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Big Bend in December
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(strong806) - F
Big Bend in December on 11/11/2008 10:31:15 MST Print View

I was planning on doing the Outer Mountain Loop December 15 through 18 and was wondering whether there will be Snow in the Chisos Moutains and generally what the conditions are like that time of year.
I'm not looking to do a trip with any serious accumulated snow.

Any other tips besides the necessity of caching water?

Anyone is welcome to join, the dates are tenative, but are the earliest I'd leave.

Edited by strong806 on 11/11/2008 10:35:50 MST.

N. W. Thomas
(norvell1) - F

Locale: Texas Gulf Coast
Big Bend in December on 11/19/2008 20:48:44 MST Print View

Hi Stuart,

I visited the BB State Park in mid October, staying at some fantastic locations (Guale II is the best). The Rio Grande was/is flooded so driving from the State Park to the National Park was not possible without driving back to Marathon and then back down. As a result of the flooding, we had to enter through Presidio, not a popular tourist spot. The Park was virtually deserted! We took a 4wd and made a base camp, then hiked out from there. BB State Park has trails, but you are free to make your own, which we did.
Anyway, I have made Thanksgiving trips to the National Park, and the answer to your question is it can do anything. One year I had to turn back as an ice storm hit the highway. Another year, the weather was just great. If you are doing the Chisos, the the elevation will get you also. I would plan on lows in the 20's, heavy wind possibilities (we were almost blown off our spot in October). Prepare for anything, and take a compass or GPS, as it is really easy to get lost out there. We did some minor climbing down into some canyons, which were awesome. I love hiking the SW, and have done so from Texas to San Diego. Do call the National Park, also call the State Park as the Rangers there have more time to talk to you. They also are much more relaxed about what you do. No one cared about our bushwacking. They have several programs for cross country hiking at the National Park, the State Park is lasseiz faire about it.
Watch out for big cats, as we followed, or tried to, tracks of one we found in one of the canyons. I don't know what we would do with it if we found it, but it was fun while it lasted. The picture on my profile was taken out there.
Stay in Alpine before going down there if you need to stop. One of the great hidden spots in Texas.

N. W. Thomas
(norvell1) - F

Locale: Texas Gulf Coast
Big Bend II on 11/19/2008 20:58:38 MST Print View

As to Water, there is little, and they do not think you have any rights to what you find, as it belongs to the resident animals. Plan to carry all you need. The National Park does not like campfires, the State Park does not care as long as it is in a pre-designated fire pit. Do not count on any firewood, as there is nothing out there to burn. Don't get hurt, as there is not much in the way of rescue available. No people, no cell phone service, wild animals, fantastic views of the Mexican moutains, No law, no order, primtive cave art in many locations which have not been documented, wish I could join you!

N. W. Thomas
(norvell1) - F

Locale: Texas Gulf Coast
Big Bend III on 11/19/2008 21:00:30 MST Print View

Also take old highway 90 out there, beautiful road. Avoid the interstate as the only thing to see there is the windmills providing power for San Antonio. Watch out for HW patrol, they nabbed me for going 77 mph, but gave me a warning. Lots of Border Patrol, Homeland Security is earning its keep.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
BB on 11/19/2008 21:04:19 MST Print View

I wouldn't say it is impossible that there would be snow, but I'd say the odds are very, very small. And it should melt pretty fast.

N. W. Thomas
(norvell1) - F

Locale: Texas Gulf Coast
BB on 11/19/2008 21:09:17 MST Print View

Right, ice would much more likely than snow, which would probably melt quickly and not be enough to bother your hiking. But don't kid yourself, anything can happen out there. My suggestion is to go ahead and go and back out if the weather is not tenable. The odds favor good hiking condition.

Jeremy Greene
(tippymcstagger) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: Big Bend II on 11/20/2008 07:02:43 MST Print View

"Don't get hurt, as there is not much in the way of rescue available. No people, no cell phone service, wild animals,..." -norvell1

Very good point. You will probably be taken to Alpine if you need a hospital.

Weather: As long as you are comfortable driving in it in west Texas, don't abort the trip. Big park, you can find a warmer area. Just ask when you pick up your permit.

The same goes for crowds. Plenty of space.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
BB on 11/20/2008 07:57:05 MST Print View

I wasn't trying to say it can't still be bad, like the others said. Still a chance for hypothermia, but like those guys say, "Be Prepared".

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Big Bend in December on 11/20/2008 12:47:57 MST Print View

Water for Outer Mountain Loop:
1. Boot springs- usually some pools, but not most reliable.
2. Fresno creek- reliable
3. Juniper Canyon- usually some water at one location, but I'd have to show you; another pair of hikers did get water there.

Some in our group cached water last year at Blue Creek Ranch. I just carried 1.5 days of water, then filled up with another 1.5 days of water at Fresno Creek to get me out.

I will be there next week and will let you know the water situation at Boot Springs and Fresno. We will go cross country at some point heading south towards Mule Ear Peaks to get out.

The rangers will tell you there is NO water, but that is their CYA protocol for Big Bend.

My avatar is taken from the Juniper Canyon trail looking back at the South Rim.

Edited by jshann on 11/20/2008 12:51:36 MST.

Dale Gear
(Desertwalker) - F

Locale: Texas
BIBE OML on 11/25/2008 19:52:59 MST Print View

I just got back from backpacking the Outer Mountain Loop about ten days ago. I agree that you should be prepared for all kinds of weather. On our second night while camping on the arid Dodson Trail there was a heavy rainstorm. So needless to say there was plenty of water flowing in Fresno Creek the next morning. Also, found plenty of water in Boot Canyon. We cached water in the bear box at Blue Creek Ranch and in the brush at the Dodson\Juniper Canyon trailhead.

Temperatures were moderately warm during the days and at night ranged from the low 40's to the mid 50's.

It's was a great experience with awesome views. Oh, we saw a black bear in upper Juniper Canyon right next to JC 1 campsite. Several days later, talked to the guys who were camping at JC 1 while the bear was there. They had no idea they had a visitor.