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Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2

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Offline Reece

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Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« on: November 12, 2014, 01:48:34 PM »
This has turned into an annual event for me. For 4 days every year, near the end of October, The International Quilt Festival is in Houston, drawing quilters and related artisans from around the world, including two of my wife’s sisters. It works out well. They need beds and I need the kind of respite found only in Big Bend.

This year I had two well-planned hikes loaded on my Garmin. Depending on the weather, I would either hike the OML in four days or spend the same time in the Chisos. I like to leave Houston early and drive to the park in one day. I made it to Panther Junction at about 3:30. I stepped out of my Jeep and opened the tailgate to rummage through my gear. The sun filtering through the thin desert atmosphere hit me in the back like a blowtorch and I knew the OML was out. I wanted shade and elevation!

I steeled myself for another adventure with the rangers and was not disappointed. At the main desk, I laid out my plans for the attendant. I would camp tonight in the Basin and 3 days near Boot Spring. I said I would get water from the spring. “Boot Spring is dry.” Ok then, I’ll get water from the tinajas in the canyon. “There are no tinajas.” Hmm… I thought to myself, “Who am I going to believe the ‘uniform’ or my own lying eyes. I’d better just move along and get my permit” I headed on around back. They were in the middle of a big training session and I was their huckleberry. They splashed my whole form up on the big screen while the teacher asked questions and keyed in the information. One thing he asked was, “Do you have a gun?” I said, “No.” After wrapping things up, 3 nights at BC-2, he said, “You can’t display or discharge your gun in the park.” Hmm… I thought to myself, “What does he know?”

This was my first time camping in the Basin. It was surprisingly crowded. I drove around and found a site, not ideal but good enough for 1 night.

Next morning, I struck out. My plan was to base camp 3 nights at BC-2 and get in 4 days hiking.
Day 1 – Hike to BC-2 via Laguna Meadows Trail and set up base camp, 4.8 mi.
Day 2 – Hike up Emory and back, 4.5 mi.
Day 3 – Hike the South Rim Loop, 5 mi.
Day 4 – Break camp and hike back to the Basin via Pinnacles Trail, 4.7 mi.

The extent of my high country experience was, Boot Spring via Juniper Canyon Trail and on to the South Rim via Boot Canyon Trail so most of this was covering new ground for me.

For you youngsters this might be a pretty boring pace but at 68 and solo it was just about right for me. I was planning an adventurous off-trail trek around ET but Richard in his wisdom prevailed on me to stick to well-used trails. My goal in this TR, besides appeasing Flash, is to encourage some of you older guys to get back out there. At my age, any one of several chronic ailments could easily have knocked me out at the last minute but with careful training and planning, I made it through a “healthy window” and really enjoyed my backcountry hike.

At my age, I have to go light. I loaded my 65-liter pack with the least and lightest gear I own. It came to around 25 lbs. + water. About water; I knew darn good and well Boot Spring held water and I planned to carry only 2-20 Gatorade bottles + 5 empties but the ranger’s warning gave me pause so I carried 3 full bottles. And “No tinajas!?” I guess maybe they are technically called “pools” but some of them held enough water to float a bass boat! I figured if by some strange twist of fate, Boot was really dry; I could turn around and hike right back out and still not die of thirst. The long-term success of my hike depended on water in Boot Spring.

I had my first wakeup call about 2 miles up Laguna Meadows. I was loaded and dressed to the nine, long sleeve shirt, hat, leather gloves, and trekking poles, working on my walking mechanics. Then here she comes from up the trail, middle aged, dressed for a shopping trip to Wal-Mart and carrying a small water bottle. I stopped and asked where she was coming from. She said, “O, I just turned around to head back to the Basin. My husband is going on up the mountain but that’s not for me.” I had to ask myself, “Who are these people?”

With a mild heart condition and spondylitis, I have to control my exertion and mechanics. I always breathe through my nose and keep my spine erect. If I start breathing through my mouth, I’m over-exerting so I slow down. I never walk and sightsee at the same time. If I want to look around, I stop momentarily. Every fall I’ve ever taken while hiking was due to a careless step. After bruising some ribs on one fall, I decided, never again. Granted, all this makes for slow going but I’ve got little left to prove. I would much rather go slow and finish strong.

Yeah, I take drugs and supplements.


I could smell the water as I approached Boot Spring.


Then hiked on to BC-2 and set up my base.


My homemade Tyvek tarp and ground sheet - going light.


On day 2 of my hike I climbed Emory.


On day 3, I hiked the South Rim Loop.


On day 4, I broke camp, hiked back to the Basin and drove to the Chisos Mining Company Motel for a shower and then to the Starlight for a good meal and a beer.

I crossed paths with a lot of hikers on this trip. Emory was almost over-crowded, 6 people on top having lunch. The company on Emory actually proved helpful. When I started the down-scramble, I took the wrong route and came to a dead end. I hollered up to one guy still on top and he coached me down from his vantage. Heading down from Emory in the afternoon, I passed 3 couples hiking together on Pinnacles, 20 something’s, each carrying 85-liter packs, loaded down, out of shape, red faced and looking worried. I passed a young Brit with nothing but a camel pack. He looked a little worried too, stopped and asked me how much farther Emory was. Then I passed 2 amazons wearing short shorts, sporting good tans and carrying daypacks. They had hiked form the Basin, around the rim loop and were headed up Emory. They looked to be the most experienced. Near the end of my hike I wished I had taken pictures of the people I passed. I generally looked back at them after we passed. I could just as easily have taken a quick candid shot of them from behind as they walked on. It would help me remember them while still protecting their identities.

