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Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1

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Offline gglauser

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Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« on: December 08, 2017, 03:08:14 PM »
This is my first post here, but I have been a long time lurker. I love reading everyone's trip reports. Big Bend is one of my favorite places to visit. I have done 2 backpacking trips on the OML. Once with a friend and once solo. This time I will be by myself again, and am planning to explore the Mesa de Anguila. I'm going to loosely follow Joel's Canyon/MDA Trip report posted by Lance.
I'm looking for tips on some of the best locations to camp. I was thinking of camping the first night at Entrance Camp and the second night either on "the point" or near Smuggler's overlook or Fern Canyon. Also, how is the water level in the Tinajas. I was planning on stocking up at Entrance camp on night 1, but is there any other water sources that I could count on, or just plan on carrying enough from entrance camp. in any of the Tinajas that anyone knows of? Thanks. My itenerary is below, any comments are welcome. Thanks!

Dec 29: 
Arrive in Big Bend and check in at Panther Junction around 9am. Pick up topo map
Drive to trail head near Lajitas. Is there any signage to mark the trail head, and is parking safe in that area?
Hike out and explore around False Sentinel and Tinaja Blanca.
Hike down to entrance camp for the night,
Dec 30:
Explore the Rock Slides and Tinajas de la Vergas, then Hike out to "the point" and Smuggler's overlook and camp somewhere around there for the night.
Dec 31:
Hike back to car either going by the sinkhole and then back to the trail head on the same path I came in on, or by going by Tinaja Grande and Tinaja Lujan and taking the north route back to the trail head. 

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2017, 03:34:23 PM »
Welcome to the board. It looks like Lajitas has gotten about an inch of rain in the last few days which is a good sign.

There is a nice campsite at Fern Point, just big enough for one person. Near the point and mesa rim, level and smooth terrain big enough to sleep on is harder to find, but it does exist. If you use an air mattress, also bring a closed cell foam pad to act as a buffer from the many sharp rocks.

Also be aware that getting water from Blanca is challenging. I was fortunate and found water up above, and you may too, but be prepared to climb down, lower a bottle, or turn around.

House Made of Dawn should come off the Mesa in a little over a week, hopefully he will chime in or you could PM him.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2017, 02:09:58 PM by DesertRatShorty »
I roamed and rambled, and I foller'ed my footsteps
   To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
   And all around me a voice was a'sounding
   This land was made for you and me

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 03:47:03 PM »
If you get your permit around 9:00, then drive out to the parking area, it will be 12:00 before you hit the trail.  Not a bunch of time to look around if you want to make it all the way to the river.  The mesa is unique in that the trail/walking is pretty dang rough.  It will slow you down.  Has to do with the fact most of it is on eroded limestone.  Sharp and uneven.  It will take you a while to make it around to the Point across from Smuggler's cave.  There are some nice deep canyons that have to be walked around to get there.  Maps and Google earth don't do it justice.  There is a big and logical reason all the trails are high up to the north on the ridges.

Not a bunch of reports about break-ins at the parking lot.  There is a big sign and plenty of room for cars.  The trail is basically south down the creek bed from the  parking area. 

If I only had two nights to play with, (basically one full day), I would do more recon of the water sources and get the lay of the land.  Maybe try to make it to Santa Elena canyon exit overlook.  You'll pass a bunch of cool areas.  Then plan a longer trip with the Point in it for next time.  But by all means, Go!
The older I get, the more I realize what freedom really means.  May God bless America

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Offline gglauser

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Re: Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2017, 08:41:23 AM »
Thanks guys for the info. I'm really looking forward to the trip. Sounds like it will be slow moving on the mesa. If I run out of time on the first day, I'm thinking of camping near the base of canyon flag, then just hiking to to the north rim the second day and camping about a mile and half from "the point." If I could add an extra day to be out on the mesa, what route would you all recommend? Thanks. 

Elhombre, I was hoping to be on the trail around 11am. Why do you think it would take so long from checking in at PJ and driving to Lajitas?   

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Offline Homer Wilson

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Re: Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2017, 11:14:05 AM »
I echo El Hombre's  sentiment about it being tough.  And the MDA trail really isn't a trail as you approach the point, just occasional cairns.  If you get your permit at 9, you won't be at the trailhead until 10:30 at the absolute earliest.  Getting to the Entrance Camp site is maybe a little less than 10 miles, but rough going.  I'm assuming you're just checking out views of the False Sentinal? The only way down to it is metates, and that's not a fun trail. 

