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Big Bend Conservancy

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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Week after Xmas, need trip advice

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Offline dprather

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2015, 10:30:32 AM »
Zone camping is the Park Service's way of telling you that when you are in extended wilderness areas, you are not required to camp at designated sites.  Instead of designated sites, if you get a permit to camp in a certain zone, you are allowed to make camp just about anywhere in a particular zone.

There are still rules (you are supposed to camp off of the trail, away from archaeological/cultural sites, and etc.) but the zone permit allows very wide latitude for choosing spots (or letting the spots choose you).

This is the purpose of getting your permit before you begin your OML. 

Typically at the Panther Junction Ranger Station, you walk up to the desk and enjoy a nice chat with the desk ranger.  You and the ranger will discuss your plans (it helps if you have fairly detailed plans in advance - I like to type my plans out and hand them to the desk ranger) and both of you will figure out generally where you will stop for your nights.  Your permit will authorize you to camp in certain zones at certain times.  Your permit is really a permit (it's now an 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of printed paper - I liked it when it was a a tag).  Rangers or volunteers can check to see that you have a permit with you if you are out on the trail.  Permits cost a couple of bucks. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline dprather

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2015, 10:39:35 AM »
Peteopp - my wife and I will be in the Bend at the same time you are on the OML.  I'll be enjoying less-demanding day hikes with her.  I will be eager to hear about your successful OML.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline peteopp

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2015, 11:08:52 PM »
Thanks a lot for helping me through this dprather (sorry, don't know your name).  You're really helping me narrow in my final itinerary.  I like your last suggestion, but i'm really thinking my goal is 10miles a day.  I was doing 13-15mi in Glacier National and still had plenty of steam left at the end of the day.  I don't mind hiking from sun up to sun down, I look at it as a challenge.  Because of this, I'd like to squeeze the trip from 5 days down to 4.  Do you think the last itinerary can be modified to do this (ie, campsites would have to change).  Thanks again.
Pete

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Offline peteopp

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2015, 11:17:54 PM »
This is what i have formed so far.  There's some details you provided I'd need to fill in, but wanted to get something on paper. 

1)   Day 1
a)   Arrive at Basin visitor center about 6:00-6:30pm
c)   Setup camp at Basin
d)   Take the truck out for a night drive and cache water at Homer Ranch.  Estimating this would take 2hrs.

2)   Day 2
a)   Get a fresh start and immediately hit the trail.  Take the Pinnacle trail up into Emory Pass.  Hike up Emorys peak and back down. Can leave packs before ascending emory.  Camp at one of the nearby campsites.
b)   This is about 10.5mi and roughly 3,000 elevation climb including the peak. 
c)   I believe there is usually water around here.... need to verify before leaving
3)   Day 3
a)   Hike one of the South rim loops.  Any combo, but taking boot pass back was recommended.  Its easy to shorten or lengthen here if we want.  Estimate 5mi.  This is a day hike w/ no pack.
b)   Continue on down, descending 3,000 miles to Juniper Springs.  Were now entering back country and I believe you can pretty much camp wherever.  Camp at about Juniper Springs junction roadside area.  This is a total of about 11mi for the day, descending a lot of it.
4)   Day 4
a)   Hike along the Dodson desert trail until reaching homer ranch house.
i)   Much up and down.  About a 11mi trail
b)   Camp somewhere along Homer Ranch House
c)   This is where we would pick up cached water. 
5)   Day 5
a)   Continue up through Laguana meadows, hike up chisnos mountains and back down into the basin to return to the starting point.
b)   8.8 miles, 4,000 total ascent.  ANOTHER fun day. 

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Offline catz

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2015, 11:15:58 AM »

b)   Camp somewhere along Homer Ranch House
 

There's an informal camp site about a quarter mile past the ranch house (on the right) but it is technically illegal because it is still too close t the ranch house itself and is very visible from the trail.  I suggest you continue on through the wash, past the hoodoos, for about a mile.  The route then climbs out of the wash and meets the actual trail.  In about another quarter mile there is a large, excellent camping spot on the left.
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline dprather

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2015, 02:17:43 PM »
The name's Don.

I hope my thoughts have helped your thoughts.

Recall that there is one "official" OML and several variations.  Part of the fun of any trip like this is hammering out the details and considering all the options.  Your schedule is a fine one.  Only you can determine what mileage suits you best.  I will only say that the Dodson is infamous for wearing out best intentions.

One of the great advantages of getting a map and crunching 1,000 details is that you really get a topographical feel for the place.  That'll help you in the rare places where the OML trail gets a little iffy.

As far as camp sites go, recall that, in zone camping, you've only got about 1,000,000 potential options.  Read the rules, play by the rules, start looking early enough so that your wits are still with you,  and you're sure to find a pretty good place.  It's hard to find a bad view in Big Bend.

Moving up Blue Creek from the Homer Wilson ranch house, there are several options.  Once you get to where zone camping is legal, look to the left off of the trail.  Off the trail and out of the wash (you'll have to get off the trail and up out of the wash to find them), there are several flat areas.  Several have been camped on enough that they are obvious sites.  These are the sites closest to the ranch house. 

