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Help with early planning for Jan solo OML

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Offline Old One Walking

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Help with early planning for Jan solo OML
« on: August 28, 2015, 03:59:34 PM »
I'm starting preliminary planning on an Outer Mountain Loop itinerary for my first trip to Big Bend. I've been reading trip reports and other itineraries but I wanted to throw this one out there for a several reasons.  First because I'll be solo which cuts the margin of error down considerably and second because this will not only be my first trip to Big Bend, but also first desert backpacking trip. The last issues is I'll be doing a 2400 mile round trip road trip to make this happen, so I'd really like to have it go well. Any help, suggestions or advice will be greatly appreciated!

Let's start with me: I'm in my 40's and in good shape with no current chronic injuries. I've got a fair amount of backpacking experience including mountaineering in Wyoming and extensive trips in the Smoky's. I've done multiple solo trips as well as taking all of the food and group gear for me and my two boys for several multi-day trips, so I'm no stranger to overly heavy packs.

So here's what I'm thinking: I'll leave Alabama around 9 pm on January 1 getting me to the park around 3 pm the following day. Go ahead and get my permit and go cache water at Homer Wilson then car camp at the Basin that night. Up early the next morning and head up pinnacles and make my way to the south rim for night one. Next day backtrack a little and head down Juniper Springs and then onto the Dodson for maybe a mile or two and make camp. Next day is over to Homer Wilson and start up blue creek for a few miles and make camp for third night. Finish it out the next day, find local motel for that night and start return drive the following morning.

I'm planning on no tent just a tarp, 20 degree bag and inflatable sleeping pad for nights. Ive got good layers, so I think that should be warm enough? Thanks in advance for your help and constructive criticism. Really looking forward to this adventure!

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Offline dprather

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Re: Help with early planning for Jan solo OML
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2015, 04:13:01 PM »
Plan to have a great time.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Help with early planning for Jan solo OML
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2015, 05:35:34 PM »
First of all welcome to the board!
 :welcome:

Second, you are hardly old, there are a bunch of desert rats in their 50's and 60's here.

I am sure you have found the OML FAQ but in case you haven't there is a lot of info there.

Your itinerary looks sound.  You will want to check here for water availability before you go.  Hopefully there will be water in Boot Canyon for your first night and then to get some before you head down Juniper Canyon.  Also to refill at Fresno creek on your second morning.  All of this will help to make a lighter pack.  Good plan to head up the Blue Creek climb first thing in the morning to avoid the heat.

I/We usually get a room at the Chisos Mining Co. motel (the cheapest in the area and fine) to clean up.  Make sure you go and have a beer on the porch at the Ghost town and have dinner at either the Starlight or the re-opened La Kiva to absorb the flavor of the area.  Breakfast at the Chili Pepper unless you want to get on the road really early. 

A bunch of us will be in the park for the 10 year anniversary gathering Dec. 28-30 and then scattering around the park for trips.  Come out a day or two early and have a beer.
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 Geezer

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Re: Help with early planning for Jan solo OML
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2015, 10:01:28 PM »
Mule Ears' points about water re-supply on the way are worth heeding.

A 20 degree bag plus layers that you can wear if necessary should be adequate. I usually take only a medium weight down jacket (Desert nights cold in January.), light fleece pants, hiking pants and a polyester top or two. Your tarp should be big enough to provide shelter in blowing rain. Unlikely, but worth preparing for. Finally, as you have not hiked desert before, inflatable sleep pads do have a way of attracting the many thorns (Don't touch the vegetation!), sharp rocks, etc. As there's normally not enough water to submerge the pad, the leak sometimes cannot be located. Even if it can, there's the hassle of patching the leak. Closed cell pads seem to me to make more sense for the desert, though some adepts manage to avoid puncturing their inflatable trip after trip. As it's very likely not going to rain, plan on sleeping out under the stars most nights. Night skies are one of the best things about Big Bend!

You will have a blast.

