Big Bend Chat

Big Bend or Bust! => Suggested Itineraries => Topic started by: drm on August 31, 2007, 04:19:04 PM

Title: Year-end visit
Post by: drm on August 31, 2007, 04:19:04 PM
I had been thinking of an extended (10-14 day) visit over the holidays. Now I see that it is one of the most crowded times. I'm trying to decide whether I should still come then. I really don't want to deal with huge crowds.

I am an experienced backpacker and am most interested in backcountry locations, whether Chisos or the zones. But I probably cannot afford to rent a high clearance 4wd (I'll be flying in from the PNW).

So any suggestions on whether I should visit then? Just how bad are the crowds for people looking at longer dayhikes and backpacking?

Thanks for any help. I did try to search for past threads on this. Feel free to give me a link if I missed them.
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: jeffblaylock on August 31, 2007, 04:31:43 PM
Quote
I really don't want to deal with huge crowds.


It's not like Yosemite. There will be plenty of places to get away from the "hordes." There will be a lot of activity at Rio Grande Village, as the (snow)birders will be there, but the Basin and the backcountry campsites are usually quiet.

Quote
I am an experienced backpacker and am most interested in backcountry locations, whether Chisos or the zones. But I probably cannot afford to rent a high clearance 4wd (I'll be flying in from the PNW).


There are a number of backcountry sites that will still be accessible to you -- weather permitting -- and you can also hike out away from the paved roads for overnighters in zone camping mode.

Quote
Just how bad are the crowds for people looking at longer dayhikes and backpacking?


You'll miss the worst of those. The so-called "permit zoo" is set up for spring break, when there is definitely a risk of not getting a site. The sheer length of your time there makes it easy to set an itinerary and explore where you want to go, even if there are a lot of folks hanging around. Don't forget there's a big state park next door and several other sets of mountains to explore, too.
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Al on August 31, 2007, 05:04:58 PM
I've been going to BiBe between Christmas and New Years regularly since the early 1970's.  Zone camping will not be a problem.  Getting the primitive camp site you want, if you arrive after Christmas day, will most likely be a problem.  I don't do the Chisos because by definition, it's too crowded.  If you do go be sure and get all of your permits for the entire stay as soon as you get there.

Last year we shifted our trip to the week after New Years to avoid the crowd and placate our family.  It was no problem getting the back country campsites we wanted.

Al
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Doc Savage on August 31, 2007, 10:15:07 PM
We plan to be down there for a week or two around Christmas. Gonna beat the crowds some by doing some camping on our property at Terlingua Ranch. Either drive into the park or just hand out on our land. Not sure yet if we will save money and camp in the tent or drive the RV. Christmas is not too bad for tent camping.

We've been in the park twice the week between Christmas and New Years, and I've never had an issue getting a backcountry campsite. We stayed at Glenn Springs one time and both of the Glenn Springs sites were vacant, and the other time I was at Elephant Tusk and while there was a car there, no one showed up.

Robert
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Al on August 31, 2007, 10:55:15 PM
.

I can't help but remember between Christmas and New Years in 1983.  The wind was gusting up to 40 mph and it was 12 degrees F.  We wished we had a tent.  But made do with parking the truck across the wind, and using a mattress to block the wind blowing under the truck, and a Duralog and charcoal fire in a fire pan for a bit of warmth, which I later found was arguably questionable under the rules.

(http://www.bigbendgallery.com/uploads/files/1983_negative_small.jpg)

Al
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: homerboy2u on September 01, 2007, 09:40:33 AM
Man!!!...it was cold there, Al?...just look how snowy white , were your surroundings. How did you manage?.
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Al on September 01, 2007, 10:26:42 AM
It was cold. But it's the wind that really gets to you. These days I'd probably say screw this and find a motel room somewhere.  

That's a negative photo effect I used which is kind of cool.  It sleeted but there wasn't that much precipitation.  

Al
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: drm on September 01, 2007, 11:30:10 AM
Thanks for the responses. It seems that I should plan my trip to include either some time before Christmas or after New Year's, and maybe plan for the Chisos during that time.

As to the weather, all I can do now is cross my fingers and hope that if anything bad moves in, it will be brief. Worst case I could always drive some place else, if it was localized.
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Al on September 01, 2007, 01:16:40 PM
I'd say that's the nutshell for making the most of that time of year.  Weather is highly variable so just be sure and look at the long-term forecasts and plan accordingly.  You should have a great time!


Al
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Al on September 02, 2007, 12:32:53 AM
P.S. If you get there before Christmas Day you should have your pick of primitive campsites for the week between Christmas and New Years as long as you have a continuous permit.  We had the luxury of a camping bud who would get to the Park on the 23rd or 24th and we had no problem arriving on the 26th doing what we planned to do.  

