Backyard Camping and Time-lapse

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO320
“My Tent” Cedar Park, 2020

Tonight I camped out on the backyard deck to do some gear testing. I received a summer sleeping bag and wanted to see if I could be comfortable in it at 40°F, or what layers I would need to add. If I can take the Aegismax sleeping bag instead of the Marmot Trestles 15, then it would save a few pounds of weight as well as a ton of space in the pack.

Well, I can say that I was comfortable, if a tiny bit chilly, wearing socks, thin thermal leggings, thin thermal top, REI 650 down jacket, and beanie. I put on the jacket because I know that will always be in my backpack, summer or winter, and I didn’t think just the thermal top would be enough. I do think 40°F is the lower limit for this bag, though. And if it is windy, maybe 45°F is the lowest I would take it out with. But I am happy with the results. Now I know!

I also set up my tripod and camera to do a bit of time-lapse. It turns out that the clouds ruined it, but I managed to get about 1,000 exposures, so I’m not to displeased. Check out the video below:

Emory Peak, Boot Canyon, and Northeast Rim

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/3.6, 1/850 sec, ISO200
“Sunrise from TM1” Big Bend National Park, 2020

I woke up this morning to a lightening sky, grabbed my BRS-3000T stove, Stanley cooking pot, some water, and instant coffee and found a nice location to enjoy the sunrise. From the Toll Mountain campsite, you have a nice view east through Boot Canyon, and also to the north-west where you can see the Chisos Mountain Lodge down below, and the mountains in the distance. Toll Mountain (TM1) is really a great campsite!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/3.6, 1/10 sec, ISO400
“Stanley Adventure Cookpot” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO400
“Chisos Mountain Lodge” Big Bend National Park, 2020

After the sun warmed us up a bit, we packed up our campsite, then headed down to the Emory Peak trail-head. There are bear-boxes there so you can stow your gear before heading up the trail to the peak, which is a great thing because lugging a 40-pound pack up there would not be fun!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/8, 1/100 sec, ISO640
“Emory Peak Awaits” Big Bend National Park, 2020

The hike up Emory Peak Trail was easy and fun since I just had a liter of water, some trail-mix, and my jacket in my lightweight Gonex backpack. I also had my camera and binoculars around my neck, as well as my trekking pole.

We had watched a few YouTube videos about the Emory Peak summit, and they all mentioned the last 25-feet of the trail is a scramble up to the summit. There is a left route and a right route, with the left being easier. However, they don’t mention that they go to separate summits. The right side is the higher of the two, but you need to do a little scrambling up the rocks. Honestly, it was easier than I was expecting, and as long as you take it slow and keep three points of contact at all times, you’ll be fine.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO640
“Emory Peak Marker” Big Bend National Park, 2020

The view from the Emory Peak summit was literally awesome. The drop-off was intense and the view was amazing. It was so cool to be able to touch the geologist badge that is embedded in the rock up there — something that was on our bucket list! After spending about 15 minutes on the summit, enjoying some water and snacks, it was time to scramble down. If you can, try to remember the way up because it will help you choose the right way back down.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO400
“Distant Santa Elena Canyon” Big Bend National Park, 2020

The hike back to the trail-head was fast, with no water breaks needed. Ah, downhill hiking is great!

We retrieved our backpacks from the bear-boxes at the trail-head and then took Boot Canyon Trail towards Boot Spring. Again, the trail was mostly downhill and we enjoyed the views of the famous “boot” that gives the canyon its name and soon reached the spring without incident. Water was flowing from the pipe at Boot Spring, so we used our water filters to refill our water supply, then hit the trail again and made our way to our next campsite. By the way, the HydroBlu Versa Flow water filter is an awesome little device!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO640
“Boot at Boot Canyon” Big Bend National Park, 2020

From Boot Canyon Trail, we changed to East Rim Trail and slogged up until we reached our campsite, NE2/ER2. The site is nestled a short distance from the rim and has plenty of room for two tents, and possible three. Also, it’s sheltered a bit from the wind making it a great “base camp” for exploring the north rim.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO2000
“ER2/NE2 Campsite” Big Bend National Park, 2020

