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Mesa de Anguila - making sure

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Offline dprather

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Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« on: January 13, 2014, 10:33:13 PM »
OK - this is kinda how I understand it.

Begin near Terlingua and aim toward the very apparent gap.

From the gap edge of the mesa, parallel (on the west side) a drainage toward the two highest "peaks" on the mesa.  The distance from the Terlingua trail-head to the "twin peaks" is about 7.5 miles.

Between the twin peaks, the terrain flattens and appears to provide fairly good options for setting up a base camp.

From base camp out to the point is an interesting day trip.  From base camp to Bruja canyon is another day trip.

Is there any way to leave base camp, exit the mesa down Bruja Canyon, and then bushwhack back to Terlinga trail-head?

Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline dprather

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 10:38:45 PM »
OopsOopsOops - I meant Lajitas and not Terlingua as the trailhead.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 07:12:01 AM »
There is a little used route from Tinaja Lujan back across the front of the mesa back towards Lajitas.  I understand it is easy to loose it and it may not be cairned but it is shown on the topo map but not the Trails Illustrated map.  The NPS does not maintain it.  No way down Bruja without ropes.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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Offline Robert

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 08:21:38 AM »
Quote
Is there any way to leave base camp, exit the mesa down Bruja Canyon, and then bushwhack back to Terlinga trail-head?

You can exit the Mesa from the trail that goes by Dam Tinaja and bushwhack back to Terlingua.

I've done the return route that Mule Ear's described. Having a good map and good map reading skills are needed for the Mesa. Other than the trail to Canyon Flag, trails are faint and can be confused with the many game trails that exist.

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 08:37:15 AM »
Quote
Is there any way to leave base camp, exit the mesa down Bruja Canyon, and then bushwhack back to Terlinga trail-head?

You can exit the Mesa from the trail that goes by Dam Tinaja and bushwhack back to Terlingua.

I've done the return route that Mule Ear's described. Having a good map and good map reading skills are needed for the Mesa. Other than the trail to Canyon Flag, trails are faint and can be confused with the many game trails that exist.

We just took this route back about 10 days ago. Portions are surprisingly well cairned, but the closer you get to Lajitas, the worse the cairning. The consistent cairning disappears, vestigial cairning from multiple routes begins to appear, and there are multiple trail-treads to choose from, all of which disappear sooner than later. The topos and GPS are no help at this point, as the deeply eroded fissures don't show on the maps.

You may end up too high on the escarpment slope, getting pushed higher and higher by insanely eroded fissures that are 10 feet wide at the top, 1 foot wide at the bottom, and 25 feet deep, with no way down or across them. Also, if you follow the lobes down in an attempt to regain the main drainage, most of them cliff out. Eventually you might end up descending into one of these deep V-drainages, brute-force plowing and stomping your way down through thorny vegetation with headlamps on, then spending another hour or two headlamping your way very slowly down the main drainage towards Lajitas. Don't miss the sparse cairns leading you back up to avoid the pouroffs, though.

I would also suggest that this route should only be done with a pair of trekking poles, as there are a couple of verrry steep descents that aren't inherently death-defying, but it's like descending on a pile of marbles, and there are many pointy plants waiting to end your hike in great pain if you do a slip'n'roll and start gathering speed.

All in all, not as much fun as it sounds. Actually, in all seriousness, it's a spectacular route, but we were behind schedule and lost a battle with remaining daylight, so we also missed out on the spectacular bedding and other geologic wonders that highlight the last portions close to Lajitas.

Just for clarification, the route I am describing stays south of points 3123 and 3272. It would be very easy to follow the path of least resistance on easier drainages and old road beds, but then you would end up wandering off park property and eventually be negotiating the badlands between the airport and Barton Warnock.

I'd add that the point overlooking SE is spectacular, but if you do it as a day-trip there and back from a central camp near Canyon Flag, you'll have no time to linger, and will spend all day getting there and back instead. Better would be to camp somewhere near SE overlook, although getting a flat soft spot would undoubtedly be a bit of a challenge.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 09:47:45 AM by trtlrock »
John & Tess

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Offline dprather

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 09:33:27 AM »
Is Canyon Flag the level area close to what I calling the twin peaks?
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 09:52:21 AM »
Is Canyon Flag the level area close to what I calling the twin peaks?

Don't have that portion of the topo easily at hand, but CF is the highest point on MDA, although on the topo it looks very flat on top. The formation that is adjacent to it on the SW is Mariposa...looks like a large butterfly on the topo. Good camping on the narrow strip south of CF but north of the cliff faces falling south to lower elevations.

