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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend

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Offline mountaindocdanny

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« on: December 11, 2006, 09:51:32 PM »
Lots of pictures, so be patient.

Day 1 (12/6)- Got off work at noon and came home to finish last minute packing. Our original plan was for Wyatt and I to spend the long weekend biking around the park. I saw the weather report was calling for a chance of ice so at the last minute I tossed the kid carrier in the truck in case we decided to make a run on the high country for some snow. Wyatt had repeatedly been asking to see some snow on this trip, but I had to explain to him that we were headed to the desert and would not get to see snow on this trip. I did not mention the remote chance of getting to see some frosty weather.

We arrived at the Basin around 10:30. On the trip I made the connection that 385 is both the main road through our little town in the panhandle and the main drag through the park. The scenery sure is nicer on the south part of the road as compared to our section. After setting up the tent Wyatt decided he wanted to sleep "under the sky" instead. We tossed out our sleeping bags next to the tent.

Day 2 (12/7)

Morning dawned cloudy and cool. We cooked oatmeal and loaded up the gear, bound for the Basin Ranger Station. In talking to the couple manning the desk we discovered there was a "sixty percent chance of some ice". We decided to risk and got our permits for SW2 backcountry site. According to the folks there, there was only one other group with backcountry permits so far. We unpacked the bike trailer and threw gear and rations into the kid carrier. I asked Wyatt if he wanted to ride or walk. He decided to ride. In between him and our gear and water, the pack weighed in at nearly 80 lbs (I weigh 155!).

As we climbed up towards Laguna Meadows clouds began pouring into the Basin through Panther Pass. I finally coaxed Wyatt into walking the last set of switchbacks before cresting the small pass into the meadows by telling him I would sing him Christmas carols. My shoulders were able to enjoy a brief rest.

As we climbed the wind began to pick up and clouds began tumbling down into the Meadow. The temperature began creeping into the mid to upper 30's. Finally around 4 we made it up to the campsite. We had not seen a soul on our trek. By this time we were socked in by fog and the wind was really picking up out of the northeast. It began misting with some intermittent sleet. We cooked a quick dinner of Spanish rice and tuna steaks and zipped ourselves into the tent. In case this just ended up being rain, or worse yet, sleet, I moved all of our gear except the food into the tent with us to keep it dry. This made for some cramped quarters in the ancient A-frame.

We lay in bed reading "A Singular Country" (I had forgotten to toss in Wyatt's kids books into the pack) and listening to rain and sleet on the rain fly.

Day 3- I had prayed that we would get to see some snow. Friday morning I held my breath and unzipped the tent door. Wyatt's smile was spectacular as we looked outside.

We cooked breakfast and I turned Wyatt loose to play in the snow. His first action was to run out and clean off the bear box, followed by pelting me with snowballs.

While he played I took down camp. Finally around 11 we started back down. He decided he would walk this time, but changed his mind as he figured out he couldn't see the rocks beneath the snow.

We walked through a fantastic Madrean winter wonderland. Wyatt has been on several overnight snowshoe trips in the Rockies, but I have never heard him as delighted by the wintry backcountry as this trip.



We progressed down the mountain making much better time on our way down than up. After heading out of Laguna Meadow we were treated to a spectacular snowy view of the Basin.

As we descended the snow began rapidly melting. In fact the Basin itself appeared to be free of snow. Great accumulations of wet snow fell from the trees as we headed into the warmer air down below.

Around 2 we made it back to the Basin. We headed into the ranger station and secured permits for the Glenn Springs 2 site and began climbing out of the Basin. At Panther Pass we were again treated to spectacular winter weather and dense fog. The fog and snow stayed with us all the way down until about 3600 ft in elevation.

We made it to our site and set up camp. We made bean burritos for dinner and turned in to continued cloudy, cold skies and views limited by the shroud of fog in the mountains.


Day 4 (12/9)- Saturday dawned to more of the same in terms of cloud cover and cool temperatures. We decided to bike up Glenn Springs Road and out to Panther Junction. I loaded Wyatt into the bike trailer and we started pedaling north over the slightly muddy roads.

About 4.5 miles into the the ride I heard one of the trailers tires making a little noise. I stopped to find that we had blown a tire. I pulled out a spare tube and got ready to pull out the irons and my mini pump when I realized that I had never attached them to the bike! We limped back to the site on a blown tire as I mentally kicked myself.

