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The Sun Also Rises on the OML

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #60 on: December 03, 2019, 10:44:53 AM »
I actually had a ranger encounter regarding this exact issue.  On my second OML dayhike, I ran into some volunteer rangers at HW about 430 on the am; I was headed up BC and down Laguna to finish.  The volunteer rangers were nice enough, but apparently called into the basin and waiting at the top of BC for me was a female ranger.  She was not buying my story that I hiked through the night on the Dodson; then, I showed her my Gaia track to prove what I said was true.  I did have some emergency bivy stuff in my pack so that didn't help.

All of which to say, if I had used my emergency bivy stuff, I guess that would have put me in violation of the rules of doing this without a permit.  But since I was moving the whole time, no permit necessary.

So, for that reason, and because I am generally inclined not to share my plans with LE, I never tell them what I'm doing.

Based on HMoD's experience, I have considered getting that InReach Mini for such occasions.  Haven't done it yet though.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #61 on: December 03, 2019, 12:03:03 PM »
I understand your reluctance to do Dodson at night given your last experience, but I've never had trouble finding my way on the Dodson at night.

Also, having done OML as a dayhike every which way, I think the best way to do it is from HW, get the BC hump out of the way first, around the Rim, down Juniper and then across Dodson.  I agree with dprather that doing the Juniper after Dodson is a bi atch.  Also, going down BC, with its loose and steep trail bed, is way tougher on the knees and more prone to falls than going down the bomber trail bed of the Juniper.  So go UP BC, and not worry about slipping down, and literally you can run down Juniper.  Then tackle the nice rolling hills of the Dodson after a nice downhill.

Arguing with Steel about the OML is like arguing with Badknees about Big Bend mapmaking.  Don't do it, because they're both experts. 

I think there's a lot of merit to your preferred itinerary, Steel.  If I ever attempt a one-day-OML again (and that's a big, big "if"), that's probably the route I'll choose.  It has several advantages: 1) tackle the big climb right off the bat while legs are fresh, 2) followed up by the rewards of South Rim eye candy, 3) an easy descent of Juniper Canyon, and 4) a beautiful night hike of the Dodson that follows a clockwise progression harmonizing with the bias of the trail (and I do believe there is a subtle bias of design in favor of the standard NPS-recommended clockwise progression). 

I think that last factor would increase my willingness to tackle Dodson route-finding in the dark. Which, even with an early morning start,  I'm sure I'd wind up doing.  Unlike your 12-hour OML's, Steel, us mere mortals are probably going to clock in above 16 hours, and more likely around 18.  I, for one, have no intention to test my 62-year-old luck by running down the Juniper. Those days are behind me. But more power to you for pulling it off, Steel.   

 :kaos-cactus06:

Forsaking speed as a goal, I'd probably structure the hike this way:

6am start at HW with 3 liters of water and a belly full of breakfast (probably have to make your own at that hour)
10am top out at the Laguna Meadow trail and head for the Colima and Boot Spring
Noon lunch at Boot Spring, refill with 3 liters of water
1pm head for a loop hike of the rim (NE lollipop, SW loop returning via Colima, or combine the two for a grand tour)
3-5pm Re-fill with water from Boot Spring, and head down Juniper Canyon to Dodson (start time depending upon chosen rim hike)
7pm dinner at Juniper Junction (or earlier, depending upon rim hike)
8pm head west down the Dodson in the dark (or earlier, depending upon rim hike), refilling with 3 liters at a Fresno break
4am finish at HW (could be as much as 4 hours earlier, depending upon breaks taken, and rim hike chosen)

That's a very leisurely itinerary, and one that's fairly easy on the body. I would expect to finish faster than that. I think a 6am to midnight OML is entirely possible for mere mortals with just a little get-up-and-go. I'd bring plenty of in-between-meal trailsnacks, aiming for at least 5000 total calories for the hike (including the breakfast in my tummy).


Thanks for your very detailed reply.  One of the really great "services" provided by BBC is these thorough discussions of "Why?"  You are providing us with a practical goldmine of experiences (and a vicarious thrill).

