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Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)

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Offline FatPacker

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Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« on: September 05, 2010, 11:27:47 PM »
Part 1:   the failed attempt

   My story begins back in November of 2009 when my son and I began planning our BIBE adventure. The original plan was for us to pull our local Scout Troop?s trailer out to summer camp near Fort Davis in mid-June, drop the trailer and then spend the week in the BIBE area. Then we were to return to Fort Davis, retrieve the trailer and drive back to the DFW area.
    Maybe we over-planned, maybe we under prepared (or at least my son did) but we arrived at Panther Junction at 8:00 AM on a Sunday morning, got all our first choices for Chisos Campsites plus PC5 for after or 3-night hike. We spent Sunday eating overpriced breakfast at the lodge, driving to Santa Elena, and hanging around the Chisos campground, looking at the javelinas that kept walking through our camp and preparing to set out the next morning, up Pinnacles.
    We got up early and had a good pancake breakfast before beginning our trek.
Things started not going well even as we started, my son needed to stop and ?breathe? much more often than I did and the frequency of our stops got sooner and sooner.  Now for the entire time from November to June, I have walked a 3-mile route in our neighborhood 3-4 times every week. My son only went once, maybe twice a week (or less)
    By the time we got to the Juniper Flats campsites, he was saying that he could not breathe and his heart felt that it was about to explode. I urged him to not give up, and that I would walk more slowly. We continued on at a really slow pace, stopping at what seemed to be every 50-100 yards, until he finally gave up completely just past BM5. We sat there on a huge rock for probably 45 minutes until I finally decided we needed to go back down. I am not sure if his issue was totally physical, or if it was mental, but once he gave up, there was no sense trying to drag him up the hill.
    We sat in the truck at the parking lot for about an hour, exploring our options. I suggested we spend on night at the lodge, then change our route and go up Laguna Meadows and just stay one night on the rim, but he did not want to even make another attempt. So I got mad and put the truck in gear and drove our butts all the way back to Allen Texas without looking in the rearview to see the mountains receding in the distance, although I knew that this failure was going to haunt me until I got up that hill someday.
   My son swears that he is going to make it up to me someday and return with me to conquer the hill, but in my eyes, he is going to have to train his butt off before we try it again. He is at least going to have to be able to walk this 48-year-old in the ground before I try it again with him.
   To top off this sad part of my story, I went back to work that next day and for the next 3 days, then had to turn around and drive all the way back to Ft. Davis to retrieve the trailer the next Saturday. (And yes, my son offered to ride back with me to keep me company)
We spent that Friday night in Ft. Davis in a ?camper room? at the Stone Village Tourist Camp. I highly recommend this place. For $40, you can?t beat it.
   So, this is how I managed to get to drive 2443 miles just to get to camp in the Chisos campground for just one night.
Are we there yet?

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Offline FatPacker

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2010, 11:30:46 PM »
Part 2:   A good friend and an unexpected plan

   Needless to say, I was pretty much in a funk the rest of the summer. Unable to fully get over the fact that I did not get to see what was on the other side of that hill. Not a single day went by that I did not think of what I should have done differently or could have done to prevent our ?failure.? I guess to say that I was haunted by the thought of the Chisos is an understatement. I even went so far as to delete this website from my favorites on all our computers and swore to never look at it again. I failed at that too, because I did sneak a look every now and then. . . .
   A fellow Scout leader that I have know for many years was born in India. Every other year he takes his family back there for the whole summer to see family and see all the sights. Since he was gone all this summer he did not hear about my ?adventure? until he returned, and even then he heard about it through the rumor mill, not from me.
Now Venkata knew how much I was looking forward to my trip and when he heard about the failed attempt, he immediately called and asked me to come over to have a beer with him.  When I got there, first he asked me about what had happened. I told him the whole story. At that point he pulled out his day timer and looked me in the eye and said: ?So when are we going back there??  I though he was kidding me, so I said ?If I am going back, it will have to be next weekend, or else I can?t get away until after January.? So he called his wife into the room and asked her if he could go camping with me for about 5 days next week. She said yes. When we approached my wife she said that if I did not go, she did not think she could put up with me until I got to go again.
   You just have to love women like our wives!
So, with just 6 days to get ready, we made our plans.
Are we there yet?

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2010, 11:32:57 PM »
Sounds like your son was suffering from altitude sickness.

