Big Bend National Park - Nov 2017

M1078

Adventurer
#1
After a year of planning and everyone in the group bailing on me the week before the trip I finally made it back to Big Bend National Park. This is a 7 hour drive from home and I already live in Central TX so can see why not as many folks make it out there compared to some of the other National Parks.

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The original trip was going to be for 7 days with my wife driving over for the last 3. Since the remainder of the group dropped out it made more sense to pare it down and Juli just ride with me for a shortened stay. We left the house early Thursday morning and got there about 20 minutes ahead of ExPo member fike who is on an extended overlanding trip from MD. At the Panther Junction Ranger Station we found out 2 of our 3 primary Back Country camp sites were already taken but fortunately our alternates were available. Night one would be at Glenn Springs 2.

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I had hoped to do Black Gap Road with a group of vehicles as I had heard it could be dicey in spots. Unfortunately while fike's vehicle is pretty sturdy we could tell from the start of the road he probably wouldn't be able to make it. At this point we split up and agreed to meet at our second camp site.

While Black Gap is not outrageous it does have some technical spots to it and I wouldn't recommend doing it solo. However I only had the choice of going alone or not going at all. Since this was what I had been planning for the last 12 months I decided to give it a shot. There were a couple of places I questioned that decision although my wife didn't (she knew it was a mistake from the beginning :) ).

I have over an hour of raw video from the road and as soon as I get it edited I'll post it. In the meantime here's a couple of shots although we were busy trying to get the Osmo to run right so don't have hardly any stills.

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Once we were off Black Gap and heading back towards River Road East we came across a Cadillac Escalade with a flat tire. It turned out to be a Finnish couple and while they spoke and read English they weren't able to decipher the Owner's Manual to figure out how to locate the tools and get the tire down. I have to admit that it wasn't crystal clear to us either but we finally figured out where things were and moved on from there. Luckily I had some cribbing blocks in my truck to set under the jack and it was fairly sandy where the vehicle was stopped. Just an example of having the right equipment for the given situation.

We stopped in at Rio Grande Village and got a couple of ice cream cones, a bag of ice, and topped off the fuel (at $2.82 a gallon) then drove the hardtop to our campsite at Grape Vine #4.

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We had wanted Grape Vine 5 as it's at the end of the road but #4 wasn't too bad. The biggest draw back to it is that it's also the turn around spot for anyone driving the road. Fortunately we only had a couple of vehicles show up after we had camp made.

The morning of our final night we checked out the Cottonwood Camp Ground. Fike decided he thought he'd stay here as there had been reports of a Great Horned Owl and he wanted to try and get some photos of that. We wound up leaving his car there and headed into Terilingua to check out their famous Chili Cook Off that takes place the 1st weekend in November. We got there via Old Maverick Road which was also the route to our last campground. It turns out the Chili Cook Off wasn't what we were expecting and luckily they gave us our money back as were there for about 5 minutes tops.

Getting back to Cottonwood after lunch we found out a bobcat had been wandering through the campground. Fike jumped out with his camera and got some good pics although the cat was too far away for me to get with my iPhone. Hopefully he'll see this thread and add a pic or 2.

After the excitement we said our final good-byes and headed to Octillo Grove. This was fairly close to the road to a couple of other campsites (Terilingua Abajo 1-3) yet still felt secluded.

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This was our 2nd trip to Big Bend and I think when we go back we'll probably hit some of the same spots again. All 3 campsites were great and I think Glenn Springs 2 was actually a better spot than our original choice of GS 1. We'll definitely try to go during a New Moon versus a Full Moon. It was so bright at night that we could take pics without a flash so the star gazing wasn't what it could have been.
 
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#5
Nice shot report. Glad you could help the couple with the flat tire. Those roads are rocky and not forgiving to street tires. I am sure as tourists, they may not have know the risk of taking that huge suv offroad with street tires. But lucky for them you were there to help. Got any pictures of that to share?

As for your experience on Black Gap, it is truly not a bad trail. The toughest spot is that gap. Apart from that, it is not really that bad.

If I knew some people going to Big Bend from this forum, I would have made solo trip out there and joined you guys. I was free about 2 weeks ago and wanted to make a trip, but did not make the trip because I did not see others posting about going. I was interested in maybe joining a convoy.

Looking forward to seeing your video and maybe more pictures.
 

M1078

Adventurer
#7
I'll try and answer some of the questions without quoting them. It always seems to clog a thread up to me.

1) One of our favorite spots is a very short hike so should be attainable to anyone visiting the park. That would be the Lower Burro Mesa Pour-off Trail. The Pour-off is a half barrel shaped cliff that has been rounded out from times when there was a fair amount of water flowing over it. It's probably about 1/2 mile hike from the parking area and all flat although it's not an improved trail. I would think even folks with small children could be able to do it easily.

2) I didn't get any shots of the tire fiasco. I don't particularly like my picture taken so try not to take any with other people in them. My guess on the tire was that they just popped the bead. If I had done the longer trip I was planning to spend the money for a compressor and I could have tried airing it up first but since we were only doing the one trail I decided to save the money and not buy one until my ID BDR trip next year.

