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OMLL

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Offline Cookie

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OMLL
« on: February 23, 2018, 06:28:41 PM »
When our daughter, YoungHiker, was eight we took her on her first OML. We did a leisure 5 night counter-clockwise loop, with the first  and last nights on the rim. We cached food at Homer and Juniper TH (it was legal then :icon_eek:) We had been talking about doing it again now that she is fourteen. We had a "winter break" of four days last weekend so we just added another day on the front end so we could do a 4 nighter. Our original plan had been to take a friend and introduce him to Big Bend, but his plans changed and we opted to tackle the loop again.

Our plan was pretty simple. Start driving at dark-thirty, get permits and get to hiking. We were able to get to PJ by 11:30 and was quite mystified to find the parking lot packed for a Thursday. I had a very friendly ranger who wrote up the permit. Here is what we wanted, and luckily, what we got :eusa_dance:

JC1 1st night
Dodson Zone 2nd night
Blue Creek Zone 3rd night
SW3 4th night

We cached 5 gallons of water at Homer and a BearVault full of food for the second half of the trip in a secret hidden spot in the Homer area. It was awesome to NOT have to carry that much food or water. We were back in the basin and on the trail by 2pm. The hike up was lovely and we made it up the Pinnacle by 4pm. We met another couple on top who was also doing the OML. We asked where they were staying that night and they said they were permitted for the Juniper zone but the ranger said they probably wouldn't make it so the could just take any open spot in Boot Canyon :eusa_think: Sounded a bit curious but I guess as long as we didn't find them in our spot it didn't effect us.

We had talked with a lady hiker going down the HW trail when we cached and she said there had been water in the pools in Boot Canyon a day ago. We were happy to know we would have water for sure. Sure enough just a few minutes walk from the cabin we found some pools of water. Not like in the summer, but for what we needed it was perfect. We filtered what we would need to get us to Upper Juniper Spring the following morning, and trudged up the trail to JC1. The tent sites were not great. Also the amount of TP just down the hill from the site was disgusting. It would be the theme at most of the sites we stayed at. I still cannot fathom how someone can go to all the trouble to hike into the middle of no where and have no problem leaving their TP all over the place for everyone else to look at.  :icon_evil:

DSC04171 by Cookie, on Flickr

sunset spot from edge of JC1 looking into Boot Canyon
DSC04112 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04113 by Cookie, on Flickr

JC1
DSC04118 by Cookie, on Flickr

to be continued.....
~Cookie
 
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 06:43:05 PM by Cookie »

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Offline Cookie

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2018, 07:57:26 PM »
Day two:
It was great to be sleeping on the ground. Our last trip to Big Bend had been over Christmas break but seemed like much longer. We packed up and headed down to Upper Juniper Spring. Ol' Faithful was flowing and had a nice clear pool of water. We filled up knowing our next water stop would not be till Adler, at the soonest. Depending on how fast (or slow) we were hiking would dictate where we spent the night. Plan A was near Adler spring, Plan B was near Fresno Creek, and Plan C would be the saddle past Fresno Creek and grab water at Claro A, B or maybe C in the morning.

view down Juniper Canyon
DSC04121 by Cookie, on Flickr

near upper juniper spring
DSC04128 by Cookie, on Flickr

glorious water
DSC04129 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04130 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04131 by Cookie, on Flickr

We met two hikers from Chicago doing the counter-clockwise OML. They had met the couple we had talked to the night before and said they were D-O-N-E DONE. They were at the Juniper TH waiting for a ride out. They also said there was a group of ladies hiking the same direction as us. We chatted a few minutes and then continued our walk down Juniper. The area the fire had gone through a few years ago was apparent. The grass was thick and quite a contrast to the rest of the area.

DSC04132 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04134 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04135 by Cookie, on Flickr

We made great time to Juniper TH. The couple must have already gotten a ride out. We stopped at one of the kicked out spots just past the bear boxes and had lunch. One truck came in with some day hikers who headed up Juniper, and one solo OML hiker passed us. We never caught up to the ladies group. We were now confident we could make it past Fresno which would make the next day easier. We hit our hour break spot in about 45 minutes. It was really nice not feeling like we were trying to make up time. We passed the wash for Adler but opted to continue on. We took a break at the Dodson Spring, It was green on top but the water under wasn't too bad. I don't think I would stir it up much if I was needing to pump here.

interesting cairn
DSC04137 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04138 by Cookie, on Flickr

Since we were hiking so well we decided to grab water at Fresno, hike up the switchbacks and find a spot on the saddle. We hiked down into the creek and at the bottom some yahoo had pitched his fancy Cuban fiber $$$ tent 30' off the trail.