We got back to the truck and changed the tire. Rather than try to repeat the trip I loaded the bike and trailer into the truck and we drove out to Rio Grande Village via the River Road. Parking at the ranger station we biked west to Hot Springs where Wyatt got to compare the temperature of the cold river water to the springs.

We then biked west another 5 miles before we turned around and coasted back to the truck.

Dinner at the picnic area was followed by a movie at the ranger station. We then made it back to the campsite around 8:30.
Day 5 (12/10)- Finally a desert sunrise! We spent time around camp before loading up the truck and heading back to Dimmitt.

We had a great time.

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Offline RichardM

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2006, 10:03:17 PM »
Fantastic report and pics!  How old is Wyatt?  My 2.5 year old daughter was a holy terror this weekend on the Battleship Texas.  I can only imagine what kind of trouble she'd get into out in Big Bend.  :shock:

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Offline Hejira

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2006, 10:35:39 PM »
Wyatt is the luckiest kiddo in the whole world because he has a dad like you.  My hats off to you.  What an extraordinary adventure.  Thanks for sharing with us.

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Offline mountaindocdanny

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2006, 10:47:06 PM »
Wyatt's 3 1/2. My youngest is 2. They both do really well in the backcountry. Both have been backpacking since 2 weeks of age. Once they hit a year of age we start doing father-son trips where my wife gets to have the weekend away from the kids and sleep in for a change. It works out great as I get a chance to be outside and my wife gets a rest. This was the first trip Wyatt and I had done without his brother along in more than a year. It was a great time. You'd be surprised at how well most kids do outside. I've taken a lot of my friends out with their kids and have not had a bad experience yet.

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Offline trtlrock

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2006, 11:06:04 PM »
Wonderful pics & a great trip; Wyatt's a lucky kid!  I'm reading A Most Singular Country right now -- seems comprehensive yet readable...
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Offline Al

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2006, 11:16:10 PM »
Incredible trip report.  Thank you very much!

Al

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Offline Vince T

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2006, 11:29:42 PM »
Whoa!
That was awesome...thanks for sharing.
A trip you will never forget.

Vince

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Offline MarkB

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Your trip report
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2006, 11:32:59 PM »
Great report and shots! The spirit of the Bend and your happiness being there came thru loud and clear in your report and photos. Feel free to also post any photos of your trip on the link below. Thanks.
--Mark
___________________ ___________________ ____

http://groups.msn.com/bigbendphotos

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Offline Al

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2006, 11:36:33 PM »


The angle of Dr. Danny relative to gravity measures the load.  Truly a heavy weight backpacker . . . very impressive!  

Where did you get that rig!?

Al

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SHANEA

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Re: A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2006, 11:44:28 PM »
Quote from: "mountaindocdanny"
In between him and our gear and water, the pack weighed in at nearly 80 lbs (I weigh 155!).


I know a great back Dr. when you need one in a few years.  

Those pics are just too cool!  Gosh, it would have been great to have been up there camping in the snow.  I'm envious.
 8)

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Offline Al

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2006, 11:49:58 PM »


This is a great shot of Wyatt, one he'll probably treasure when he gets older.

 You can go to the finest studio in New York City and not get a shot like this!

Al

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SHANEA

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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2006, 11:54:19 PM »
Quote from: "RichardM"
My 2.5 year old daughter was a holy terror this weekend on the Battleship Texas.  I can only imagine what kind of trouble she'd get into out in Big Bend.  :shock:


She sank my battleship Texas!   Any video to accompany this?

Trouble in Big Bend - you only get into cactus one time b4 you learn that everything out there sticks or stings.  (Called the school of hard knocks)  :P

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BigBendHiker

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2006, 05:52:31 AM »
Great trip report and pictures!  


BBH

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Offline tinneyr

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2006, 06:54:59 AM »
Excellent pic's and report.  Looking at the size of that pack, I bet you had a snow shovel in there somewhere.

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Offline Casa Grande

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A snowy, cloudy Big Bend
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2006, 06:59:39 AM »
these are truly magnificent shots!  How lucky and fortunate you are to have shared this magical trip through the Chisos with your son.   And thanks for sharing it with us!  What a rare and special treat.

 


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