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OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)

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Offline gtRidge

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OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« on: December 22, 2013, 11:56:59 AM »
Howdy and Happy Holidays!

Friday I wrapped up my first OML with pictures to show, wounds to heal, and stories to tell. It was a great trip, filled with rugged hikes and great views.

Despite my best efforts, the packs still wound up near 50 pounds once we loaded 5L of water and enough food for 5 days. I've vastly improved my equipment since last year (lighter and smaller), but still lost the battle of lightweight packing. How do yall do it??

Day 0: travel day and base camp. Not much to talk about here. We got all our permits and camped as close as we could to the basin, which was JF1.

Day 1: JF1 -> SE3. We slept in and ate well, knowing it was a shorter day. Hitting the trail at 11 and hiking slowly with many breaks (not yet in the hiking rhythm), we finally arrived on the rim around 4. Our first time to the rim, we could not get enough of the views. Unbelievable. Perfect weather with nearly unlimited visibility. We estimated we could see 40 miles at least. The sunset was spectacular as a perfectly full moon began to rise right at dusk. The milky light over the valley that night was something I've never seen.

Day 2: SE3 -> Dodson/Smokey crk junction. We ate breakfast while watching the sunrise, legs nearly dangling off the edge. Easily the most incredible morning I've experienced. We passed a couple on the rim doing the OML clockwise, so we wished them well and expected to see them in 2 days when we would again cross paths. That was cool. We made excellent time down to Blue Creek, but the sun and endless downhill started to wear on us. At HWR we crashed in the shade of the porch and took a siesta from 1:30-3:00, waiting out the heat. The next leg was the most brutal. Still in the direct sun, we hiked another ~2.5 miles and +1000ft to where Dodson and Smokey Creek meet. Finally made camp around 5:00. 12.5 miles and about 6 hours of hiking, if I'm not mistaken.

Day 3: Dodson -> Dodson/Juniper. In addition the mileage we needed to cover, we attempted climbing Pt 5917 in the morning. This proved difficult. The approach through the brush and cactus was miserable, then came scree and loose rock, then came a difficult and exposed class 3 pitch on the NE ridge. The ridge was much bigger than anticipated! We gave it a good try and made it up maybe 50 feet in elevation before pulling the plug. We were concerned with how long it was taking us. We'll come back and finish it when we don't have to also do the OML. Hitting the trail at 11:10, we had to dig in and start truckin. Not soon after we passed the couple from the rim. They made great time. We pushed to Fresno where we snacked and filtered water. Not much water left in Fresno; we went down about 70 yards in the wash just west of the actual Fresno gorge before we found a clear pool. Continuing, we pushed pretty much non stop to Juniper junction. Very hot, very tired. Mental battles here as we just had to keep covering ground. Finally made camp at 3:30 in a scenic spot looking up at the mountains. 8.0 miles of actual trail, 4 hours of hiking. Add to that the .75 mile up/down and 800 ft gain/loss of Pt 5917.

Day 4: Juniper -> TM1. I didn't feel well this morning, so this leg proved miserable. Luckily, my climbing partner kept the pace up so it didn't last as long as it could've. Going up Juniper was a task. 6.2 miles and 3000 ft of gain. Wow. Going counterclockwise meant we would be in the shade once we turned onto the steep section of this trail. Somehow, we made this leg in right at 3 hours of hiking. Not sure how, to be honest. We rested well at the top, and took the last 1.8 miles to Toll Mountain easy. Practically crashed into the ground once we got to the campsite and napped in our bags right on the dirt. Before sunset we chatted with some other college ages heading to the rim at 5:15. They no doubt had a dark hike. We spent the last evening of this epic trip sitting on the rocks overlooking the basin, taking in the fantastic colors of the sunset and the bright stars (before the moon came up). Winds kept up 15-20, gusting 30 and we had to stake down the tent well. Rain came in at 2 am but lightened up at dawn. Miles hiked: 8, 4.5 hours of hiking.

Day 5: TM1 -> home. We broke at 7:15 and literally ran down the mountain, eager to eat and get home. I think this leg only took us an hour. By this point the packs were light and our legs were warmed up. We loaded the car and booked it back to Dallas.

This trip was like nothing else I've done yet. The dozens of different little ecosystems you see in 40 miles stuns me, and the geography/geology is absolutely fascinating. It was epic, it was brutal, it was memorable. We loved doing it and becoming members of a salty club of backpackers. I can only imagine what people in the past - cowboys and settlers - went through in this land. While it will be at least a year before I can think about putting myself through the OML again, I know that any return trip would be better and better.

Here's a little teaser video I threw together. There will be a longer, more in depth video of the trip later. Hope yall enjoy!


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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2013, 12:08:08 PM »
What a great teaser video and trip report!  Can't wait to see the long version.  This will go in the Trip Reports index for sure.   :eusa_clap:

On the light packs, you just have to be disciplined (and maybe not carry a tripod too!  :icon_wink:)

Thanks
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline catz

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2013, 04:10:55 PM »
Excellent report!!   :13:

Regarding the weight, you could have saved a bit by caching food at both Homer Wilson and Juniper/Dodson.  Clean clothes, too, for that matter. 
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline gtRidge

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2013, 08:13:52 PM »
mule ears and catz,

Thanks for the kind words.

