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Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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First timer

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Offline Homer67

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Re: First timer
« Reply #30 on: June 24, 2012, 01:00:33 PM »
    I like the suggestion to slow it down on the hikes.  We did the OML in November over 6 days --- it was glorious to immerse ourselves in the wilderness!  We had time for many side trips and naps, even picking a bush to sleep under in the Dodson drainage.  We also napped in the deep leaves of the wooded ecotone along Blue Creek about a mile before one begins the hike up into the Chisos. On our last trip we found a decent scrub tree in a certain canyon in W07 and napped during the heat of the day in a nice bit of cool, soft-feeling gravel in its shade.

It used to take me some days to 'come down' from our artificial, secular existence, but our trips have occurred often enough that they simply seem a continuation of the last; perhaps it is my constant planning/research that keeps the feeling alive.

Here are some videos of these areas:





Not an Ideal spot to nap, but...  Mar 2012 by Superhomer670, on Flickr





Ah Big Bend, we will soon return to reacquaint ourselves in our ritual of blood, exhaustion and dehydration. How can we resist the temptation to strip ourselves of the maladies of civilization?

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Offline Chireaux

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Re: First timer
« Reply #31 on: June 24, 2012, 08:55:44 PM »
Sounds Great everyone...
I like the videos Homer, very beautiful, can't wait to see it.
 Im sure you cant really put it all into words (or on video) until you get there and experience it.  I really appreciate all the great info, we're heading down later next week so I will be sure to post many pics when I get back.

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Offline Chireaux

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Re: First timer
« Reply #32 on: June 27, 2012, 10:25:07 PM »
Hey guys do you know how far it is from the basin ,down the pinnacles trail to the south rim and back up the same trail, excluding the Northeast rim Trail?

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Offline badknees

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Re: First timer
« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2012, 10:54:24 PM »
Hey guys do you know how far it is from the basin ,down the pinnacles trail to the south rim and back up the same trail, excluding the Northeast rim Trail?

Well......You kinda have to go up the Pinnacles trail from the Basin cause the South Rim is about 2,000 higher than the Basin. You might want to take a look at a topo map and check out the little curvey lines. Aside from that minor(?) detail, its about 13 miles round trip from the Basin Trailhead.
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Offline Chireaux

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Re: First timer
« Reply #34 on: June 28, 2012, 12:45:12 AM »
Haha, I guess I said "down" because it's going south. I realize it's actually "up".

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Offline RichardM

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Re: First timer
« Reply #35 on: June 28, 2012, 07:26:09 AM »
The NPS used to have a map page with a PDF version of the High Chisos Trails, similar to the Chisos Mountains Trail Map you can (and should) buy at the visitor center in the park (or online, if you can't wait). Fortunately I have an old copy saved off. This map has distance markers for sections of the trails, so you can add up the total for any given route. The Emory Peak Trail has since been re-routed, so it's a bit longer but more scenic and less strenuous.

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Offline stingrey

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Re: First timer
« Reply #36 on: June 28, 2012, 08:17:14 AM »
You'll get a ton of feedback re: which way is easier to go up/come back down when doing the loop. In my OPINION, it is easier to go up Pinnacles and come back Laguna Meadow with a heavy load vs. going the other way around. The worst part of Pinnacles is the first mile. Once you get to the bench, the switchbacks start leveling off to a "reasonable" rate of incline. Still difficult for the whole 3.5 roughly, but once you get up and over that part, the rest will seem challenging compared to what you previously may have begun to think of as insurmountable.

The reason I THINK it is easier to do it this way is because to me it is much harder on the knees and body in general to come down on such steep steps if you are physically tired AND have the added weight of a fully loaded pack minus whatever water and food you consumed. Taking a miscalculated step under pack load can result in a faceplant. Since most of the trail is broken rock surrounded by cactus and other pointy plants, this is not a good time to fall. Laguna Meadow is a somewhat more gentle descent, but in both cases the walk back will take you into the afternoon sun if you are taking your time. It will be hot.

Mule Ears compared me to TWWG in terms of my ability to haul stuff. I am honored, but I can also assure you that I do not come close to TWWG in what he can carry up a mountain. While I do load my pack down quite a bit, trust me... TWWG is a legend by pretty much any standard. I can tell you though that even as a first timer way back when I was MOST happy at having a light weight shelter and plenty of water. The second most important thing was that I was almost warm. A storm came in and the temps dropped to way below what they were when I hiked up in the hot temps. Having a lightweight and suitable bag and/or at least some dry clothes that you didn't sweat in really comes in handy.

Can't remember if you said where you were coming from, but you can rent gear at REI if you don't want to buy any gear right now. Keep the questions coming! Distance wise, you are easily able to take on South Rim as an overnighter or multinighter. What you carry will influence how you feel about the overall trek, but if you don't rush the outing I am fairly certain you will be pretty pleased with the payoff.