We set up camp, then went farther up the trail to where it ends. Usually you can hike all the around to the south rim, but from February 1 – May 31, part of the trail is closed due to Peregrine Falcon nesting. However, there are some places along the north rim with some spectacular views. In fact, we decided to pack up our cooking sets and bring them to one of the north rim spots to eat dinner while enjoying the incredible vistas.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO1000
“Closed Trail” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO2000
“Dinner Spot” Big Bend National Park, 2020

Not only could we see the north side of the park, but when we turned around, we could see the incredible sunset over the south rim. It was terrific!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/4, 1/25 sec, ISO6400
“Sunset” Big Bend National Park, 2020

Tonight’s dinner from the rim was another Mountain House meal: Chicken Teriyaki with Rice and Vegetables. The hot food in the cold back-country was again satisfying, especially after a long hiking day. I’d say the Beef Stroganoff was a little more to my liking, but both are yummy. I capped off the evening with some whiskey and hot water (OMG so good!) before climbing into my tent and crashing.

Here are a few more photos from the day:

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO1000
“Marmot Catalyst 2P” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO2000
“Woodpecker at Boot Spring” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO500
“Boot Canyon” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO640
“North Rim Dinner View” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“North Rim” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/8, 1/50 sec, ISO200
“Casa Grande from TM1” Big Bend National Park, 2020

Pinnacles Trail to Toll Mountain Campsite

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO200
“Casa Grande” Big Bend National Park, 2020

We arrived at Big Bend National Park at around noon and were able to secure a couple of great campsites for Friday and Saturday nights. Reservations for the back-country campsites have to be made in-person (online reservations are coming Feb 8, 2020) so there was a bit of uncertainty in which sites were already taken. Our preferred hiking plan required staying at the Toll Mountain campsite (TM1) the first night, since it is situated right at the Emory Peak trail-head, which we wanted to hike first thing in the morning. We were stoked that the Toll Mountain campsite was available!

Our second preferred campsite on the South Rim was already taken by someone else, but a few good backup choices were available so we picked NE2/ER2 which looked great. With campsites reserved, we headed to the trail to start our backpacking adventure.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO200
“Trail-head” Big Bend National Park, 2020

The hike today was simple: take Pinnacles Trail up to the Toll Mountain campsite. Simple but oh so strenuous with 40 lbs on my back! According to Strava, we traveled 3.62 miles with an elevation gain of 1,717 feet. The switchbacks at the end of the trail were intense and when we reached the campsite, we were exhausted but stoked. We figured that this would be the most difficult hike of the weekend, so to survive it in good shape was encouraging and a huge relief!

Dinner tonight was my first try of a Mountain House camp meal, so I was excited to give it a try. I boiled two cups of water in my Stanley Adventure Cooking Pot, then poured it into the bag of dehydrated Beef Stroganoff, sealed it up, and waited 8 minutes for it to re-hydrate. The meal was pretty tasty! I’d definitely recommend this meal. Eating a hot meal with my new Snow Peak titanium spork on a chilly evening in the Big Bend back-country was a great experience!

Here are a few more photos from the day:

"Campsite" Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/2, 1/25 sec, ISO200
“Campsite” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/240 sec, ISO200
“Cloudy Peak” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/220 sec, ISO200
“Sharp Peaks” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/2, 1/125 sec, ISO200
“Setting Up Camp” Big Bend National Park, 2020
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO200
“Sunset” Big Bend National Park, 2020

Backcountry Campsites

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.2, 1/120 sec, ISO6400
“Paper Map” Cedar Park, 2020

Trying to decide which campsites we’ll try to get… I hope we can get a good one!

Tent Results

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/220 sec, ISO200
“Cozy” Cedar Park, 2019

Well, the test of the new tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad went well! The temperature dropped to the low 50s but I was nice and warm in the Marmot Trestles 15 sleeping bag. In fact, I was asleep only a few minutes after crawling in. 😊

I’m planning on heading back out to Big Bend National Park next month so I want to see how everything works: setting up the tent, seeing how much space I have in the tent with the pack inside with me, how the zippers/cinch strings on the mummy tent work, etc. After the dry run, I think I have everything worked out, at least for down to 50 degrees. This coming week a cold front will arrive so perhaps I will try out the sleeping bag in colder weather. We’ll see!

またね~