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First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May

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Offline Walking Man

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First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« on: March 31, 2018, 10:47:12 PM »
Hello,
I live in the Midwest.  My 20-year old daughter lives in Waco and spent 3 days in Big Bend last year on her spring break.  Even though she was not prepared for the cold nights she was completely amazed and could not wait to get back.  She invited me this time and whenever your daughter wants to spend time with you ... you jump at the chance and be grateful for it!  Before doing any research at all, I envisioned the two of us hiking in the backcountry for the entire trip.  After 5-minutes of browsing Big Bend Chat, I radically adjusted my thinking and started over.  Below is a tentative plan I've come up with.  (Note - on her first trip she didn't do the South Rim, but did do the Lost Mine Trail).  Any suggestions appreciated. 

Day 1(Sunday) - Drive to Big Bend from Waco.  Camp in Chisos Basin (reserved)
Day 2 - Hike Window and part of Oak Spring in the AM.  Possibly hike Pine Canyon in the PM.  Camp in Chisos Basin (reserved)
Day 3 - Hike to South Rim via Pinnacles & Emory Peak and camp (via permit).
Day 4 - Hike back to Basin via Laguna.  Camp in Chisos Basin (reserved)
Day 5 - Head south very early on Max Scenic Drive.  Hike the Chimneys trail (to Chimneys and back).  Cold drinks at Cottonwood store.  Santa Elena Canyon and Overlook late afternoon.  Car camp on Old Maverick Road? (via permit).
Day 6 - Take Old Maverick Road north.  Lunch in Terlingua.  Head over towards next car camping site on Glenn Springs Road or Old Ore Road? (via permit)
Day 7 - Head over to Boquillas, Mx.  Either stay the night there, camp at Day 6 site, or camp at Rio Grande Village - shower, etc. 
Day 8 - Head back to Waco.

My daughter says just driving around is amazing so she's fine with some of that.  I have a F150 4X4.  We'll have plenty of water, etc.  We both have some hiking/camping experience.
Thanks

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Offline mule ears

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2018, 06:43:30 AM »
 :welcome: to BBC Walking Man

Great chance to visit the park with your daughter, indeed a rare chance.  I will let others chime in on roadside campsites but will caution that you will be there near the hottest time of the year, June is the worst but before the rainy season starts May can be intense.  So your lower desert camps will depend on some meager shade or the use of a tarp for shade unless you get to them right at dusk, most of the roadside campsites have absolutely no shade.  The night at RGV is a good idea both for the showers but also there is shade under the big cottonwoods in the camp ground.  Similarly the Cottonwood campground on the west side of the park is very shady too. 
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Walking Man

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2018, 08:11:04 AM »
Thank you. Yes, thinking of hitting the roadside camps near dusk and being out of there early morning. The plan is not set in stone,  but thought it might be doable during those hours.  Is the park too big to conviently use the  Basin as Base Camp for the entire trip? We'd like to be away from people too, especially towards the end of the trip as Memorial Day weekend approaches.

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2018, 08:29:58 AM »
I day 5 and 6 could be one day.  Leave the Chisos early, do your loops. Chimney's early, do the overlooks and ice cream, Santa Elena, up Old Maverick to see Jacals Luna and then do dinner at the Star Light.  You might even do showers in Study Butte.  Then you can drive back at night to the Chisos with a good chance to see critters on the road. Next day you're in the middle and ready to go east.  Gives you a free day for something else. 

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Offline presidio

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2018, 11:33:01 AM »
Thank you. Yes, thinking of hitting the roadside camps near dusk and being out of there early morning. The plan is not set in stone,  but thought it might be doable during those hours.  Is the park too big to conviently use the  Basin as Base Camp for the entire trip? We'd like to be away from people too, especially towards the end of the trip as Memorial Day weekend approaches.

The Basin is centrally located, but you will spend a lot of time driving up and down the mountain and then wherever you want to go.

If you can tolerate the heat, split your itinerary into thirds and camp at each of the developed campgrounds (or backcountry sites if you don't mind not having shade), using them as bases for localizing your explorations of each area.

With 6 days in the park, you can see a lot more without excessive driving each day if you camp near the places you want to spend time at.

The problem for first-time visitors (and especially those who read this forum) is they get all excited and over-plan.

Accept that you are not going to get to do everything; you're not even going to get to do most of it (it will take years to do that). To paraphrase a famous quote: "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy," your Big Bend plans will not survive arriving on the ground. Likely, you will be overwhelmed by the situation.

