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Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?

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Offline andrwtzel

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Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« on: August 25, 2015, 12:21:46 PM »
We are planning our second trip back to the park and were looking for some more great advice.

We have recently taken up backpacking (as opposed to car-camping) and we were wondering if there are any good multi-day trips that you can backpack in the Chisos? Last time we hiked the Rim, we did it in a day. So taking a half-day trip to the Rim, and a half day trip back is a little short for what were hoping for.  We were hoping to learn of some trips we can take in the Chisos that would take a 2 nights.

I know of the OML, but  we  really want to spend a night out on the South Rim if we were to add that on to the OML it would make our trip too long (we only have 2 nights).

Thanks!

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Offline dprather

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Re: Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2015, 01:32:28 PM »
Yes, a two-night backpacking trip up in the High Chisos is very doable and very enjoyable.  The High Chisos is mesmerizing with its amazing views from the Rim and its magical, tucked-away places.  I'd say that it is a great way to start your backpacking adventures in the Bend. 

You've not described yourselves much (age, fitness, backpacking experience).

Day #1 - begin at the Basin, travel up Laguna Meadows trail (the easier of the two trails into the High Chisos from the Basin - the other is Pinnacles) and end-up at one of the Rim campsites. 

[You might want to stay at two different campsites, a different one for each of your two nights (maybe a NE site the first night and a SW site on the other)].

This day is not is not as easy as it sounds.  Yes, some youngsters bound up the trail, take in in the Rim, and return at the end of one day.  Ya'll, on the other hand, will have to hump your backpacks.  In addition to all your other stuff, you'll have to hump enough water to cover your time in the Chisos (unless you want to add "try water purification" to your "to-do" list).

That evening, luxuriate in the view off the Rim.  Take your time and savor that view.  This will be a great opportunity to cast off civilization's crazy pace and leisurely appreciate nature's wonder.

Day #2 - tour the High Chisos without your heavy packs.  You'll want to (i) climb Emory Peak.  The (ii) trek around the entire Rim is well worth some of your time.  I think that you'll also fall in love with the Boot Canyon trail; (iii) begin at the Rim and follow the Boot Canyon trail.  This day's adventure will allow you to scout other neat vantage points on the  Rim, so (iv) spend another leisurely evening soaking in a different view from the Rim.  If you have more time on Day #2, (v) explore the Colima trail (make sure that you get a map long before you go so you can decide how best to sequence all of this day's adventures).  This will be a full day.

Day #3 - this is your sad return trip.  If you came up Laguna Meadows, then you really ought to go down Pinnacles trail. 

Best of luck.
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Offline catz

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Re: Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2015, 03:39:20 PM »
I agree that you could easily spend two nights up in the Chisos.

This is the way I would do it.   I would go up Pinnacles.   Mainly because water is likely to be available at or near Boot Spring, which will be right on your way to the rim, but also because I think it is easier on yourself, especially your knees, to go up the steeper part than down.  You could climb Emory Peak on the way up and then spend night one at or near where you find water.  Take pills to purify the water (get the kind that has two different pills--one for purifying the water, the other for getting rid of the iodine taste).  Very easy to do and adds almost no weight or bulk.  The next day, complete the trip to the rim and set up camp.   Come back down via Laguna Meadows the next day.
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Offline mule ears

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Re: Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2015, 05:23:29 PM »
andrwztel a few preliminary questions. 
1. Did you do the South Rim and Emory peak in April as planned?
2. When are you planning on going?  The NE/SE Rim is closed Feb. 1-May 31 but I assume you are talking this fall.
3. How many miles a day do you want to do?  Including an Emory Peak up and back there are only barely 16 miles of trails in the Chisos from the Basin up and down.

Like catz suggested you want to try and plan on using water found in Boot Canyon either entirely or to resupply on the second day for that night and the hike back down.
While new to backpacking it is easy to carry too much extraneous stuff, be ruthless on keeping your pack light by not bringing stuff you don't really need.

Here are a few options

1. carrying water for the first night and next morning, go up Laguna Meadows trail to SW3 (5.6 miles), the only site with a view from the rim or another .5 miles to SW4 with close views and a composting toilet nearby (a plus for your partner if she is getting used to going to bathroom in the woods).  If you are really wanting some mileage go on to one of the SE rim sites or NE4.  Enjoy sunset and sunrise from the rim.  Next day walk on around the SE and NE rims dropping down into Boot canyon and getting water.

Here you have two options a) hike on to TM1 site and do Emory Peak again (or not) also another outhouse there too.  Different views over the Basin and west.  Next day easy walk back down Pinnacles trail to the Basin.  b) take the short walk up the Juniper canyon trail to the JP1 site, drop packs (store food in bear box) and dayhike down to Upper Juniper springs a back (or part way down and back, great views of Juniper Canyon and east).  Next day still an easy 5.2 miles back to the Basin down Pinnacles.

2.  Go up Pinnacles with only a few quarts of water, resupply in Boot canyon and then on up to the rim.  Easiest to SW4 or SE1.  Next day, day hike as many trails as you want, SE and NE Rims, getting more water in Boot canyon returning back up Boot Canyon or cross over on Colima and then back to camp.  Last day down via Laguna Meadows.

