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Planning a trip to Big Bend

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Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by lbaker on Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:41 am

I am planning a trip to BIBE in a few weeks (Dec20-25) for the first
time! I'm a native TX, and never been there, shame on me!!! I have
always felt it was sooooo far, and I could be paddling in NW FL or hiking
in MO/AR faster than I get be there. Well there's no time like the
present. I have really been enjoying hiking this fall as an alternative
to paddling.....saves me the cost of a drysuit, LOL, but did purchase a
PLB after reading about Ed Cooley's mishap. I do a lot of soloing, so
it's a little extra peace of mind. I have day hiked off and on most of my life,
but never considered backpacking, as I have lumbar "issues" but I think
if I could go ultralight, I might really enjoy it. I have spent some time hiking in the Boxley area, and last week was down in the Hill Country. I am looking forward to BIBE, although a little unsettled about hiking in the midst of cougars, but the locals assure me they have had abundant rain so there is plenty of natural prey without resorting to me :-) I will report in when I return. Anyone here been there? I logged into Big Bend Chat forum and got TONS of help on planning.
leigh

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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by John on Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:07 am

Leigh, Sounds like a cool trip. I've been there twice, the last being strictly a roadtrip through the whole park with my brother (non-hiker). If you get a chance, be sure to drive the main road through Big Bend Ranch State Park. It's a very scenic drive along the Rio Grande.

I didn't hear about the Ed Cooley incident. Could you send me a link? Thanks.

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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by Dfieldhiker on Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:39 am

Leigh

I will enjoy reading your report.

I have been there a couple of times but only tent camping down by the river. We did wade the river because I wanted to be a wet back for a day. We walked to a little villiage. There were some men there who offered use a donkey ride into town. The people were very nice and it was not your typical tourist town. It may be all different now, this was in 1975. It was probably illegal but it was fun.
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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by Clif on Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:47 am

John,
http://www.arkansasbackcountry.com/the-campsite-f1/hiker-photog-ed-cooley-injuried-at-twin-falls-t800.htm

I have been down there once. Was glad we went but sed, never again unless I was jeeping or backpacking. We were only road trip on motorcycles and camping. It was a blast but we worried about getting caught with too far and too little petrol. Several places looked interesting but we did not brave it on the rock roads.

Have fun and be careful... and maybe ought not try wading the river
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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by John on Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:58 am

Dfield,
It's a lot different now! Border Patrol vehicles are everywhere. Inside the NP we stopped at an overlook of the Rio Grande. Here Mexican Nationals had placed hiking sticks, craft objects, etc for sale with tags stating suggested prices along with a donation bucket. We heard a call from across the river and there next to a canoe we saw a small group of Mexicans. We didn't feel threatened as they simply wanted us to buy their wares.
When we left the area, we passed a Border Patrol going in the opposite direction, who was obviously going to check to see if we left anything for the Nationals. I'm pretty sure he was monitoring us from a distance through binos.

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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by John on Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:01 pm

Thanks, Clif. I did hear about that incident but didn't remember the guy's name.

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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by Preacha Man on Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:33 pm

leigh,

Good luck on your trip and I wish that I could go too. You can go Ultralight, its not that hard and the benefits are awesome. I think that I have posted my pack list on here before and I know that UL has. Send us a PM or we can open a new thread about lightweight gear. My pack with food and 2 liters of water very seldom weighs above 20lbs, and thats in the winter. Again, have a great trip!!!!

Dwight
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BB Veteran

Post by RedBuffalo on Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:51 pm

Preacha Man,

Big Bend is one of my favorite places. I've been there at least a dozen times. If you've been on BBChat then you've gotten a good start on what to see and do. There's no better source. I've even had a few meet ups with folks around this area from that site. We all pulled out maps and talked past and future trips. Not sure exactly what your plans are, but I could give you a few suggestions. Depends if you want to hike the Chisos Mountains or the desert? Best hike is to the South Rim (camp at SW4). I've always wanted to hike the complete rim loop, but it's closed during the spring for the Peregrine Falcon nesting habitat. I did backpack the North East Rim last spring break with my daughter. Best day hike in the Chisos is the Lost Mine Trail - awesome views to the east. If you are looking for hardcore adventure hike / bushwack to the top of Casa Grande (no trail) or to the saddle of Mule Ears Peak (what a scramble). But there's so much to see for your first trip you may want to save those for later.