3) I've been having issues with my primary computer (the one with my editing software on it) so haven't been able to get the video done but here's a link to the raw footage if anyone wants to wade through an hour of it. Like I posted earlier, the Osmo was freaking out at the beginning so it flops over a couple of times (camera not the truck). My redneck engineering holder failed after the 1st serious bump so my wife was holding it the entire trip. There's several spots that she tried sticking it out the window and wound up with more door frame than landscape. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrzQ8WfNMGQ&t=14s

The actual Gap section of the video is around the 40 minute mark. That starts with us walking the area to get an idea of what line to take and make sure there wasn't anyone coming from the other direction.
 
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#8
Thanks for the response.

Yeah, your wife did a great job holding that camera to shoot the whole video. That must have been a lot of work and tiring. She worked really hard for that video. Kuddos to her.

Did you get a lot of pin-stripping at the beginning of the trail? That spot made me not attempt Black Gap road when I visited Big Bend this year in March. I did not want pin-stripes on my 2012 QX56.

What editing software do you normally use? What kind of camera are you using?

I just ordered my GoPro Hero 6. I used to have a gorpro hero 4, but it was stolen last month when I was visiting my brother in Britain. So, I am getting the new Go Pro Hero 6. Just trying to decide now what software would work well with 4k videos from the gopro hero 6.

Since you do not have a compressor, I guess you never aired down. That is fine, especially as it seems you have stock height.

Nice raw video. I went fast through it and had to watch some places over and over.
 

M1078

Adventurer
#9
We did get a lot of pin striping but it wasn't as bad as I initially thought. I had a pretty good coat of dust that protected it. Still there's some minor scratching in the clear coat. I bought this truck specifically for doing this so knew it had to be christened sometime.

We shot the whole thing with an iPhone 7+ mated to a DJI Osmo Mobile. Once we figured out the issue with the Osmo after the start everything seemed to work fine. I really need to figure out a way to mount it to the truck though as the wife was really tired of holding it for an hour (I know there's a joke in there but this is a family forum).

I have a GoPro Hero 3+ but have never been able to keep the batteries going long enough to do a video of this length. I've tried multiple batteries and it still dies about 20 minutes in.

I use Adobe Premier Pro for editing. It takes a while to get comfortable with it (I'm still not) but it's a good program. Here's a short clip I did from our last trip to Ireland - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9GHzZJJh8g
That video was shot with the GoPro.
 
#10
Thanks for the writeup! We will be heading to Big Bend for about 5 days starting on the 28th or so. Hoping its pretty quiet midweek so we can get the good camping spots.
 

M1078

Adventurer
#11
Thanks for the writeup! We will be heading to Big Bend for about 5 days starting on the 28th or so. Hoping its pretty quiet midweek so we can get the good camping spots.
The week of Thanksgiving is supposed to be one of their busiest of the year so hopefully next week will be quieter. I would recommend printing off the campsite request form and having several alternates picked ahead of time. The guys ahead of us in line took about 30 minutes to get situated and the Ranger really appreciated that we came prepared. We were in and out in under 5 minutes. She said that made her life much easier.
 
#12
We did get a lot of pin striping but it wasn't as bad as I initially thought. I had a pretty good coat of dust that protected it. Still there's some minor scratching in the clear coat. I bought this truck specifically for doing this so knew it had to be christened sometime.

We shot the whole thing with an iPhone 7+ mated to a DJI Osmo Mobile. Once we figured out the issue with the Osmo after the start everything seemed to work fine. I really need to figure out a way to mount it to the truck though as the wife was really tired of holding it for an hour (I know there's a joke in there but this is a family forum).

I have a GoPro Hero 3+ but have never been able to keep the batteries going long enough to do a video of this length. I've tried multiple batteries and it still dies about 20 minutes in.

I use Adobe Premier Pro for editing. It takes a while to get comfortable with it (I'm still not) but it's a good program. Here's a short clip I did from our last trip to Ireland - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9GHzZJJh8g
That video was shot with the GoPro.
Very nice response. Thanks for all that info. Glad you guys figured out what was wrong with the DJI Osmo Mobile. And yes, your wife did an awesome job holding that thing for that long.

I will look into that Adobe Premier Pro to see if I can have it. Too bad it is a monthly subscription service.
 

fike

Adventurer
#15
On my last day at Big Bend, I did a reconnaissance of a few sites that I thought looked interesting. The first one I went to was Buenos Aries along the West River Road. It's about four miles from Ross Canyon Scenic drive. The road was pretty easy for the Subie, though there was some deep sand and several creek beds that would be impossible for a Subaru if it rained. Otherwise there were some steep rutted spots and rocky, dry riverbeds. The Subio handled the road better than my nerves.

I give it three thumbs up.

Here is a pic of a very-easy sandy part of road...it is a nice scenic area.
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Here is a pic of the campsite view from a bluff overlooking the cottonwood of the Rio Grande canyon.
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This pic of the River Road West doesn't give you much sense of the ruggedness. A two-wheel drive vehicle would not make it down this road, regardless of the clearance.
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