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Outer Mountain "J"

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Offline chris

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Outer Mountain "J"
« on: December 25, 2012, 12:56:29 PM »
Merry Christmas all, here's a trip report to celebrate!  I began a new job (state government, transferred to a different agency really) on the 17th.  In transferring from another agency, I had a bunch of administrative leave days I'd acquired (see: "vacation!") that wouldn't transfer to my new agency. 

I elected to use that time and have the week of the 10th-14th off and head to the Bend for a few days and relax...well, technically I was still working a bit as I decided to finally take a swing at the OML.  One of my buddies from Austin headed west with me on Tuesday the 11th and we arrived in the park several hours before a friend from Albuquerque was driving down to make the trek.  Upon securing our zone permit and ranger briefing, we dropped off the water at the bear boxes before setting up night zero's camp at the Basin.  We were shooting for a 2 night OML, plus a night before and after hiking the loop in the Basin to prepare/decompress.

On Wednesday morning, the three of us were off up Pinnacles no later than 9:45 at pretty much land speed record pace and were at Juniper Flats in, well, no time flat it seemed.





After stopping for a few more photo opportunities in Boot Canyon:





We made it to the Juniper Canyon junction by 12:30 and decided that it was a suitable enough spot for lunch and a decent breather.  There was a tiny bit of algae'd out water in the stream, but we were doing quite alright for water.  We shared our spot with a friendly bunch of Mexican Jays:



Greeted by the immediate ramping up of steepness on JC in combination with its generally more overgrown nature in comparison to the High Chisos Highways, I was satisfied in knowing I was embarking into a region of the park I had yet to venture.  However, with all of the low-lying desert scrub pinstriping my legs, I immediately regretted my prior decision to zip off the legs of my hiking pants!



After a few more relatively uneventful but thoroughly enjoyable hours, we reached the Dodson trailhead no later than 4 PM.  We had initially thought we'd hike as far as we could each day to minimize the last day's effort.  However, we were pretty tired.  Blame it on our frenzied pace, perhaps.  We decided it was fair enough to stake out a campsite instead of blaze another mile or two in waning daylight.









It turns out our buddy Taylor who came in from Albuqueque, as pictured a few frames up, had a commitment to his grad school program at noon on Saturday.  I also had to prepare for starting a new job (i.e. learning how to iron again, etc) on Monday, and it being Wednesday and with about 20+ miles to go, we were beginning to grasp the immensity of the task ahead.  Well, no sweat, we'll just wake up and take it as it comes in the morning.



I finally managed to get a few decent (by my standards, and without any fancy editing techniques) sunset/sunrise shots, since on previous trips to the Bend I had usually been in a campground setting at those precious 2-hour windows that I've learned from many of the photo greats here.  We were up and on the trail by 8:30 on Thursday, and the challenges of the Dodson soon presented themselves.  Though the high temperature was probably in the upper 60's at the most, we certainly felt the sun and made the most of the little shade we'd soon find.  It was pretty awesome getting to see the South Rim from the bottom up though!





As I again was setting a probably way-too-fast pace, we made it to Fresno by about noon and lunched there before heading south down the creek a little ways to find some water.  We'd stocked up and had no need to filter the precious moisture there, though.







Heading on, it was getting pretty evident that the pace, the sun, and the weight of our packs (at least 40 pounds each I would wager-mine had been 50 prior to leaving Austin!) was getting to us just a little bit.  Also, knowing that had engagements to attend to shortly after completion of our trek, I started playing with logistics in my head.  Right around the "high point" of the Dodson, which we certainly knew when we hit it, I voiced the logic that "hey, we're winding up at a good 'bail out point' today near the road.  If we decide that tomorrow's gonna suck even worse before we have to hurry out of the Bend, one of us could easily flag down a ride to the Basin to get a car to haul the rest of us and our gear back up to the other car and camp there for the night."

