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First time Big Bend and OML trip

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Offline traveljunkie523

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First time Big Bend and OML trip
« on: November 30, 2016, 11:00:52 AM »
My wife and I and two of her coworkers decided to visit Big Bend for the first time and tackle the OML. My wife and I have never done anything other than a one night backpacking trip of about 10 miles leading up to Big Bend.  The other woman had done Eagle Rock Loop and the other guy had tackled the John Muir trail before so he is pretty experienced. Thanks to all of the info and suggestions here, we completed the OML with no issues at all.

Day 1-- Arrived at Panther Junction and all backcountry sites were booked so we had to modify our itinerary.  A night on the South Rim was a must so we opted to start at Homer Wilson Ranch and go counter-clockwise with two nights on the Dodson, up Juniper Canyon with a night on the Rim before finishing through Blue Creek and back at Homer Wilson. Spent the night at the Chisos Campground #50 and hiked the Window Trail at sunset which was a great way to start the trip. The night sky was amazing!




Day 2--Since we had 2 nights on the Dodson, we opted to start the OML late in the day and visit Santa Elena that morning. Santa Elena was perfect weather and very cool to see. The trip down there also gave us a good "feel" for that area of the park.




Had lunch at Homer Wilson and started the OML at about 2:30pm and carried 3L of water. The Dodson was pretty warm already but got worse as the afternoon sun beat down. The trail was very overgrown and I was surprised by how much constant elevation change we had. The camp site areas were few and far between so we made camp that night about 6 miles in and about 5pm. Went to sleep with no rain fly and it started raining so we had to put those on and through everything that was drying into the tents. lol

















Day 3--  Woke up and hit the trail about 8 am and headed to Fresno Creek to refill. Fresno was running nicely. While filtering a father and son approached us and weren't looking to good. The father said they had been lost for a day and ran out of water and had no water filter! I was worried about the father approaching heat exhaustion/heat stroke because he was having trouble speaking and drinking water. We filled every container they had, took pictures together, and swapped emails so I could check on them later in the week. He said they had water at Homer Wilson and were going to continue there and back to the Basin. I suggested he camp out and replenish his fluids than hitchhike at Homer Wilson back to the Basin. Needless to say, that put a strong dose of reality into our trip early on! This was a physical day for me but nothing compared to what was coming.

Day 4-- The night sky that night was amazing and very bright. Woke up and hit the "easy part" of Juniper Canyon. The sunrise shining on the Chisos was something special. We filtered water at Upper Juniper Spring and I carried 4-5L since there would be no more water until we left the South Rim. The rest of the day trudging up Juniper Canyon was brutal. It was a real struggle going all the way to the NE-4 camp site. I couldn't wait for the hiking to be done that day.










You can see how overgrown the trails are.


Finally reached the South Rim and watched the sunset while a falcon soared in the stiff breeze. It was a great experience where we mostly sat quietly and enjoyed the moment and looked over all of the terrain we covered to get there.







Day 5-- We woke up to an amazing sunrise on the South Rim. Nothing like coffee up there watching the sun come up!







Hiked back down the NE Rim trail and took in the fall foliage and cool air.






Filtered at Boot Spring and headed down Laguna to Blue Creek which was a surprisingly scenic way to end the OML.















Blue Creek and NE Rim were my two favorite trails. I would definitely return to Big Bend and spend some more time in the Chisos and some of the places we didn't get to see. I think I am okay with out visiting the Dodson again though. lol




Big thanks to everyone here who helped with my planning and a big shoutout to Ultra713. We couldn't have done this trip without you stashing the water for us at the Juniper trailhead!

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Online Don H

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2016, 01:01:46 PM »
Gotta tell us about the duct taped boots!  What brand were they.
Thanks for the report, loved the pics!
"Rugged isolation in a Jeep with the top down, doors off, sweaty, dusty, listening to your flavor of tunes, immersed in the most beautiful and beguiling desert mountains in all of the Southwest, the Sierra Quemada. Nothing short of spiritual cleansing. " D. Locke

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Offline dprather

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2016, 01:34:09 PM »
Thanks for the pics
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline traveljunkie523

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2016, 01:34:19 PM »
They are trail running shoes. Had two small holes before I started but they were blown out and getting rocks in my shoes on the Dodson. Lol


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Offline mule ears

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    • 40 years of walking
Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2016, 02:01:29 PM »
Great report and pictures, glad you made it!  You should have been tired climbing up to NE4, that is the maximum elevation gain you can do short of climbing Emory from  Juniper Canyon trailhead!  Why didn't you get water in Boot canyon before heading to NE4 instead of carrying it from Upper Juniper spring?
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Lance

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2016, 02:13:54 PM »
Nice trip report and a great introduction to Big Bend! Did you ever hear back from the father and son who were lost and without water? You probably saved their butts.

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Offline traveljunkie523

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2016, 03:11:52 PM »
Why didn't you get water in Boot canyon before heading to NE4 instead of carrying it from Upper Juniper spring?

Ah, wasn't sure how much further Boot Spring was and figured it wasn't a big deal. Lol. I know for next time!


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Offline traveljunkie523

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2016, 03:15:28 PM »
Nice trip report and a great introduction to Big Bend! Did you ever hear back from the father and son who were lost and without water? You probably saved their butts.

Yea, he emailed me back and said that they made it to Homer Wilson and then decided they were too mentally exhausted to continue and caught a ride back to the Basin.
He was looking and sounding rough and expressed that "He thought they were goners and we saved them."
I'm glad we were there at the right time. We almost pushed on the night before and would have missed them if we had. I think the man upstairs was looking out for them. I was going to give them my water filter but knew they wouldn't cross another water source before Homer Wilson.


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Offline dprather

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2016, 04:53:59 PM »
Good job helping distressed hikers!
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Jalco

  • Mountain Lion
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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2016, 09:28:06 PM »
Nice shot of the sunrise from the Rim.  Great report.  Thanks.

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Offline tusker

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2016, 11:41:03 PM »
Nice report.  Thanks.

Down Blue Creek is a great way to finish.  It is incredibly beautiful and beguiling.  After all the spectacular things you have done by then, it is totally unexpected just when you think you are headed for the barn.

Awesome rescue story.

It all backs up my opinion that Big Bend always delivers a memorable experience.

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Offline Txlj

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2016, 07:40:08 AM »
Very nice and thanks for helping thoses in need. You never know when karma may strike and you proved its on your side. Great trip, pictures and report.

Sent from flat land


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Offline catz

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2016, 10:44:12 AM »
Great job!

So, the South Rim is open to camping again?
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Online Don H

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2016, 11:22:54 AM »
Rim sites open: all NE and SE, and SW 3 & 4
"Rugged isolation in a Jeep with the top down, doors off, sweaty, dusty, listening to your flavor of tunes, immersed in the most beautiful and beguiling desert mountains in all of the Southwest, the Sierra Quemada. Nothing short of spiritual cleansing. " D. Locke

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Offline Glaros

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Re: First time Big Bend and OML trip
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2016, 12:15:51 AM »
Great story and journey.  Thanks.  I'm doing OML solo in February...


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