Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Water and Spring Reports => Topic started by: Wadfather on March 14, 2019, 10:58:49 AM

Title: OML water report
Post by: Wadfather on March 14, 2019, 10:58:49 AM
I just went clockwise through the outer Mountain Loop and just thought there should be some updated info on it.

Boot spring: light flow with some pools below as of March 10th

Juniper: dry

Smoky Creek: dry
 
Fresno Creek: following strongly as of March 11th

All else is dry so be sure to cache your water and have fun.
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: mule ears on March 14, 2019, 11:03:52 AM
Welcome to BBC and thanks for the water report.

Did you walk up the hill behind the concrete troughs at Upper Juniper spring to check the actual spring?  I find it hard to believe that it is dry.

How were the spring break crowds?
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: wotantx on March 23, 2019, 09:13:14 AM
Welcome to BBC and thanks for the water report.

Did you walk up the hill behind the concrete troughs at Upper Juniper spring to check the actual spring?  I find it hard to believe that it is dry.

How were the spring break crowds?
Not as bad as I expected, especially considering the well-reported wildflower bloom.

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Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: tmilla1 on March 25, 2019, 01:44:17 PM
If Fresno Creek was flowing strongly as of March 11th as reported would it be safe to assume it will almost certainly have water this coming weekend 3/29-31?

Planning on doing the OML solo and caching at HW. Aside from the heat on Friday it appears the temps will drop off decently so I'm hoping to accomplish  a 2.5 day trip depending on how my body feels. I'm accustomed to doing 15+ mile multi-day trips in the Sierra's with 4-5k of climbing, but I haven't done much hiking, and zero backpacking since late August. That being said I'll probably plan on an extra day's food in case I find myself moving slower. Pack weight without water/food will be around 9-10lbs.

My semi-planned itinerary would be to camp in the basin Thursday night after driving from Dallas, get permits Friday morning and hit the trail heading up into the Chisos, resupplying water at Boot Spring or Juniper then on to Fresno Creek area where I'd get more water and camp. Finish the Dodson early next AM and pick up cached water at HW, then head back up to the mountains and camp on the South Rim. Next day maybe take in Emory Peak on the way down.

Any suggestions/alteration to the trip plan are welcomed as are campsite recommendations. I've also considered starting at HW and skipping the basin, but still making sure to hit the South Rim and Emory Peak.
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: mule ears on March 25, 2019, 05:43:11 PM
tmila1 welcome to BBC!

You will do just fine both with your experience and you light pack.  Fresno will have water, you might have to go down wash a bit to find good pools.  Good plan to hit the South Rim, it is a must, Emory Peak not so much, if you are feeling at all tired or ready to head to the showers I would skip Emory.  If you are feeling full of energy then go ahead and do it.
Title: OML water report
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 26, 2019, 09:34:25 AM
Generally agreed with Mule Ears. You’re perfectly prepared for this hike and I think it will be easier for you than you think. Though I will caution that your second day’s itinerary might be a tad ambitious: Fresno to HW to the South Rim is a looong hike, with the last bit up Blue Creek Canyon and along the Southwest Rim all done in the broiling afternoon sun. That will be an unpleasant hike.

If I were you I’d skip the Basin and start at Homer Wilson and either head clockwise up Blue Creek Canyon first thing in the morning before it’s in full sun, or head counterclockwise to Fresno, the Dodson-Juniper Canyon Trail intersection and then partway into Juniper Canyon. Either way, your second day can be spent mostly exploring the Chisos.

IMHO Emory Peak is overrated, but if you’re already up in the Chisos and have never summited Emory, it’s probably worth the the side trip. And the best thing about the Pinnacles trail is the view from the top down into the Basin, which location also happens to be the trailhead for Emory Peak. So you can kill two birds with one stone without having to climb the Pinnacles trail.

Also: If you start at HW, you won’t need to cache any water no matter which direction you go. Boot Canyon, Upper Juniper Spring, and Fresno Creek will provide all the additional water you need and you’ll never have to carry more than 2-3 liters on you.  Plus there are even more natural sources available if you want to get creative.

Question: what’s your Thursday schedule? Are you leaving Dallas after a full workday and driving in the evening, or can you leave in the morning? If you can leave at 6am or earlier, you have a good chance of arriving in time to get your permit that same day. Then you can drive to HW and camp upwash that night, giving you an even earlier start on Friday.



