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The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)

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Offline bdhawk133

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The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« on: October 19, 2008, 05:40:28 PM »
Just got back from the craziest trip ever :willynilly:. There will be one heck of a report coming, but I need sleep now, so you will have to wait. By the way, for those of you planning on heading out on this thing anytime soon..........be prepare to bleed.  :icon_wink:
It has been discovered that research causes cancer in laboratory rats.
http://hawkinshaus.blogspot.com/

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BigBendHiker

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2008, 07:44:25 PM »
Lookin' forward to reading about it and seein' the pictures!


Thanks,
BBH

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Offline bdhawk133

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2008, 12:05:55 PM »
Finally, the trip came!!! I had been bragging about the incredible OML to my brother-in-law for almost a year. Now, I was going to actually get to show him and another friend of ours how awesome it really is. Thursday morning came really early at around 4:15 am. I got up and made sure I had everything in order and then gulped a cup of coffee before the other two were to pick me up at 5:00. I don’t think we could have driven fast enough. We were all extremely excited, and only made one stop on the way in Fort Stockton for some good ol’ Micky D’s and gas. We made really good time, and pulled into the entrance of the park at around 8:00 am. Even though the scenery of the park is always breathtaking, and forever changing, I still get somewhat irritated at how long it takes to get anywhere once you’re in. The 45 mph limit really does a good job of building the anxiety of starting your journey, but I guess that’s probably a good thing. Once we reached Panther Junction, we promptly reserved our sites and zones, paid all fees, and then jumped back into the truck to head down to Homer Wilson Ranch to cache our water. The day was overcast, and the temperatures were probably in the upper 50’s to low 60’s. As we drove around the mountains, I caught some great pictures of the ominous clouds, and elevations that would soon be greeting us. At the trailhead to the ranch, we all grabbed our two gallons each of water and basically ran down the trail to the bear box to stash our liquid gold for the trip. I snapped a couple pics of the famous cache box and ranch, and we hopped back into the truck to head into the basin.







Once at the basin, we took a few minutes to take in the cold mountain air, use the restroom and psych ourselves up for the long road ahead. Our plan for this first day was to hike up Laguna Meadows, take a left at Colima Trail, a right at Boot Canyon Trail, and then finally a left at the Northeast Rim Trail to our campsite at NE4. Originally, we had planned on going the long way to NE4 by way of the south rim, but due to some information provided by the ranger who gave us our permits, we changed our minds. Apparently, right now all of the Colima campsites are closed due to increased mama bear and cub activity. So, in hopes of catching sight of a bear, we decided to swing through that area instead. At about 10:45, we heaved our packs onto our shoulders and made our way to the trailhead where we made a few last adjustments and took some “before” pics.







The trail was really muddy. The Chisos had received close to an inch of rain in the 24 hrs before our arrival, and you could definitely tell. It was really humid, and so very green that you couldn’t help but question if you were actually in Big Bend or not. It definitely does not resemble the desert in any way right now. The trip up LM was quick, and we only made one stop at about 3 miles in for lunch. Since we had started a little later than we had hoped, we had agreed to eat a quick lunch on the trail, and save the big meal for dinner. Luckily, we found a pile of logs that had been cut for trail maintenance, which we immediately realized benefit as chairs. I threw down some peanut butter and tortillas while the others had granola bars, and soon we were back on our way. Throughout the first several miles of the trail, all of us were amazed at how green it was. Everything was covered in moss, and seemed to be exploding with moisture. We were even lucky enough to find some ripe prickly pears for dessert (which are delicious by the way).









As we arrived at the Colima branch-off, we took a pack break and admired the scenery. Butterflies were everywhere, and we were surrounded by Mexican Jays and other various birds. The break was quick but needed, and soon we were headed down Colima. As we moved down the trail, we all kept our eyes peeled in hopes of spotting that momma bear with her cubs. The ranger we had talked to earlier had warned us of a false charge that this particular bear had made on a couple of people a few days ago. I was hoping that if we did see her that she would be in a better mood. Unfortunately, we reached the Boot Spring Trail cut-off without a sighting, but were soon awarded with an amazing Boot Spring. It was beautiful. I have never seen it with so much water before. All of us were thrilled, and even though we really didn’t need any extra, we couldn’t help but sample the cold clean mountain spring water. Each of us had a couple of empty 20 oz water bottles for collecting spring water if we had the chance, and this was our chance. We filled them up, and proceeded down the trail once more.









