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2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!

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Offline janeeyli

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2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« on: March 28, 2013, 10:40:42 PM »
I'll be visiting Big Bend for the first time! I'll be there for 2 full days...am interested in hiking and photography. This is my tentative plan:
- Camping both nights at Chisos Basin Campground
- Day 1: Hike Lost Mine Trail (morning). Hike Window Trail and Oak Springs Trail (afternoon).
- Day 2: Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Stopping off for the following hikes: Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Mule Ears Trail, Cattail Falls, Tuff Canyon, Upper or Lower Burro Mesa Pour-off Trail, Sotol Vista (sunset).

I'd appreciate any insight into this itinerary!
In particular:
- Instead of my Day 1 itinerary, would it be better to just do the South Rim Trail instead of Lost Mine + Window + Oak Springs?
- Would it be doable to do all the hikes listed above for Day 2? If not, which ones would you recommend? (I'll be visiting a number of NP in Utah - Zion, Bryce, Arches soon, so to the extent that the scenery on some trails would be very similar to these Utah NPs, I would probably prefer to avoid those trails.)

Thanks!!!

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Offline Geezer

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2013, 11:36:45 PM »
You Bu't say how fit you are -- are you running ten miles a day, five or what? Or how experienced hiking: some of the trails are more demanding than others in terms of footing and grade. Also, how are you on route finding -- navigation? Most of the trails you mention are no-brainers, but you could conceivably get lost on the Mule Ears trail. I've seen it done. Tell us more about yourself and we can be more helpful.

In any case, your second day is way too full.

In general, you have picked some good hikes. There are great photo ops on Lost Mine and Window-Oaks Springs trails. Lost Mine is pretty easy and Window-Oak Springs is moderate, if you go all the way down to Oak spring and back.

If you are highly fit and moderately experienced, the South Rim, with perhaps Emory Peak thrown in, would provide the best photo ops. It would be an exhausting day for most, but doable.

But say more about yourself and it will be easier to make suggestions.

Geezer


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Offline Picacho

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2013, 08:45:24 AM »
This is your itinerary if you are in shape. 

Day 1:  Take the Laguna Meadow trail up from The Basin.  Make sure you go very early in the morning.  If not, you will be sweating your ass off on the way up.  I'd personally start 30 minutes before sunup with a headlamp.  Take about a gallon and 1/2 of water.  Hang a left at Laguna Meadow and then stay right at the intersection of the Colima Trail and hike the South Rim Trail.  Hang another left and head down the Boot Canyon Trail.  Hike up Emory Peak before heading back down to the Basin on the Pinnacles Trail.  Drive over and hike the Lost Mine Trail.  Have dinner at the Lodge and sit out on the porch and watch the sunset and drink a beer.  Both trails are doable in one day as long as you get an early start, are in good shape, and you take plenty of water.

Day 2:  Hike Cattail Falls, especially if there has been recent rains.  Hike the lower Burro Mesa Trail (skip upper).  Hike the Santa Elena Canyon Trial.  If you have time, Hike the Mule Ears Trail to the Smokey Creek Overlook (3 miles one way) and back.  You can do sunset at Sotol Vista on your way out.  If time is running out, hike to Mule Ears Spring and back instead of going all the way to the Smokey Creek Overlook. 

There are three don't miss opportunities for newbies at Big Bend.  Emory Peak summit, South Rim view, Lost Mine Trail view, and Santa Elena Canyon.  If you don't have time for the Mule Ears trail, drive up to the trailhead at least and check out the cool looking Mule Ears.   

If you are driving out during daylight hours and it's not too far out of the way, take Highway 170 from Study Butte to Presidio.  Be sure and stop at the "Big Hill" for one of the best overlooks in the state of Texas. 
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 08:50:38 AM by Picacho »

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Offline janeeyli

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2013, 08:48:33 AM »
Thanks geezer!
I would say that my companion and I are decently experienced hikers, but we have mostly only hiked on trails. For example, we have hiked Katahdin in Maine, Old Rag in Shenandoah, and Macchu Picchu in Peru. So we could probably handle a 10-12 mile hike or maybe more if necessary.

In terms of vehicle, we will be driving something similar to a Honda Civic, so that may limit our options a bit.

We have rejuggled our itinerary a bit so that we are now spending two half days and one full day at Bibe. So my thoughts are now to do:

Day 1: Arrive late morning. Set up camp at Chisos Basin. Hike Windows trail.
Day 2: Drive Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Stopping off at some of the points mentioned in my above post and doing some of those hikes.
Day 3: Hike Lost Mine Trail. Leave Big Bend in the late morning.

I'd appreciate any thoughts about this itinerary. And also which hikes we should do off the Scenic Drive (considering that we'll be going to some NPs in Utah soon and would prefer to see/hike different scenery).
And also, whether we'd be missing a lot by not hiking the South Rim trail. (I just don't think we could fit it in given our limited time).

Thanks in advance!!!

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Offline Picacho

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2013, 08:52:06 AM »
If you skip the South Rim Trail, just do Emory via Pinnacles.  You can see the South Rim from the Emory summit. 

