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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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First-timer Itinerary Sanity Check/Suggestion Request

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Offline re_buchanan

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First-timer Itinerary Sanity Check/Suggestion Request
« on: January 08, 2016, 02:06:16 PM »
My wife and I are taking our first trip to Big Bend at the end of the month. We'll be in the park for 6 nights doing a mix of car camping and backpacking.  The itinerary I've put together so far:

Day 1.
     arrive (mid/late afternoon)
     car camp in the vicinity of Maverick Junction
     (we've been told that we "must" go to la Kiva, so perhaps set-up camp and drive into "town" that night)
Day 2.
     Santa Elena Canyon @ sunrise
     day hike (or 2) : Lost Mine/Window Trail/???
     car camp in the Basin
Day 3.
     backpack into the mountains and camp along the rim
Day 4.
     hike the rim
Day 5.
     backpack out
     car camp in the Boquilas/Rio Grand Village area
Day 6.
     backpack and zone camp Marufo Vega (preferably camping somewhere along the rim)
Day 7.
     backpack out and drive to New Braunfels (hopefully grabbing a meal at The Gage)

Is this reasonable? Too much, too little?

Any suggestions for the day hike(s) on day 2?

While backpacking in the Chisos, I'd like to climb Emory Peak preferable arriving at the top in time for either sunrise or sunset.  I've considered camping somewhere near the base of Emory for that first night to be in a position for a pre-dawn scramble up to the peak, then camping the rim the second night, But on the other hand, I'd rather not set-up and break camp twice. And it would be nice to spend our one full day in the Chisos hiking without a 4o-pound pack. Is a before sunrise/after sunset hike from the rim to Emory ill advised or completely doable?  Any suggestions?

Marufo Vega:  With an early start, would it be reasonable to hike the north section of the trail camping somewhere high with a view of the river (perhaps near the spur that leads down to the river)?  Would this position us for a reasonable hike out (keeping in mind the 6+ hour drive ahead of us)? 

Background: my wife and I are pretty fit (currently training for a marathon.)  Compared to the average American, I'd say that we are very fit (though I've been fitter.)  So I'm not terribly concerned about the physical demands of any of the trails (though we do like a challenge.)  We are fairly new to backpacking, but not total noobs - we've done a couple of multi-night backpacking trips and some single night, shake-down trips.  But all of our trail-running/hiking/backpacking has been in the woods where the trails are well marked and stunningly obvious, so the only real concern I have with any the above is trail finding on the MV (from what I've read, the Chisos trails are closer to what we're accustomed: well-marked and fairly obvious trails.)

Any campsite recommendations for any of the above?

Also, I've been looking at the USGS topo maps of different sections of the park and they don't seem to be very even with trail coverage (the maps of the High Chisos seem to have the trails marked on older versions, but MV doesn't seem to be marked). Are the trails marked in the maps in the bookstore (bigbendbookstore.or g)?  Are the detailed topo maps (with trails) available at the park?



Offline catz

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Re: First-timer Itinerary Sanity Check/Suggestion Request
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2016, 03:46:50 PM »
Many people hike both Lost Mine and the Window on the same day, but not if you also go all the way down to Santa Elena and then back to the Basin.  You can even have lunch at the lodge in between the two.  When hiking the Window, be sure to take the short (but steep) spur that goes up the Oak Creek trail.  This spur goes off to the right just before you get to the Window itself.

I think the sunset from the South Rim is  better than from Emory Peak.  So, concentrate on getting to the Rim by then (you can still hike Emory on the way up).

I would limit the South Rim to just one overnight.  Use the "extra" day to drive the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive down to Santa Elena.  On the way down or back, hike to Cattail Falls (allow 3 hours minimum).

For Marufo Vega, take the right (south) fork going up.  You will get to an excellent campsite ("Split Rock") that overlooks the river.  To ensure you get out at a reasonable hour, simply hike back out the next day the same way you went in.

If by some miracle you have a half day of free time, consider Pine Canyon.

Wake me when it's time to go.


Offline Jay M

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Re: First-timer Itinerary Sanity Check/Suggestion Request
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2016, 10:03:12 AM »
On my recent visit, which was my first to the park, my girlfriend and I day hiked the whole Marufo loop counterclockwise (South Fork to North Fork, 13 miles). The most faintly marked section is the steep scree descent to the river along the south fork just after passing some excellent camping opportunities on the rim. The trail is faint but not certainly not impossible to follow.

If you do decide to camp on the south fork rim and turn around the next day, you will get great views of the canyon and cliffs in Mexico. However, you will miss what I thought to be the best part of Marufo Vega, which was where the trail ascends a beautiful narrow canyon as you climb away from the river on the North Fork trail.

No matter how you decide to break it up, Marufo Vega is a gorgeous area and you'll have a great time.



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