Geezer

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Help with early planning for Jan solo OML
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2015, 09:30:36 AM »
I would suggest making a plan to sleep on the rim the last night instead of the first.  A few reasons.  First, you have a much better chance of getting a good spot on the rim 3 days out instead of the first night out on the trail.  There will be a bunch of people in the park at that time.  2nd, taking a nice easy pace, it is 4+ hours to the rim.  You will have some nice down time up there, but you are wasting supplies and a good 5 more hours of walking that could get you close to Juniper trailhead or just beyond.  You also are strongest at the beginning of the walk.

20 degree quilt is all I use, BUT we bring a tent just in case.  I've been snowed and rained on too many times out there.  If the weather is not even hinting at a front moving through, maybe...

I have used an inflatable mattress ever time out there.  BUT, we use a thick plastic tarp for a ground liner.  The brown one they sell at Home Depot.  I think it is 10 mil or something like that.  It is heavy, but means you can lay it down anywhere and be safe.  Especially on the OLM.  Your campsites are going to be well worn.

As mentioned earlier, you will be one of many on the OLM at that time.  Your safety factor is pretty high with that many people walking around.  Check here for water reports.  There will be some for sure by then.

Finally, I would stay out in the desert at a car camping site like Paint gap #1.  No reason at all to drive that far and sleep in a crappy bed in a hotel your last night.  You could get a nice meal at the lodge when you get of the trail, a bag of ice, some Shiner, and sleep out under the stars one last night before getting back to the general public.
If other countries on the planet want to see America suffer and ultimately destroyed, who are they cheering for right now?  Trump, or the leftist democrats and their media supported hate machine?

Seek out the facts for yourself.  Begin by using Startpage.com,  not google.

May God Bless America!

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Offline catz

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Re: Help with early planning for Jan solo OML
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2015, 11:34:18 AM »
Just a couple of things.

Besides Homer Wilson, you can also cache water at the Juniper-Dodson trail junction.  Most passengers cars can make it to this junction unless it has been raining very recently.  This may not be necessary if you are able to get water at or near Boot Spring (likely), Upper Juniper Spring (more iffy), and Fresno (very likely).  To cache at both places will take about two hours of driving time.   

Second, heading up Blue Creek  "for a few miles" and then camping may not be doable because after about two miles from Homer Wilson there really aren't any camping spots.  There is a very nice spot very soon after you climb out of the creek bed itself and onto the real trail (about a mile, maybe a little more, after leaving Homer Wilson).  It will be on your left.

Taking the Pinnacles Trail to the South Rim is a heavy slog with a backpack, but certainly doable.   It will be tiring but it shouldn't take you all day even if you stop at Boot Spring to get water.  You can get your permits that morning and still have plenty of time to get to the Rim.

Regardless of where you sleep the last night, having a nice cold one or two on The Porch in Terlingua, followed by dinner at the Starlight (next door to The Porch) is a great end to what will be a memorable trip.
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline dprather

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Re: Help with early planning for Jan solo OML
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2015, 07:19:36 PM »
Second, heading up Blue Creek  "for a few miles" and then camping may not be doable because after about two miles from Homer Wilson there really aren't any camping spots.  There is a very nice spot very soon after you climb out of the creek bed itself and onto the real trail (about a mile, maybe a little more, after leaving Homer Wilson).  It will be on your left.

As I recall, you really need to get all the way up Blue Creek to the point where the oaks grow in order to find a really nice camping spot.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Old One Walking

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Re: Help with early planning for Jan solo OML
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2015, 11:30:52 PM »
Thanks to everyone who's responded, I really appreciate your feedback. The reasoning behind going to south rim to start the trip is the rational that it's too easy to quit when your getting close to the trailhead and your tired. Plus the relatively short day should allow me to climb to Emory Peak too. If I get there and can't get a campsite, well that's where flexibility comes in and I'll push it to the end.

Thanks for the advice about sharper than normal (at least for this wet trail hiker) vegetation. Will probably throw some sort of underpad in as well. Definitely be looking for water reports when the time gets closer. And already looking forward to the post trip beer on the porch and dinner at the starlight.

 


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