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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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Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15

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Offline aamerjaved

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Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« on: January 10, 2012, 08:35:39 AM »
My wife and I are driving out to the BBNP this weekend and would like to get some feedback on hiking trails.

We are casual hikers so we aren't experienced in using topographic maps (yet) and don't plan to have any with us. That being said, we would still like to enjoy our first trip to Big bend while minimizing any unnecessary risks/chances of running into difficult situations.

Thursday - Leave DFW. Arrive between 3p-5p. Setup in High Chisos campground.

Friday - Ross Maxwell Drive, hike/walk the Santa Elena Canyon trail, Drive back up on the Old Maverick and hike the Lost Mine trail.

Saturday - Hike the Emory Peak trail to the top

Sunday - Hike Devil's Den, Drive the Dagger Flat and hike the Window Trail. Leave Sunday night.


My interest is Photography and based on my reading, I would like to photograph Lost Mine and Window Trail during Sunset.

Also, is there a reliable source of Hiking Trail maps?
I have checked various sources but none provides a full-on visual guide to the trails.


Appreciate all the tips and suggestions.


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Offline Robert

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2012, 09:12:54 AM »
Quote
I have checked various sources but none provides a full-on visual guide to the trails.

Lost Mine and Windows trails are well marked and easy to follow. What exactly do you mean about a "full-on visual guide"?

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Online mule ears

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2012, 09:14:52 AM »
All of the trails you mention, except Devils Den which is a route, are easily followed without a map.

Devils Den is just a route up along side the wash/slot (or through it if you are so inclined) and will take a bit more route finding especially getting to it from the trail head.

http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/devil's-den-jan-9th

You can get all the maps you want at the visitor center at Panther Jct.

Have fun and I look forward to the pictures.
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Offline steelfrog

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2012, 09:29:27 AM »
Nat Geo Trails Illustrated map.

Looks lieka  good itinerary

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Offline aamerjaved

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2012, 09:41:37 AM »
If the trails are well marked, I can survive without a map but I still like to have something with me so I understand the entire trail. I will pick them up from the visitor center.

Robert - May be I was being too wordy up there. I just meant trail maps.

Great blog there Mule Ears.

Anyone think we have too much going on for 3 days?

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2012, 10:06:12 AM »
Plan much, but prioritize so that you can drop something if need be.

No

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Offline catz

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2012, 10:20:40 AM »
I think your itinerary is reasonable--not too hurried; not too little.  I do have a couple of suggestions, though.

If it's not too much, I would hike to the South Rim on Saturday rather than Emory Peak.  The South Rim is a full day hike, but it is, I think, the best single hike in the park.  Do it as a loop--up one trail (e.g., Laguna Meadows) and down the other (e.g., Pinnacles).  Both trails are well-signed and very easy to follow.

Also, if you can only do one, I would hike Pine Canyon over Devil's Den.   
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Offline Cookie

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2012, 10:46:11 AM »


Saturday - Hike the Emory Peak trail to the top

Sunday - Hike Devil's Den, Drive the Dagger Flat and hike the Window Trail. Leave Sunday night.


My interest is Photography and based on my reading, I would like to photograph Lost Mine and Window Trail during Sunset.




I would switch your Saturday/Sunday plans. If you want to photo the Window at Sunset on Sunday, you would have to get up, pack up your camp to be out by noon. Then drive +20 miles to get to Devil's Den and Dagger Flat Rd. Then drive back +20 miles to the basin and hike  the Window. Then drive back out of the park +20 miles at night and all the way back to DFW.

If you do Emory on Sunday, you would have time to pack up early, hike Emory and be back later afternoon and then drive home.

The other option would be to save Devil's den for another time and hike Grapevine Hill and Cattail Falls. That would still give you plenty of time to hike the Window for Sunset, and would keep the driving down a bit.

Have a great time!!

~Cookie

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Offline The Scorpion

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2012, 11:48:25 AM »
If you are more interested in doing some photography, you should consider changing what you have. Both Lost mine and Window are worth it to be at for Sunset....not gonna change your mind on that.

photographically speaking, Devils den is less interesting than other areas and there is NO official park map and no official trail for Devils Den. the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center has a hand drawn map thats about useless.

I would cut out Dagger Flat auto trail unless you really want to go back there, there is not much back there at all.

Either start earlier and do the South Rim as a loop, which is a 14 mile trip, or just go up the Pinnacles trail and head up to Emory peak. the officially hit the peak, you have to scramble up about 25 ft. to be the best view. It is doable.

if you have an suv or something with high clearance you could always go back and do Earnst Tinaja which is a good spot for photos. Its a short hike back and pretty neat. but ask the rangers for current road conditions as its a back country dirt/rocky road

I will add another vote that Grapevine hills and Cattail are always nice.

be sure to have plenty of water on hand, even thought its January

James

then while done on that end of the park you could hit the hot spring area.
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Offline fartymarty

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2012, 04:51:05 PM »

I would cut out Dagger Flat auto trail unless you really want to go back there, there is not much back there at all.