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Offline FatPacker

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2010, 11:33:38 PM »
Part 3:    The second attempt

   Venkata and I left on Friday night around 7 PM. Arrived in Monahans around 1:30 AM and stayed in some cheap motel there. Got up early and were at Panther Junction again by 11:00. Again, I got all my requested sites: TM1 (EP1 is closed permanently) NE4, SW3 and PC5. We jumped out of the car at the lodge parking lot, saddled up and headed up Pinnacles. I will say that driving in the A/C, going from no altitude to 5500?, then hiking up the touch trail in the hottest part of the day in mid-August is not for the faint of heart, but I was not going to fail this time! We made it up to TM1 in about 4 hours (yes, that is not very fast) but we were carrying a LOT of water, because the ranger would not say for sure if there was water in the boot spring. At TM1 was where we saw 2 or 3 hummingbirds. They were not large by my standards, but I could really hear their wing beats, which is unusual, I think. After we rested for an hour or so we stashed the packs in the bear boxes and went up Emory peak. I have no problems climbing up onto things, but sometimes am like a cat and have trouble getting back down. Because of this I decided not to climb the last 30 feet on the boulders. The view was still spectacular!
    The next day we broke camp and hiked to NE4. We passed the Boot Canyon spring and the water was flowing from the pipe. There was also water standing all along the creek bed, standing in the rocks, so our water problems were solved. We arrived at NE4 at around 2:00 so we just took it easy for the rest of the afternoon. Around 5:00 we heard thunder and when looking to the east across Juniper Canyon it was raining like crazy. It was really cool looking down at the rainstorm in the valley below us. It did eventually sprinkle on us, but not much.  We were visited by a group of deer that kept circling our camp, getting closer and closer eventually getting to within about 5 feet of me. I think they were looking for a handout, which leads me to believe that others before us had been feeding them.  Got up at 4:00 AM to look at the stars, after the moon went down. WOW! I have never seen such a sight in my whole life. We also saw a couple of meteors just before bed; they probably were some of the end of the Perseid shower that was going stronger in the days before we arrived.
    We got up late the next day and hiked around the rim, stopping every 50 feet to take pictures. There were tons of what I guess were ravens (all black birds) soaring and playing on the wind currents. It was hard to stop watching them; they looked so peaceful and effortless. Everything was so green, wherever we looked. I know that this was supposed to be the rainy season, but it must have been extra rainy this year!  We dropped our packs at SE1 and hiked down the Boot Canyon trail to filter more water from the creek bed. It was clean, but a little discolored. The filter cleaned it up nicely though. Hiked back to the rim, retrieved the packs and continued around to SW3, taking our time and marveling at the sights. At one point I saw what I think was a vinegaroon. If it was not, then it was the ugliest insect I have ever seen. We hung out at SW3, explored around some uphill from the campsite. This is where I saw what I thought at the time was a peregrine falcon. I left town in such a hurry, I forgot my BIBE nature guide that I ordered back in December. Looking at that booklet now, it must have been something else. It was a ways off and all I saw was the underside. It was light brown with dark tipped wings.   Cooked supper then watched the sunset before going to bed.
   Got up late again and headed around toward the trail home, stopped at LM1 to rest for a while in the shade and would up napping for about 2-3 hours. .  Oops!   We hit the trail again and sauntered down Laguna Meadows. We saw a lot of different lizards on this part of our walk. I was a little disappointed that the only snake that we saw was in the road on the way into the park. I imagine that all my wheezing and hard breathing scared them all away long before we got close to them. We also saw a ton of huge spiders crossing the road as we drove in. Good thing there was nobody else on the road because I probably looked drunk trying to not run over them. We made it back to the car without incident around 2:30.  Man that diet DP from the store sure tasted good!
   We drove in to Terlingua, ate late lunch at the Starlight, decided not to sleep on the ground at PC5, so then drove to Alpine and found a crappy hotel to shower and sleep. Got up the next morning and beat it back home.
   All in all it was a great adventure and I plan to go back again next summer. My younger son and Venkata?s son both want to go with us, so we may have to take a party of 4 next time. Either way, I truly appreciate everything that I have learned from everyone here on this forum. The things that I knew and the preparations that I made amazed Venkata; he said that I acted as if I had been there several times, not at all like a first-timer like him.

Thanks again everyone!

http://s998.photobucket.com/albums/af109/fatpacker/Big%20Bend%20-%20Aug%202010/
Are we there yet?

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Offline FatPacker

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2010, 11:36:15 PM »
Richard,

It could have been altitude sickness, but he has been at much higher altitude in the past, jsut without the heavy backpack.
I still think a lot of it was in his head. If you knew him, you would understand. A little more mental prep and a lot more physical training and we will get there someday.
Are we there yet?

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Online Al

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2010, 12:30:18 AM »
FP, what a great friend and trip!  Does Venkata ever post on sites like this?  His insights would be very much appreciated, no doubt.