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Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: tmilla1 on March 26, 2019, 04:00:36 PM
Thanks Mule Ears and House! Your info and suggestions are very helpful. I think I'll chop out the basin portion and start at Homer Wilson then. Sounds like CCW is the way to go in this case and allow plenty time to explore the Chisos on the second day. Also, good call on the departure. I'll probably shoot for early AM departure from Dallas on Friday with goal of arriving in time to get permit and depart HW early Saturday when the cooler weather has arrived. I'll be sure to share a water report if everything goes as planned. Getting stoked!
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 26, 2019, 07:01:55 PM
Good luck!!!


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Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: tmilla1 on April 03, 2019, 12:54:53 PM
Just did the OML counter clockwise from HW starting 3/30 at around 10:30am. The temps were really nice and the sky was a bit overcast. I started out with 4 liters to be on the safe side since I wasn't certain Fresno would be flowing. I came across some small puddles a short distance west of Fresno as another person mentioned, but pushed on a few minutes to find the real Fresno flowing at a very low but decent rate. I filtered the water but it looked quite good right out of the creek with little particulate. When I arrived at the junction with the Juniper Canyon trail I peaked in the bear box just to check and found some emergency water left by the rangers. Some of the gallon jugs were empty, some partially consumed. If I remember correctly they were dated 3/11 so that means these aren't necessarily refilled super frequently. DO NOT count on them to be full when you arrive. There also appeared to be cached water left by other hikers in other containers. I had topped off at Fresno so I didn't take anything. Around this time the wind started picking up so I kept pushing several miles up into the shelter and taller vegetation of Juniper canyon as the Dodson is very lacking in coverage. Also of note, this section has a little bit more aggressive chaparral and since I wore shorts I paid for it as it was unavoidable at times. Found a nice little cleared spot about 20 feet off trail at just shy of 15 miles for the day. Probably only saw about 3-4 decent cleared campsite locations along this stretch and only one other tent a few hundred yards up the trail.

Day two started with the climb up through Juniper Canyon into the mountains. I wasn't paying as close attention to the mileage and went right past what I believe was upper Juniper Spring so I didn't investigate to see if it was flowing. About a mile past it I realized I should've checked it in the event Boot Spring wasn't flowing, but I pushed on knowing that I could dip down into the basin for water if I had to. I arrived at the junction with Boot Spring and saw several decent sized pools/puddles of water. I started to filter some of it when a couple passed and mentioned that it was actually flowing out of a pipe just down the trail. The water was flowing at a slow trickle but looked much more appealing than the puddles. From here I cut across the Colima trail as I was ready drop my pack and set up camp so I could explore the rim more comfortably. I camped at SW2 and wandered down the South Rim to be treated to the most epic views of the whole trip.

I woke up the next morning with some frozen condensation on the bear box but still slept pretty comfortably in a 38F quilt (albeit my toes were cold because I forgot my second pair of socks). I still had about 2 liters from the previous day so I wasn't concerned with topping off for the last 7ish miles. I didn't come across any more water on the way down the Blue Creek trail, but I was treated to some of the best views of the trip. Made it back to my car around 12:30pm, celebrated with a few still cold Modelos and made the long drive back to Dallas.

Overall, amazing trip. Would do again and again if it wasn't such a long drive. I never had to carry more than 4 liters of water but came across at least one guy who said he was carrying 25lbs of water which was probably as much or more than the entire weight of my pack and he wasn't even doing the OML. I only saw about 3-4 other groups who were doing the OML, all going the opposite direction. If I recall most said they started in the basin. There didn't appear to be an abundance of Spring Breakers, but I wasn't really in many high traffic areas. Thanks for all the info that everyone has shared here to help make my journey a success!
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: mule ears on April 03, 2019, 03:34:18 PM
Congratulations tmilla1 and thank you for the good report.  You were definitely after the big spring break rush so you timed it perfectly.  Good to see still good water out there this late into the spring.
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: House Made of Dawn on April 03, 2019, 03:34:30 PM

Just did the OML counter clockwise from HW starting 3/30 at around 10:30am.


Outstanding, man!  Well done.

Glad it worked out for you by skipping the caching and drawing from natural sources. Definitely the way to go in all but the driest seasons. And happy that you got to spend some quality time at The Rim. Not to be missed!!!


....came across at least one guy who said he was carrying 25lbs of water which was probably as much or more than the entire weight of
my pack and he wasn't even doing the OML.


