Today I started a 3-day/2-night solo trip to Big Bend National Park. This is my fourth time to visit, and second time to backpack and camp in the Chisos Mountains. Because of the current pandemic, I plan on not stopping to visit any small towns except to fill up gas. In fact, with the online reservation system for campsites, you can now print your backcountry permit at home and go straight to the trailhead, which was what I planned.
I started my drive at 3:30 am which wasn’t a problem for me because I was so excited. I chose to leave so early for a couple of reasons: first, there is road construction happening in the park right now, and the road I need to use is open from 11 am – 1 pm, so I wanted to make that window; and secondly I wanted to start my hike to the campsite early so that I could take my time and not push myself too hard.
The drive east was unexpectedly very wet and rainy and the rain stopped as the sun rose which made for some really nice cloud formations. 😊 I really enjoyed the drive, listening to music and podcasts, and looking at the scenery. Lots of people think this stretch of highway is mind-numbingly boring, but I love it.
My timing worked out great, and I arrived at the park at around 11 am and was ready to hike at a little after noon. That would give me plenty of time to reach the Colima 2 campsite, where I would be staying for two nights. The hike in would be the toughest of the trip because I have to carry all my water in with me, and I calculated that 6.1 liters would be a good amount to take. But that amount of water is heavy: almost 13.5 lbs! Also, the hike is mostly uphill, with an elevation gain of 1,800 feet. But with the early start, I could take plenty of breaks and go slow.
The hike was tough but fun, and I really enjoyed myself. I saw several other hikers on the trail, and almost everyone masked up when passing. My route took me up the Laguna Meadows trail, which is the trail we hiked in the other direction on my previous trip. It’s also the more gentle trail up to the campsite – farther in distance, but the elevation gain is spread out making it less strenuous.
I arrived at the campsite at 4 pm, which meant I hiked for about 3 hours and 45 minutes, including breaks. I had plenty of time to set up camp and relax a bit before making dinner and settling in for the night. As expected, I was exhausted, and as soon as it got dark and the stars came out, I was asleep. 😀 A good day!