and made exploring it seem actually possible. So much knowledge, so much beauty, so much to love about this place!

I have backpacked 3 nights in the Basin on 2 occasions, and recently got my first off-trail, non designated campsite experience on a week long trip on the high route through the Beartooth Mountains. I am in love. I think I am as ready as I need to be to make the Bending dreams I didn't know I had till I found this forum come true - in a little over a week! Thanks for helping me dream  :dance:

But I'd like some advice too!  :eusa_shifty:

https://caltopo.com/m/9004

Above is a caltopo link to the plan I have hatched with some friends. Two of us will be arriving a day earlier and enjoying some day hikes, and another two will bring a second car the next day. We have 4 days & 3 nights. Leaving one car at Mule Ears, then setting out from the Basin was the original plan. We decided to pare it down to exclude the Basin, start near Homer Wilson, and give our knees an easier time. I hope to attempt Dominguez, could go either way on Pt. 5168, and want to scout ET for a future adventure!

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.
2. From my reading on these forums, it sounds like we will be able to find water at all the marked springs in a week's time. How hard are the springs to spot? Did I miss any obvious water locations? Is it essential to treat the water? Is there enough pool/flow to fill a pouch to use a sawyer squeeze filter?
3. No need for a bear can, right?
4. Should I expect any difficulty getting Zone camping permits? Either from ranger permission, or from the numbers limits being reached?
5.  I've grown accustomed to wearing trail runners instead of boots - are there so many pricklies I would regret not having boots?

Any direct answers or other general advice would be much appreciated! Please poke any holes that need poking!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 06:55:42 PM »
Hi all!

First off - this forum/community is amazing. Perusing the forums in the past 3 weeks has opened my eyes to the glory beyond the Basin and made exploring it seem actually possible. So much knowledge, so much beauty, so much to love about this place!

I have backpacked 3 nights in the Basin on 2 occasions, and recently got my first off-trail, non designated campsite experience on a week long trip on the high route through the Beartooth Mountains. I am in love. I think I am as ready as I need to be to make the Bending dreams I didn't know I had till I found this forum come true - in a little over a week! Thanks for helping me dream  :dance:

But I'd like some advice too!  :eusa_shifty:

https://caltopo.com/m/9004

Above is a caltopo link to the plan I have hatched with some friends. Two of us will be arriving a day earlier and enjoying some day hikes, and another two will bring a second car the next day. We have 4 days & 3 nights. Leaving one car at Mule Ears, then setting out from the Basin was the original plan. We decided to pare it down to exclude the Basin, start near Homer Wilson, and give our knees an easier time. I hope to attempt Dominguez, could go either way on Pt. 5168, and want to scout ET for a future adventure!

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.
2. From my reading on these forums, it sounds like we will be able to find water at all the marked springs in a week's time. How hard are the springs to spot? Did I miss any obvious water locations? Is it essential to treat the water? Is there enough pool/flow to fill a pouch to use a sawyer squeeze filter?
3. No need for a bear can, right?
4. Should I expect any difficulty getting Zone camping permits? Either from ranger permission, or from the numbers limits being reached?
5.  I've grown accustomed to wearing trail runners instead of boots - are there so many pricklies I would regret not having boots?

Any direct answers or other general advice would be much appreciated! Please poke any holes that need poking!

Welcome to the board Strawberryjam, is assume with the T.

 :welcome:

1,  Easier to find spots in washes than on the high ground but there are also many good spots up high, especially on the main trails.
2.  Here is my recent water report from the Quemadas, there is plenty of water out there right now.  You missed many springs that are not on the USGS maps, see my map.  Generally if you don't walk up on a spring in a wash then it is not there.  Dominguez is up a side wash from the main canyon.  Yes you need to treat all the water.  Generally you will find a deep enough spot to fill bottles but do bring a ziplock or something to dip from shallow spots.
3.  Yes no bear can, just keep your food close and tell the rangers same.
4.  For those zones you will not have problems with permits, or ranger permission
5.  I wear low cut trail shoes (currently La Sportiva TX3).  The issue is more about rock plates and support than pricklies if you are careful about where you put your feet.  Big Bend is one rocky place.

Here is my main suggestion.  Start at Mule Ears and go the other way.  The first day is always hard and I would much rather go down Jack's pass to Dominguez than the other way.  If you guys are crushing it then you could think about pt. 5168 but probably not unless you dry camp before you attempt it the next morning.  Maybe save your energy for Dominguez the 2nd or 3rd day.

Overall you are looking at 7-8 mile days.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 07:56:57 PM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Online elhombre

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2017, 06:59:44 PM »
I will answer a few of your concerns.  First, it is overgrown this year and finding a flat cleard off spot isn't easy.  Usually we spend a good 5 minutes kicking off the tents spots to sleep on.  Your best bet is to sleep in the creek beds for ease of clear spots.  Problem with this is that you are in the cold air channel, and the ground can be moist.  Flash floods too

Second, having seen the ET trail the other day, it is completely overgrown.  I would strongly advise making your route follow creek beds as much as possible.  Use the creek bed that Mules Ears used to head south down towards Elephant Tusk.  His trip report has a great map with the route I am suggesting.  Go the way of Claro Springs.

No bear can needed.

I would never wear trail running shoes out off-trail.  I like to be able to look around while walking instead of staring at the ground so I don't step on something that will come through a normal shoe. 

Keep that map in your front pocket and look at it often.

Finally, If any of your friends can't bring themselves to carrying out used TP and digging a real hole, then don't take them out there and mess it up for the rest of us. 
The older I get, the more I realize what freedom really means.  May God bless America

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Online presidio

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2017, 08:25:01 PM »
1,  Easier to find spots in washes than on the high ground ....

