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Big Bend - Saltwater Paddling Trail - Paddling and Camping Tips

Paddling and Camping Tips

sunset in cedar trees along the Big Bend coast
  • Bring along a small tarp for extra shade, shelter and to spread on the ground.
  • A small battery-powered camping fan will be a lifesaver on a hot, still night.
  • Best time to do the trail is after a cold snap, usually around the end of November. The heat and bugs return around the end of March/early April. No-see-ums may appear even on warm days in the winter. Don't leave the bug repellent at home! It is possible to experience temperatures in the 70s during the day in December through March, even though the nights may be in the 30s. Freezing weather in the 20s or below could also occur. Be prepared for wide temperature variations.
  • You can dry gear by threading through your paddle shaft and suspending the paddle between trees, or bring along a small line to hang wet gear.
  • Freeze-dried food is the perfect option for lightweight, tasty meals. For the first night on the trail bring a homemade entrée that you have wrapped in four to five layers of foil and then frozen. By the time you reach your campsite the meal will be thawed and ready to heat up on the fire.
  • Bring an emergency kit that contains duct tape, carabiners, a multi-use tool, small bungee cords, extra batteries, a space blanket, safety pins, twist ties, dental floss and other useful items. Triple wrap extra batteries  for your GPS, weather radio and headlamp.
  • A small rolled-up plastic mat in front of your tent helps keep sand inside your tent to a minimum.
  • A bandana within easy reach will provide many uses from filtering coffee to creating an eye patch.
  • A well-stocked first aid kit should contain an all-purpose array of supplies. Ask all group members about medical conditions, allergies or other physical problems BEFORE the trip.
  • Don't walk barefoot around the campsite or in the water. Sharp oyster shells, sandspurs, prickly pear cactus and poison ivy are all potential hazards along the trail.
  • Be alert for snakes.
  • Wear sunscreen even on cold, cloudy days and keep well-hydrated. A long-sleeved white shirt, sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat work well to reflect the sun, and provide protection from insects. Keep an SPF lip block close at hand and apply frequently.
  • Bring a camper's trowel or small folding shovel.
  • Headlamps or flashlights with one spare for the group is reasonable.
  • A floating retention strap for any prescription glasses or sunglasses is helpful.
  • Bring a camp stove with fuel contained in a spill-proof container.
  • Have two separate means of starting a fire, stored in separate waterproof containers.
  • A sleeping pad that doubles as a chair can make evenings around the fire more comfortable.
  • A read-aloud book is fun to share at night. Even if bugs or weather confine you to a tent, it helps lull you to sleep.
  • Bring a journal and a camera that can withstand exposure to the marine environment. Write your own travel adventure. Extra camera batteries and memory cards should be in ample supply.