Probably on fire patrol.  :rolling:


Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: jtemples on April 03, 2019, 08:38:35 PM
Congrats tmilla1!  Thanks for the report.  I went CCW about 6 weeks ago and also got somewhat confused on the exact location of Fresno Creek until I experienced it after the pools of water I came across prior.  I haven't come across any post on here which specifically lists and provides exact coordinates of the prominent water sources along the OML. That type of post I believe would/should be pinned at the top of the OML thread.   The only water sources I am aware of the exact location, and can personally confirm are accurate, are Fresno Creek (N29° 12.175' W103° 17.645') and Boot Springs (N29° 14.513' W103° 17.809').  There are several other water sources along the OML - Dodson Springs and Upper Juniper Springs that I'm aware of, and probably several more that I'm not.   
It would be a great thread to have pinned to the top of the OML thread by those who have experienced these water sources in person, and know their relative reliability based on time of year/season.  Cheers!
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: dprather on April 04, 2019, 12:24:20 AM
Going CCW from the Smoky Creek bottoms, half-way up the next ridge, there is a small spring right in the middle of the trail - does it have a name?
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: mule ears on April 04, 2019, 06:23:17 AM
Going CCW from the Smoky Creek bottoms, half-way up the next ridge, there is a small spring right in the middle of the trail - does it have a name?

There is no named spring along that section.  It does run occasionally on really wet years but does not seem to be from a point source.
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: mule ears on April 04, 2019, 06:50:40 AM
Congrats tmilla1!  Thanks for the report.  I went CCW about 6 weeks ago and also got somewhat confused on the exact location of Fresno Creek until I experienced it after the pools of water I came across prior.  I haven't come across any post on here which specifically lists and provides exact coordinates of the prominent water sources along the OML. That type of post I believe would/should be pinned at the top of the OML thread.   The only water sources I am aware of the exact location, and can personally confirm are accurate, are Fresno Creek (N29° 12.175' W103° 17.645') and Boot Springs (N29° 14.513' W103° 17.809').  There are several other water sources along the OML - Dodson Springs and Upper Juniper Springs that I'm aware of, and probably several more that I'm not.   
It would be a great thread to have pinned to the top of the OML thread by those who have experienced these water sources in person, and know their relative reliability based on time of year/season.  Cheers!

That kind of thread/information is somewhat problematic for several reasons.  Are you talking about where there is water as it crosses the trail in wet seasons or where the actual spring is recorded to be?  For example your coordinates for Fresno Creek are were the trail crosses the wash. The actual spring is Bonito and is up wash a bit from there.  Dodson spring is at 29* 12.442 and 103* 17.092 but where it's wash crosses the trail is at about 29* 12.382 and 103* 17.002.    Upper Juniper spring is the only other water source that is fairly reliable and even with a well worn side trail and clear instructions in the OML FAQ people blow right past it.  It is approximately at 29* 14.968 and 103* 16.681.

Reliability is yet another changing factor depending on the year and the season.  Fresno is the only 90%+ source, followed by the pools between the Juniper canyon and NE rim trail junctions, followed by Upper Juniper at maybe 80%, the actual pipe at Boot spring is really variable and then Dodson spring that I would never really count on for either quantity or quality.

I could put the coordinates in the OML FAQ but then I also hate for folks to rely solely on a GPS.
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: elhombre on April 04, 2019, 10:29:47 AM
  There are several other water sources along the OML - Dodson Springs and Upper Juniper Springs that I'm aware of, and probably several more that I'm not.   
It would be a great thread to have pinned to the top of the OML thread by those who have experienced these water sources in person, and know their relative reliability based on time of year/season.  Cheers!

Yes, there are at least 4 water sources within 20 minutes of the Dodson trail that have good water most of the year that are marked on the topo map.  I agree with ME that publishing GPS coordinates of water sources is problematic.  Hiking in the desert requires a specific skill set of it's own.  Desert hiking requires water.  No other way around it.  If a hiker's only directional skill is being able to stare at an electronic device in his hand while walking at the same time, then that person is unprepared. NOT because I give a flip if they kill themselves due to dehydration. Shoot, I welcome that as "thinning the herd" situation because they only had to man-up, and carry more water to avoid the situation.  But,  the same desert hiker who can't take the time to look for a spring because they weren't "paying as close attention to the mileage and went right past" it, or never took note of the big green vegetation area they just walked by, is the same hiker dropping trash, camping and pooping near water sources, and leaving their toilet paper under rocks as if it will all magically disappear. 

It's the same old argument.  Is it about the journey, or the destination.  Hikers that run through the Dodson in 2 nights counting on GPS coordinates are destination people.  Did you sit near a spring for 15 minutes and observe the wildlife that is all around you (snakes, birds, lizards)?  Did you see the watering trough at Upper Juniper?  Did you see the bed frame at the Dodson House ruins?  Was there water coming out of the pipe at Boot spring? Did you take the time to wonder why you all of the sudden, out here in the desert you can hear your own heart beat in your ears, and it's REALLY loud?  Or do you only remember listening to your latest download as you walked by some pokey plant? 