The journey down Boot Spring Trail was beautiful and mysterious as usual, and as we passed the trailhead for Juniper Canyon Trail, I pointed it out to the other guys as the beginning of tomorrow’s adventures. Just as we were coming to the trailhead for the Northeast Rim, Ran (the friend) started quietly shouting “hey – a bear!”.  As Jeremiah (brother-in-law) and I turned to see what he was talking about, down the hill at approximately 20 yards from us was a HUGE (~300 lb) male black bear, slowly meandering his way down the mountain. I fumbled furiously for my camera, but by the time I could grab it and turn it on, he was only a shadow in the trees. Did I mention that this bear was HUGE? If not, let me reiterate………HUGE!!! We were all so excited, but sick that we couldn’t get a picture. Then, against our better judgment, we all agreed to throw our packs down, and see if we could follow the bear for a better line of sight and a possible picture. Unfortunately, we had forgotten a little known fact about bears… they are ninjas!! We could hear him, but never saw him again. He disappeared into what seemed like thin air. But oh well, at least we saw one. After sharing our excitement, we strapped the packs back on and began our final few miles until we reached our campsite. Thanks to everyone who recommended this particular site. NE4 was incredible. The views, solitude, and dense cover were perfect. Because of our multiple stops along the way, we were running out of daylight, so we rushed to set up camp, change clothes, and begin preparing our meals. I took a moment to find the edge of the rim and take a few shots of the desert that we would encounter in the following days to come. The view was amazing, and I pointed out some areas that I was familiar with to the guys.















The night was cold but we were comfy in our hammocks! We slept like a rocks, and awoke bright and early to what was to be a REALLY rough day!

To be continued…
« Last Edit: October 25, 2008, 09:42:27 PM by bdhawk133 »
It has been discovered that research causes cancer in laboratory rats.
http://hawkinshaus.blogspot.com/

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Offline TexasAggieHiker

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2008, 12:21:23 PM »
keep it coming!!  can't wait for my OML trip in a month!!!!!!!!!

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Offline riverrat

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2008, 12:45:34 PM »
Great trip so far! This is one that I'll probably never do. I love reading about the places I can only dream about.
Living so close to paradise, it is unbelievable.

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Offline cleaningcrue

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2008, 01:16:36 PM »
NINJA'S huh??? that's freakin hilarious... but seriously folks... we did try to snap a pic of that bear, he really did disappear like bdhawk said... GOOD REPORT and pics.. cant wait to read the rest..

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Offline walkingman06

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2008, 09:50:35 PM »
Thanks for the report so far...I'm looking forward to the rest.  I'm up for the OML on Dec. 8th
Moving in silent desperation
Keeping an eye on the holy land
A hypothetical destination
Say, who is this walking man?
James Taylor
Posted from Tulsa, OK

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Offline bdhawk133

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2008, 01:59:09 PM »
Well, after approximately 8 miles on the first day, our bodies were just getting broken in for the rest of the trip. Our day started early at around 6:30 am, but after taking our time to tear down camp, cook breakfast, and catch the sunrise from the NE Rim, we didn’t end up leaving until almost 9:00. This turned out to be a huge mistake, because the extremely rough 13-14 miles we had in store for us was going to push us very hard. As we left our camp and started heading back around to the Boot Canyon Trail, we all discussed what a great night’s sleep we all had in our hammocks. I am a seasoned Hennessy Hammock owner, but Ran and Jeremiah were trying theirs out for the first time on this trip. Thank God they loved them, because I would have probably heard about it over the entire trip. Anyhow, we all stopped once more down at Boot Spring to fill up one last time before making the journey down Juniper Canyon. With packs freshly loaded with cold spring water, we made our way to the Juniper Canyon trailhead, and I joked about the sign’s wording about no return. Until this point, the trail this morning had been mostly downhill, and we were in no great rush, so our muscles hadn’t really been warmed up for the day yet. For those of you who haven’t been down the JC trail, it comes as a rude awakening to cold muscles as an extremely steep and rocky climb before the forever descent. So, without saying, I’m sure we were all already thinking how nice it would be just to stay up in the mountains instead of torturing ourselves for the next two days. But…we carried on, and as soon as we came to the crest of the JC trail, I caught some wonderful pictures of the canyon that awaited us.