You don't ever want to camp in washes.

It will bite you one day.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
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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Online presidio

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2017, 08:26:44 PM »
Your best bet is to sleep in the creek beds for ease of clear spots.  Problem with this is that you are in the cold air channel, and the ground can be moist.  Flash floods too

Again, big no to camping in creek beds. I actually am surprised to see experienced folks suggesting  this.

You'll never hear the flood that gets you.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
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 mule ears

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2017, 06:17:12 AM »
1,  Easier to find spots in washes than on the high ground ....

You don't ever want to camp in washes.

It will bite you one day.

The standard sage advice and I always prefer an elevated camp as they are just a bit warmer if the wind is not blowing.  That being said I have camped in washes all over the desert southwest, just not during the rainy season and always with an eye towards the sky and an excellent forecast.  Big Bend is also much different in that regard than the canyons of Utah.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 08:38:00 AM »
Bring a good pair of tweezers.

I also wear La Sportiva trail runners, so far so good, just watch where you step. I've also started carrying a spiky ball to massage my plantar fascia throughout the day.

I camped near, but not in, a creek bed nearly every night last week and had condensation on my bag every night. As suggested higher ground would potentially mitigate this.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 09:38:00 AM by DesertRatShorty »
I roamed and rambled, and I foller'ed my footsteps
   To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
   And all around me a voice was a'sounding
   This land was made for you and me

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Offline horns93

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2017, 09:20:45 AM »
I've gone back and forth on footwear in the Bend. On my recent OML I wore La Sportiva Omega GTX hiking boots and while they were great as far as protection and staying dry, my feet were killing me by the 3rd day. The rocks at BiBe are relentless. About the only time your feet get any relief are in the washes.

I plan on wearing my low cut trail runners (Saucony Pergrines) the next time and just dealing with anything that manages to poke through.

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Offline dprather

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2017, 02:26:41 PM »
I've gone back and forth on footwear in the Bend. On my recent OML I wore La Sportiva Omega GTX hiking boots and while they were great as far as protection and staying dry, my feet were killing me by the 3rd day. The rocks at BiBe are relentless. About the only time your feet get any relief are in the washes.

I plan on wearing my low cut trail runners (Saucony Pergrines) the next time and just dealing with anything that manages to poke through.

Just dealing with anything that manages to poke through?

What manages to poke through can be pretty awful.  I now always bring a multitool because of some kind of cactus that poked through the bottom of my boot once.  The spines were like finishing nails, and had to be pulled out like nails.  I shudder to think what would have happened to the bottom of my feet had I not been wearing the thicker soles of boots. 

To each his own.  I once saw a couple out on the Dodson backpacking in cheapo flip-flops.  My vote remains for boots. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline horns93

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2017, 03:05:14 PM »
I've gone back and forth on footwear in the Bend. On my recent OML I wore La Sportiva Omega GTX hiking boots and while they were great as far as protection and staying dry, my feet were killing me by the 3rd day. The rocks at BiBe are relentless. About the only time your feet get any relief are in the washes.

I plan on wearing my low cut trail runners (Saucony Pergrines) the next time and just dealing with anything that manages to poke through.

Just dealing with anything that manages to poke through?

What manages to poke through can be pretty awful.  I now always bring a multitool because of some kind of cactus that poked through the bottom of my boot once.  The spines were like finishing nails, and had to be pulled out like nails.  I shudder to think what would have happened to the bottom of my feet had I not been wearing the thicker soles of boots. 

To each his own.  I once saw a couple out on the Dodson backpacking in cheapo flip-flops.  My vote remains for boots.

I definitely understand why many still opt for boots out there.

That is funny you mention cactus spines. I put on a fleece shirt last night for the first time since wearing it in BiBe a couple of weeks ago. Even after washing it I had a couple of cactus spines poke me in the arm when I put it on. They were a nice little souvenir that I unknowingly brought home with me.  :icon_eek:

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Offline dprather

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2017, 03:54:27 PM »
I've gone back and forth on footwear in the Bend. On my recent OML I wore La Sportiva Omega GTX hiking boots and while they were great as far as protection and staying dry, my feet were killing me by the 3rd day. The rocks at BiBe are relentless. About the only time your feet get any relief are in the washes.

I plan on wearing my low cut trail runners (Saucony Pergrines) the next time and just dealing with anything that manages to poke through.

Just dealing with anything that manages to poke through?

What manages to poke through can be pretty awful.  I now always bring a multitool because of some kind of cactus that poked through the bottom of my boot once.  The spines were like finishing nails, and had to be pulled out like nails.  I shudder to think what would have happened to the bottom of my feet had I not been wearing the thicker soles of boots. 

To each his own.  I once saw a couple out on the Dodson backpacking in cheapo flip-flops.  My vote remains for boots.

I definitely understand why many still opt for boots out there.

That is funny you mention cactus spines. I put on a fleece shirt last night for the first time since wearing it in BiBe a couple of weeks ago. Even after washing it I had a couple of cactus spines poke me in the arm when I put it on. They were a nice little souvenir that I unknowingly brought home with me.  :icon_eek:

I've still got one in the back of my leg that won't quite work free - nice souvenirs. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline SrawberryJam

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Re: First (real) desert adventure! (help?)
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2017, 09:35:18 PM »
Thanks so much for all the advice!! Am definitely going to consider going the other direction & have lots to think about on the shoes. I'm a proponent super LNT - the Bend will be respected!

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