To give you an idea of what a couple of the sites up there can look like:





Here's what Boot Canyon can look like as you're hiking through that portion of the trail system in the fall, not sure how it looks right now:



And JUST IN CASE you decide to try base camp in The Basin and take on South Rim as a LONG day hike instead, this is what your view from The Basin campgrounds kinda looks like:

« Last Edit: June 28, 2012, 08:27:04 AM by stingrey »
Get busy living, or get busy dying.

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Offline FatPacker

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Re: First timer
« Reply #37 on: June 28, 2012, 08:51:38 AM »
my 2 cents worth....

I agree with Rey.  Up pinnacles and down Laguna works much better for me and I am not a speed hiker. We did that route in August of 2010 and it took us nearly 4 hours to ascend. But we stopped a lot to sweat, and breathe. I also agree that from the parking lot to the bench (you can't miss it, or resist stopping there) is the toughest part. This is true not just because it is steep, but also because there is not a lot of shade up to that point. This time of year is will be hot, dusty and tiring.... but hang in there, the switchbacks are much shadier. My sons and I felt that those switchbacks seemed more like flat stretches connected by step-up parts on the corners in a lot of places. Then all of a sudden you will see that metal sign for TM1 and hallelujah, the hard climb is over.     Also I would recommend that you not skip doing the northeast trail. Since this is only accesible for half the year, not a lot of people get to go there. And it is one of my favorite places in the park. NE4 campsite is the best up there. If I were to only spend one night in the Chisos, that is where I would go.  But there are a lot of spots that I would call a close second.. like SE3,  TM1,  heck, I would stay at any of the sites up there if I could just get away from the office and leave right now...
Go enjoy yourself, take a ton of water, be careful,  go slow and bask in all the majesty of the area....  you lucky dog!
Are we there yet?

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Offline dprather

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Re: First timer
« Reply #38 on: June 28, 2012, 09:17:04 AM »
I always go up Pinnacles, even when other options make more sense.  The view of the Window over my shoulder is one of my favorites.

Think long and hard about the chacos.  I was once passed on the Dodson by a young guy wearing el-cheapo flip-flops (!).  But I did not admire him.  My toes were safe from sharp-pointed pains and my ankles were supported by good boots.

The trails are so well marked that the folding park guide to the High Chisos is adequate - if you have studied the topos before you hit the trail.

I continue to be influenced by the backpacking authority who observed about food that it is just about impossible to underestimate the amount you need.  After cutting and cutting and cutting, my backpacking amigo and I still throw food out at the end of the trail.  Panera Bread sells something called a "muffie," a cross between a choclate chip cookie and a muffin - I can go for days on those things!  Taking Mountain House and other freeze dried meals means more weight for cooking equipment.  I'd rather explore than cook.

If you havn't done much backpacking before, the High Chisos will certainly challenge you.  But you can do it!  And you get a double pay-off.  Not only will you get to see truly wonderful things, but you'll also be able to say that you pushed yourself to new physical limits and won!

Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline RichardM

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Re: First timer
« Reply #39 on: June 28, 2012, 09:29:21 AM »
For a single overnight trip, you can always elect to "cold camp" and leave the stove behind. This means packing food which doesn't require cooking or rehydrating. On my one High Chisos overnighter to SW4, my Dad and I just packed sandwiches, fruit and snacks, and a bunch of water and Gatorade. Heck, I still remember one boy scout campout where one kid's mother did his meal planning for the weekend. It consisted of a whole loaf of white bread made into PBJ sandwiches.

P.S. I'll also throw in my vote for going up Pinnacles and down Laguna Meadow. Google alpine rest step for some tips on hiking at elevation under heavy loads.

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Offline Chireaux

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Re: First timer
« Reply #40 on: June 28, 2012, 01:24:40 PM »
Here is my checklist so far... What do you guys think...

Clothes:
Long sleeve under 
Columbia short sleeve shirt
Under Armour shorts 
Wool socks 
Synthetic Underwear
Wide brim hat
Salamon Hiking shoes (no chacos)

Gear:
Two man hardwear drifter tent, 5lbs 
70 liter backpack, wife has a smaller one
Thermarest Air cushions and pillows
Cocoon sheet

Extras:....
Sunglasses 
Flashlight 
Led lantern
Whistle 
First aid kit
Toothbrush
Mess kit for cooking
Small butane stove
Camera
Lock 
Tp + shovel
Baby powder
Pocket knife
Toothbrush 
Ziplocks for trash etc..
Lighter 
bear spray 

water 
1 3 liter bladder
8 16oz bottles water
1 32oz coconut water 
A couple dry Gatorade packs
Water tablets

Wife has 2 liter bladder
8 16oz bottles water
32oz coconut water 
a couple dry Gatorade packs

Food 
Day 1
Mountain house spaghetti and meatballs
Day2
Breakfast
Dried bacon egg
Lunch - mount house spaghetti and meatballs again

Snacks
Dried blueberries
4 cliff bars each
Pb and crackers
trail mix

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: First timer
« Reply #41 on: June 28, 2012, 01:44:25 PM »
Don't need bear spray

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: First timer
« Reply #42 on: June 28, 2012, 02:01:33 PM »
Here's some feedback...

