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First time visiting for 5-6 days in June

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Offline bbb1077

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First time visiting for 5-6 days in June
« on: April 21, 2019, 01:05:34 PM »
So my significant other and I are planning to visit Big Bend for the first time at the beginning of June. We plan on leaving around 9AM on a Wednesday to arrive by 7-8PM. We're hikers, but have never done backpacking. Our first night, we're hoping to just find a spot at the Chisos Basin Campground to sleep overnight. We plan on hiking the entire Chisos Mountains, plus visiting the Windows and Lost Mine trail at day two for three days, two nights. I'm hoping to camp at SW3 the first night and TM1 the second night. For the rest of the trip (day 5 and possibly a 6th), we also plan on visiting Santa Elena for a bit, but are not sure what else to do. My questions are:

1. What are the chances of finding a camping spot down at the Basin campground in June if we were to arrive in the evening? I don't want to get there and not be able to find anything. If it is full, what are some good alternatives?

2. What is parking like? Do I just leave my car down by the visitor center or something while I'm out hiking and camping for 5-6 days?

3. Are SW3 and TM1 reasonable stopping points for our three day hike? What other stopping points/camping areas would you recommend if these spots are unavailable?

4. Should I *really* carry at least a gallon of water a day in my backpack during my hike? 3 gallons of water for three days in my 50L backpack  :icon_rolleyes:

5. Are trail shoes good enough to hike the Chisos Mountains, or should I invest in boots?

6.  Since it'll be summer and I'm sure the temperatures are going to be scorching hot, are there any other acceptable camping areas in Big Bend besides the Basin?

7. Are there any primitive roadside campsites that are tolerable in the summer? How does backcountry zone camping work? Do I just randomly park anywhere in a camping zone

8. Any other suggestions on how we should spend day 5 and 6/where else to camp?

9. Plan B, we were thinking of just hiking the Outer Mountain Loop, plus Emory Peak for five days. What's the weather like for this during the summer? How does backpacking/camping work? Are there any guaranteed water sources on this hike, or should I carry 5 gallons of water?

Lots of questions, I know! I just want to be fully prepared for the trip. I've been dreaming of visiting Big Bend for yearsssss. Thank you guys for your patience and for reading through this!!!! I would love any suggestions/advice you could give me!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: First time visiting for 5-6 days in June
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2019, 02:27:04 PM »
Welcome to BBC bbb107!

So June is the hottest month of the year and when the summer monsoon can start with some cloud cover and humidity.

1.  As long as you stay away from Memorial Day weekend and 4th of July week then you should have no trouble getting a campsite in the Basin, try and get one with one of the shelters over the picnic table.  The only other alternative would be Rio Grande Village campground under the cottonwoods but it will be hot.

2.  Yes if you are overnighting in the Chisos then you can leave your car in the parking lot near the visitor center or in the overflow lot closer to the campground.  You could keep your campsite for the whole time and just leave your car there too.

3.  SW3 and TM1 are great sites but any of the SE and SW rim sites would be fine exception being maybe SW2.  NE4 is also a favorite of many here with good views near by and tree cover.  TM1 can be windy.  Be prepared for a thunderstorm up in the Chisos, if it happens it can be intense but usually short.  Check out trip reports for that time of year in the Chisos sections to get a feel for how other folks do it.  This is one from badknees from June

4.  If it has been raining then there will be water in Boot Canyon in the pools between the Juniper canyon and NE rim trails junctions, bring purification.  There even could be water from the pipe in Boot canyon.  The rangers will most likely not give you any water info but you can either query other hikers or carry enough for two days and walk up Boot Canyon the first day and find out for yourself.

5. IMHO trail shoes are all you need, the Chisos trails are like wide highways.

6 and 7.  I will let others chime in but I would say that there really are not any good backcountry sites in the lower desert that wouldn't be miserable in the heat.

8.  You can do all kinds of day hikes in the lower desert as long as you start at first light and finish, back to the car, by noon.  Camp in the Chisos, get going in the early, early morning and then use the afternoons to drive and look or retreat to the Chisos and your remuda at the campsite. Spend one day exploring the east side of the park down RGV and back and then two days doing the same on the West side down to Santa Elena and back.  Make sure to spend an evening (or two) in Terlingua/Study Butte at both the Starlight and La Kiva.

9.  Do not attempt the OML in June!!!  I only know of one person who has done it and he said he was close to dying and he is super experienced.

You will have a great time and will just barely dip your toes into the magic of Big Bend.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Online dprather

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Re: First time visiting for 5-6 days in June
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2019, 04:33:59 PM »
I think that the most important question has to do with your future plans for your significant other (SA). 

If you plan on this relationship continuing, you'll probably not want to take SA on the OML in June. 