Also edited my above post and added more info while you were posting this...might want to re-read.
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Offline Robert

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 12:28:11 PM »


The above image this view was taken on trail to Canyon Flag. CF is in middle (the farthest away of all peaks), Mariposa is on the middle right, and the unnamed mesa with point 3780 is middle left. Maybe you are calling CF and 3780 as Twin Peaks but from this view you don't really have the concept of peaks standing out from surrounding landscape.

Nevertheless, the trail angles towards Mariposa and you skirt the left side of it (where connecting trails can take you to the river) before heading back towards 3780 and beyond to right side of Canyon Flag.

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Offline VivaTerlingua

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 12:39:23 PM »
Quote
Is there any way to leave base camp, exit the mesa down Bruja Canyon, and then bushwhack back to Terlinga trail-head?

You can exit the Mesa from the trail that goes by Dam Tinaja and bushwhack back to Terlingua.

I've done the return route that Mule Ear's described. Having a good map and good map reading skills are needed for the Mesa. Other than the trail to Canyon Flag, trails are faint and can be confused with the many game trails that exist.

We just took this route back about 10 days ago. Portions are surprisingly well cairned, but the closer you get to Lajitas, the worse the cairning. The consistent cairning disappears, vestigial cairning from multiple routes begins to appear, and there are multiple trail-treads to choose from, all of which disappear sooner than later. The topos and GPS are no help at this point, as the deeply eroded fissures don't show on the maps.

You may end up too high on the escarpment slope, getting pushed higher and higher by insanely eroded fissures that are 10 feet wide at the top, 1 foot wide at the bottom, and 25 feet deep, with no way down or across them. Also, if you follow the lobes down in an attempt to regain the main drainage, most of them cliff out. Eventually you might end up descending into one of these deep V-drainages, brute-force plowing and stomping your way down through thorny vegetation with headlamps on, then spending another hour or two headlamping your way very slowly down the main drainage towards Lajitas. Don't miss the sparse cairns leading you back up to avoid the pouroffs, though.

I would also suggest that this route should only be done with a pair of trekking poles, as there are a couple of verrry steep descents that aren't inherently death-defying, but it's like descending on a pile of marbles, and there are many pointy plants waiting to end your hike in great pain if you do a slip'n'roll and start gathering speed.

All in all, not as much fun as it sounds. Actually, in all seriousness, it's a spectacular route, but we were behind schedule and lost a battle with remaining daylight, so we also missed out on the spectacular bedding and other geologic wonders that highlight the last portions close to Lajitas.

Just for clarification, the route I am describing stays south of points 3123 and 3272. It would be very easy to follow the path of least resistance on easier drainages and old road beds, but then you would end up wandering off park property and eventually be negotiating the badlands between the airport and Barton Warnock.

I'd add that the point overlooking SE is spectacular, but if you do it as a day-trip there and back from a central camp near Canyon Flag, you'll have no time to linger, and will spend all day getting there and back instead. Better would be to camp somewhere near SE overlook, although getting a flat soft spot would undoubtedly be a bit of a challenge.

I'll second that.  We took the same route last February and the second half of the return leg was pretty miserable.  There was no route for long sections so you were dealing with the sharp desert plants while negotiating steep sections with lots of loose rock.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 01:05:18 PM »
Maybe you are calling CF and 3780 as Twin Peaks but from this view you don't really have the concept of peaks standing out from surrounding landscape.


He maybe saying Twin Peaks but means the Three Sisters which are past Canyon flag going towards the Santa Elena overlook and includes pt. 3719.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Robert

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 02:03:58 PM »
He maybe saying Twin Peaks but means the Three Sisters which are past Canyon flag going towards the Santa Elena overlook and includes pt. 3719.

You're probably right. I agree those clay flats just past the Three Sisters provide a nice place to camp.

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Offline dprather

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 07:25:10 PM »
Thanks everyone.  We did a heart-swallowing super steep thing on Hayes Ridge last year - we've done that now and have nothing more to prove. 

I think that we'll just explore the upper reaches of Bruja Canyon as a day hike off of our base camp.

Ya'll mention the three sisters.  What map names those high points????
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 07:43:22 PM »
Ya'll mention the three sisters.  What map names those high points????

It is not on any map.  It is a local name for the small ridge that is just east of Canyon flag with point 3917 as the middle sister.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Flash

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2014, 10:06:52 PM »
Enjoying following the discussion.
Here's a rough MDA map with some useful info that's good for conversation, etc.

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Online Lance

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Re: Mesa de Anguila - making sure
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 03:42:41 PM »
Here's a printable PDF map for you with most of the places mentioned in this thread marked.  Also put a few campsite spots in there too.
Maybe hike over to the Rock Slide Rapid Overlook or climb Canyon Flag.  Lots of possibilities.
Attached are GPX and TPO files if you happen to use that stuff.  All of this and more is in the Big Bend Google Earth Project in my signature.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2016, 01:06:25 PM by Lance »

 


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