I agree with Sotol Vista, it sounds like you have done some research, so unless there is something specific that you know
you want to photograph out on Dagger Flat and/or Devils Den, then I would save these for another trip. There is much
more to shoot (IMHO) just on the paved road between Lajitas and the half way to Presidio point (outside the park). Most of your
original plan looks good, Sunday's could be improved upon. Your vehicle type (?) plays a factor as well, my PT Cruiser made it to Grapevine Hills and Cattail falls parking areas and could have made it down the Maverick road. Unless someone has recently hauled a lot of gravel back to the Dagger Flat road my PT would easily get stuck in the sand back there.
Have a great trip!

Fort Worth

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Offline kevint

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2012, 05:19:26 PM »
One thing I realized on my recent trip is that at Big Bend, when thinking of Sunrise/Sunset pictures, look the opposite direction.  While I was there the skies were totally featureless.  I did not see one cloud despite spending five nights in the park.  Perhaps that is partly because this is in the dry season for the park.  Perhaps others with more experience (pretty much everyone here) can comment on whether featureless skies are more common in January.  At any rate, coming mentally prepared for that might be a good idea.  I rarely see any clouds over Big Bend on satellite images these days.
 
However, there was a lot of haze and so there was a lot of color in the sky which greatly warmed any mountains the opposite horizon.  There was actually a pretty log period of time in the evenings where you had some nice light to work with.
 
My timing was a little off but as Farty Marty pointed out, Hwy 170 west of Lajitas has lots of beautiful mountains that will be warmed by the sunset light.
 
If you want an idea of what can be seen from where, I recently posted some pictures to my smugmug account which are geotagged. 
 
http://thornsberry.smugmug.com/Travel/Texas/2011-2012-Big-Bend/20911730_fXF7MN
 
You can click the "map this" button and see on a map roughly where each photo was taken.  It is hardly exhaustive but it is a start and might be helpful.
 
In any case.  Enjoy.  I was there just a week ago and I already can't wait to go back.
-- Kevin (W5KLT)

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

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2012, 05:21:11 PM »
I'm a big fan of the Lost Mine Trail in the early morning. It is on the east side of the Chisos Mountains and would make a great sunrise destination. One mile in, there is an overlook of Juniper Canyon which offers a splendid view of the eastern Chisos Mountains and some of the more recognizable desert peaks beyond.

Dagger Flat can wait -- it is best when the daggers bloom, and that is a ways off yet. Devil's Den, too, can wait. Old Maverick can also wait; I suggest Grapevine Hills if you want an "off-road" experience -- and the trail there is rewarding. I would consider spending your Ross Maxwell Drive afternoon hiking about 1.25 miles from the Homer Wilson ranch overlook to the "red rock" canyon area of Blue Creek. Then I'd backtrack down the road a few hundred meters and catch the sunset at Sotol Vista.

My suggestion, laid out:


Thursday - Leave DFW. Arrive between 3p-5p. Setup in Chisos Basin campground. Sunset at Window View Trail

Friday - Sunrise/early morning Lost Mine Trail hike. Ross Maxwell Drive, hike/walk the Santa Elena Canyon trail, drive back up RMSD, lunch on the back porch of the Wilson Ranch, hike to Red Rocks in Blue Creek Canyon, sunset at Sotol Vista. While driving RMSD, scout locations for next day's sunset.

Saturday - Hike the Emory Peak trail to the top OR dayhike to the South Rim. Sunset from location identified yesterday.

Sunday - Hike the Window Trail. Hike Grapevine Hills Trail to the balanced rock. Leave Sunday night.

As laid out here, Friday is a FULL day. Prepare everything you'll need Thursday evening so you don't squander a moment of daylight.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline aamerjaved

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2012, 07:56:33 PM »
Wow. Some great suggestions. Jeff I will map out your itinerary and see how it fits my interests. Will report back.

In the meantime,  couple of follow-up questions....

Will my VW Golf be able to handle any of the terrain I mentioned or suggested by others?
Should we invest some hikings or running shoes suffice? I won't be able to properly research hiking boots in the remaining time before we leave, but if it means falling off the edge in running shoes I will ensure we get them.

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Offline The Scorpion

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2012, 08:10:36 PM »
you could probably make it back to Grapevine Hills in your Golf, but that will be a challenge, you could take it REAL slow in a few spots and you might make it to the trail head. I would be very cautions about any other of the back country roads out there as they are some what rough. Old Maverick road will rattle the teeth out of your head in the Golf, you could certainly make it, but you will be shaken pretty well

some decent shoes with good support should do ok, its a little to late to get some hiking boots and have them broken in before the trip. I have seen people in a variety of foot wear on many of the trails, so as long as you keep an eye on where you are stepping you should be good

James

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Feedback for Trip Jan 12-15
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2012, 08:23:47 PM »
I've driven the Grapevine Hills road in a Toyota Camry, Toyota minivan, and a Honda Accord without problems (other than some mildly rattled teeth and lots of dust). Unless there has been rain recently, it is usually in good enough shape for passenger cars. If in doubt, ask at the Panther Junction Visitor Center.

My last few trips I've worn trail running shoes and/or regular running shoes for day hikes. As long as you watch your step and aren't carrying a heavy load, they'll do fine.

 


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