Two older guys passed my base and we talked some. They had carried 9 liters each from the Basin and then poured it out when they saw Boot running. They were drinking right out of the pipe with no treatment at all. My filter crapped out so I used chlorine dioxide tablets.

I spent a good deal of time at Boot filling my bottles and saw a lot of hikers passing by on the trail above but very few utilizing the spring, puzzling.
I saw a lot of deer and the grass was almost chest high in places.
Thanks to the encouragement from “hunterhughes” I ate better this time. I added protein powder and beef jerky to my diet, trying to get more protein and it definitely helped. Breakfast was coffee and 2 packs of instant oatmeal. Lunch was protein powder, jerky and Kashi cookies. Dinner was a Ramen noodle cup and a packet of tuna with Wasa multigrain crackers.

A soloist passed by one morning coming out from BC-3. He made a wide arc around me like He was afraid of something.

Maybe it was me!

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2014, 01:56:17 PM »
Great!

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Offline Andreas

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2014, 02:13:45 PM »
Reece, thank you for your TR and the wonderful photos. I enjoyed both very much.
"Any time you're throwin dirt you're losin ground."

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2014, 02:38:51 PM »
Absolutely awesome Reece, thank you!  I am 58 and trying hard to keep going strong so I can still be out there like you.
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 ds9writer

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 03:09:15 PM »
Very nice Reece!  I'm also 58 and hope to be scrambling up and down Emory 10 years from now as you're doing!
You don't travel to see different things,
You travel to see things differently.

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Offline Lance

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2014, 04:27:07 PM »
Good report Reece.  Keep on doing it.   :13:
Silly question.  I'm assuming the water out of the pipe at Boot Springs isn't potable, so what do you treat it with?
What if I only have a water filter, no drops, catch it in empty bottle and filter it out of there?
Are there pools nearby to filter from?  I've passed Boot Springs before but have never seen the pipe or know exactly where it's at.

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Offline Reece

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2014, 06:19:04 PM »
I have a Sawyer gravity filter. It has a bag to pour water into and then it moves through the filter to your container. It would have been perfect for the pipe, if it had worked. It did fine on my last 2 trips and I keep it maintained but I neglected to check it before leaving. It was clogged. It's going back to REI. Two guys were drinking right out of the pipe, for two days they said, without any ill affects but I used chlorine dioxide tablets.

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2014, 07:06:11 PM »
Reece,

Thanks for the TR and the inspiration.  I especially loved the Tyvek tent.  My youngest (19) is just now getting into camping/backpacking (we're planning a Thanksgiving trip to the ET area) and is especially interested in going ultra light. I'll show that to him.

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Offline Flash

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2014, 07:54:39 PM »
Reading your report was like a tonic, Reece. A model of brevity to be emulated. Still have a couple/few past trips I ought to write about in a short format. Way to go summiting Emory. That last 45' takes some nerve.
Which way, by the way, did you pick to go around on your Rim hike?  I can picture three different loops starting from Boot Spring that one might do. Enjoyed your observations on the folks you encountered. Funny story about you and the rangers. Did they get your boot print?

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2014, 11:15:12 PM »
Well done Reese.  How did your toes make out this time?

I always like what Ted Nugent says when someone asks him "do you have a gun?"  He looks them straight in the the eye and replies "No, I do not have A gun."       :engel016:
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 11:20:40 PM by elhombre »
First Russian Collusion, then Obstruction, then illegal payment to Stormy Daniels, now no formal vote on impeachment for a 30 min. phone call to Ukraine

No evidence, just more secret investigations and Shifty lies perpetuating insane blinding anger

America will survive.  God Bless America

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Offline Reece

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2014, 09:30:14 AM »
Jalco: The Tyvek was mostly an experimental, trial run. You don't really need a cover if you have dry weather.

Flash: I took the shorty red route.


El Hombre: Feet faired well, thanks to the new double lacing, looks like I'll lose just the one toenail.

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Offline Homer67

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2014, 03:18:50 PM »
Awesome Reece! Sounds like a good hike.

I use the sawyer filter as well; when in places like BiBe I start with a coffee filter and a 40 micron funnel filter before squeezing the water through the sawyer filter. It's helped. These filters are cheap enough, I consider pump filters to be obsolete.
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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Offline tusker

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2014, 11:09:14 PM »
Thank you, Reece.  Great stuff!

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Offline guc126

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Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2014, 10:16:39 AM »
Thank you for posting, I'll be 59 in December and at this phase of life I think the best approach is to continually challenge yourself. THe OML last year was a huge psychological boost. My daughter and I hiked up to Titcomb Basin in Wyoming this past September and there were 80 year olds trekking their way up there with packs on! 

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Offline Robert

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  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Re: Reece, Oct 29 - Nov 2
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2014, 12:45:09 PM »
Nice report Reece. I liked seeing your DIY tyvek tarp.

What kind of person lugs water up to Boot Spring only to pour it out and replace with un-treated water.  :icon_eek:

 


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