Trip Report: Big Bend Round 2
Preparing for the 100-mile Extended Mountain LoopIt’s been a while, but I finally found the time to make it back out to Big Bend National Park. If you are interested in our first trip to Big Bend, you can follow along here Big Bend 2015. I headed out for the trip around 2 pm on December 2, 2018, for what I’ve termed the Extended Outer Mountain Loop, which was a 100-mile backpacking trip over 7 days. The plan was to meet up with my dad, Bmo, in the Chisos Mountains, cache water, and then start the adventure.
|Planned 7-day route for Big Bend National Park|
Big Bend National Park BackgroundLocation: 310, Alsate Dr, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
Admission: $25 admission per vehicle, $14 campsites, $12 backcountry pass
Elevation: 1,800 to 7,832 ft.
Weather: Varied from rainy, cloudy, and sunny, 30 to 65 F
The Drive OutI didn't get to leave as early as I would have liked because I needed to finish up some work, and once on the road, I made a quick stop in Comfort to grab some water for caching. After that, it was almost 6 hours of driving, and by the time I made it to West Texas, it was extremely dark. Thankfully, I didn't have any run-ins with wildlife. I quickly found Bmo in the Chisos Basin and his primo campsite. It was pretty chilly when I arrived, and we walked for a bit as I set up my tent. Because it was cold, late, and dark, we headed to bed pretty quickly after I arrived. This was also the first real night in my UGQ quilt, and it worked perfectly.
Water CachingWe had a quick breakfast and decided to place the caches at the hardest locations first while there was still sun out; however, we realized we'd spent the night in a stolen campsite, so we quickly found a new site for our basecamp and moved. Finally on the road, the first stop was down Juniper Canyon Road to cache at the Dodson Trailhead. It was a rough and slow ride at times in our truck, and we made it just fine without 4 wheel drive. After that, we headed out to the south end of Black Gap Road to cache at the Elephant Tusk Campsite. Black Gap is the most difficult/technical road in the park, but the southern section is passable with a high clearance vehicle. We wanted to make sure we could make it before we reserved that site, and we were able to make it to Elephant Tusk with a few scrapes to the truck's undercarriage.
Backpacking Day 1The day of the big adventure! I woke up, had oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, woke Bmo up, changed, and finished all my last minute packing and reorganizing. I left my car at the overflow parking lot in the basin, and Bmo drove me to the trailhead. At the trailhead, I wasted no time and hit the ground moving. My pack was loaded up with 7 days worth of food and was definitely the heaviest I’ve ever carried it while backpacking. Because of the weight, I was using my REI trekking poles to help distribute the weight across my body.
|Enjoying the bright sun and amazing views from Emory Peak|
I quickly made it to my stashed gear. It was so nice taking my load off, but I needed to back after it. Next, I headed to Boot springs to refill my water. The spring was flowing nicely, and there was even water in the creek next to it. I made it to the turnoff to Juniper Canyon which lead me to another climb up and then a ton of switchbacks down. I never want to head up Juniper Canyon because the elevation profile is insane. On the way down I was starting to feel the fatigue with all the extra weight I was carrying but struggled onward. As I made it out of the switchbacks, I was able to have a much better appreciation of the landscape as I had made much better time and the sun was still up.
|Looking out over Boot Canyon. If you look carefully, you can see Boot Rock, which looks kinda like a boot|
I ended up stopping early because of headlamps issues caused by high capacity batteries. Normally, these work great and keep devices running longer (my handheld GPS), but they just didn’t play well with my headlamp. I set up camp in a hurry, made dinner, and fell asleep quickly from a hard day’s hike.
That's it for the first few days of the trip, so make sure you come back to hear the rest. Also, Let us know your favorite or ideal place to take an epic backpacking trip. And If you like the blog or our videos, check us out on Patreon.
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