I considered caching food as well, but being my first time, I didn't know what to expect and didn't want to risk anything going wrong with that drop.

A collapsible chair, small tripod, and notebook were about the only luxury items I allowed. (and a camera, I suppose) However, my buddy carried too much clothes, both bulky and heavy, so that the amount of gear we could actually share was less. I was already being a little overbearing so I decided to just take it this time. Next time...

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Offline dprather

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2013, 10:04:02 PM »
Congrats on you first successful OML.

The tone of your report suggests that this might not be your last OML.

Think about some of the other great trails - Marufo Vega maybe.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Geezer

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2013, 10:09:56 PM »
gtRidge,

"We pushed to Fresno where we snacked and filtered water. Not much water left in Fresno; we went down about 70 yards in the wash just west of the actual Fresno gorge before we found a clear pool."

Not sure I understand. By "the wash just west of the actual Fresno gorge," are you referring to the small drain shown just under the 'M' of 'Mountains" on the USGS Emory Peak quadrangle? That would be roughly one-half mile, as the crow flies, west of the intersection of Fresno Creek and Dodson Trail, as shown on that quadrangle. Or was the pool in the Fresno valley itself? Please clarify and/or supply more info.

Sorry to bug you about details -- but a lot of possible hikes south of Dodson depend on availability of water in Fresno Creek.

(Or have I misunderstood totally?)

Geezer

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Offline gtRidge

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2013, 12:04:26 AM »
Geezer, no problem. The pools we found WERE in the drainage 1/2 mile west of the fresno-dodson intersection. Where Dodson crosses this drain, it is a smooth limestone ravine about 15 feet across. No trees here. We explored the ravine south about 50-70 yards until we found pools suitable (clear and deep) enough for filling up. Bandana over the nalgene bottle kept the wigglies out, followed by a dose of Aquamira. Hopefully that clears it up?

I actually took a pretty good spill here. Slipped on the smooth rock and landed right on my elbow and hip. Felt great....

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Offline mule ears

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2013, 06:13:17 AM »
Geezer, no problem. The pools we found WERE in the drainage 1/2 mile west of the fresno-dodson intersection. Where Dodson crosses this drain, it is a smooth limestone ravine about 15 feet across. No trees here. We explored the ravine south about 50-70 yards until we found pools suitable (clear and deep) enough for filling up. Bandana over the nalgene bottle kept the wigglies out, followed by a dose of Aquamira. Hopefully that clears it up?


So was there water in Fresno creek when you crossed it up the trail?
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Robert

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2013, 08:14:47 AM »
Sorry if we sound confused because your description of water near Fresno is not clear (at least to me). If you were hiking east towards Juniper Canyon it doesn't seem logical to say that once you got to where the Dodson trail crosses the Fresno drainage that you hiked back west 1/2 mile west again. You would have had a 400 foot climb back up the ridge just to get to the next drainage.

If you are standing on the Dodson trail at Fresno usually there is no water visible. But if you hike down the creek a short distance into the hard rock canyon you will see water, almost exactly as you describe it, "a smooth limestone ravine about 15 feet across. No trees here. We explored the ravine south about 50-70 yards until we found pools suitable (clear and deep) enough for filling up."

This water is the most reliable source along the Dodson (outside of caching) and people don't always realize that there might not be water visible at the crossing. 

BTW, the coordinates for Dodson Trail crossing of Fresno is  29.203073,-103.294190.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2013, 08:21:01 AM by Robert »

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Offline gtRidge

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2013, 10:27:13 AM »
Geezer, no problem. The pools we found WERE in the drainage 1/2 mile west of the fresno-dodson intersection. Where Dodson crosses this drain, it is a smooth limestone ravine about 15 feet across. No trees here. We explored the ravine south about 50-70 yards until we found pools suitable (clear and deep) enough for filling up. Bandana over the nalgene bottle kept the wigglies out, followed by a dose of Aquamira. Hopefully that clears it up?


So was there water in Fresno creek when you crossed it up the trail?

I didn't really check... I'm sorry. We had water and miles to cover so we just passed through without stopping. It sounded like there was a large group hanging out in the trees, presumably refilling but it sure sounded like a party.

Robert,
When hiking east we were eager to come across water. The first available option that we found, we took. I had misidentified this as our Fresno creek. When we continued east and saw the larger creek basin, we realized that this was the actual Fresno. Therefore, we didn't double back to get water, just struck too early.

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Offline Geezer

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2013, 09:14:17 PM »
"It sounded like there was a large group hanging out in the trees, presumably refilling but it sure sounded like a party."

Now I think my aged brain has really lost it! If I remember rightly, the drainage in that vicinity where there are significant numbers of trees upstream from Dodson Trail is the Dodson drainage. Am I rite?

(More apologies, gtRidge for pawing around in your memories of what was a great hike.)

Geezer

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Offline Lance

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2013, 12:41:33 PM »
Dude, that was an awesome video!!
Great work!!

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Offline dillomaster

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2013, 10:57:18 PM »
Thanks for the report. Great video!!

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BigBendHiker

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 07:28:04 PM »
Nice report and video!

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Offline Hiker79

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Re: OML Dec 15-19, 2013 (video)
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2014, 03:49:30 PM »
Thanks for the Video.  Can't wait to get back there the end of Feb.

 


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