I took this standing on the trail
DSC04139 by Cookie, on Flickr

no one seemed to be home so we headed down stream to get our water. After pumping what we needed for that night and the morning, YH and I walked down to where the canyon narrows. I did notice two TP wads about FOUR feet from the sweet flowing water.  :vomit:

We ran into the owner of the tent chilling in the shade. I asked if that was his tent set up  further up the creek He said it was, and seemed quite pleased with the spot he had scored. I asked him if he realized he had set up his tent right on top of the main water source for hikers on the OML and how maybe that wasn't such a good idea. He claimed he had "no idea" you shouldn't camp that close to your water source. He didn't seem concerned about all his bodily waste flowing into the creek and assured us he was hiking "away" to use the bathroom. It's probably a good thing El Hombre was putting the AquaMira drops in our Platypus containers. He would not have been as "diplomatic" as I was, according to YH. :pissed:

We climbed up out of the creek to the saddle and found the kicked out spot right on the trail. El Hombre scouted up the hill to the north, and I checked the hill to the south for a suitable flat spot a little more off trail. He was the winner, finding a sweet spot with great views. We were almost a stones throw from where we stayed last year when we hiked "The Beast" and spent several nights exploring the Quemadas. We enjoyed a nice evening, knowing one of the harder days was done.

DSC04140 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04141 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04142 by Cookie, on Flickr

continued....
~Cookie

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Offline Cookie

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2018, 08:29:32 PM »
Day 3:
The Beast looked marvelous against the blue morning skies. We had lots of condensation in the tents (no fly night) so we had to lay out everything to dry in the morning sun.

Untitled by Cookie, on Flickr


Untitled by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04145 by Cookie, on Flickr

We discussed water options as we ate breakfast and packed our gear. In the wash below to the south of the Dodson trail we had Claro springs (A,B,C and maybe D?) To the north of the trail we had an unnamed spring we had used last year. The second was a bit closer so we thought we would try that one first.


the spring was right past the two larger trees in the wash.
DSC04147 by Cookie, on Flickr

 We hiked up the wash and things were looking pretty dry. After about a 7 minute walk we found a small pool of water. Not great but it would be better than back tracking and heading all the way down the other way. We filled up so we could make it to Homer where our cache was waiting. The water was cool and tasted fine.

It was a beautiful day to be trekking across the desert. Except it was HOT! Similar to the day before the temperature was easily in the 80's as we headed across the Quemada's. We knew it was going to be fine and were mentally prepared for it. We had plenty of water. We took a break at the saddle looking out at Mule Ears and Carousel.

DSC04150 by Cookie, on Flickr

A solo hiker came up heading our direction just as we were getting reading to pack up. He gave us a quick greeting and strangely didn't even slow down to enjoy the view at the top. We caught up to him a few minutes down the trail and he curiously wanted to confirm that this trail we were all on the Dodson Trail. We assured him it was and passed him by. He was heading for Blue Creek for the night, as were we.

DSC04154 by Cookie, on Flickr

We made it to Homer in just over an hour and grabbed our cache of water from the bear box and food from our BearVault. We had 5 gallons of water and the rest of our food for the remaining two nights. I first thought 5 gallons was a little over kill, but it turns out it was just about right. We had packed some extra Gatorade powders and lemonade to enjoy in the shade of the old ranch house. Not soon after sitting down to lunch, we met two guys from Ohio that had flown in to do the OML. They were also heading up to camp at Blue Creek.  One of them had a hiking umbrella. He said it had made the last two hot days hiking so much better. It looked like emergency blanket material.  He said it reflected the heat out, and the umbrella helped push cool air on him. Sounded like a good idea.

