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Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Big Bend January 2011 on 12/09/2010 23:05:04 MST Print View

Me and some friends are planning on going out to Big Bend National Park on the 6th. We'll be staying for 3 nights and plan on doing the loop in the center of the park. We want to head up Emory peak, do the rim, and head down the Juniper canyon. It looks like this will be about 30 miles or maybe a little more. Am I right?

Over at bigbendchat.com they say to expect lows in the 40's but plan for freak storms putting it down into the 20's overnight.

Here's what I'm looking at bringing to handle a random night at 20F.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AualISgV0oiOdFhyVVB6U2QteUhPc0cyb2pyM3Rhd3c&hl=en&authkey=CKzV2J4B

I'd like some input on clothing and my sleeping pad since I've never camped in temperatures that low. I figure the foam pad in the Jam (and the rest of the pack) should be sufficient under my legs.

Capaline 1 long underwear should be enough at night right? Probably more than enough with my bag and bivy. I figure I'll be fine for hiking with them and my pants. I may even be to warm. My Merino shirt is an I/O bio zip shirt from Back Country but I'm not sure on the weight because it isn't here yet.

I'm not opposed to adding a GG thinlight pad to my set up. Currently I have a Ridgerest regular I can bring but would rather not.

I think I forgot to add shoes and trekking poles to that list. I have BD poles and La`Sportiva trail runners. I'm not interested in spending the money to upgrade them to lighter items as of right now. And I'm not sure I could get that much lighter on the trail runners anyway with my big feet. They're 26.6 ounces in size 13 with a bit of mud on them.

This is going to be my first trip with the Jam. I just don't think I can fit it all in my Ion. I'll trim the Jam after I get back and know more about how it's going to function.

I also assume it'll be sunny during the day. So I'm bringing a wide brim hat for that and a beanie for night time.

I've been told I'll need to be able to carry a significant amount of water if it hasn't rained lately. I've got 3 liters of Platy bladder available. Should I add a water bottle?

Let me know if I forgot anything or if you have any advice about this trip.

Edited by veriest1 on 12/10/2010 23:04:33 MST.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Big Bend January 2011 on 12/10/2010 07:17:22 MST Print View

Larry, I can't seem to open the google doc and it would be good to have some more info on the proposed route but it looks like you plan on a night in the Chisos and two down low. The cold night will be in the Chisos and could easily be in the 20's.

For those temps in Big bend I usually have a light under wear top (LS or SS), a Railriders shirt, a down vest, and either a Houdini windshirt or a rain jacket (depending on forecast) and maybe a Cap 3 zip-T.

Definitely a wide brim hat and a beanie.

There is no water in the Chisos at this time, from recent reports, so you might have to carry a lot more than 3 liters. I figure 5 liters a day, maybe 4 if it is really cool.

Can't answer the pad question without seeing the list but pack under the legs will be fine. I am now using a 36" ridgerest under a Prolite XS in the desert for max comfort and reduced puncture damage.

Make sure to ask more questions over on bigbendchat.com to get more good advice.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Big Bend January 2011 on 12/10/2010 07:27:43 MST Print View

It's Outer Mountain Loop (~30 mi) with side hikes to Emory Peak (2 mi) and the South Rim (3 mi on west and 5 miles on east Chisos), probably about 35-37 miles total. It's fairly easy to carry 1.5 days water and resupply at Fresno Creek, but many will still cache water at Homer Wilson Ranch, as the park servive recommends. I have not heard whether Boot Springs has water this year. It's said to be a dry year.

Edited by jshann on 12/11/2010 06:37:00 MST.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
pad on 12/10/2010 07:57:10 MST Print View

I'm not sure why the google doc isn't working i'll have to look at it later. I'm on my phone atm.

My sleeping pad is a prolite small and a regular ridgerest that i'd rather not cut. I'm thinking about a torso length piece of 1/8" thinlight instead.

The rest of my sleep system is a golite ultra 20, tigoat bivy, backpack, smartwool beanie, patagonia nano puff, capaline 1 long underwear, thick merino wool socks, merino long sleeve base layer shirt, and a montane lightspeed. I try to avoid sleeping in my pants because they tend to be filthy.

Shelter is a 5x8 rain cape.

No toilet paper. :)

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: pad on 12/10/2010 08:53:46 MST Print View

For a google spreadsheet to open inline the url must start out like

https://spreadsheets.google.com/

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Big Bend January 2011 on 12/10/2010 10:19:10 MST Print View

I spent 10 days at Big Bend last March/April. I did many day hikes and a over night on the South Rim. Temps ranged from 100 degrees to about 37 day break on the Rio Grand. I carried 5L water on my overnight. There was a bit of water running in the Chisos but I was told not to rely on it. I suggest you don't rely either. It may be very windy and a hat is recommended. I would want at least R4 under me in the mountains or low near the river. You get a hiking camp spot in advance if you have a complete schedule of where you will be. I was able to "reserve" south rim 4 fours days in advance as I had a schedule.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Outer Mountain Loop webpage on 12/10/2010 12:40:37 MST Print View

Here is the URL for the Park Service Outer Mountain Loop info page. Pretty good info even and either direction is fine but I prefer to go counter clockwise and would definitely add a night in the Chisos.

http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_outermountainloop.htm

Edited by abhitt on 12/10/2010 12:50:03 MST.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Updated Gearlist on 12/10/2010 23:06:12 MST Print View

Fixed link in OP. It's here https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AualISgV0oiOdFhyVVB6U2QteUhPc0cyb2pyM3Rhd3c&hl=en&authkey=CKzV2J4B

I updated it to reflect the extra water capacity and the weight of items worn or carried on person.