Here's a snap taken from the saddle of Mule Ears Peak w/ Santa Elena Canyon way in the distance.



BTW - that's MEP in the background of my profile picture.

Must dos for your first trip are Santa Elena Canyon and Grapevine Hills (Both Day Hikes). I put together a day by day website on my 2005 trip (8 days) complete with an interactive map, some decent pictures, and a video from the South Rim. http://www.duprephotography.com/big_bend/bbhome.htm.

Best book is Hiking Big Bend by Lawrence Parent. Link. Be sure you have a good spare tire and keep a few gallons of water in your vehicle. Best eats are in Terlinqua - La Kiva has the atmosphere and the Starlight Theatre probably has the best food; however, there's good down home food at Big Bend Motor Inn. Best souvenir is a bandanna w/ an accurate map of the Chisos Mountains on it. If you are in to Indian rock art let me know and I'll share some secrets with you.

BTW - I have never seen a Mountain Lion or a Black Bear (saw some fresh bear scat in the Chisos) and I look for them. So, I wouldn't even give it a second thought - they do their own thing.

If you are traveling through Lufkin, TX you are more than welcome to stop by and I'll load you up with maps, books, show you loads of pictures, and anything else I can help out with. You're also welcome to park it here a night if need be.

Have a great trip and report back.
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Thanks RedBuffalo

Post by lbaker on Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:18 pm

Sounds like you have BIBE experience! I actually have already posted my itinerary on BBC, as well as other comments on camping, hiking, etc. so I won't go over it here. I post as leigh there too. Do you post there as RedBuffalo? I am just getting into more serious hiking, as an alternative to paddling in the winter, I'll be solo, so I will be sticking to established trails. I have ordered Parent's book, and for my first trip, I'm interested in the park, I enjoy my own cooking, and company just fine ;-), so I don't plan on visiting any of the towns. Have you been to any of the Bender Parties? Sound like fun.
leigh

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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by Owl on Sun Dec 06, 2009 8:15 am

Four years ago a couple of friends and I spent six days on the Rio Grande paddling through Boquillas Canyon in Big Bend. I was in a kayak; they had canoes. It was absolutely one of the best trips I've ever done. We had a great time. I've never been in a place that felt as remote and still remember vividly how dark the night skies were and how I'd never seen the Milky Way with such clarity.

Below is a link to a trip report I put together on my return.

http://home.centurytel.net/Owlspage/riotrip.html

I know you're planning on hiking, not paddling but since you're a paddler too, you might enjoy it.
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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by lbaker on Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:00 am

Wow, Owl, that was a great TR!!!!! Boy you all DID go in style!!!
As this is my first trip, and I'm solo, I'll save the paddle for another time, but you sure made my mouth water, and not just for the food.
Thank you so much for sharing!
leigh

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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by RedBuffalo on Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:20 pm

Yep, I go by RedBuffalo on BBC. Couldn't find your post there, but I'm sure you have it covered. The first trip is always exploratory. Have a great one and I'm sure it won't be your last.
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Re: Planning a trip to Big Bend

Post by chili on Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:31 pm

I have been to Big Bend 7 or 8 times.
If you are going to go backpacking, I suggest going to the south rim. One of the more magnificent places I have ever been. Unless things have changed, they make you take a short course before you get your permit. You might want to check on that.
The National Geographic map worked fine for me, but the Quad maps are somewhat more granular in detail. I cached water on the last trip and started at the Basin and finished over near Luna's Jackel and caught a ride down to Cottonwood.
Before 911, you could cross the river to either Boquillas or Santa Elena for lunch or beer. Problem is now, you can't come back across except at a Point of Entry (closest one is probably Presidio). It's a shame because those were some lazy days spent at the "Park Bar" in boquillas!
Another thing I would put on my bucket list is to visit the hot springs after your hike. There is one down on the river right at waters edge. If it is occupied, you can continue on down river for about 1/3 mile and there is another stuck back in some reeds. While I plead the 5th, it has been know to be clothing optional at times.
And for the finale', there isn't much better way to finish a hike other than a steak at La Kiva (assuming it is still open).
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