If, on the other hand, you wish for SA to go away, then by all means take them on a June OML.  I am reminded of the old Paul Simon song, There Must Be 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  You are considering #51.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline PacingTheCage

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Re: First time visiting for 5-6 days in June
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2019, 04:35:00 PM »
I think that the most important question has to do with your future plans for your significant other (SA). 

If you plan on this relationship continuing, you'll probably not want to take SA on the OML in June. 

If, on the other hand, you wish for SA to go away, then by all means take them on a June OML.  I am reminded of the old Paul Simon song, There Must Be 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  You are considering #51.


Hilarious!!!


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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: First time visiting for 5-6 days in June
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2019, 04:52:05 PM »
I think that the most important question has to do with your future plans for your significant other (SA). 

If you plan on this relationship continuing, you'll probably not want to take SA on the OML in June. 

If, on the other hand, you wish for SA to go away, then by all means take them on a June OML.  I am reminded of the old Paul Simon song, There Must Be 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  You are considering #51.

:rolling: :rolling: :rolling:  I have a few bits of advice, but I can't post them until I recover from laughing at Dprather's comments. It may take awhile.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: First time visiting for 5-6 days in June
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2019, 06:35:15 PM »
Okay, Iíve recovered.

If you havenít been to Big Bend between Memorial Day and Labor Day, itís hard to explain how bad the heat can be. It can (literally) be murderous.

Iím one of a handful of folks that has completed the OML during that time period. I doubt Iíll ever try that again. I did it in mid-June. Temps down in the desert along the Dodson were in the mid to upper one-teens during the day. Upper 80ís at night. Even the Chisos (90ís) were miserable that week.

A very few others have completed it during that window. One, a military veteran, IIRC, finished it in late May, but threw up several times, still he said he was glad he did it. A very experienced ultralight fastpacker completed it in mid-summer in a couple days but had favorable (I.e., survivable) temps. Another gaggle of very experienced BBC members did it in August as a brutal DAYHIKE  :icon_eek:, making sure to cover the worst of the desert at night.

Thatís it, I think, for hot weather OMLís. So long story short: donít even think about a June attempt unless youíre in incredibly great shape, physically AND mentally, very experienced, and ready and able to bail out or re-think your trip if conditions become too dangerous. Definitely carry a PLB or other emergency signaling device.

That also means donít camp in the desert, either at roadside sites or in backcountry zones. I wouldnít even try Rio Grande Village or Cottonwood Campground: theyíll be miserably hot and extremely humid given their low elevations and proximity to the Rio Grande. Stick to the Basin Campground. Itís the coolest place around.

Chisos backpacking or day hiking should be tolerable, and possibly even pleasant, in June. Especially if rain comes. Desert dayhiking is do-able as long as you start very early and are back in your vehicleís air-conditioning by early afternoon. Your experience could be pleasanter than Iím describing if you luck out and get a ďcoolĒ spell, but donít count on it.

As far as humping water: one gallon is fine, two is unpleasant, three is painful, four is debilitating, and five could be crippling. Unless, of course, you are one of the Avengers. I am not.

The good thing about water is that you drink it everyday, so your carried weight is always going down. But that first day or two is killer. You should be able to find water up in the Chisos. Even the desert has springs if you know where to find them. You can also drink Rio Grande River water if you settle out the sediment first and then purify it.

Iíd stick mostly to the Chisos for hiking, with a side trip via car to each side of the park for all the eye candy. Santa Elena Canyon is usually a nice west-side dayhike. Mule Ears Spring or The Chimneys also. Ernst Tinaja is really nice on the east side, but youíll probably need high clearance for that one, and possibly 4WD. Dog Canyon and Devils Den are both nice eastern dayhikes that can be reached from the main paved park road.

Good luck!!!


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« Last Edit: April 21, 2019, 06:52:22 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: First time visiting for 5-6 days in June
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2019, 11:15:14 PM »
Yeah me and a couple guys did OML as a day hike last August. Did it twice in April too, which also was hot. Did it twice in March and one of those even was blistering. Thereís ways to do nearly anything you want in BB if you know what youíre doing. Also, the desert at night, especially in the summer, is absolutely magical. A riot of nighttime animals, sounds and smells. Not to mention the night sky.

Having said that, June is on average the hottest month in BB. If you are not experienced outdoors and in particular BB, then maybe you should acquire some experience first.

Your idea of spending 2 nights hiking/camping the high chisos is a great idea. Otherwise the ideas above are great; drive Ross Maxwell drive near sunrise and get great pics, maybe hike out to Mule Ears or Chimneys, Santa Elena, go down to Ernst Tinaja and Boquillas

Lost Mine is just a short day hike. No camping there, legally

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Offline bbb1077

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Re: First time visiting for 5-6 days in June
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2019, 04:41:17 PM »
Thank you everyone for the help!!! I really appreciate it! OML is definitely out of the plan now. We've decided to camp at the Chisos the entire time we'll be there, but will make the drive out to Santa Elena, Mule Ears and Boquillas, and maybe more.

 


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