And by the way, I did the Laguna Meadow, South Rim, Southeast Rim, Emory, Pinnacles route with an 8 year old in the heat of August and finished by 3:30 p.m. without getting a pre-dawn start.  It's doable especially since you will be skipping the Southeast Rim portion of the trail.   
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:08:25 AM by Picacho »

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Offline kevint

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 10:03:32 AM »
There are three don't miss opportunities for newbies at Big Bend.  Emory Peak summit, South Rim view, Lost Mine Trail view, and Santa Elena Canyon.  If you don't have time for the Mule Ears trail, drive up to the trailhead at least and check out the cool looking Mule Ears.    [size=78%] [/size]


Three?

Moderator Note: There are three kinds of people: those who are good at math and those that aren't.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 11:09:40 AM by RichardM »
-- Kevin (W5KLT)

"It's not an adventure until something goes wrong."  --Yvon Chouinard

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Offline catz

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 12:28:41 PM »
In my humble opinion, if you can only do one hike in Big Bend, it should be the South Rim hike, whether or not you include Emory Peak.  It does take all day, but you don't have to leave in the dark.  It is an excellent quality trail (steep!) with signs at every intersection with another trail.  Almost impossible to get lost.  So that is what I would do on the one whole day.

On one of your half days, Ross Maxwell is a must.  A half day would still allow you to get in a couple of short hikes:  bottom of Burro Mesa pouroff (1 hour), and  Santa Elena Canyon (1 hour).  Allow two full hours driving time from the Basin to Santa Elena and back to the Basin.

On the other half day, since you have already done or will be doing the South Rim, I suggest you bypass Lost Mine and hike the Pine Canyon trail instead (2-3 hours for the hike itself; 1+hours round trip from the Basin to the trailhead and back to the Basin).  Unless it's been raining very recently, your Civic can make it to the trailhead I am sure.  Just drive slowly.  If you do this the first day you can top it off with a visit to the hot springs.

Either that or go back to Ross Maxwell and hike some of the trails you weren't able to do the first time.  Cattail Falls is a good one; ditto Mule Ears Spring.  Another possibility is to stop at the Homer Wilson Ranch overlook, go down to the ranch house itself, and then turn left on the Blue Creek Trail.  Hike about a mile (one way, very easy walking) through the hoodoos section and back to the ranch house and your car.

Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline Homer67

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2013, 02:20:37 PM »
Ooh, a nice hike would be to hike in through Blue Creek, hit Laguna and camp at one of the spots on the SE Rim.  Loop back through the Chisos and out Blue Creek.  It would be a cool two days and you'd see fewer people.
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 steelfrog

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2013, 03:00:22 PM »
SE rim closed until May 31, isn't it?  Falcons?


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Offline Picacho

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2013, 03:39:36 PM »
SE rim closed until May 31, isn't it?  Falcons?

Probably.  South Rim should be open though. 

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Offline janeeyli

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2013, 04:39:46 PM »
Thanks for all your suggestions! This has been incredibly helpful!

Is the general view that hiking South Rim is better than hiking both Window Trail plus Lost Mine Trail?

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Offline RichardM

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2013, 05:02:50 PM »
Thanks for all your suggestions! This has been incredibly helpful!

Is the general view that hiking South Rim is better than hiking both Window Trail plus Lost Mine Trail?
"Better" is way too subjective. The South Rim is rightfully considered one of the premier hikes in the park. However, it's an all-day affair or an overnight backpack trip. The Lost Mine Trail only takes a couple of hours, leaving you with most of the day for other activities. With your limited time in the park, I'd recommend doing lots of shorter hikes. Then once you're hooked on the park like the rest of us, you can make more and more trips to cover other areas.

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Offline Hoodoo

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2013, 05:52:44 PM »
There are three don't miss opportunities for newbies at Big Bend.  Emory Peak summit, South Rim view, Lost Mine Trail view, and Santa Elena Canyon.  If you don't have time for the Mule Ears trail, drive up to the trailhead at least and check out the cool looking Mule Ears.    [size=78%] [/size]


Three?

Moderator Note: There are three kinds of people: those who are good at math and those that aren't.

Hmmm… and I thought there were only 10 types of people.  Those who understand Boolean algebra and those who don’t.
 :offtopic: Sorry, couldn’t resist.

On topic,  I have little to contribute other than  votes  for Cattail Falls and Santa Elena Canyon hikes followed by a departure via FM 170 through Study Butte and Presidio.  Mule Ears Springs is good too, but doing all three may be too much of a schedule to keep, IMHO.

Speaking of FM 170, there is the short, closed canyon hike at Rancherias…  You will find that 2 days is not near enough, but should serve well to bring you back for more.

Don

Don
Fort Worth

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Offline Flash

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2013, 06:11:57 PM »
Pencil in some hammock time back at camp, so you can contemplate Casa Grande vs. Vernon Bailey...  :eusa_think:
 
PS - Seconding Hoodoo, if your are heading west, exiting the region via Presidio is well worth the drive.  :great:

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Offline Geezer

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Re: 2 Full Days - Suggestions appreciated!
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2013, 01:09:36 AM »
One thing to keep in mind is that BBNP suffers the least light pollution from urban areas of any National Park in the continental US. So if you camp in the Basin, try for a site at the far end of the camp ground -- in the area of Campsite 60. There's a map of the campground somewhere on the park's web site. That will be the quietest area and have less light from restrooms, RVs, etc. Set up camp there and reserve some time for star gazing.

And as you are fit and experienced, why not do the rim and Emory Peak on your long day?

Geezer

 


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