Missing:

Trekking poles
Rain jacket
Bug spray

Comments:

5lb tent is 2lbs too heavy (ideally), but since you already own it...

Thermarest Air cushions and pillows: you should strongly consider bringing ridgerests too, or something to put under your air mattresses so they won't puncture & deflate. If not, exercise seemingly ludicrous care to clean the spot before deploying the mattresses. I'd ditch the pillows and use balled up clothing in a stuff sack for pillows.

I don't know what a cocoon sheet is, but I doubt you need it. (unless it's instead of sleeping bags)
Sunglasses -- the wide-brim hat could do instead.
Flashlight/lantern -- too heavy, each of you should bring a good headlamp instead
Mess kit for cooking -- keep this minimalist & light-weight
Lock -- for what?
Shovel -- use your boot heel or a digging rock
Bear spray -- I wouldn't bother

8 16oz + 1 32oz bottles per person -- too heavy, and (especially) way too bulky in your pack. Bring maybe 6-ea 2-3 litre bladders instead, and (assuming your packs have external pockets for these) a max of 4-5ea 32oz Nalgene bottles. Ascend Pinnacles to Boot with as little water as possible (2-3 litres per person?), then get the rest of your water there, treat it, and re-pack your packs with the now-full bladders.

http://cascadedesigns.com/platypus/water-bottles/platy-bottle/product

Make sure you bring good tweezers in your med kit, and a good sealed "vial" of saline to wash out an eye is a must, imho.

Personally, I would make Day-2 lunch a fuel-free lunch. Something like jerky (or jerquee for veggies), string cheese, a green pepper, a bit of onion, and pita bread.

« Last Edit: June 28, 2012, 02:25:10 PM by trtlrock »
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Offline Cookie

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Re: First timer
« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2012, 02:26:43 PM »
IMO I would change:

Here is my checklist so far... What do you guys think...

Clothes:
Long sleeve under
Columbia short sleeve shirt
Under Armour shorts
Wool socks
Synthetic Underwear
Wide brim hat
Salamon Hiking shoes (no chacos)

Gear:
Two man hardwear drifter tent, 5lbs 
70 liter backpack, wife has a smaller one
Thermarest Air cushions and pillows
Cocoon sheet

Extras:....
Sunglasses
headlamp
flashlight
Led lantern
Whistle
First aid kit
Toothbrush
Mess kit for cookingpan for water+2 spoons
Small butane stove + fuel
Camera
Lock
Tp + shovel(plastic) +ziplocks 4 TP
Baby powder
Pocket knife
Toothbrush
Ziplocks for trash etc..see below
Lighter
bear spray

water
1 3 liter bladder MORE liter containers
8x16oz bottles water replace w/ 3x20oz gatorade, then stuff all your trash in 1 of the empties, you can cram a lot in there w/ stick or hiking pole
1 32oz coconut water
A couple dry Gatorade packs
Water tablets do you have a filter pump? how are you going to get the water in your containers IF you pump?

Wife has 2 liter bladder more liters
8 16oz bottles water that's a lot of bottles
32oz coconut water
a couple dry Gatorade packs

Food
Day 1
Mountain house spaghetti and meatballs
Day2
Breakfast
Dried bacon egg oatmeal or bagels or trailmix or poptarts
Lunch - mount house spaghetti and meatballs again have snacks for lunch a cheesburger at the lodge when you get down

Snacks
Dried blueberries
4 cliff bars each
Pb and crackersbagels, less mess+more filling+pack better
trail mix

I think you need to work on your water. Carrying all those bottles is a pain and makes a lot of trash. For a one nighter you should be able to pack all your water and not take any from the springs up there.I wouldn't mess with the MH for lunch when you will be hiking down that day.

As others have said, I would HIGHLY recommend hiking poles!
Good Luck!!
~Cookie

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Offline stingrey

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Re: First timer
« Reply #44 on: June 28, 2012, 02:40:54 PM »
The trekking poles do come in handy, but they can fail. TWWG would suggest a real hiking stick vs. poles that are of no use if they bend/collapse while you are attempting to rely on them to avoid a face plant...

