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Big Bend National Park, TX

Nov 6 - Nov 13, 2021 -- $1300 ★★★, Only 2 Spots Left

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 predominantly sunny desert landscape that can scorch your skin or chill your bones ... all in the same day. Our hike will traverse the Chisos Mountains, 7825' Emory Peak (the highest peak in the park) and the famed South Rim before heading down into the desert for a jaunt along the remote and seldom traveled Elephant Tusk Trail.

On our last day, we'll head to the park's natural Hot Springs not far from Rio Grande Village for an outdoor soothing soak just steps to the Rio Grande River with a close-up view of Mexico. Note: The Hot Springs are currently open, although a recent flood closed them (and their access road) for a few days. The hot springs were also closed during Covid, but we expect them to be open when we're there. 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 when you obtain it. It's nearly zero by the time you reach the next water source. Prolong your warm Autumn, see a wild and largely unhiked section of the country, and get fitter / improve body composition.


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. November temperatures average in the mid 70s during the days and the 40s at night, which is perfect for backpacking. But we might also experience blazing heat during the day or frigid conditions at night. On the 2008 trip it snowed up in the mountains only to get into the 70s the following day. In 2018, temperatures got down to 15 degrees at one point. And in 2017, it was nearly 100 degrees in the desert. This is not to frighten you, only to make sure you are prepared for a wide variety of weather conditions.

Probable Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Chris Frey


$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, any restaurant meals and gratuities for guides.

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

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.

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 and moderately high elevation will suck the water out of your body without you even realizing it. Unfortunately, water weighs about 2 pounds per liter.

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Saturday, November 6, 2021

Fly into Midland/Odessa, TX (MAF)

We will pick you up and take you to our local hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Odessa, 5221 Jbs Pkwy, Odessa, TX 79762, 432-366-5800

Equipment shakedown in Odessa

Trail mix distribution, Covid permitting

"Before" body composition 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 7, 2021

Awaken pre-dawn in anticipation of a long day in getting to the park and shuttling vehicles

"Before" body composition measurements taken again

Free Breakfast at Hotel

Drive to the Big Bend National Park (4 hours)

Stop in Panther Junction Ranger Station (60-90 minutes) to pick up permit and fill water bladders

One guide and one participant drives to Glenn Springs to drop off a shuttle vehicle. Concurrently, we serve the rest of the group lunch at Panther Junction Ranger Station.

Drive to the Chisos Basin, elevation 5400'

Hike 2.5 uphill miles on the Pinnacles Trail

Camp at the Pinnacles, sites PI-2 & PI-3, 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 8, 2021

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

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

Don packs and 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 water at Boot Spring. Note: Water is not reliably available in extremely dry years, however we have always found water either here or by following the canyon upstream.

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 sites East Rim 6 & 7, elevation 7450'. No facilities here.

There is an amazing view 50 feet from camp

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

Bailout: Chisos Basin

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Hike about 3.8 miles on the Southeast Rim Trail along the beautiful South Rim with frequent expansive views into the desert to the Blue Creek Trail, elevation 6700'.

Hike about 5.5 downhill miles on the Blue Creek Trail to Homer Wilson Ranch, elevation 4150'

Hike about 0.5 miles on a spur Trail to get water we cached earlier

Fill all water vessels from water cache. There is no reliable water tomorrow so camel up here

Dispersed camp at-large practicing Leave No Trace Principles near Homer Wilson Ranch, elevation 4150'


Total today: 9.8 miles. Trip Total: 19.1 miles.

Possible Bailout: Homer Wilson Ranch

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Hike 3.1 uphill miles to the Smokey Creek Trail, elevation 4925'

Hike 4.0 downhill miles in various arroyos and drainages on the Smokey Creek Trail to Smokey Creek, elevation 3850'

Dispersed camp in Smokey Creek, elevation 3850'

There may be water in Smokey Creek, but it's not guaranteed which is why we had to carry so much water today

Possible Bailout: Homer Wilson Ranch

Total today: 7.1 miles. Trip Total: 26.2 miles.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Hike about 5.6 downhill miles in Smokey Creek Canyon to the Mule Ears turnoff, elevation 2800'.

There is no water at tonight's campsite, so one guide will take a detour in order to get some from the nearby reliable Mule Ears Spring and meet up with the group at camp.

Hike about 0.9 miles to a flat area between the Mule ears, elevation 2950'. There is no real trail here, so be prepared to bushwack.

Zone Camp between the Mule Ears praciticing Leave No Trace, elevation 2950'

Total today: 6.5 miles. Trip Total: 32.7 miles.

Bailout: Mule Ears Parking Area

Friday, November 12, 2021

Bushwack 1.4 miles to the Mule Ears Trail, elevation 3000'

Hike 1.5 miles on the Mule Ears Trail to the Mule Ears Parking Area, elevation 2900'

Drive to the Hot Springs (an hour)

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: 3.4 miles. Trip Total: 35.4 miles.

Possible Bailout: Mule Ears Parking Area

Drive to the Panther Junction

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

Drive to Ft. Stockton

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

Drive back to Odessa

Check back into local hotel Hilton Garden Inn Odessa, 5221 Jbs Pkwy, Odessa, TX 79762, 432-366-5800

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 13, 2021

Free airport shuttle

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