Edit: Thanks for the link there. It seems 5 liters with a cache is the way to go.

It would appear that going counter clockwise with a water cache at Homer Wilson Ranch is the way to go. That way we could start off light on water and pick up the 2 day supply there since I assume the Dodson Trail around the southern side of the mountains is flatter than the rest of the trip and would be the easiest section to carry 2 days worth of water on. If we had 4 wheel drive we could cache twice but that doesn't seem feasible at this point.

Edited by veriest1 on 12/10/2010 23:30:37 MST.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Updated Gearlist on 12/11/2010 05:59:56 MST Print View

The list looks good, probably won't need the head net, no bugs in Jan.

The main reason I like the counterclockwise option is walking up Blue Creek canyon is a bear, made even worse if you do it in the afternoon because is really bakes. Juniper on the other hand has a solid tread all the way and is better contoured for the climb.

If you want to spend the first night in the Chisos, you can use the extra water you might carry for that knowing you will resupply at Blue Creek ranch the next day. Or you could do it the last night carrying water from Upper Juniper spring or maybe get it in Boot Canyon and then do Emory Peak on the way out to the Basin.

There will be water in Fresno creek, about half way across the Dodson (which is not flat at all but not too bad) and a trip report from two weeks ago reported water at Upper Juniper Spring but very little in the pools in Boot Canyon. You will want to make sure you leave Fresno creek with plenty of water. The good thing is there will be recent water reports, that even the rangers will give you, as the big Christmas crowd will have just been out on those trails.

Again make sure you ask these route and water questions over at bigbendchat.com

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Will do. on 12/11/2010 07:08:49 MST Print View

I haven't actually registered over there yet. I think I may wait to ask over there until just before so it'll be a fresh topic and hopefully I'll get really up to date water reports in the same thread.

You're right. No need for the bug net in January... that's what I get for copying and pasting.

What kind of R value could I expect if I went with a 1/8" Thinlight pad coupled with my Prolite? A Ridgerest/Prolite combo puts me at about 4.6R IIRC. That's probably a little on the warm side and I could shave some decent weight with the thinner foam.

Edited by veriest1 on 12/11/2010 07:10:50 MST.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Will do. on 12/11/2010 11:38:21 MST Print View

the 1/8 inch is .5-1 R max I think. Here is link to a web page of mine on pads with a comparison chart link at the bottom.
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/current-thoughts-on-sleeping-pads/

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Excellent! on 12/12/2010 07:04:20 MST Print View

Thanks for link! Your website is excellent. I now have it bookmarked.

It's interesting that it would appear I'm following in your footsteps when it comes to sleeping pads. So far I've been pleased with the comfort of the Ridgerest+Prolite combo. I think you may have just inspired me to cut my Ridgerest down to torso length and I may replace my Prolite Small with an XS. I've been tempted to do that many times now anyway.

Does the BPL Torsolite really have a 3.5 R value? When you comment that the R value may be small you do mean it might actually be warmer than 3.5? If so that is very tempting. Very tempting indeed.

From reading your site I think I will resist the urge to take the foam out of my Jam's back panel to save on weight this trip. It looks like it may be beneficial to have this trip.

EDIT: Thanks to your site it looks like I'm going to have to add my camera to my list along with a few SD cards!

EDIT2: I'd been thinking about this a day or so ago. Shirt wise will the merino be to warm during the day? Should I pack a thin synthetic shirt?

Edited by veriest1 on 12/12/2010 07:18:12 MST.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Excellent! on 12/12/2010 09:53:21 MST Print View

Thanks Larry.

When I said it was small I mean too small for the chair. I just have a hard time believing that the R-value is 3.5, which I think Richard Nisley estimated. It is essentially the same configuration as Prolite at 2.6.
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=5687

You might want some kind of shirt for the sun/warmer temps you will have down on the Dodson

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Taken on 12/12/2010 10:26:06 MST Print View

I knew there wasn't much point getting my hopes up about the BPL pad being that warm. Especially since I don't inflate my Prolite all the way anyway.

Shirt suggestion taken under advisement pending weather reports prior to trip.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
looks good on 12/21/2010 16:45:01 MST Print View

list looks very good :)

I'd add a few comments- I think I mentioned this in your other thread, but I'd consider bagging your cap 1 bottoms and go w/ something a little heavier (cap 4 or R1 bottoms or the like)- if you see temps in the 30's (or even 20's as you mention) they will be most welcome

also w/ a quilt, my experience has been anything down to freezing and below, a balaclava is needed vs a beanie (sometimes both :))

I think you mentioned having a exlite on the way, bet that will come in handy too :)

looking forward to a trip report, Big Bend looks very interesting and we're always looking for a winter getaway- our backpacking season is pretty short (trying to warm the wife up to winter camping here, but it's been a uphill battle thus far)

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Thanks on 12/21/2010 20:01:06 MST Print View

Thanks for the comments and advice Mike. I'm glad you like the list!

