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Big Bend National Park, TX

SOLD OUT! (Put me on the waiting list)

Nov 12 - Nov 19, 2016 -- $1300 ★★★

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 into the Chisos Mountains to the famed South Rim for sweeping views of the Rio Grande River and Mexico. We'll day-hike to the summit of 7825' Emory Peak, the tallest peak in the park and then hike much of the iconic Outer Mountain Loop before heading to the even less traveled Mule Ears.

On our last day, we'll swing by the Hot Springs near Rio Grande Village for a well deserved soak right next to the Rio Grande River, with Mexico only 50 feet away. 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 nearly 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. November 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. And remember, conditions at elevation in the Chisos Mountains will differ greatly from those on the desert floor near the Mule Ears.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Holly Chambers


$1300 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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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fly into Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF)

We will pick you up at the airport and bring you to Residence Inn Odessa, 7261 Tres Hermanas Boulevard • Odessa, TX 79765, 432-563-2190

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, November 13, 2016

Get up extremely early.

2nd set of "Before" measurements taken

All your off-trail stuff will be transported to a local storage unit for safekeeping.

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 and shuttle vehicles to the Mule Ears Overlook. Eat 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, November 14, 2016

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

Stow packs in bear boxes and day-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 0.5 miles on the Boot Canyon Trail to the Northeast Rim Trail.

Hike about 1.6 miles on the Northeast Rim Trail to the Northeast Rim.

Camp at site NE4 (if we were able to get it) and NE5 (if necessary) elevation 7450'. No facilities here.

Campsite NE4 is considered the best campsite view in the park (See photo)

Total today: 6.9 miles. Trip Total: 9.4 miles.

Bailout: No good options

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hike about 1.6 scenic miles with continual sweeping views along the Southeast Rim Trail to the Boot Canyon Trail, elevation 7250'

Hike 2.5 mostly downhill miles to the Blue Creek Trail, elevation 6650'

Hike 5.5 downhill miles to Homer Wilson / Blue Creek Ranch, elevation 4200'

Fill all vessels from water we 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.

Dispersed camp near Homer Wilson / Blue Creek Ranch, elevation 4200', practicing Leave No Trace principles.

Total today: 9.6 miles. Trip Total: 19.0 miles.

Bailout: Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hike about 3.0 miles on the Dodson Trail to the Smoky Creek Trail, elevation 4900'

Hike about 3.5 miles on the Smoky Creek Trail to N 29.17334 W 103.34582, elevation 4000'

Zone Camp here (Letter D) practicing Leave No Trace Principles, elevation 4000'

Please note: This is not a campsite. We are just going to find a place near hear to camp out in the desert.

Total today: 6.5 miles. Trip Total: 25.5 miles.

Bailout: Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hike about 5.0 miles on the Smoky Creek Trail to the Mule Ears, elevation 2900'

Hike 1.8 miles on the Mule Ears Trail to Mule Ear Spring, elevation 3000'

Zone Camp in the vicinity of (but not very near to) Mule Ear Spring, a usually reliable water source, elevation 3000'

Total today: 6.8 miles. Trip Total: 32.3 miles.

Bailout: Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hike 2.0 miles on the Mule Ears Trail to the Mule Ears Overlook, elevation 2800'

Shuttle cars to/from Chisos Basin if necessary

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

Drive to the Hot Springs

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

Total today: 2.5 miles. Trip Total: 34.8 miles.

Bailout: Chisos Basin

Drive to Ft. Stockton, TX

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

Drive back to Odessa

Check back into Residence Inn Odessa, 7261 Tres Hermanas Boulevard • Odessa, TX 79765, 432-563-2190

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, November 19, 2016

Free Hotel Breakfast

We will drop you at the airport

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