Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

+-Calendar for sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!


Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10

  • 36 Replies
  • 9129 Views
*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 999
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« on: January 06, 2010, 09:12:33 PM »
We took our first Mesa De Anguila hike about 8 years ago which was just a couple of nights camped near Canyon Flag. I always thought about returning, especially after reading trtlrock's report about coming down the north trail and hiking around to Terlingua Abaja. Then Mule Ears took his trip last year and the idea really took hold. So we decided to replicate much of his trip without the hike into the Basin with a few minor changes.

Here is a link to Mule Ear's report. http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/lajitas-to-the-basin-1215122108-t7226.0.html

For one thing we were only going to be out for 5 days and 4 nights so we had to figure out where to end up. Since we had hiked up from Bee Spring last year to end at the Chimneys trailhead this seemed to be a little redundant. We had never visited Red Ass Spring before so we decided to make that an ending spot for our last night. The last day we would hike northwest to a point west of Tule mountain to a pass between pts 2935 and 3017 and down the wash a ways before climbing up and over into the wash where Tinaja Latte is. Then wrap up by hiking up Alamo Creek to our vehicle at Maverick Junction.

We were pretty well prepared for the holiday week trip with a Basin campsite reserved for our first night and a room at the Big Bend Motor Inn for our last. I had purchased two custom topo maps from Mytopo and loaded the GPS with maps and route. We had also made an effort to cut out extra weight from our packs and had a new tarp to take instead of a tent as well as cutting out other  gear or replacing with lighter versions. I had also been reading up on "Freezer Bag Cooking" and had cooked and dehydrated dinners for each night. All we had to do was boil water for each meal. And we had contacted Far Flung for a car shuttle to take us from Maverick Junction to the Lajitas trailhead.

On Sunday I left the house at 6 am and headed west on IH10 to Junction where I hooked up with my hiking buddy, Mitch. We made it out to Ft. Stockton in time for lunch and found a little Mexican food restaurant on the east end of the strip called the Burrito something or other. Everything else was packed with holiday travelers. Got to the park around 2 and headed straight to PJ for our permit. They had opened up a building behind the visitor center for back county permits and there were three stations set up. Luckily we only had to wait for a short while and managed to convince the person helping us that we knew what we were doing and got the permit pretty quickly.

Then it was off to Terlingua Abaja to set out our cache and back to the Basin for dinner before the restaurant got too crowded. We knew Richard was headed into the park so looked for him at the restaurant before heading down to our campsite and bed.

The next morning we were up early and back to the lodge for breakfast by 8 am. By 9 we were headed down the Maverick for our 10:30 pickup. We were antsy and ready to go. Luckily Far Flung was early and we were on the road by 10:30 and hiking by 11.

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 999
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2010, 09:57:52 PM »
Day 1

Looking down on Rana


That morning was cold and the weather report for Monday night though Tuesday was cold, wet, and windy. At the lodge the waitress said that it wasn't going to warm up any that day so we decided to bring the tent and drop it with our cache if the weather cleared. We also had two gallons of water each as we didn't expect to find water until the next day. By the time we hit the trail it was sunny and clear so we were fully warmed up by the time we got to the top of the steep trail up to the pass.

We ate lunch in the shade near the top of the pass. That was the only break we took until we made camp. Once you get to the top there are great views of the river and into Mexico. By 2:45 we were looking out over Rana and at Blanca 30 minutes later. Then it was off to Canyon Flag where we took the trail around to the south and east.

Views from south of Canyon Flag


After going around Canyon Flag the trail becomes more faint as it skirts south of the Three Sisters before cutting east through some low hills. If you hunt around in this area you can find a sinkhole but we didn't run across it this trip. There were still some cairns in this area but after leaving the soft clay soils the trail gets rockier and much harder to follow. At this point the trails are nothing more than burro trails with poop replacing cairns. But they can identify the best way around the Mesa and they kept us on course, keeping to the line dividing washes that drain to the north (into Bruja) from those that drain towards the Rio Grande.

By 5 pm we started looking for a place to set up camp and I was worried that with all the rock we wouldn't find a spot. But we did find one down in a drainage just west of the pt 3322 and due east of the last A in Anguila. That was important as I didn't want to be too exposed should the wind pick up in the night. It had already started to cloud up and we had no sunset to view.

As predicted it started raining around midnight. Nothing heavy but it did rain for about 3 hours. We also heard some loud wind but it didn't seem to come blowing through our area and didn't last long.

Campsite in the morning looking north

*

Offline badknees

  • Actually, I was there once
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4394
  • I think I know that place
    • Through the Mirror
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2010, 10:49:10 PM »
Hungry for more!
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

*

Offline TheWildWestGuy

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1342
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2010, 10:57:17 PM »
Yeah this is Good Stuff Robert.  Few people ever go onto the Mesa and few of those ever share any trip reports about it.  Was there any water in Tinaja Rana or Blanco?   Did you go down below into the "bowl" of Tinaja Rana?  Did you see any other people on the Mesa or any signs of illegal alien trash?   Is that frost in your camp photo?
Thanks for sharing, it's very difficult to get any current and first-hand information about the Mesa so thank you very much for sharing it with us.   I know what you mean about the trail petering out into burro trails that can form a confusing web of cross-cutting "trails" that can lead you off-route really easily.   TWWG

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 999
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2010, 10:58:24 PM »
Day 2
We hiked about 9.5 miles the first day.