I work outside at night (mostly sitting around watching the world go by) and have found my beanie to be pretty good for me down to the high 20's. So I think I'll stick with it. I can always put my buff over my neck and face... or I might go pick up a cheap fleece balaclava from Academy. I dunno. I haven't had any luck testing gear out for the colder temps yet this year. I can stand around in a t-shirt outside right now. Go figure.

Anyway here are the changes I've made after fiddling with the list some more and reading the replies in the other thread.
-Prolite Small +Neoair Short (wish I would have done this a year ago!)
-Nano Puff +Montbell Ex-lite (Definitely puffier. Probably a bit warmer. My size XL weighs 6.49 ounces!!!)
-Cheap Wool Sleep Socks +BPL Possum Down Socks
-.25 ounce ditty bag +.18 once ditty bag
-Capaline 1 long underwear +Smartwool Midweight long underwear
-Pot lid +Aluminum foil lid
-Cut a bunch of Ridgerest off to fit under the Neoair.
-Trimmed my first aid kit down a bit more.

My baseweight is now 7.88 pounds. :)

And I'm still looking for ways to trim some more out but haven't been successful yet. I'm waiting on Christmas to get here so my wife will quit holding my Jam hostage and I can see what I can trim there.

We're planning on doing the loop in 2 days with a rest day at the end spent poking around the rim at leisure. However, we're going to be prepared water wise to do the loop in 3 in case anything happens. The elevation is pretty yo-yo like out there and some of the trails are said to be poorly marked. Because of the latter night hiking is out for part of the trip unless we want to be constantly pouring over a GPS. We do want to do some night hiking (especially if it's clear) so we can get some nice views of the stars. I'm just not sure when it's going to happen... maybe I should bring a headlamp?

EDIT: Also, I'm a side sleeper and tend to curl up into a fetal position at times. If I have to I can bring the quilt up over the back of my head and leave a breathing hole over my face.

Edited by veriest1 on 12/21/2010 20:04:10 MST.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
headlamp on 12/21/2010 20:11:41 MST Print View

I like to bring a headlamp just for safety sake (boyscout in me:))- would be the suck if you were forced to travel any length at night w/o one

we hiked in southern NM last spring and there were a couple of stretches where we had to carry 5 liters of water, the stretches where we didn't it was like not having a pack on! :)

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
headlamp on 12/21/2010 21:00:43 MST Print View

I was planning on having a flashlight on me anyway. I carry a Fenix l2d around every day/night anyway. It's just a pain to use with poles. That's sort of how I trimmed some weight from my first aid kit. I tend to keep a Swiss Army Classic in there but I ALWAYS carry a knife on my person. These days it's an Esee Izula so there's no need for a second knife really. I might take the SAC apart and just bring the scissors though.

There are just so many little decisions. I love it.

Edited by veriest1 on 12/21/2010 21:01:15 MST.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Big Bend January 2011" on 12/21/2010 21:19:11 MST Print View

Larry,

Your list looks pretty dialed, as long as it suits your needs and comforts in the end. I'd consider ditching the headnet. I don't see why you would need a headnet in Big Bend in January? Weight loss in eliminating the BPL headnet is almost nothing, but for the peace of mind knowing you have nothing you don't need and everything you do, it may very well be worth it. Is the Neo-Air+ Prolite+ Ridgerest combo necessary? Is this purely a comfort based decision or do you think you'll need the R-value of these 3 pads? Overnight temps in the 30's is pretty mild. I think you could save some serious weight there by eliminating either the Neo-Air or the Prolite. I don't see how those 2 combined would be comfortable, you're going to have about a 3-4" drop off at the legs. Also, are you combining a Nanopuff and an Ex-Lite? That too seems a touch overkill for the temps you may see, but I guess you can always adjust as you get closer and have an idea of your weather window.

Edited by Eugeneius on 12/21/2010 21:20:29 MST.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: "Big Bend January 2011" on 12/22/2010 05:36:51 MST Print View

Sorry for the confusion! I neglected to update the actual gearlist on Google docs. That's done now.

The headnet has been gone for a while. That was just a copy and paste problem.

In my previous post with all the gear those were minus signs. So I cut the Prolite in favor of the Neoair. I'm sure you're right though; those 3 pads would likely be mighty uncomfortable because of the drop. I actually like the comfort of the Ridgerest/Prolite combo quite a bit however I didn't care for the idea of carrying 2 pads year round for comfort so I ditched the Prolite for the gaudy yellow bling pad.

Likewise I no longer own a Nano Puff and took advantage of the Montbell sale at Prolitegear. I was never thoroughly impressed with the Nano Puffs warmth for the weight.