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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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Short Trip Memorial Day Weekend 2018

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Offline sasicign

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Short Trip Memorial Day Weekend 2018
« on: June 11, 2018, 01:04:19 AM »
We had a lot of fun planning for this trip, [Austin library has a lot of good resources which helped, along with many hours scouring this forum].  I had been to BBNP as a child, and it was my girlfriend's first time.  We only had 3 nights/4 days we could take off work, but wanted to fit in as much as possible in that time.  We had a couple loose iteneraries, with the mindset that the perfect intenerary would reveal itself, which indeed it did. 

We left Austin Friday at 8AM, to get to Panther Junction before it closed and secure our permits for the next two nights in the park. Our goal was to spend 2 nights in the Chisos and our first choice was to get one of the Blue Creek sites the first night, and one of the Southwest rim sites for the second night.  Lo and behold, we got BL1 for Saturday night, and SW4 the second night! 

That night, stoked and giddy, we stayed in an off-grid air bnb dome in Terlingua.  We planned a little bit more, and enjoyed the sunset from the middle of no-where.  We had the misfortune to plan our trip during a full moon, which meant optimal stargazing wasn't until the moon set, around 5:30AM.  So that night, we woke up to catch our first glance of the milky way, and were not disappointed.  WOW.  if you can, plan your trip with the moon cycle in mind. 

The next morning, we drove to the Santa Elena Canyon for a short hike.  The drive there was incredible.  We arrived at the trailhead around 11.  Probably too late for a hike in the desert, but we had long-sleeved SPF shirts, hats, and plenty of water.  The hike took about an hour and a half, and the views in the canyon were beautiful.  We drove towards the Chisos with the possibility of a lunch and a beer from the lodge on our minds.  we took our time with lunch, not wanting to hit the trail up the mountain in peak heat.

the ranger told us we should drop one person at the trailhead with the packs, and park in overflow parking by the amphitheater.  i was very grateful for this tip, as the hike from the overflow parking to the trailhead was uphill and not pleasant in the afternoon heat, even without my pack.  At 5PM we started at the trailhead, hoping by that time the most intense heat waves would've worked themselves out.  I used hiking poles for the first time, usually depending on a forest-provided walking stick when required.  I was very grateful for them because of the weight of my pack.  The ranger informed us there was no water source, not in Juniper Springs, and the pools in Boot Canyon should be reserved for the wildlife.  We packed in 14 liters, with the thought that we could take stock on our next day and hike back down for more water if we needed to, without the weight of our packs.  We hiked up the Laguna Meadows Trail, and it was quite exhausting but enjoyable, got to Blue Creek with about 45 minutes of light to set up camp.  The site was isolated, had good tree cover, a small bear box, and a nice flat area to pitch our tent.  We brought dehydrated food for our meals. [Good To-Go - has anyone else tried these?  You can buy them at Whole Earth, they are extremely tasty, mostly vegan/vegetarian.] We add some pre-cooked bacon or jerky for more protein, and one packet will last us for dinner and breakfast the next morning. 

the next morning we woke up, slowly packed up camp, ate our breakfast accompanied by many nearby deer, and continued along the Southwest rim trail to our second campsite.  We set up camp and then later headed to the rim for sunset with a glass of wine.  I never look at movie trailers, read the backs of book covers, or look at pictures from people hikes, because i don't want that to influence my personal experience.  but, i must say, even if i had looked at pictures from the south rim, it would have not have affected  how i felt sitting there watching the sunset.  we were the only people on the rim, and could not see a single other person from our extremely wide vantage point.  it was gorgeous. 

we woke up again at 5:30 with hopes to photograph the milky way from the rim, but the sun rose before the moon could set.  while witnessing the sunrise we also witnessed a very large bear across the rim (in the direction of the  Boot Canyon).  It was minding its own business and didn't seem to notice my heart beating out of it's chest.  We broke camp and started on what would be my favorite hike of the trip, down the mountain through boot canyon.  We didn't see anyone for the first 2 hours of the hike, but that changed as we got lower.  i couldn't imagine going up the mountain on this trail with my full pack, and felt very grateful for the route we chose up.  i expected to see more bears in the canyon by the water pools but we saw none, instead happening upon a bear cub very close to the trail near the Chisos Basin trailhead. 

We made it back to the Chisos basin for some ice cream and got back on the road to Austin, fulfilled and hooked.

notes on water:
we brought dehydrated food which cooked in it's packet, requires only 500ml per bag (lasting the two of us for 2 meals), and removing the need for water to wash dishes. 
We brought re-hydration tablets which I think helped a lot, but also contained caffeine.  i would recommend finding some without caffeine instead. 
we did find plenty of standing pools of water in Boot Canyon.  some were quite deep and clear, and would be ok to filter, but the ranger stressed how important that water was for the wildlife, so we did not end up utilizing that water source.

Summary: A long weekend from  Austin in the park is exhausting, but doable with some luck and good planning.  Thanks for all the knowledge here!  :high5: 

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Short Trip Memorial Day Weekend 2018
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 06:07:10 AM »
Great report and happy that your return trip went so well!  Good to hear that there is water back in Boot Canyon.  Where was the goat?
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 sasicign

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Re: Short Trip Memorial Day Weekend 2018
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 09:44:42 AM »
Great report and happy that your return trip went so well!  Good to hear that there is water back in Boot Canyon.  Where was the goat?

That was in Terlingua driving outside the park  :)

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Offline jim2

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Re: Short Trip Memorial Day Weekend 2018
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 01:56:59 PM »
Thanks for report, and the photos!

 


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