One comment and one more question (please):

Comment: I did the same abbreviated OML starting and ending at the same place last year as a 48-hour solo trip and I lost the trail near Juniper Spring just as you did.  I didn't even know I had lost the trail.  I was following a ledge that I thought was the trail until I stumbled into the real trail.  That was in full daylight.  I wonder what is going on right there that makes the trail indistinct?

Question: did you inform the powers that be at the Park of your 24-hour solo?  Since the permits we receive are for camping in the backcountry was a permit in any way needed?  What is your thinking about letting the Park know what you attempting?

From which direction were you approaching Upper Juniper Spring, Don?  In my experience, the downhill (clockwise) approach is easy.  It's the uphill (CCW) approach that is confusing, because when viewed from that direction, the trail is a "Y", with one arm extremely burned-in toward the spring, seeming to follow the natural leftward curve of the approach trail.  Whereas the other arm of the 'Y", the "true" trail up the Chisos, bends slightly to the right just past the "Zone Camping" sign, is generally not very well burned-in, and suddenly snakes through some fairly heavy overhanging vegetation. Not a problem for me when headed downhill; twice now a problem for me when headed uphill (one in morning twilight, once in pitch-black night).

As far as discussing my plans with rangers, or obtaining a permit, I have not.  My position is that it's a dayhike.  As long as I'm back to my unpermitted vehicle within 24 hours, I'm not leaving it abandoned, per the park's regulations.  I think it's very wise (and probably very necessary) to already have one's entrance fee receipt taped to the windshield, as well as some sort of explanatory note, giving yourself 24 hours. Park staff will see your vehicle; they have to make sense of it. Make things easy on the park staff; don't make them worry unnecessarily.  If your vehicle is still parked at the trailhead after 24 hours, you'll probably be grateful if the NPS comes looking for you.

Permits (at least for now) are only needed for camping and river running. A 24-hour OML is neither of these. Theoretically, you'll be moving all the time, exclusive of rest breaks. To me, a short nap (less that an hour) is a rest break. I've napped all over the park at all hours of the day. During this last attempt, I did have to take an approximately 3-hour enforced nighttime "rest break" because of my failed headlamp.  It was not a break I wanted to take, but I didn't really have a choice. The moon was going down and I felt that continued hiking down Blue Creek Canyon in the dark was unsafe. I just sat down on a rocky edge of the trail for three hours and waited for enough dawn light to start hiking again. To my mind, that's still just a long break. I've certainly sat in many a sweet spot in the backcountry (Ernst Tinaja, the South Rim, Cattail Falls, The Chimneys, Tule Springs, McKinney Springs, Fresno Creek.....) for three hours or more without calling that camping.

Now.....if you pulled out a bivy sack and crawled inside...

That would probably be a different matter.  I think using a bivy would only be justified if it was an emergency. Emergencies have their own logic and legality....or at least such is arguable.  Injuries, mechanical breakdowns, dangerous weather....these things are all unpredictable and unstoppable. Once they occur, I think you do the best you can with what you have to try to make it through, and hope the authorities are accommodating.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 12:17:02 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #62 on: December 03, 2019, 12:05:57 PM »
Oh...one more thing:  I took my old McMurdo FastFind PBL on this trip, but only because it's a $300 sunk cost, and I'm too cheap to buy an InReach Mini right now. But I still think the InReach is the way to go here in the lower 48 where networks and first responders are robust. I'll get myself one...someday.    :111:
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Ravenpuff

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #63 on: December 03, 2019, 12:10:19 PM »
HMoD, I always enjoy reading your trip reports, but this one was especially beautiful and truly a joy to read. More so than any Hemingway Iíve ever read! I particularly enjoyed the science and biology angles you added to your recounting of your adventure.

Coincidentally, my husband and I were camping up on the northeast rim that same cool, misty night. Looks like though we were only a couple of miles apart at one point, our paths didnít cross. Maybe next time. Congrats on a successful trip and my favorite trip report Iíve ever read. Makes me want to go back already!


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #64 on: December 03, 2019, 12:19:42 PM »
HMoD, I always enjoy reading your trip reports, but this one was especially beautiful and truly a joy to read. More so than any Hemingway Iíve ever read! I particularly enjoyed the science and biology angles you added to your recounting of your adventure.

