Completing the Outer Mountain LoopThis is the trip report for our final Day on the Outer Mountain Loop and the drive home. Make sure to catch up with Big Bend Days 1&2, Big Bend Day 3, and Big Bend Day 4.
When we went to bed it was warm out, but waking up everything was covered all our gear was so wet and required extra shake outs. We had our standard oatmeal and coffee for breakfast then started our walk a little before 7 am before, which was before sunrise.
Blue Creek Trail
The trail was just a continuation of the day before, gravel drainage area with cairns spread around to guide you. I’ve read online it’s easy to miss the cairns and get lost in the drainage area, but I’d think that would be pretty hard to do as there is only one way to travel in a canyon.
|A cave a little ways off trail on Blue Creek|
As we continued up Blue Creek Trail, the canyon continued to narrow and the drainage area began to shrink. We also passed multiple campsites that would have been amazing compared to where we stayed the night before. If only we had been a little further along and had better light to search.
Eventually, we made it out of the creek and into a forested area (this is the turn I was warned can be easy to miss) and then the dreaded switchbacks started. I’m guessing this section is 2-miles of steep and never ending switchbacks. To make this section even better, the sun crested the mountains and started heating everything up; however, the views were spectacular as we could back down into the canyon.
After tirelessly trudging along for a while, we located the free camping zone sign. Doing a very imprecise map check with the fingers, we estimated ourselves about 2 miles shy of the Laguna Meadows Trail junction. This caused me a small freak out moment because it put us way behind schedule; thankfully, the junction seemed much closer than my guess.
Pushing on, we made it to the Laguna Meadows Trail junction and headed towards the Rims, where all the amazing views can be found. One the way there, the sun was out in full force and it was pretty warm out when not in the shade. The climbs along the Rims were a little milder, but it didn’t matter because we were so tired and our feet were tender from being wet all morning.
The views were all around amazing as we moved from South Rim to the Southeast Rim to Northeast Rim. we stopped under a shade tree for lunch at about the southeast rim. I’ve been told if you just have enough to stop at one section of the Rim to make sure it's South Rim. After walking all of them, they each have their amazing characteristics and would say it’s worth it to spend time at each.
|Looking down at the terrain below the Rims. I have a feeling that is a section we walked through on the Dodson Trail|
We stop to eat lunch under the shade of a tree as close to the edge of the Southeast Rim as we could find. This short lunch break makes me want to spend a night camping on the Rim to enjoy a sunrise and sunset. We then headed around to the Northeast Rim but spent a little less time viewing the surrounding area than before because it was getting late in the day.
The Northeast Rim led us to Boot Canyon Trail where we paralleled Boot Canyon. Along the canyon, there were pools of varying sizes. We stopped one of the larger pools to take a break and because Jack swears he saw fish. Unfortunately, there were no fish, but the pool was teeming with life as insects scurried across the surface and dove deep within the water.
Carrying on with the hike, we found a stretch of the trail that was beyond unexpected. It was clearly autumn in this area as the trees were displaying leaves of orange, red, and yellow. Finally, we made it to the junction of Colima Trail which also seemed like a whole new place. The Colima was short and steep, but the trees here more like an alpine area than the oaks and pines we had grown accustomed to.
With our Rim loop completed, we found ourselves on, the Laguna Meadows Trail again. Laguna was a pretty mild trail back down into the basin, but by this time my feet were tender from being wet all day. In a weird turn of events, Jack was in his groove and flying down the mountain and I was making him wait up for me. The trail is just a repeat of switchbacks as you descend and the views felt less impressive than everything we experienced earlier in the day. I just wanted to be done with Laguna Meadows Trail.
Making it back into the Chisos Basin, our feet and bodies were feeling pretty rough at this point and we just wanted to finish. Finally, we arrived at the trailhead and had, but had another .5 miles down to the campgrounds. We made it back to basecamp and Bmo was nowhere to be found, so we started to make ourselves comfortable while snacking on Cheez-Its. After a short wait, Bmo showed up and made us some amazing burgers and smores, while we all shared tales of our adventures. It wasn’t much longer and we were more than ready for bed, which is when Bmo went off to hang out with some of our campground neighbors.
With a 5 AM wake, we packed up and skipped breakfast because we knew we could find something in a small town later. With everything packed in the car we were off and hoping we might see some wildlife or a bear on our drive out of the mountains. Wish come true, we found a coyote in the middle of the road eating trash. He was clearly not concerned by us and won the game of chicken forcing me to maneuver around him and his treasure.
Another oddity, as we left the park there was a huge amount of trash exploded all over and on the side of the road. It turns out a family was hauling a bunch of stuff and were hit from behind, which is what caused the mess. Thankfully, everyone was injury free. After this, the trip was uneventful and we were sad to be leaving such a majestic place but thrilled to finally be back home.
To celebrate the final portion of our Big Bend trip report, Team Adventures with BeeGee is giving away 12 Steps to a Lighter Pack (linked to our book report). Use this book to gain a little knowledge and lighten your load.