Since you plan on some amount of driving use that as a maximum means of seeing as much of the park as you can from the road, interspersed with some short to moderate hikes. That way, you will have a much better idea of how to plan for future trips.

At the risk of stunning others, as a first-timer, use the trail guidebook to hit the highlights. Once you get a taste of the "official" things, throw the guide away and strike out on your own in the future.

Leave the River Road for another time. Same with the Old Ore Road, except for coming up from the south end far enough to Ernst Tinaja. Those two routes will eat vast amounts of time better used on a first trip.

If you want to see Terlingua, one of the days you are on the west side, drive up and back to your camp via the Old Maverick Road. It's damn near a gravel highway so it's an efficient way to get to Terlingua.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2018, 11:45:44 AM by presidio »
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Offline mule ears

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2018, 12:19:55 PM »
At the risk of stunning others, as a first-timer, use the trail guidebook to hit the highlights. Once you get a taste of the "official" things, throw the guide away and strike out on your own in the future.

 :sign0065: presidio

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If you want to see Terlingua, one of the days you are on the west side, drive up and back to your camp via the Old Maverick Road. It's damn near a gravel highway so it's an efficient way to get to Terlingua.

Maverick can be a gravel highway or a very rough washboard.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline presidio

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2018, 01:13:12 PM »
:sign0065: presidio

It is what it is. I'm not opposed to newbies using guides; I'm opposed to folks that cannot do anything without one, or go anywhere that does not have a guidebook to hold their hand.

Folks either are explorers or, in a lower category, followers.

First-timers get a pass...for a while. But, even first-timers really can do without a book since when you go to all the places lacking one (meaning most places that aren't NPS), you're on your own (a scary concept for devotees accepting and expecting to be coddled by the NPS).


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If you want to see Terlingua, one of the days you are on the west side, drive up and back to your camp via the Old Maverick Road. It's damn near a gravel highway so it's an efficient way to get to Terlingua.
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Maverick can be a gravel highway or a very rough washboard.

Undoubtedly, the NPS advises  :willynilly:  high-clearance or 4WD to navigate even pavement  :s_laugh:, but anyone with a truck or other capable vehicle (or even just skill in a sedan) can drive this road in a reasonable time  (even faster if they ignore the ridiculously low speed limit...which, for the record, and any funny hat lurkers here, I am not advocating be done).

"Very rough washboard" is a relative term. Frequently, all that is needed is to find the speed matching the frequency of the rumble and you clip the high points for a smooth ride (but still not advocating going faster than the funny hatters allow).
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Walking Man

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2018, 10:31:40 PM »
Thanks for all of the advice.  Made it back and had a wonderful trip.  The weather really cooperated with high winds each night which made for perfect, cool, sleeping weather.  Here’s what we ended up doing:

Day 1) Arrived at the Chisos Basin Campground around 5:00 pm, set up camp at Site 47 and checked out the grounds.

Day 2) Early morning hiked the Window trail and a portion of the Oak Springs trail – to where it starts heading down hill.  This is a perfect early morning hike as we had the trail to ourselves and plus it was in the shade almost the entire way out.  In the afternoon we hiked the Pine Canyon trail.  This may have been our most enjoyable drive/hike.  We didn’t see a single person or car once we turned onto Glenn Springs Road.  Both the drive and hike have a gradual incline the entire way up.  Towards the end of the trail near the pour-off, we saw a mother bear and two cubs nearly parallel to us, about 25 yards away going in the same direction as us!  Even though I botched the video and wanted to follow them in to get another chance – we decided to do the smart thing and head back towards the trail head.  Later, on the drive back up to the Basin we saw another mother bear and one cub just past the first 15 mph sign.  A guy speeding down the mountain doing about 35 nearly hit the cub – close call. 

Day 3) South Rim overnight hike up Pinnacles, Emory Peak, and back via Laguna Meadow.  We hit the trail by 8 am and made it to the SW3 campsite by 4:30.  I believe this is about 10 miles??  This allowed my daughter plenty of time to hike around and explore the area while I rested and napped.  NOTE: I (almost) bit off more than I could chew with this hike.  If you’re a middle aged desk jockey like myself, I would not recommend duplicating this portion.  At a minimum shed as much pack weight as possible.  As a precaution we packed two gallons of water each and that in itself is heavy. Also, I would recommend skipping the Emory Peak trail.  I think it was actually those 3 miles that about did me in.  Curious to hear how others manage this loop – with the intent of camping on the South Rim?