We absolutely flew down the first part of the canyon, making incredible time, and only stopping once for the beckoning call of a ripe prickly pear. Before we knew it, the trail lead us to the most wonderful spot of the whole trip. I’m not 100% sure, but I think that it was the Upper Juniper Spring. It was tucked away in a little nook, completely covered by dense vegetation, and had a sort of prehistoric feel to it. Water was trickling off of a huge rock that jutted out of the mountain, and presented it self to anyone on the trail. The air was cool and moist, and we just had to stop and take a well deserved rest in such a beautiful spot. The water off of the rock was so cold and clear, that we just drank it straight off as it poured. I can now say that I have officially found my new favorite snack combination: ripe prickly pear and cold spring water off of a mossy rock…mmmm!!! This place was amazing.







Unfortunately, we had to move on. As we threw our packs over our shoulders and reluctantly made our way down the trail and away from our paradise, I thought I caught a tear streaming down Jeremiah’s face (JK….he’ll kill me when he reads this). No, but really, it was sad to leave. Further down the canyon, we all thought we could hear something down hill from us about 200 yards. As we stopped to try to listen more closely, we realized that there was some sort of raging stream down below. We all thought about how to get down to see it, but the brush was so thick that it became a lost cause. I know it sounds funny to hear “raging” and “stream” put together, but I swear it was. It sounded like either a waterfall or the rapids of a decent sized river. We couldn’t see it though, so all I have to go off of was the sound and my imagination. About 2/3rd the way down, or maybe just a little further, the vegetation became mammoth sized! For those of you heading down this thing sometime soon, let me just warn you that you WILL bleed along this part of the trail. The three of us stand somewhere between 5’11” and 6’2”, and we had problems with some of the prickly bushes smacking us in the face, tearing at our arms and clothes, and making the overall journey through this area quite difficult. We all three wore thick military fatigues, and when we came out through the other side of this stuff, even those pants had tears in them. DO NOT wear the polyblend Northface, Columbia, or Magellan type pants along this section (and the Dodson) of the trail. They will not survive. As we came to the end of this short section of Hell, we were all pretty worn out. Just before we reached the junction with the Dodson trail, Ran took a pretty decent fall with his pack on. Fortunately, he was able to catch himself and roll over to his side before meeting the ground. Soon after that, I on the other hand, was not so fortunate!! Before I continue, a little advice may be in order… If you have ever thought about head-butting a rock, DON’T! You will lose! I guess my legs were getting pretty tired too, because apparently I didn’t pick my foot up high enough over a rock laying on the trail. I don’t really remember falling, but I do remember looking up at Ran as he said “dude….you alright?”.  I slowly got up (with their help), and immediately realized that I was bleeding all over the place. I had managed to face plant into a nice big rock. I was ok, but needed to do some cleaning. We all took one last stop before our junction, and rested our wearing legs. Minutes later, we found the junction with Dodson that we had been waiting for.