Rain jacket should be a given, those $1.00 ponchos from d-ck's (this was an auto censor, but this store is a real store, I promise :) Sporting Goods store (or comparable) fit the bill. I have 'em in almost every pack of mine now just in case and to avoid forgetting 'em at home.

Bug spray is something I've always gotten by without, but I hear the biting flies are out in force. Might be something I'd consider, though a long sleeve cotton T and long convertible cargo pants have done the trick in the past for me.

The tent is heavy, but two people are going up. The weight can be divided somehow to accommodate. I'd rent something lighter though if you have the chance, but you can get by with that extra 3lbs.

On the cushions and pillows... I second the balled up clothing for your pillow, but I also pack an inflatable pillow on my treks. Speaking of inflatable, the Thermarest cushions work, but you may be able to save weight using something lighter by Big Agnes or the like. Either way, a comfy sleep makes a difference. In most cases you can easily avoid puncturing your mattress by just double checking the ground before setting up. Since they are established campsites, they aren't that bad due to repeated use.

Cocoon sheet could come in handy if it is cold out, if you think the weight is negligible, take it. The wife may need it. You seem good on the fluids, but I agree in that the bottles should be consolidated to avoid running out of room.

Shovel... Yes or no. There are a couple of composting toilets up there. If you plan accordingly, you can avoid needing the shovel.

Bear spray... That is a personal choice. IF you take it, keep it front and center ready to deploy. I am pretty sure you won't need it for a charging black bear, but just four weeks ago people got bluff charged on Lost Mine. Personally, I'd stand up to a black bear. It can easily take me out, but they GENERALLY bluff if on the rare occasion they charge. The spray MAY come in handy for a kitty incident though, but if there are two of you and you are walking with big packs on, the likelihood is slim. Point is that is your call, it is one of those things you could possibly wish you had if you didn't have it and vice versa.

I understand the lock, but I'm pretty sure again that you are not going to have anyone mess with your bear box full of stuff. It COULD happen, but the odds of that happening are probably the same as you encountering a hostile bear or cat.

Sunglasses... Depends on what you want. I personally want to see EVERYTHING as clearly as possible. I have weak 'scrip glasses, so I wear those when I'm hiking just to be sure I am not missing something out in the distance/etc. I wear those at all times in the park and rarely take sunglasses unless I need the polarized lenses to see through glass (i.e. driving) or water in the park. If you don't wear prescription glasses, I'd personally recommend against sunglasses unless that's just to wear while trekking. If you have wrap arounds with no rims on the side though, that is another "your call" type item. I'd opt for being able to see more at all times, so if they are framed lenses or non-'scrip, I'd leave 'em behind and save 'em for driving during the day.

The cocoon sheet is one thing I would repeat as being something you may want to bring because the temps at night may get cooler than you anticipate. There are two of you, so you can definitely turn to each other for heating needs, but if one of you tends to sleep cold, that may be a lifesaver for you.

You can skip mountain house and go "dry" or straight up tuna or whatever to avoid fuel needs, but if you plan to take it up, my vote is to make the most of it. Enjoy it however you'd want to enjoy it. Heck, take some powdered cocoa even.

Here is where that lighter tent and lighter gear in general will factor in... Lights and camera gear.

I carry a lot of camera gear and a few light options. It depends entirely on whether or not you will look around at night and/or take pictures at night/etc. Tripod? You can improvise, sure... But if you want to do it right, you'll need one for night shooting. Just mentioning that piece as an example. I've carried all of that stuff up there, but I have not carried it on subsequent trips if I didn't end up using it.

Being said, think about what you want to do/have/etc. The lantern can be skipped if you both have headlamps. I'd still carry a flashlight between the two of you if you will be trekking at night for any duration of time. Look around you. Be aware of what is ahead, behind, to the side, and maybe most importantly, just underfoot.

Overall everything you've listed sounds pretty good IMO. Synthetic underwear is something most people don't even consider. If you've ever gotten "trail rash" though, those $25.00 exofficio underwear seem pretty inexpensive (esp after you've used something like 'em and realized the difference).

I know we all have varying ideas about what should go up and what can be avoided, but whatever you decide you should both try to load up your packs and walk UP something with 'em on and fully loaded. Walk up a multi level parking garage if you don't have any local trail systems with inclines. If you can handle it, go for it! I take my comfort items, but I now take a tripod chair vs. a stand alone actual pillow. I'd rather have a quick soft seat to sit on to help me relax if nothing else suitable is around. But that's me. Everyone has their own thing.

I tell you what though, take enough Crown (or Patron) and you may find that you only ever touched 1/3 of everything you took up there with you to begin with! :)

Get busy living, or get busy dying.

 


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