Big Bend Chat
Big Bend or Bust! => Suggested Itineraries => Topic started by: drm on November 13, 2007, 09:40:42 PM
So I've got my two week trip to Texas over the holidays. I'm flying though El Paso, so thinking of the first and last day up in that area. Since I arrive late (10:30pm), maybe I will sleep at Hueco Tanks and drive to bibe the next day. After I deal with the stove fuel situation - I need screw-on iso-butane cartridges. And I'm thinking of spending my last day in Slaughter Canyon in Carlsbad Caverns NP - unless it's just too good in Big Bend to leave.
Anyway, this leaves me 10 days in Big Bend, arriving Dec 20th late in the day. I figure that the Chisos is the most popular place the following week, so I will try to do that first, a 2-day loop. I don't yet have any preferences for direction or camps, but I'm following some of the threads on the mountains forum. That's the 21st and 22nd. And it has me getting my permit on a Friday and hiking in that day. Should I try to rush in on Thursday and get in there on a weekday?
23rd and 24th I'm aiming for Marufo Vega. While I'm in good enough shape to do these as dayhikes, I prefer to backpack and wake up in the wilderness. Or should I switch this with the Chisos so that I do Marufo Vega on the Friday/Sat?
Then I'll spend a couple of days on dayhikes. The Chimneys is one on my list. I'll be in a cheapo rental, so no rough roads for me.
I'll be working my way west, because I want to finish with Mesa Anguila. Will any of the tinajas have water? If so, I might spend 2 nights and 3 days. But if I have to carry water, only one night.
I want to work my way around during the trip, avoiding driving back and forth as much as possible. And ideally I would like to do backroads car camping in between the backpacks but then again there is that basic car - no good for 4wd or high clearance roads. Are the sites in the regular campgrounds close together, or are they nice and with some privacy? I suppose I could do some zone camping those night 20 minutes from the car.
I live outside of Portland, OR and do a lot of backpacking. I've hiked and camped a lot in Utah, so the desert is not new to me.
Any comments or suggestions appreciated.
Suggestion 1--be flexible with your itinerary.
If the weather is good do the high Chisos immediately. That said, it will be easier to get the permits for the area you want by doing the Marufo Vega first, then selecting from a greater variety of available Chisos campsites.
Suggestion 2--if you are going to go to the trouble of going to Slaughter Canyon, plan to spend a little bit more time there. You can take a scheduled tour of New Cave (Now called Slaughter Canyon Cave since it is not no "new" any more) or you can get a permit to explore Ogle Cave which requires a 200' rappel to get in and has a feature called "Snoopy" that is one of the coolest anywhere on earth.
I can give you some information on Upper and Lower Painted Grottos, spring locations and directions to an amazing pour-off and tinaja if you will PM me or this thread is moved to El Salon.
Back to BIBE. You have chosen a pair of wonderful locations in the Marufo Vega (empty rugged and dramatic even when the park is busy) and the high Chisos, signature range of the park. You will have a great time.
The park is usually busy around major holidays so you're liable to see a number of people in the Chisos and weekends are usually busiest, so you might want to do Marufo Vega first.
Lots of good day hikes, the Chimneys is one of the more popular desert hikes. I'd also consider Dog Canyon/ Devil's Den, Apache Canyon, or, if you want a long one, Banta Shut-In.
I've never been up on Mesa de Anguila, but I'd take an adequate supply of water (this goes for ALL hikes in the Bend), they haven't had much rain lately.
There are several dirt roads that are usually (check with the Rangers) driveable in sedans. Dagger Flat, Old Maverick Road, Grapevine Hills would be good choices. Grapevine and Maverick have camp sites on them, and Paint Gap Road has 3 that you should be able to reach. I particularly like Paint Gap #1; great views of the desert and usually excellent sunrise/sunsets.
The sites in the developed campgrounds are packed in too close for my taste; Cottonwood is the best, IMHO, but the water there is not always potable.
If you want a room in the lodge for a night or two, you'd better call for reservation last week. Chances are they're completely booked. The only public chowers and laundromat are on the east side of the park in Rio Grande Village.
However you do it, it should be a great tirp. Enjoy!
I'll be checking the book and the archives here for the suggestions you've given me. And I will leave my itinerary as flexible as I can - until I walk into the ranger station and have to commit to certain days.
I visited Slaughter Canyon a couple of years ago while visiting Guadalupe Mtns NP. I went to do the Slaughter Cave tour and that's how I found out about the canyon. I might do the loop trail, or I might try to go farther up the canyon where the trail leaves it and starts climbing up. I'm guessing that when the trail reaches the ridgeline, it could get rather blustery and staying in the canyon might be more pleasant. I had a great crosscountry trip in the hills in Organ Pipes NP a couple of years ago (see http://www.nps.gov/orpi/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm - the nps is using my photo on their website).
And I saw on another thread that your days have 11 hours of sun in late December? Jeez - we're already down to 9 1/2 here on the Columbia River (Oregon/Washington border), with over a month to go before solstice.
I visited Organ Pipe ion March 2002; hadn't thought about the "9-11" effect on the border there. Border Patrol and National Guard all over the place, the latter with M-16s. Didn't stay long and would like to go back under more favorable circumstances. What little I saw was very cool. Nice pic, too.
Regarding the Mesa de Anguila portion of your itinerary, I highly recommend it. DO NOT plan on using water from Tinaja Blanca or Tinaja Lujan. These are not very large and the water is best left for wildlife or genuine emergencies. Plan to carry most of your needed water. If you do plan a more extended trip, there are three very large, excellent tinajas which I would be glad to give you information on in a PM. If you do some searching on this site you will find some good MDA information.