Once we had rested up at the Twisted Shoe Campsite right there at the junction with Dodson, we began to prepare ourselves for the last 5 or so miles of the day. By this time, we were pretty beat, but knew that we had to make it to Fresno Creek before sunset. So, we set out once more, and kept as quick a pace as our bodies would let us. The journey to the creek was somewhat uneventful, but we did make it there with about an hour of sunlight left to spare. The Creek was flowing rapidly, and was a great sight for tired eyes. We immediately set up camp and began preparing our dinners. We were all really too tired to eat, but knew that we needed to in order to allow our bodies to recoop from hard mileage we had experienced. Again, we indulged ourselves in the cold creek water, and quickly settled in for what we hoped would be a critter-free night of sleep on the ground. Other than the extremely bright moon that decided to pop out at around midnight, we slept fairly well, and awoke bright and early for the last hard day of hiking. After taking some pictures of the surroundings, eating a hot breakfast, and picking up camp, we were ready for the hardest day of the trip!!!



















To be continued…
« Last Edit: October 25, 2008, 09:43:46 PM by bdhawk133 »
It has been discovered that research causes cancer in laboratory rats.
http://hawkinshaus.blogspot.com/

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2008, 05:58:29 PM »
Dang!!!...this is a good trip report...can't wait to read the next chapter. You sure did take lots of pictures , this time :eusa_clap:
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline Sanjuro82

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2008, 11:26:29 AM »
Awesome report so far!  Thanks for the write up and the great pictures.

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chisos_muse

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2008, 01:15:26 PM »
Super duper awesome report so far! Really enjoying reading it......You sure are becoming quite the seasoned Bender! :eusa_clap: :eusa_clap: :eusa_clap:

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Offline bdhawk133

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2008, 08:24:51 PM »
Compared to the hammocks from the night before, this night’s sleep was not really that great. What little sleep we did get was only due to the fact that we had really pushed the day before. The morning was really cold, and I have to admit that it was a little hard to crawl out of the sleeping bag. But… we did get up and made a quicker departure than the morning before. We knew that we had another tough day ahead, with about 12-13 miles to our next camp. We hoisted the packs and began this day’s journey at just before 8:00am. We estimated that we had approximately 6 miles to travel between this camp, and the Homer Wilson Ranch, so we set a pretty fast pace in order to make it there around noon. From a previous trip around the OML, I did the Dodson as one day’s hike, and had ended up doing it with an injured knee, so needless to say, I did not have fond memories of the second half of the Dodson. To my surprise, I actually (as well as the other two) enjoyed this morning’s hike. We were not quite as sore as the day before, and the scenery was absolutely amazing. Throughout the journey, the vegetation got thicker, and we were constantly jumping over and through streams that actually had water in them. From the time before, I had remembered everything as being extremely dry, but on the contrary, there was plenty of water out there!! We only made one stop for a pack break at the junction with Smokey Creek Trail, and were delighted to be inside a shaded, water filled gully. After the break, we shot down the trail and finally met the ridge that brings you out of the rolling desert hills, and back towards the outer skirts of the bigger mountains. Anyone who has not experienced this “surprise” after hiking across the desert must do so one day. It is absolutely amazing. You are treated to views of Mule Ears, Santa Elena Canyon, and the Rio Grande.















Making the turn into the Homer Wilson Ranch took no time at all. I’m not sure if it was because it is all downhill, or that we had just been rejuvenated from the amazing vistas we had just experienced. Either way, it was quick, and we soon found ourselves dining in the Homer Wilson Desert Diner. We made excellent time, arriving right around noon as we had planned. Since we had some time to spare (or so we thought) we decided to pull off our shoes and lay around on the cold concrete floors of the Ranch House back porch for a while. I never thought that cold concrete could be so comfortable. Lunch was great, and we were able to fill up with our cache just up the hill at the bear box. We hung around a while, took some pictures of the surroundings and of the canyon awaiting us, and had a really enjoyable lunch.