Day 4) Hit the trail by 7:30 a.m. and made it back to base camp by 10:30.  This portion of the trail (Laguna) was very pleasant, shady and mostly downhill.  I needed to refuel at this point so skipped the camp food and grabbed a cheeseburger at the Lodge.    In the afternoon we drove down the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Very impressive.  Stopped at the Mule Ears overlook, Tuff Canyon & Castolon.  Another one of our favorite drives was heading north on Old Maverick Road.  A little ways past Luna’s Jacal we stopped the truck in the road.  The winds were picking up which cooled the area down and we spent about an hour in the solitude overlooking the crater-like depressions on both sides of the road.  From there had dinner at the Starlight Theatre in Terlingua – highly recommended.  We made it back to camp at nightfall just in time for a doozy of a storm.  We waited in the truck for over an hour for the rain, thunder, lightning, hail and high winds.  Our tent survived and stayed dry, but others in the campground weren’t as lucky.

Day 5) The rain required us to make a change in plans as both Ross Maxwell and Maverick Road were closed due to flooding.  So we did a petroglyph hike in the a.m.  In the afternoon we visited the Dinosaur/Fossil Exhibit and then over to Boquilla Canyon.  We saw the mother bear and one cub again that afternoon on the way up to the Chisos campground.  That night at sunset we drove down to a primitive campsite with the hopes of seeing the stars from the desert floor.  The winds picked up again and cooled everything down, but also brought in the cloud cover.  It worked out though as we watched lightning in the distance in three different directions.

Day 6) Made the river crossing to Boquillas del Carmen and had lunch at Falcon’s.  Very interesting trip.  We still hadn’t made it to Santa Elena Canyon, so headed back over there in the afternoon.  The trail still required a water crossing, plus it was crazy hot out, so we just hung out in the river at the base of the canyon before heading back to camp.

What a gem of a place you have there! Can’t believe I had never heard of this place until 2 years ago.  Keep up the good work on BBC!

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Offline Jalco

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2018, 10:50:37 PM »
Sounds like you had a great trip.  Thanks for posting a report.

As regards Emory, I can't speak for others, but I've climbed it once, and that was enough for me.  I'd rather spend that time hanging out on the Rim, soaking up those views instead.

On my first trip back to the Bend, after a decades-long absence, I found myself sucking wind on the Pinnacles trail as I tried to keep up with my mountain goat son and athletic daughter.  The next trip up the mountain a few years later (this time up Laguna Meadows) with the same crew found me in much better condition.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2018, 12:56:52 AM »
That sounds like a near-perfect trip! And not by accident: seems like you made good decisions every step of the way. Well done!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline mule ears

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2018, 05:50:14 AM »
Sounds like you had a great trip.  Thanks for posting a report.

As regards Emory, I can't speak for others, but I've climbed it once, and that was enough for me.  I'd rather spend that time hanging out on the Rim, soaking up those views instead.

On my first trip back to the Bend, after a decades-long absence, I found myself sucking wind on the Pinnacles trail as I tried to keep up with my mountain goat son and athletic daughter.  The next trip up the mountain a few years later (this time up Laguna Meadows) with the same crew found me in much better condition.

I completely agree with this.  If I was going to camp at SW3 I would go up Laguna Meadows, spend time really checking out the rim and then next day go down Pinnacles, including the SE and NE rims if the trail is open, skipping Emory or if feeling really good and had never been up Emory do it then.  Like most everyone else, the view from Emory is fine but the South Rim is much better.  The only reason to go up Pinnacles would be to get water in Boot Canyon on your way to the rim but that was not the case for you as it was dry.  One could still go up Laguna, cross over on Colima and get water on the way up Boot canyon.

Glad you had a great trip, now you have to keep the secret.   ;)
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Txlj

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2018, 07:17:28 PM »
Excellent! Sounds like a great trip and three bear sightings? Even better.

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2018, 09:04:50 PM »
Thats alot of bears ! I feel lucky if I see 1. Sounds like an action-packed trip.

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Offline Don H

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2018, 10:53:28 AM »
Sounds like ya'll had an excellent trip - got in most of the highlights of the park plus 3 bear sightings, I've yet to see any in all the trips I made there :icon_frown:
PICTURES?
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Offline Walking Man

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Re: First Visit - 7/8 Days end of May
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2018, 12:28:42 AM »
Pine Canyon

 


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