The morning was cold but not below freezing. We were up by 6:30 and I boiled water for coffee and breakfast in the vestibule since the ground was still wet. It was still overcast and we had everything packed up and ready except for the tent by 8. But then it started raining again so we hopped back in the tent to wait it out. We were not too keen on the idea of hiking in the rain if we didn't have to and it was cold enough that it could be a danger if we ended up getting wet.

After an hour went by it started looking like we might miss our opportunity to get out to the Santa Elena overlook. But there was also a chance that with the clouds and rain there might not be much to see anyway. Finally after a little over 2 hours the rain stopped and it took us a while longer to shake the water off the tent and get it packed up.

At this point we had decided to hike north over to the Bruja drainage and head back north west up the drainage. We hiked down the wash we were in until we can to where it overlooked the vast Bruja drainage. We could see the upper Bruja canyon across the valley to our left and the long edge of the rim leading southeast (to our right) towards Santa Elena. But there was no easy way down from where we were.


Looking across to upper Bruja


We hiked east along the rim towards Santa Elena until we found a break in the escarpment to get down. Then we turned back west and stayed on a ridgeline that took us all the way down towards upper Bruja.

Where we were looking down from.


By 1 pm we were back in the wash so we stopped for lunch. Once we got started again we were just a few minutes from upper Bruja where I recognized it from one of Mule Ear's pictures. Our plan to get water was from Tinaja Grande so we headed towards it. From upper Bruja we started up the main wash still going north west. There are a few pouroffs past Bruja from the big escarpment that look like Grande but are not. Traveling along the wash were mini potholes that were full of water from the rain, but they were did not hold much water at all.

Some people refer to Grande as Lower Grande because there is another tinaja on the upper portion of the drainage (called Upper Grande). Further up wash from this tinaja is another one called Largo. I believe Upper Grande requires ropes. These were all marked on one of Okiehiker's maps but without names.

View of Grande from the wash


The actual tinaja must be reached by climbing around to the right. In the picture you can see the trees to the right that you climb through but you only actually have to go a short ways up. It's not technical but you have to maneuver around and through the vegetation and rocks.

Tinaja Grande


We filled all our bottles with water and then continued up the wash until we got to where the wash splits. The left fork goes up towards Lujan and the right towards Dam Tinaja. We decided to get out of the wash as it looked like it twisted around a lot and we were worried about any pouroffs that couldn't be climbed. I should have re-read Mule Ear's report because I believe he stayed in the wash. There is also supposed to be a tinaja along this portion called Smuggler's or Alphonse. Once we got most of the elevation climbed we were back into the wash but it was fairly narrow and choked with vegetation.

Looking back towards Bruja:


Eventually we got out of the wash and ran into the trail that took us down to Dam Tinaja. There was water behind the Dam but it was muddy.

View from Dam Tinaja.


We hiked into the little valley below Dam T. and found a good camping spot in the western end near the fenceline and above the wash. It was 5 pm and we had hiked 6.6 miles for the day.

More later.

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 999
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2010, 11:10:56 PM »
We didn't explore Blanca or Rana as we wanted to get as far out on the Mesa as we could before dark in order to shorten the next day's hike. We didn't see any other signs of people or trash. Lots of fresh burro poop but never saw one. We did scare up a big mule dear and a small herd of Javelina south east of Flag.

Those burro trails are nice as they are pretty clear of rock. But like you said, they tend to disappear and I was kicking myself for taking a left fork when it petered out. I ended up with a pretty good blister that I blamed on all the baby head rock.

I meant to note that Tinaja Grande held a lot of water, perhaps thousands of gallons (that is hard to see from the picture). Water was about 4-6 inches from the lip which spilled into another tinaja below it (and was empty). That second tinaja would not have been easy to get to, even if it had water.

I don't remember there being frost in the morning. It was cold but more of a "wet cold" as I don't think it was much below 40 if at all.

*

Offline badknees

  • Actually, I was there once
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4394
  • I think I know that place
    • Through the Mirror
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2010, 11:13:54 PM »
I'd kill for your GPS tracks. Great stuff Robert. Thanks for posting.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

*

Offline Al

  • Dog Face Moth
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4095
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2010, 11:45:56 PM »
Robert, great stuff.  Looking forward to more!

Al

*

Offline mule ears

  • Administrator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4378
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2010, 06:06:08 AM »
Awesome Robert,
I am headed out of town and won't be back until Sunday so I will look forward to the rest when I get home  :nailbitting:

We did stay in the right hand wash all the way to the trail between Canyon Flag and Dam Tinaja and came across the tinaja you mentioned.