Coincidentally, my husband and I were camping up on the northeast rim that same cool, misty night. Looks like though we were only a couple of miles apart at one point, our paths didnít cross. Maybe next time. Congrats on a successful trip and my favorite trip report Iíve ever read. Makes me want to go back already!

That is high praise. Thanks, Ravenpuff!  :icon_biggrin:
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline dprather

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #65 on: December 03, 2019, 12:25:57 PM »
Like you, HMoD, I was going CCW, or uphill near Juniper Springs when I lost the trail.  It was disturbing/frustrating because I had assumed that the trail through there (CW) was super obvious.  If memory serves, I think I goofed by going up a face that was steep enough to not be vegetated  (and thus appeared trail-like) when the real trail went left and through an overgrown area (maybe).

You observation about "biases" in the trail are interesting.  I certainly see what you mean, and I think that something like that is going on when following the standard CW OML trail.  Alternate possibility: the biases are within us (as opposed to being in the trail) as memory artifacts remaining from our first OML - which probably followed the standard NPS direction and which would have created the more indelible first-time memories.

I have had only one nighttime experience on the Dodson.  Going CCW, I was unable to camp at the place I had hoped (100-200 yards west of the Fresno) because someone was already there.  Darkness had already dropped on me so I was in darkness as I traveled the stretch between Fresno and the Old Dodson Place.  I didn't find the trail hard to follow.  That said, I do get what you are saying about the parts of the Dodson that follow washes and that are distinct only because of occasional cairns.



Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #66 on: December 03, 2019, 01:42:43 PM »
I believe the main problem with the trail at the "No Camping Zone " sign is due to the fact that the trail going uphill was following the old ranch road to the water troughs.   The trail takes a unnatural turn at the sign where the OML trail leaves the old ranch road.  This throws a wonkie un-NPS-ish  trail direction change in the mix.

Basically, what I'm hearing is that all y'all who loose the trail right there simply need to do more OML backpacking trips.   :great:
Who is Roger Stone and what did he do??  

Seek out the facts for yourself.  Begin by using the search engine Startpage.com,  not google.

May God Bless America!

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #67 on: December 03, 2019, 02:03:42 PM »
I believe the main problem with the trail at the "No Camping Zone " sign is due to the fact that the trail going uphill was following the old ranch road to the water troughs.   The trail takes a unnatural turn at the sign where the OML trail leaves the old ranch road.  This throws a wonkie un-NPS-ish  trail direction change in the mix.

Basically, what I'm hearing is that all y'all who loose the trail right there simply need to do more OML backpacking trips.   :great:

 :icon_lol: :icon_lol: :icon_lol:    As always, elhombre cuts through the fog!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline dprather

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #68 on: December 03, 2019, 02:03:59 PM »
I believe the main problem with the trail at the "No Camping Zone " sign is due to the fact that the trail going uphill was following the old ranch road to the water troughs.   The trail takes a unnatural turn at the sign where the OML trail leaves the old ranch road.  This throws a wonkie un-NPS-ish  trail direction change in the mix.

Basically, what I'm hearing is that all y'all who loose the trail right there simply need to do more OML backpacking trips.   :great:

Absolutely!
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline jtemples

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Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #69 on: February 14, 2020, 07:23:38 PM »
HMOD, I so greatly appreciate your input on this forum.  You weave such intricate, informative, and entertaining threads on here, and I just wanted to let you know how much I,  and I'm certain so many others, appreciate greatly.  Great trip report.  Congrats on your overcoming and pushing through.  Cheers bro!

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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  • Golden Eagle
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  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: The Sun Also Rises on the OML
« Reply #70 on: February 14, 2020, 09:29:58 PM »
HMOD, I so greatly appreciate your input on this forum.  You weave such intricate, informative, and entertaining threads on here, and I just wanted to let you know how much I,  and I'm certain so many others, appreciate greatly.  Great trip report.  Congrats on your overcoming and pushing through.  Cheers bro!

Thanks, Jtemples!   I get just as much joy out of reading your trip reports and vicariously experiencing your discovery of and infatuation with BIBE.  We're all in this together!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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