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Big Bend National Park, TX

Feb 21 - Feb 28, 2015 -- $1150 ★★★

Seldom visited and sparsely populated, Big Bend National Park is one of the most remote and least visited National Parks in the USA. It's an incredibly beautiful and sunny desert landscape that you'll never forget ... it hardly ever rains. Our hike will traverse the Chisos Basin Outer Mountain Loop in Big Bend National Park, with a day-hike up to the summit of 7825' Emory Peak, the tallest peak in the park.

On our last day, we'll swing by Laguna Hot Springs for a well deserved soak right next to the Rio Grande River, with a view of Mexico. Important! Water is scarce during the hike. Be prepared to carry as much as 2 gallons (16 pounds) of water in your pack. But don't be discouraged. It's only 16 pounds at the outset. It's zero by the time you reach the next water source. Escape your frigid climate, see a wild and largely unhiked section of the country, and lose weight (or more accurately, improve body composition).


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. February temperatures average in the low 70s during the days and the 40s at night, which is perfect for backpacking. But we might also experience blazing heat or even frost at night.

Trip Leaders

Dan Shafto
Holly Chambers


$1150 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF) as well as personal equipment, and any restaurant meals.

Covered expenses include 2 nights in a hotel, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, fees and awesome guides.

Important Note

Water is scarce in the desert. Expect to carry up to 2 gallons (8 liters) of water or even more as staying hydrated is one of our primary concerns. The arid climate will suck the water out of your body without you even realizing it. Unfortunately, water weighs about 2 pounds per liter.

Also please note that our campsites in the Chisos Basin are not assigned until we arrive at the Park HQ in Panther Junction, so the site numbers you see are just our preferences.

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Important Note
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fly into Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF)

We will pick you up at the airport and bring you to the newly built La Quinta Inn & Suites Odessa North, 4122 Faudree Rd, Odessa, 79763 TX, 432-288-9041

Equipment shakedown in Odessa

Trail mix distribution

"Before" measurements taken

Buy last minute and forgotten items at Big 5 Sporting Goods, 3875 E. 42ND Street, Odessa, TX, 432-363-9404 or Academy in Midland (5300 W Wadley Ave (at W Loop 250 N), Midland 432-522-6000) open 'til 9PM

Go out for dinner in town (not included in trip price)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Before" measurements taken again

Free Breakfast at Hotel

Drive to the Big Bend National Park (4 hours)

Stop in Panther Junction Ranger Station (30-60 minutes) to pick up permit and fill water bladders

Drive to Blue Creek Ranch to cache water. Have lunch at Panther Junction Ranger Station concurrently if there are multiple vehicles.

Drive to the Chisos Basin, elevation 5400'

Hike 2.5 miles on the Pinnacles Trail

Camp at the Pinnacles, sites TBD earlier in the day (PI2 preferred plus PI3 if necessary), elevation 6400'

Total today: 2.5 miles. Trip Total: 2.5 miles.

Note: No water in this area, we must carry it in

Bailout: Chisos Basin

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hike 1.0 miles to the Emory Peak Trail, elevation 7000'

Hike 2.5 miles round trip to Emory Peak Summit, the highest point in Big Bend NP, elevation 7825'. To summmit, some rock scrambling will be required the last few hundred feet.

Hike 1.0 miles on the Boot Spring Trail to the Colima Trail, elevation 6850'

Hike 0.3 miles on the Boot Spring Trail to the Juniper Canyon Trail, elevation 6850'

Fill all water vessels from Boot Spring. There is no water tomorrow so camel up here. Note: water is not reliably available in extremely dry years.

Hike about 2.0 miles on the Juniper Canyon Trail to a large, flat, established campsite on the shoulder of the mountain, on the East (right) side of the trail.

Zone Camp at large, flat site, elevation 5700'

Total today: 6.8 miles. Trip Total: 9.3 miles.

Bailout: No good options

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hike about 4.2 downhill miles on the Juniper Canyon Trail to a dirt parking lot, elevation 3950' (no facilities here)

Hike 3.5 rolling miles to Dodson Ranch, elevation 4500'

Hike 1.0 miles to Fresno Creek, elevation 4600'

Dispersed camp beyond Fresno Creek, elevation 4600'. There is usually water in Fresno Creek this time of year, although we may have to go downstream a ways to find it.

Total today: 8.7 miles. Trip Total: 18.0 miles.

Bailout: Juniper Canyon Rd., a lightly used dirt road far from any paved roads

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hike 5.5 miles on the Dodson Trail to Blue Creek Ranch, elevation 4200'

Fill all vessels from water cached here at the outset of the trip. Everyone will carry at least one empty water vessel. No water vessels may be left behind, empty or full.

Hike about 2.0 miles on the Blue Creek Trail

Zone Camp on the Blue Creek Trail, probably off-trail in the wash, elevation 4800'

Total today: 7.5 miles. Trip Total: 25.5 miles.

Bailout: Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hike about 3.5 uphill miles on the Blue Creek Trail to Laguna Meadow Trail, elevation 6650'

Hike 0.1 miles to Laguna Meadown Campsite, site(s) TBD at the outset of the trip (preferred sites are LM2 and if necessary LM3.

Set up camp

Day-Hike 2.6 miles to the iconic scenic overlook on the Southeast Rim Trail, elevation 7375'

Note: The Southeast Rim Trail is closed for Peregrine Falcon nesting this time of year

Day-Hike 2.6 miles back to camp

Camp at Laguna Meadow, site TBD, elevation 6650'

Total today: 8.8 miles. Trip Total: 33.8 miles.

Bailout: Chisos Basin or Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hike 3.3 downhill miles on the Laguna Meadow Trail back to Chisos Basin, elevation 5400'

"After" measurements taken on the flat floor of the Chisos Basin Ranger Station

Drive to Laguna Hot Springs

Day Hike 0.5 miles round trip to Laguna Hot Springs for a warm soak and a swim in the Rio Grande River

Total today: 3.8 miles. Trip Total: 37.6 miles.

Bailout: Chisos Basin

Drive to Ft. Collins

Dinner and awards ceremony in Ft. Collins. (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Drive back to Odessa

Check into the newly built La Quinta Inn & Suites Odessa North, 4122 Faudree Rd, Odessa, 79763 TX, 432-288-9041

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Free Hotel Breakfast

Leave Hotel

We will drop you at the airport

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