Be warned: rangers have been known to roust folks who camp too close to the HW ranch.  It is way too easy for rangers to take a look down into the canyon from the Homer Wilson overlook and easily see our brightly colored tents.  It's just a bit farther to go to get to the legal area anyway.

The next options require that you hump farther up Blue Creek (although there is word of a really nice camp site quite a ways off trail, up to the left off the trail, and up on a small plateau).  Farther up Blue Creek, where the oaks begin to grow, are some really nice spots.   The problem is, that once you have done the Dodson, humping that far up Blue Creek is a real chore.

« Last Edit: December 17, 2015, 02:23:21 PM by dprather »
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Geezer

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2015, 10:19:00 PM »
"c)   I believe there is usually water around here.... need to verify before leaving"

The nearest water, if any, would be at Boot Spring or in the pools upstream of where the Boot Canyon Tr. crosses Boot Creek. Watch this site for water reports before leaving. If you camp second night close to Boot Canyon, filtering and carrying water back to camp would be relatively easy. Or carry up enough water to get you through second night and following morning. Then  filter water as you come back down Boot Canyon from the Rim. Or go on down to Upper Juniper Spring for water (if any) that day.

"b)   Continue on down, descending 3,000 miles (sic) to Juniper Springs. ... Camp at about Juniper Springs junction roadside area."

There is no such thing as "Juniper Springs junction roadside area." Neither upper nor lower Juniper Spring is near a road. Hence I surmise that you plan to camp near the west end of Juniper Canyon Road, where Juniper Canyon Tr. and Dodson Tr. meet. There are no springs near that location.

After you pass Upper Juniper Spring, the next reasonably accessible place likely to have water is Fresno Creek, south of the Dodson Tr. (Or possibly Dodson Spring.)

Hope I have not misunderstood you. Sorry to be so cranky about the details. A hiker recently posted a report which made clear that he could have died because he was confused (or had been misled by Park staff) about where water would be available.

Best wishes,

Geezer


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Offline mule ears

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2015, 06:43:26 AM »
Hope I have not misunderstood you. Sorry to be so cranky about the details. A hiker recently posted a report which made clear that he could have died because he was confused (or had been misled by Park staff) about where water would be available.

Best wishes,

Geezer

Ditto on that Geezer, it is far better to make sure you have the correct details then to find out later you are in the wrong place and out of water and then maybe a fatal mistake.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline peteopp

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #23 on: December 23, 2015, 09:24:26 AM »
THanks everyone.

Geezer, thanks for the correction.  It was partly typo error, partly misconception.  Regardless, you are right, I shouldn't be posting false information on the internet.  Too much of that crap already :)

I've made the updates.   You keep mentioning 'water report'.  Any special place on the boards to look for this, or simply reviewing recent posted trips?

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Offline peteopp

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #24 on: December 24, 2015, 08:31:28 PM »
Getting everything wrapped up and still running into one last issue.  We'll probably be rolling in the first night decently late.  Estimated time is probably 7pm. My understanding that the Chisos Basin campground is honor system (no ranger interaction required), but it's also first-come-first-serve.  Is that correct?
1.  So there's not an issue getting a campsite at that time a night unless they're all full. 
2.  What's a good backup site under those conditions if it is full?

Another group in the party is doing the research and claiming that all the sites are permit required.  In a sense, requires ranger interaction and the visitor centers close at 4pm.  This doesn't sound right to me, so wanted to get some feedback from the more experienced people on this board.

We'll also be camping after the OML for at least a night and doing a day hike like Burro Mesa Pouroff (general area), so would be a campsite for then as well.  Thinking this will probably be the same campsite as a backup option for the first night.
 

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Offline dprather

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #25 on: December 24, 2015, 10:27:21 PM »
Try Rio Grand Village (RGV) as your "Plan B" camp site.  RGV is part of the national park, but is far to the east.  The good news - RGV has (pay) showers.  The tent sites at RGV are not picturesque by any means. 

"Plan C" is a drive-up wilderness site.  If you are going to cache at the Dodson/Juniper Canyon trailhead, try the Twisted Shoe or Robbers Roost sites way up Juniper Canyon. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline peteopp

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #26 on: December 25, 2015, 11:52:54 AM »
Thanks Don.  Have a good trip out there yourself.  Looks like it might be a little chilly.

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Offline dprather

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Re: Week after Xmas, need trip advice
« Reply #27 on: December 25, 2015, 05:30:30 PM »
My wife is really getting on me about the chilly weather.

We'll be fine.  Hiking at 40-degrees with sunshine will keep us warm enough.

You are an experienced guy, so you probably know this.  The weather reports for Big Bend typically report/predict for the main ranger station at Panther Junction (PJ).  PJ is at least 1,500-2,000 feet below the High Chisos.  That means that you'll have lower temps by 5-7-degrees when you are in the mountains. 

If you see two (young-looking) 60-somethings driving about in a late model brown extended cab Ford F-150 pick-up, it might be us.

Don't look for anyone who resembles my avatar.  Bob Marley is my alter-ego
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

 


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