Al
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on September 02, 2007, 10:44:08 AM
Come on down DRM, the Park will be busy but not crowded (at least not by big city standards).   If you have backpacking/tent gear bring them down.  You will have to buy a new stove and fuel in Texas but having the backpack and gear will give you a lot of flexibility.
I recommend a combo trip of backpacking, hotel rooms, river rafting, etc..  It would be nice if you could time it so that you are staying indoors during rain/snow events.   The Basin Lodge is usually full but there are hotels/lodges/cabins outside the Park at Stillwell Store/Study Butte/Terlingua/Terlingua Ranch etc..  Just surf around on this site for a while and you will get several good ideas.   I recommend making a list of possibilities with phone numbers and info to take with you.  Sometimes things don't go as planned so it's good to have backup plan #1, #2, etc..
Enjoy your trip and welcome... TWWG
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: drm on September 02, 2007, 11:23:11 AM
In the past, when I was unable to buy stove fuel, I had it shipped to the national park office. That's what I did when I flew through El Paso to visit Guadalupe Mtns NP a couple of years ago. I'm checking with BiBe to see if they will do the same. I have a Jetboil stove, and while they have their own canister, they can use any canister that has the screw-on connection. El Paso may be a bit further than Midland/Odessa, but at the moment, rental cars are quoting quite a bit cheaper in El Paso.

I will certainly bring my backpacking gear. I will only plan _ahead_ for a hotel the night before I fly home. But I will bring a list to consider if the weather turns bad for an extended period of time. At the moment, I generally planning on a few backpacking trips, hopefully including the Chisos, the Anguila Mesa and something else, with some day hikes fit in between.

But I have plenty of time to consider my itinerary. I'll probably post to that list as the trip gets closer.
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Sanjuro82 on September 02, 2007, 11:51:44 AM
drm,

My brother and I are also planning a trip at around the same time-frame.  We stay away from the crowds for the most part and hike the lesser know areas.  You're welcome to tag along with us if the dates work out.

We are planning to for sure hike Bruja Canyon (and a few other Mesa de Anguila spots), Cattail Falls/Canyon,  and Mariscal and Cross canyon.

We will be in the park for 9-10 days.  Sometime during the Christmas break.
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Al on September 03, 2007, 01:18:58 AM
Quote from: "homerboy2u2"
Man!!!...it was cold there, Al?...just look how snowy white , were your surroundings. How did you manage?.


It was so cold I was wearing long underwear on my head . . . always bring twice as much for twice as long as you expect to be there. A good rule of thumb.

Al
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: homerboy2u on September 03, 2007, 08:23:21 AM
Quote from: "Al"
It was cold. But it's the wind that really gets to you. These days I'd probably say screw this and find a motel room somewhere.  
 
Al


 Someday , i will say that too but i hope that comes later than sooner. In the meantime, i will keep posting  more Sierra trips for you. :wink:
Title: Year-end visit
Post by: Al on September 03, 2007, 09:36:06 PM
Homero, the temperatures that week are still the record cold days last time I checked.  I promise you after several days of those temps and the winds, you too would question whether you were still having fun.  Cold fronts blow through all the time, I can deal with these and in fact it can be a fun challenge that one enjoys having been prepared for, a day being lazy in the tent is kind of fun, but they usually last a matter of hours and the rain no more than a day.  This sucker lasted for days without a break.  

HEY! I haven't checked out yet. A bit lazier, yes. If the weather turns miserable unlike where you go in Mexico, a motel room is usually never more than a few hours away if you are with your vehicle and it is easy to return to the park the next day.

Al
Title: Re: Year-end visit
Post by: drm on September 19, 2007, 11:29:38 AM
drm,

My brother and I are also planning a trip at around the same time-frame.  We stay away from the crowds for the most part and hike the lesser know areas.  You're welcome to tag along with us if the dates work out.

We are planning to for sure hike Bruja Canyon (and a few other Mesa de Anguila spots), Cattail Falls/Canyon,  and Mariscal and Cross canyon.

We will be in the park for 9-10 days.  Sometime during the Christmas break.

Sanjuro - Let's get in touch as it all gets closer - that sounds great. Let me know how we can get in touch then; I'm assuming there isn't much cell phone coverage inside the park.

I've got my flights through El Paso: arr Dec 19 and dep Jan 2. So that will give me 11 or 12 days in the park. Should get a good taste with that! And New Years Eve will be my last night there.
Title: Re: Year-end visit
Post by: Al on September 19, 2007, 07:19:01 PM
You may want to ease your way to the park since permits can only be issued for 10 consecutive days . . . I do recommend at least part of New Years Eve in the Hot Springs.

Al