It was agreed that wiser words have probably never been spoken...in fact I would assume those are much more pleasant than many words spoken at that crest on the Dodson!  We decided we'd see how we felt at the Wilson Ranch, but ultimately, I knew that the idea for the Outer Mountain "J" had been formed.  Rejuvenated with this decision (and plenty of water and Peanut M&M's), we forged onward.











Upon reaching the Blue Creek junction at 4:30, we decided, yeah, let's not kill ourselves tomorrow and make our returns home any more miserable than our throbbing legs will tolerate.  After retrieving some of our water cache and leaving the majority for the community, I flagged the second car down that passed and got my van to transport the remainder of our crew and gear back to a much deserved night's rest at the Basin.  Before leaving the Basin road, I drank a cup of coffee and a Java Monster and was still exhausted.

I guess it's fair to say I learned quite a bit on this recent excursion-firstly not to try to do way too much in too little time!  I also haven't done a backpacking trip of any length in about 5 years and totally forgot how draining the extra 50 pounds is when ascending/descending 2,000 feet or so continuously for 8 hours.  No matter how many squats/lunges/etc I did at the gym in the weeks leading up to my typical winter west Texas trip, or that I've rode over 6,000 miles on my bike this year...I simply underestimated just how much the OML would take!  We had a nice and celebratory, even if tinged by a slight patina of defeat, restful sleep at the Basin prior to early Friday morning departures.  We even encountered much unexpected light rain in the middle of the night that made sleep even more peaceful!

I can't say I have any regrets though, as we wisely adapted plans when analyzed logically and still had a great time with what we did achieve.  However, next time I know  :dance:

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: Outer Mountain "J"
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2012, 01:14:22 PM »
Great report!  Thanks for sharing.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Outer Mountain "J"
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2012, 01:06:41 PM »
Thanks for the report and glad that you at least got most of the OML done.  The slog up Blue Creek can be tiring.  Good to see some water in Fresno Creek too.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline badknees

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Re: Outer Mountain "J"
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2012, 01:20:43 PM »
Quote
I can't say I have any regrets though, as we wisely adapted plans when analyzed logically and still had a great time with what we did achieve.  However, next time I know
Flexibility is a good thing in BIBE. Live to fight another day!
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
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Offline mbender

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Re: Outer Mountain "J"
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2012, 05:41:11 PM »
Quote
No matter how many squats/lunges/etc I did at the gym in the weeks leading up to my typical winter west Texas trip, or that I've rode over 6,000 miles on my bike this year...

There's simply no substitute for the real thing.
But imagine how much you'd been hurting if you hadn't done some amount of training.

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Offline Geezer

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Re: Outer Mountain "J"
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2012, 10:08:32 PM »
Thanks for the trip report, particularly the photos of water below Fresno. It was hard for me to interpret the first two water photos there, but the third seemed to show some pools of water. Were they running? How did the water quality look?

Geezer

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Offline chris

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Re: Outer Mountain "J"
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2013, 07:27:29 AM »
Sorry for delayed reply to your post Geezer.  The water was running, albeit very slowly.  The quality looked pretty clear and free of debris/algae/etc, but as I say we had enough at that point to not have to syphon off any of this vital resource from someone who could potentially really use it!

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Offline Homer67

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Re: Outer Mountain "J"
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2013, 01:51:15 PM »
Why are people put off by Blue Creek? I love the views looking back as one climbs Blue Creek into the Chisos! I know the arroyo the first two miles can be a slog, but after one has hiked such terrain a bit one gets the hang of hiking so as to not needlessly burn extra energy.  Once one reaches the final climb it can be tough, but it isn't bad.  When we hiked the OML I was relieved to reach the arroyo on the south side of the base of Carousel Mtn; my dogs were killing from the descent with a heavy pack.



BC Climb 13 by SuperHomer67, on Flickr


View Keeps Getting Better Up BC Climb! by SuperHomer67, on Flickr


More of the BC Climb by SuperHomer67, on Flickr


Ah Big Bend, we will soon return to reacquaint ourselves in our ritual of blood, exhaustion and dehydration. How can we resist the temptation to strip ourselves of the maladies of civilization?

 


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