We chatted with them for well over an hour. Another solo hiker from Arizona showed up with the same idea of lunch on the porch of the ranch house. I can give you one guess where he was headed for the night. It was starting to sound pretty crowded up the creek. Our plan was to stop at Cedar Spring for the night. Hopefully we wouldn't have to worry about a bunch of hikers all trying to find spots at the top of the creek. We decided to head on up and get camp set up since it was getting on to 3:30. On the way, we met an interesting Frenchman from Austin dayhiking. He inquired how far up the trail he could go to get to the "top", and was very concerned about being attacked by bears, mountain lions and WOLVES because of the warning signs he saw at the trail head. We assured him he did not need to worry about them. He would be loud enough walking to scare them away.

A recent flash flood had really rearranged the terrain and look of the creek. We made it up to the spot near Cedar Spring. There is a burned in spot pretty much right on the trail. We decided to move up the hill a bit, and leave that spot open for some late arrivals, if needed. We had an excellent and open view of the area. Much better than the spots further up the trail closer to the old water trough.

DSC04156 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04157 by Cookie, on Flickr

We saw a big wall of clouds come in over the Chisos then pull back over the mountain. It seems a change in the weather was coming. We were hopeful for cooler temperatures. We had the rain fly nearby, and sure enough, about 1am it started raining. Not a down pour, but enough to keep the fly on the rest of the night.

The next day we would head up Blue Creek to our last night of the trip and stay at SW3.

to be continued.....
~Cookie

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Offline Cookie

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2018, 09:57:19 AM »
We woke to a bit cooler temperatures and were quite thankful. We enjoyed our Mountain House Breakfast Skillet Burritos and packed to head up Blue Creek. After about an hour we made it to the old well and water trough. We had camped in this area before but much preferred the open area at Cedar Spring. We met up with a couple finishing up there OML. We leap-frogged with them a few times as we climbed towards the rim. I definitely prefer the OML in a clockwise route. The climb up Blue Creek for me mentally is not nearly as bad as heading up Juniper Canyon. That trail seems to go on forever before you hit the saddle.

DSC04166 by Cookie, on Flickr

Saw these horizontal branches tucked in the tree in the creek near the trough. Any guesses?
DSC04165 by Cookie, on Flickr

Before we knew it we were on the rim and heading to SW3. We usually play a game of "how many hikers will we see today?" The previous two days had been low numbers for all of our guesses. I think El Hombre was closest with 8. Today was Sunday so I went optimistically low with 13, YoungHiker picker 17 and El Hombre said 20. Guess we really underestimated the holiday weekend. We ended up seeing 50 people from Cedar Spring to Boot Canyon for water to SW3.

at the cabin
DSC04168 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04169 by Cookie, on Flickr

Boot Canyon water, clear, cold and tasted great!
DSC04171 by Cookie, on Flickr


 We met up with a lady volunteer at the cabin and had a nice chat with her. We had actually met her and her husband when we were zone camping out at Mule Ears a few years back. I was quite startled to look up from our campsite and see the silhouette of two people looking down at us. If you have seen a # on your water cache at Homer from being checked, it is his number. We talked a lot about the amount of TP at the sites and even along the Dodson. We mentioned the state of JC1 and she said she would head that way to check it out.

 We pumped from the same spot in Boot Canyon then headed to the rim to enjoy a leisure hike to our campsite. It was cloudier today but the views were still amazing!

Untitled by Cookie, on Flickr

Untitled by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04175 by Cookie, on Flickr

We set up camp for our final night and headed up from the camp to our favorite viewing area looking down Blue Creek. The wind was picking up a bit. We love SW3 but if it's windy it can be a long night. And so it was for me. The wind blew and gusted so much it was making the chains on the two small bear boxes (there are 3 bear boxes there now) hit the metal all night long. I think I finally slept at some point. YoungHiker was up and almost packed up when we got out of our tents. Somehow the promise of cheeseburgers always gets her motivated on the hike out.

We headed down Laguna Meadow and to the car. We stopped counting people after about 30. We had planned to stop somewhere on I-10 for burgers but decided to push through and eat at a local place near our house. We made it there in the evening and much to our disappointment, they were closed on Mondays.  :banghead: We got home and I switched cars to go pick up our dog from my parents house and said I would pick up some fried chicken from a local grocery store that was always good. I got there to find they had sold out. :banghead: :banghead: Looking around I saw some Tamales. So.....tamales and queso after an successful OML. Sounds like a new tradition!!

