El Carmen Nature Reserve
Clothing and Outerwear:
The tour begins at 1850 feet and reaches over 8500 feet above sea level. We don’t stray too far from shelter or vehicle during the tour, perhaps 90 minutes to two hours at a time at most. Layering is always in style. Cotton or synthetic undies, , long and short sleeve tee shirts work with heavier long sleeved shirt, light jacket, wind-breaker/rain jacket. Jeans, khakis, and shorts according to season. Plan to bring it all, and we will know what to expect closer to departure.
Shoes and Boots:
There are several walks/hikes that we take during our tours to la Reserva. Trails where they exist, can be rough at times. I normally wear light weight hiking shoes or even trainers when I hike trails in my local national and state parks, but I have found them inadequate for the conditions found on a couple of the attractive locations in Las Maderas. It is possible to avoid the rougher walks and take easier routes during the tour; there is no shortage of interesting destinations by foot. However, I recommend medium weight hiking boots or shoes as well a lighter, comfortable shoe for easier terrain and around Pilares headquarters. My problem with the lighter shoe/boot was not with ankle support but with the thickness of the soles and discomfort of stepping on sharp rocks and ledges.
Springtime in the high country can be quite cool, even without the inevitable cold front or two that can come in March and even into April. To the many layers I bring along on every trip, I would add a medium heavy jacket, thick socks, gloves and warm hat.
One of the features of Sierra Maderas del Carmen is that it receives more rainfall than the surrounding countryside for many miles. Certainly more than Big Bend and west Texas. Chances are that we will not stray far from the vehicles if it is raining, but with the proper gear we can enjoy the outdoors when rain threatens or during light showers. Typically the months that receive the most rain are July through September, but rain can be seen almost any time of the year. We must plan accordingly.
How to pack:
Luggage will be carried in the back of a Suburban and/or in the back of a pickup truck. In the latter case, it will be dusty, so bring luggage that seals up well. Soft luggage is ideal, but space is not a big issue. You will want a light day pack that to carry clothing, toiletries etc, that doubles to take day trip items like extra layers, binoculars, cameras, snacks, water etc.
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