Reluctantly, we finally ended up dragging ourselves back down the trail at about 2:00pm. I know… we waited entirely too long, and with only about 5 more hours of daylight left to make the last 7 miles of the hardest climb of the trip, we had basically shot ourselves in the feet. We knew that we would eventually run out of daylight, but the question was not if we would, but when we would. Blue Creek Canyon is pretty frightening. Besides the sign that is posted to warn you of mountain lions, you seriously feel surrounded by them on several sections of this trail. As we trudged through the loose sand and gravel of the creek, we realized that this hike was going to be harder than we were hoping for. By this time, the sun was doing of pretty good job of trying to cook us, and we were sweating profusely. Thank goodness we all had plenty of water, because I know we were definitely putting it down. Finally, we broke from the rock, sand, and scrub and emerged into the shaded, very thick vegetation of the upper part of the trail. This was a relief, and we took advantage of the cooler air and shade with several well deserved breaks. Along the way, I caught some pictures of a rather large lizard, and of an old water trough from the ranch days of big bend. As we made it further, we realized that the sun was setting faster than we had hoped, so we pushed and pushed to make it as far as we could before it was completely dark. With about 2 miles to go, we paused to watch the sun set and took some great pictures. The temperature began to drop significantly, and we all dug out our headlamps for the blind walk towards our camp.

























IT GOT COLD!!!! In the few minutes after the sun went down, I swear it had to have dropped 20 degrees. On top of that, we were sweating from the strenuous climb which made it feel much colder than it probably was. We marched on, tripping and stumbling on hidden objects along the way, but we eventually found our campsite. Not much was said for a while as we changed clothes, put up our hammocks and made dinner of everything that required heat. I can’t quite remember, but I think that Ran and Jeremiah ended up making quesadillas, and eating beef stroganoff. Quite the combination, if you ask me, but it didn’t really matter. It was cold, and anything HOT tasted wonderful. We tucked in wearing all of our clothing, and hoped that we would soon be warm and toasty inside of our cocoons. Morning came cold and loud as a heard of deer made their way through the campsite. At around 6:30, we all got up and forced a quick pick up of camp for the promise of a huge breakfast buffet awaiting us at the bottom of the mountain. Just before we left, a pigmy owl landed in a tree near me, and I was able to snap a quick picture. In the four days of being on the trail, we never moved faster. From LM1 to our truck in the basin took us exactly 1 hour and 10 minutes. We basically ran down the mountain. As we freshened up and changed into some comfortable clothes, I couldn’t wait to eat. As we made our way over to the lodge for breakfast, we couldn’t help but make fun of ourselves and the way that we were hobbling like 90 year old men. The trail had been long and hard, but worth every step. We reminisced about our days out in the wild as we inhaled every morsel of food on the buffet. We felt accomplished, and with only 3 hours of driving until we reached home, we were excited to share our adventures with those we left behind. This was a wonderful trip, and I am happy to have been able to share it with a couple of guys who are a blast to hang out with. Hopefully I didn’t break them in too hard, and they will be happy to venture out with me on another adventure. I plan to post a few thoughts about some of the equipment I used and about the trail in general. Until then, enjoy the read!






« Last Edit: October 25, 2008, 09:45:18 PM by bdhawk133 »
It has been discovered that research causes cancer in laboratory rats.
http://hawkinshaus.blogspot.com/

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Offline Burn Ban

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2008, 09:16:06 PM »
what a great tale.  we did the oml last new years and had a great time.  our "blow way too much time" stop was at fresno creek. i guess everyone needs one of those somewhere.

it was a very tough hike, but a great memory.

congratulations on a nice hike and a nice report.

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Offline bdhawk133

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2008, 09:17:06 PM »
what a great tale.  we did the oml last new years and had a great time.  our "blow way too much time" stop was at fresno creek. i guess everyone needs one of those somewhere.

it was a very tough hike, but a great memory.

congratulations on a nice hike and a nice report.

Thank you!  :icon_biggrin:
It has been discovered that research causes cancer in laboratory rats.
http://hawkinshaus.blogspot.com/

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: The Outer Mountain Loop......(or should I say the "NEW" OML)
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2008, 10:16:12 PM »
One excellent trip report BD. A lot of detail was added in your writting,thank you. This time you did excellent with the pictures as well. I Bookmarked your TR , for future reference.

 Every one needs and every now and then some wasted time rests.. :eusa_angel:
Stay thirsty, my friends.

 


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