We were all very happy (and tired) with the accomplishment of our hike. For us the 4 night loop is the perfect amount of time to really enjoy this hike, yes enjoy and not endure. I look forward to taking my niece, Big-Head-Long-Legs, on it when she returns from a semester in New Zealand.

Anyone out there who counts steps I'll share some stats. I have a fitbit One to help keep me motivated when I am not hiking. YoungHiker has a fancy Garmin she found in the bottom of a river while snorkeling that still works. Hers is a watch. I wear mine on my ankle. I had heard that you don't get a very accurate count on your wrist. We found that true! On the day I had a count of   31,217 she only registers about 9,000 steps.  :eusa_doh:

Thursday:  home (driving) to JC1                     19,303 steps
Friday:        JC1 to saddle west of Fresno        38,311
Sat:             West Fresno to Cedar Creek          31,217
Sun              Cedar Creek to SW 3                      25,599
Mon.            SW3 to home                                   17,918

Overall an enjoyable and relaxing family trip. YoungHikers first real OML. It was HOT on the Dodson but doable with breaks and plenty of water from the springs so we weren't over loaded with weight. That made all the difference in the world.

~Cookie
« Last Edit: March 16, 2018, 09:19:28 AM by Cookie »

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Offline mule ears

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2018, 02:03:06 PM »
Cookie thanks so much for the great report and pictures.  I agree with 4 days making it most enjoyable. 
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline Hang10er

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2018, 02:54:33 PM »
Enjoyed! Great pictures.

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Offline rocketman

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2018, 05:42:58 PM »
Sounds like y'all had a great family trip! As a not-yet backpacker, I like the 4 day idea. Maybe 5 .  :icon_biggrin:
Making ice cubes FROM THE SUN!!!

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2018, 05:57:13 PM »
You guys rock!  Always enjoy your trips.  Y'all are a great family.

(During the zombie apocalypse,  I want to be in your clan.)

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Offline Jalco

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2018, 07:33:22 PM »
Cookie, I always enjoy reading about y'all's trips.  Y'all make it seem so effortless.  Thanks for posting.

And, ditto, on the great family.

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Offline congahead

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2018, 04:29:26 AM »
A fun read. Thanks!  The TP issue is a real downer. Some people should just stay in a motel ... or at home. 


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Offline nathanr

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2018, 07:12:05 AM »
Great report, thanks for sharing.  Awesome that you all do this as a family.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2018, 09:47:53 AM »
Thank You all for the kind words.  I always feel blessed that we, as a family, can enjoy the hiking together.  Makes each day at work worth it!

I was thinking this was a bed a bear made for himself up in a Madrone tree.  We've seen them in Pine Canyon up near the pour off too.  Anyone able to verify this?



Saw these horizontal branches tucked in the tree in the creek near the trough. Any guesses?
DSC04165 by Cookie, on Flickr


I also was very impressed with what the fire had done to the desert in Juniper.  The place looks totally different compared to  the rest of the desert.  Can really see how the place must of looked back when the grass was the dominate feature.  Tons of great campsites have appeared all along the Juniper trail now that the majority of prickly stuff has been burned away.  Fire Good!

DSC04136 by Cookie, on Flickr

One of my favorites

Untitled by Cookie, on Flickr
« Last Edit: March 16, 2018, 10:07:09 AM by elhombre »
First Russian Collusion, then Obstruction, then illegal payment to Stormy Daniels, then tax returns subpoenaed. Now no formal vote on impeachment for a 30 min. phone call to Ukraine

No crime. No evidence, just more secret investigations

Drain the Swamp.  America will survive.  God Bless America

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2018, 01:30:32 PM »
Did you notice claw marks suggesting a bear climbed into it??

I am curious too.

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Offline Jalco

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2018, 04:04:16 PM »
I nominate that last shot be named "Cookie's Overlook"  :eusa_clap:

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Offline Cookie

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Re: OMLL
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2018, 09:17:32 PM »
I nominate that last shot be named "Cookie's Overlook"  :eusa_clap:

 :icon_redface: Thanks!!
That spot is one of the reasons we like SW3 so much. The walk out to the point is not for anyone with vertigo or a fear of heights! :icon_eek:

~Cookie

 


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