OML Day 1: Chisos Basin to Dodson Trail

I was up at 6am to try to get an early start.  I was poorly organized, and didn’t hit the trail until 8:30am.  It was a nice morning, not too warm.

I started out the backcountry hike with a 45# pack (due to the extra water), with a 2,000′ climb to start and a 3,000′ descent to end the day. The campground/lodge for the park is in a beautiful basin in the mountains, and it was really neat to see it on the hike up, along with neat pinnacles near the top of the trail.

I made it up the Pinnacles Trail by 10:15am no worse for the wear, beating most of the sun on the trail.  After a short break, I went down the Boot Canyon Trail.  I found Boot Canyon to be very cool with the wash filled with big boulders. This canyon could easily have been mistaken for the North Carolina mountains (sans water).

28_Boot Canyon Trail I headed up the Juniper Canyon Trail, surprised at the steepness and slipperiness of the initial part of the trail.  Also, (a common theme), I was surprised at how prolific the vegetation was along the trail.  Dry, but lush, to the point of being overgrown.  I thought this was the desert!   I took a break for lunch at what I thought was the peak right before the JC1 campground, but found out another little rise after JC1 to the clear top of the trail before the long descent. 30_Top of Juniper Canyon Trail

The first couple miles of the descent was a very lush forest, very green due to the water that rushes down when it does rain (it hadn’t for a month or so). I ran into the first hikers of the day, one guy coming up the trail destined for campground SW4, and two younger, clockwise hikers that came from SW4 this morning.  I forged ahead, getting leap-frogged by the two younger guys after a couple more miles.

After a couple thousand feet of descent, the trees gave way and I was mostly in desert. I was really surprised how dense the vegetation was, and also that several plants were starting to bloom (late March/April is the peak in this area). The weather warmed up to around 70 (but overcast), so I was starting to strain and took more breaks. This part of the trail is rather monotonous, and drags on. I ran into a few other hikers about to coming up the canyon in the opposite direction, including one I recognized from Big Bend Chat.

44_Yucca Bloom Around 3pm and the 11 mile mark, I reached the junction with the next trail (Dodson), where a dirt road also terminates and there is a small parking lot for those who want to drive in an hour or so and use this as a starting point. There was one car in the parking lot and the two young guys were just departing the area when I arrived.  The views back at the mountains were stunning. 48_South Rim

I wanted to knock off as much time as possible from the next days’ desert hike, so I continued 0.7 miles up the Dodson Trail to a campsite I found (this is zone camping – basically find a spot in the desert and use it) with a beautiful view of the mountains. By this time, it was completely overcast (no sunset or stars tonight), and I set up camp, ate, and was in the tent by 8pm. I was asleep by 9pm.

50_Dodson Camp

11.9 miles on the first day.  If interested,  the GPS track of the day.

<– Day 0                                                       Day 2 –>


2 thoughts on “OML Day 1: Chisos Basin to Dodson Trail

  1. Pingback: BIBE Day 0: Permits, Caching and Site Seeing – Hiking Journeys

  2. Pingback: OML Day 2: Dodson Trail to Blue Creek Canyon – Hiking Journeys

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