3.  Go up Pinnacles as above including water but move camp second night to either one of the Blue Creek sites or Laguna West sites with good views of Emory Peak.  Return via Laguna Meadows.

4.  Here is a twist.  Arrange for a shuttle with the Lodge folks and leave your car at the Blue Creek/Homer Wilson trail head.  Go up Pinnacles as above, camp either same site both nights or move but hike down via the Blue Creek trail back to your car.  Or go up Laguna Meadows trail, cross over on Colima, get water in Boot canyon and then onto the rim for the night(s) and then down Blue Creek.

Here are the maps for the trails and campsites in the Chisos and the mileage logs so you can plan.





Pinnacles trail to Juniper canyon trail
0   Basin parking lot, 5400
0.5  Junction with Chisos Basin Loop trail, connects with Laguna Meadows trail
1.0  After a steep climb, trail levels out some at Juniper Flats, Juniper Flats campsites
1.5  Boulder Meadows campsites
2.5  Pinnacles campsites at the bottom of the switchbacks up the Pinnacles, 6400
3.4  Pinnacles pass, 7000, Toll mtn. campsite, Jct. Emory Peak trail, outhouse here
4.5  Junction with Colima trail, right it is 1 mile to the Southwest Rim trail
4.5  NPS cabin, outhouse, Boot canyon campsites, Boot Spring
4.8  Junction with Juniper Canyon trail, if no water in Boot Spring there are large pools in the next .5 miles up the Boot Canyon trail before the Northeast Rim trail jct.
  JC1 campsite is .4 miles up the Juniper canyon trail, Upper Juniper Springs is 2.2 miles further down the trail.

Blue Creek/Laguna Meadows trail jct. to Basin

Blue Creek designated campsites .2 miles down Blue Creek trail
0 Junction with Laguna Meadows trail, 6700
0.1  Spur trail to LM 2,3,4 campsites, outhouse here
0.3  Spur trail to Laguna West campsites
0.5  begin descent on Laguna Meadows trail to Basin, 6700
3.3  Junction with Chisos Basin Loop trial
3.8  Basin parking lot

Southwest Rim, Boot Canyon trails

0.0  Laguna Meadows/Blue Creek canyon trail junction, 6700'
0.8  Junction Colima trail, left is 1 mile over to Boot Spring
1.2  SW2 campsite
1.8  SW3 campsite
2.3  SW4 campsite, outhouse, South Rim view, 7300
2.5  Junction with Boot Canyon Trail and beginning of Southeast Rim/Northeast Rim trail which is closed here Feb.1-May 31 for Peregrine Falcon nesting
3.5  Junction with Northeast Rim trail, water in pools next .5 miles.
4.0  Junction with Juniper Canyon trail

Southeast/Northeast Rim Trail

0.0  Junction with Boot Canyon/Southwest Rim trails
0.2  SE1 campsite
0.5  SE2 campsite
1.7  SE3,4 campsites
1.8  NE4 campsite, 7400'
2.6  NE1 campsite
3.3  Boot Canyon trail
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Geezer

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Re: Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2015, 09:44:34 PM »
I once walked down to the first dam in Cattail Canyon. Water was running out from beneath it (as I remember). Query: is this a possible water source?

Geezer

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Offline catz

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Re: Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2015, 11:26:31 AM »
It is not only a possible water source but a probable one--either at the dam itself or in pools as you get close to the dam. 

However, this does add several miles--six(?) round trip.
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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2015, 06:09:17 AM »
Or... park at the Juniper Canyon Trailhead and hike uphill to the South Rim.  That's a all-day hike and a new way for you to get to the rim rock.  There is reliable water at Upper Juniper Spring and in Boot Canyon Tinaja's although the later may or may not have a lot of algae in it.   Return via the same route.   TWWG

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Offline andrwtzel

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Re: Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2015, 11:46:08 AM »
Thanks for the info. We have talked it over and decided we are going to do the traditional OML w/ an extra day on the South Rim.

The exact start/end position are TBD yet. Which leads me to my next question...We are going the first weekend of November, how reliable are water sources around this time (Boot Springs, Juniper, Frenso)?  I know it can be tough to say, but any insight into recent years would be great. We will be caching at Homer, and potentially Juniper if necessary (although we would prefer not to).

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Multi-Day backpacking in the Chisos?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2015, 05:40:37 PM »
The one spring that you could count on is Fresno.  It has been a good year for rain so far.   I have never heard anyone say it was completely dry.  Someone may have had to walk down stream a ways, or looked around and didn't find it right beside the trail, but there has always been some water.   

Almost always you can find some stanky water in Boot creek.  Not worth it to me, but it can be easily treated.  I personally don't have a problem drinking it if I knew it had rained in the past 2 weeks or so.  It is the pee and animal infested pools that can develop without a recent rain that I avoid.

For a first timer, I would spend the extra time and drop water and food at Juniper and Homer.  Makes for lighter packs if nothing else.  Also, you know exactly how far to the next supply drop.  Fresno is only 4 hours walking from Juniper trail head so it doesn't seem that useful to get water there with the two drops made.  4.5 hours to Homer. 

If you go clockwise, I would make the rim night the last night.  You will see the condition of Boot creek/spring on your way by the first time.  Then when you come back up from the desert, you will know if you need to bring water all the way up from Homer.  Make a big drop of water at Homer so you have options.
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