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A Rainy Visit to the Big Bend

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Offline TxAg15

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A Rainy Visit to the Big Bend
« on: December 11, 2018, 12:45:54 PM »
My 4th visit to BBNP came with rather sub-par weather, but it was a good trip nonetheless. We had cloudy but dry weather the first day and didn't see the sun until the final morning. We had originally planned to do a 3 day, 2 night loop through the NW Quemadas (around Mule Ears/Dodson/Goat Mountain), but scrapped that with thunderstorms in the forecast for Friday. Ended up climbing about halfway up Goat Mountain on Thursday to a spot I'd camped before. There, it started raining on us around midnight and didn't stop raining in the park for over 24 hours.  When we woke up, visibility was only about 30 yards.

We drove to the Basin after descending Goat, hoping for things to clear up for the evening so we could grab a Basin campsite, but after waiting around in the cold, fog, and rain for 2 hours or so, we gave up and went to Alpine so we could hang our gear to dry overnight at a hotel. We got to visit the brewery, so it wasn't a loss. Drying our gear ended up being the right decision as the Chisos would have been miserable with wet clothes and sleeping gear.

We started the Chisos Saturday morning after waiting a half hour or so for the fog to clear (it never did). Most of the way up we couldn't see the Basin or any surrounding formations. When we got to the top of Pinnacles, conditions were miserable. It was about the densest fog I'd seen and winds were probably around 15-20mph, blowing fog and mist past our faces. The trail was muddy and sloppy everywhere. We waited at the junction, hoping for conditions to improve before attempting Emory, but again came up empty. We pressed on to Emory anyway and not surprisingly, couldn't see much past the rocks right in front us from the summit.

We descended to PI3 for the evening, where finally the clouds and fog started to clear and we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the sunset in the desert. Camp that night was cold but extremely peaceful and a welcome experience after the constant rain the days before. We woke up to 32F temperatures and no wind to speak of and enjoyed a gorgeous, sunny, clear descent to the Basin.

Unfortunately we didn't get to sight out any springs, but the entire park got a substantial amount of steady rain, so I would assume water will be plentiful in the near future. I'll try to post a video later of the sights at the Toll Mountain junction. Despite the less than ideal conditions though, I can never complain about the chance to get away from work and enjoy what Big Bend has to offer. No regrets and once again can't wait to go back.

1st pic is view from Goat Mountain Friday morning
2nd pic is Casa Grande teasing an appearance in the Chisos Friday afternoon
3rd pic is Emory Peak trail conditions
4th pic is hard to get bearings, but is the view partway up the Emory peak summit wall, looking towards the lower summit formation to the left.



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