Friends of Big Bend National Park
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.


  • 34 Replies

Offline Flash

  • Mountain Lion
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  • 1718
« Reply #30 on: February 07, 2018, 09:19:01 PM »
Enjoyed reading over your two tales, all both of them!   :great:

- Flash


Offline Peter O

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« Reply #31 on: February 08, 2018, 08:24:49 PM »
Peter, this is an excellent report, and I hope to be able to use your detailed descriptions one day if I can even get down to that lower portion of the park. I'm learning some things too, including the name and source for glochids and the duct tape idea, and that the park has an emergency email that InReach users could use. One question about your InReach. It sounds like you used the InReach for tracking for both trips (although it sounded like you also used your phone for the first trip?). How did the battery hold up after nearly a week logging tracks? What interval did you use? And did you use any sort of charger to recharge it in the field? I've not used this functionality on mine but I seem to recall, in reading about it, that the battery life in tracking mode was less than for dedicated GPS devices. I would not want to risk having the batter run low in case of an emergency. Curious to know your thoughts on the matter.

Desert Rat Shorty,  I’m glad you enjoyed the report.  Thanks again for your great reports and posts, including your recent “Indian Head to Slickrock Canyon” report, which caused me to add that area to my Big Bend to-do list.

Good catch on the battery issue.  Yep, you’re right in suspecting that my use of tracking on both the inReach and iPhone requires an extra power supply.

Just to clarify, the tracking feature on the inReach sends my location periodically to a Garmin map share site, where someone can view my track (if I share the site link with them).  My inReach was set to send a location every 10 minutes.  I’m not aware whether I could download this tracking information in a GPX file.  The images of my track from the inReach were screenshots from the map share site. For both of my hikes, I used the Gaia app on my iPhone to record a GPS track, which is what I used to create the CalTopo maps reflecting my actual hikes. 

The battery on my inReach SE has held up very well.  On my hike in December, it still had about 40% of the battery left at the end of the hike, and that is with the tracking feature turned on.  I also usually send a couple “I’m okay” messages each day.  I do power it off during the night.

The iPhone is another story.  The Gaia app does drain the iPhone’s battery, especially if you use it to record your track (which I have been doing).  On these hikes, the daily drain on my iPhone battery varied from going down to as low as about 35% to about 65%.  I have not been able to figure out why it varies so much, other than I know that if I often check my GPS location in the app it will drain the battery faster.  I also use my phone to take a lot of pictures, which is a further drain on the battery.

I carry a backup battery.  The one I use is the Anker PowerCore 10,000 mAh.  It’s about $25 on Amazon.  There are also lots of other options, with different capacities and sizes.  This battery will re-charge my iPhone completely (from 0) over 2.5 times. On my last trip, I actually also brought another smaller second backup battery.  I used up the 10,000 mAh backup battery almost completely, but I did not need to use the second backup.  (I didn’t think that I would need the second backup, but I’m a little paranoid.)

The Anker battery only weighs about 6.4 oz.  I also bring two lightning charging cords in case I lose one (or break one).  In addition, I bring two charging cables that work with the inReach (which uses a mini USB connection I think).  This is so I can use the backup battery to also re-charge the inReach if necessary.  These things all add weight to my pack, but I like using the tracking features of the iPhone and inReach, so I am willing to carry the extra weight.

If you haven’t seen it, Adventure Alan has a great article on his site, How to use your Smartphone as the Best Backpacking GPS, which includes lots of helpful tips about using GPS apps and conserving cell phone battery life.  My iPhone battery has lasted a lot longer since I started doing some of those things (like turning on airplane mode, turning down screen brightness, turning off other apps that use GPS, etc.). 

Sent from my iPad using Big Bend Chat


Offline mule ears

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
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  • 3808
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2018, 04:19:07 PM »
Great synopsis of using the phone and inReach and battery life.  That Adventure Alan article is a really good on and one that I have bookmarked some time ago.  thanks
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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no shade, no water


Offline nathanr

  • Kangaroo Rat
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« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2018, 07:33:01 AM »
congratulations on the great trips. Excellent routes.  Thanks for writing the reports.


Offline Lance

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« Reply #34 on: March 22, 2018, 12:03:12 PM »
Peter, what a fantastically written and well-organized trip report. I've definitely bookmarked this one. It takes a lot of time and effort to put up a trip report like this and we really appreciate it. Thanks for sharing your GPS tracks with all the additional information. I followed right along in GE while reading your report. I'm going to add some of those pouroffs you marked to the GE Project. I'm glad the GE Project was useful in helping to plan your hikes. It really motivates me to continue working on it when I know people are using it. Thanks!



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