I guess it was about a full day of hiking from Entrance Camp to the Point, but we did it in two half days, and it is a brutal hike, and you need to be at least decent at navigating off trail on open terrain.  There are impassible valleys in that area that don't register on Google Earth aerials, we had to feel our way around.  And as you start getting close to Santa Elena, major canyons will start to re-route you.   Trying to check out Tinajas Grande and Lujan on the way back will probably take up more than a day, since you'll have to do some serious backtracking or a very rough off-trail route to check out both. 

For water, as of two weeks ago, there was plenty of water in deep holes where I was, but I don't remember any accessible without rope.  Blanca would probably have some water accessible via a short scramble.  If you scrounge, there's usually water to be found out there, but it may not be where you expect.  For example, in De la verga, we found lots of promising pot holes, but the only place we found water was a 1 inch deep pool on flat rock.

If you really want to see the point and only take two nights, I'd consider just pushing out there on the trail and avoid the side trips. I like EH's advice and take a shorter trip and soak in the area.  There is so much to explore; even things not marked on the map.  If you hike out to Blanca Day 1, you can get a feel for water and do some scouting. On your second day, you could hit any number of things including Lujan, Rana, and the overlook. 


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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2017, 01:56:50 PM »
As far as start time at the MDA trailhead, I'd put it somewhere between Homer and elhombre's estimates. You'd be really, really lucky to make it to the trailhead by 10:30am. Not impossible, but not likely. IF you are first in line at PJ, it'll probably take most of an hour to get your permit. They'll grill you if MDA is your destination.  Just the way it works.  So let's say an hour at PJ. Then the drive to MDA. 45mph maximum through the park, then another good chunk of mileage and time through Study Butte, Terlingua and Lajitas, then the snaking route to the trailhead next to the golf course. So at least another 45 minutes driving from PJ and probably more. Worst case, you're at elhombre's estimate. Which is to say, don't make your plans dependent upon an early arrival at the MDA trailhead.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 10:59:40 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2017, 05:45:05 PM »
If you are well organized and don't screw around much, ( like I do), you can easily beat the 12:00 time.  I stop for gas, (never know when the power will go out in the lower Bend), I stop for a last Monster drink.  I drink a big Poweraid at the trail head to be fully hydrated.  I stop and say "hey" to the Mayor of Lajitas.  And there is always that last chance to sit on a toilet....

And i have the old lady and little girl along too...

We do MUCH better when we stay out in the desert besides the trail head the night before, permit in hand.

Seriously, it really comes down to how the rangers are that day.  You will be forced to go around back to the big room.  It can take as little as 15 minutes.  One time it took 50 minutes, and we were one of three permits issued in that time.  2 rangers working.   The ranger chick decided she would make us all listen to her 12 minute rule speech as a group about not bending a blade of grass to set up my tent, or no one better shoot her bears....... :ecomcity:

The older I get, the more I realize what freedom really means.  May God bless America

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Offline gglauser

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Re: Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2017, 11:43:59 AM »
This is such a great resource! Thanks for all the advice. I'm planning for best case scenario to start the hike at 11:00am and worst case at 1pm. I'm also planning on hiking in w/enough water for the trip (9L), but will bring some rope and a nalgene just in case. I'll be arriving late Thursday night/early Friday morning. Am I allowed to park my truck overnight at the PJ parking lot and sleep in the bed of my truck? Also, the weather station in Lajitas says that highs will be in the mid 70s and lows around low 40s. Would yall say that translates pretty closely w/temps up on the mesa, or would be hotter during the day and cooler at night?

Final itinerary is below:
Friday: Hike to entrance camp; depending on time take side trip to explore the overlook of false sentinel and tinaja rana
*If I get a late start and run out of time/daylight, I will camp the first night btw Tinaja Blanca and Lujan just west of Canyon flag, then hike straight out to the point and explore more in that area the next day*
Saturday: Hike to north rim of the mesa via the route that goes by the rock slides and tinaja DLV. Camp aprox 1.5 miles from the point; depending on the time hike to the point to watch the sunset and then back to camp
Sunday: hike out going by the sinkhole and tinaja blanca (plan on getting back to the car late)

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Offline presidio

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Re: Mesa de Anguila Dec 28- Jan 1
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2017, 11:58:48 AM »
Am I allowed to park my truck overnight at the PJ parking lot and sleep in the bed of my truck?

Absolutely! And, you'll also be allowed to pay the fine for the ticket they write you for doing so.
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