Al

PS I do wish y'all had camped at PC5.  Incredible ambiance for a relatively easy back road drive. I love the colors of the del Carmens:



A question: Have you considered bringing a better pad/inflatable mattress for car camping?  Makes all the difference.  All things considered, my simplistic math suggests the payback is less than a night.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 01:44:30 AM by Al »

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Offline Robert

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2010, 08:48:08 AM »
Glad to see you made it back to take care of your unfinished business.

Just curious, how old is your son and how much weight was he carrying? You mentioned you guys brought a lot of water, how much?

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Offline FatPacker

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2010, 10:24:11 AM »
He is 21. His pack was around 45 lbs, mine was 53.
We had about 10 liters of water each, which still would not have been enough for the 5 days/4 nights we had planned.
If I were to do it over, I would have left a few things behind, but there was not a whole lot I could have trimmed except water. That or else just plan to stay less time. To be honest. we could have seen everything that we did on the second trip in 2 nights and still had some time to lounge on the rim. Or just one night if we kept moving. But seeing sunrise from the east side and sunset from the west was worth the extra night.
Are we there yet?

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2010, 12:44:14 PM »
Sounds like your son was suffering from altitude sickness.

I kind of feel the same way.  In fact, during my trip in April when ET and I took the day hike to the South Rim, we had decided to make that hike towards the very end of our trip out there so we could get better acclimated to the altitude, and I was sure glad I did!

We camped in the Chisos basin, and the first day or so I found breathing harder just walking uphill to the restrooms, haha.  But after a couple of days I had no more issues.

Going from an elevation in Dallas at 500ft to the Chisos at 5000ft can have undesirable affects, despite physical and mental conditioning, and will vary on an individual basis.

I would encourage your son to make the attempt again, but perhaps spend two or three days in the Chisos getting acclimated to the altitude by taking some short hikes around the basin area, such as the Lost Mine trail up to the Juniper Canyon overlook (and decide from there how he feels about going to the top).  The top of the Lost Mine Peak is not much lower than the South Rim, so if he feels good about that hike he can make it to the South Rim.

Here is a crappy image I took mid-day from the top of the Lost Mine Peak and it is looking at the South Rim.  As you can see, the South Rim isn't much higher:

« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 12:50:30 PM by MilesOfTexas »
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2010, 12:49:58 PM »
Oh, I accidently left out a well deserved congratulations!  :high5:

I found the day hike to the South Rim to be a horrible tease (in a good way) and I can't wait to get back up there for a couple of nights!
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline Robert

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2010, 08:22:00 PM »
I know everyone's different but you usually don't hear about people getting altitude sickness at 5,000 feet. If you google it, they say it usually begins around 8,000 feet. Plus you arrived the day before and spent the night in the Basin right? So it wasn't like you had no time to acclimate.

If you are walking up the Pinnacles trail with a 50 pound pack you are going to be breathing hard regardless of the elevation. But to poop out so soon sounds really strange unless he is very out of shape.

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Offline Reece

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2010, 09:10:07 PM »
I had one heck of a time dragging my athletic 15 year old granddaughter up Pine Canyon last winter. I couldn't figure out why she was moving so slow until she finally confided that she was just about petrified with fear after seeing the mounted cougar in the basin lobby.

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2010, 09:54:12 PM »
I know everyone's different but you usually don't hear about people getting altitude sickness at 5,000 feet. If you google it, they say it usually begins around 8,000 feet. Plus you arrived the day before and spent the night in the Basin right? So it wasn't like you had no time to acclimate.

If you are walking up the Pinnacles trail with a 50 pound pack you are going to be breathing hard regardless of the elevation. But to poop out so soon sounds really strange unless he is very out of shape.

Yeah, I had read the same thing and it may not have been altitude sickness, but I did notice a big difference in my endurance and breathing after being there a couple of days versus when I first got there.  But, I have also since then quit smoking, so I am very certain my then habit played a significant part.
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2010, 10:12:16 PM »
I know everyone's different but you usually don't hear about people getting altitude sickness at 5,000 feet. If you google it, they say it usually begins around 8,000 feet.
Tell that to my wife. :icon_rolleyes: Of course, in her case a head cold made it all the worse.

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Fat Packer's Story (June 12-19 and Aug. 13-18)
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2010, 11:11:49 AM »
As we tell our 6 year old daughter........... .if it was easy, everyone would be doing it!

That goes not only for the physical part of it, but the mental as well!
Glad you made it on you second attempt, hope your son makes it up in the future!

~Cookie

 


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