People will drive 8 or more hours one way to hike the OML, but yet they just don't have 10 minutes to stop on the trail and look around for a spring.......

Grampa elhombre says "get off my lawn!"
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: Flash on April 04, 2019, 11:49:34 AM
Congrats tmilla1!  Thanks for the report.  I went CCW about 6 weeks ago and also got somewhat confused on the exact location of Fresno Creek until I experienced it after the pools of water I came across prior.  I haven't come across any post on here which specifically lists and provides exact coordinates of the prominent water sources along the OML. That type of post I believe would/should be pinned at the top of the OML thread.   The only water sources I am aware of the exact location, and can personally confirm are accurate, are Fresno Creek (N29° 12.175' W103° 17.645') and Boot Springs (N29° 14.513' W103° 17.809').  There are several other water sources along the OML - Dodson Springs and Upper Juniper Springs that I'm aware of, and probably several more that I'm not.   
It would be a great thread to have pinned to the top of the OML thread by those who have experienced these water sources in person, and know their relative reliability based on time of year/season.  Cheers!

That kind of thread/information is somewhat problematic for several reasons.  <snip>

I could put the coordinates in the OML FAQ but then I also hate for folks to rely solely on a GPS.

Agreed. Most of this information is easily available if folks will search for it. Also, GPS performance in canyons is very poor, e.g. Upper Juniper Spring, Visual directions can be much better in many cases.
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: jtemples on April 04, 2019, 08:49:28 PM
  There are several other water sources along the OML - Dodson Springs and Upper Juniper Springs that I'm aware of, and probably several more that I'm not.   
It would be a great thread to have pinned to the top of the OML thread by those who have experienced these water sources in person, and know their relative reliability based on time of year/season.  Cheers!

Yes, there are at least 4 water sources within 20 minutes of the Dodson trail that have good water most of the year that are marked on the topo map.  I agree with ME that publishing GPS coordinates of water sources is problematic.  Hiking in the desert requires a specific skill set of it's own.  Desert hiking requires water.  No other way around it.  If a hiker's only directional skill is being able to stare at an electronic device in his hand while walking at the same time, then that person is unprepared. NOT because I give a flip if they kill themselves due to dehydration. Shoot, I welcome that as "thinning the herd" situation because they only had to man-up, and carry more water to avoid the situation.  But,  the same desert hiker who can't take the time to look for a spring because they weren't "paying as close attention to the mileage and went right past" it, or never took note of the big green vegetation area they just walked by, is the same hiker dropping trash, camping and pooping near water sources, and leaving their toilet paper under rocks as if it will all magically disappear. 

It's the same old argument.  Is it about the journey, or the destination.  Hikers that run through the Dodson in 2 nights counting on GPS coordinates are destination people.  Did you sit near a spring for 15 minutes and observe the wildlife that is all around you (snakes, birds, lizards)?  Did you see the watering trough at Upper Juniper?  Did you see the bed frame at the Dodson House ruins?  Was there water coming out of the pipe at Boot spring? Did you take the time to wonder why you all of the sudden, out here in the desert you can hear your own heart beat in your ears, and it's REALLY loud?  Or do you only remember listening to your latest download as you walked by some pokey plant? 

People will drive 8 or more hours one way to hike the OML, but yet they just don't have 10 minutes to stop on the trail and look around for a spring.......

Grampa elhombre says "get off my lawn!"
I completely agree with you and Mule Ears, and understand how problematic it would be to post coords of ever-changing water sources without a disclaimer on their reliability.  I too enjoy the sound of my heart beat, and am not a "destination person".  I took alot of pics on the OML and shared them on this site.  To each his own.  Cheers. 
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: Kneves808 on April 09, 2019, 05:07:02 PM
Hi All! Any updates on Boot Spring? We are heading out that way for a 4 day trip and wondering if we need to lug the extra water or if we will be able to obtain some on the trail. TIA!! :) 
Title: Re: OML water report
Post by: LinuxGeek28 on April 23, 2019, 01:38:30 PM
Boot Spring update:  No water flowing as of 4/21.  There are a few tinajas with cloudy water in Boot canyon.  When you get your permit, the rangers will likely ask you to leave it for the animals.   We carried the filter, but had enough water on our backs to make an overnight to the south rim without having to take any out of Boot canyon.