You seem to have a knack for getting rained on in the Bend.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

*

Offline homerboy2u

  • The Chipewa Cris tribe,Canada:
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 5103
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2010, 08:00:19 AM »
Very good, Robert.....keep it coming.

 As a note: I was going to post a comment last night, before going to bed but i thought i would hold back a little bit to see if the diehard hikers would jump in for comment. I was not deceived.(in no particular order: TWWG,AL,BK,Mule Ears)..... :icon_twisted:. There are others still hungry for some more good stuff,but they will give in. Just keep posting and they will jump like popcorn.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 08:02:28 AM by homerboy2u »
Stay thirsty, my friends.

*

BigBendHiker

  • Guest
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2010, 08:07:48 AM »
Great report and pictures thus far.  Keep 'em coming.


BBH

*

Offline dave2

  • Diamondback
  • *
  • 160
    • http://www.descant.tcu.edu
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2010, 11:26:12 AM »
Robert: Great report.  It was cool to run into you and Mitch at K.Kowgirl's on Saturday Jan. 2 in the early morning. (We were the couple waiting for breakfast around the fire.)  You're an inspiration to us all. Keep the reports coming.
Dave2

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 999
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2010, 12:04:37 PM »
Hey Dave. Yes we enjoyed meeting someone from the board as well. I'll try to finish up this weekend.

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 999
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2010, 10:11:16 PM »
Day 3
We had a little rain overnight but not much. When we got up in the morning it was clear but looking off the Mesa to the north we could see fog below us in the desert.

 
While we got up before 7 we didn't get rolling until 8:45 or so. I wasn't worried because Mule Ears reported that this was a short day for him and we were already a little further down the trail than he had been. But before we left camp the fog was rising and as we climbed out of our little valley to start the climb off the Mesa we had no view below us as we were in the clouds.


I was a little disappointed because I had walked up to the top of this ridge the day before when we were looking around for a camp spot and the view had been great. Unfortunately my camera had been with my pack and I thought I would have a chance the next day.

The trail was pretty easy to follow, lots of cairns but somewhat steep and rocky but not at all that difficult. The trail was so easy to follow that we keep on trucking until we came to a fence line.

Looking at GPS trying to figure out where we were.


Turns out we missed the spot where we were to start turning back to our right along the Mesa. Re-reading ME's post looks like he did the same thing. But we decided to retrace our steps back up to where we missed the turn. It tooks us 12 minutes to climb the 200 feet back up the trail to the "junction". There was a faint trail that went the other direction and we started down it 30 minutes after the first time we were there.

Turns out it really wasn't a trail at all. It was just a series of game trails that disappeared and reappeared as we made our way down to the desert floor sideways along the north face of the MDA. As ME reported we did see cairns on top of big rocks, just no real trail. What I mean is that there are some big boulders that have rolled down off the Mesa and little cairns sitting on top. I guess they are there to mark the route. The total climb down off the Mesa was only about 600 feet of elevation loss from the Dam Tinaja.

Once down off the Mesa we pulled out the map and tried to figure out if we were supposed to stay in the washes or cut across them. Unfortunately we were to start cutting across all the washes that were coming off of the Mesa.

This was a real PITA as it was a constant up and down, trying to figure out the easiest way through some deep washes with multiple arms. But the temps were still cool and with plenty of cloud cover so I guess it could have been worse. Out goal was the pass between the Mesa and point 2662.
Pass is in the upper right.


While this was one of the tougher stretches we had it only took us about an hour to get across to the pass were we stopped for lunch. Once we got going again we dropped into the wash that would take us all the way to Terlingua Abaja and it eventually turned into a virtual superhighway. The bed of the wash was fairly hard packed and little to no vegetation and we made great time.


It soon started clearing up and we could then see Bruja opening up to our right. Our wash was parallel to the Bruja wash and we jumped out and over to the wash about a mile before Terlingua creek. This area was very flat and devoid of vegetation until the Bruja wash went through a cut just southwest of point 2564. We soon jumped out of the wash and went between 2564 and pt. 2323 to get to the ruins at T.A. Then across the creek and to our cache.


We wrapped up our day a little after 3 pm, found a camp spot against the low hills between the creek and the Maverick road with a view of Santa Elena. By the afternoon the clouds were completely gone which was pretty much the way it stayed the rest of the trip. We took advantage of the sunshine and proximity to water to clean up and enjoy the afternoon. We had cached a bottle of wine to go with dinner so had a great evening.

We had hiked 9.3 miles for the day.

« Last Edit: January 09, 2010, 11:12:27 AM by Robert »

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 999
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Re: Lajitas to Maverick Junction 12-27-09 to 1-03-10
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2010, 01:11:47 PM »
Day 4

That night was clear and cold but probably only around the freezing mark. Not only were we deprived of any good sunrise or sunset viewing (because we seemed to have either all clouds or no clouds) but it was a full moon and stargazing was very limited. Not that I'm complaining (that much) because the trip was going well. At any rate we were getting to sleep between 8-9 pm most nights and sleeping until 6:30-6:45.

We had a little extra packing to do in the morning as we were dropping off clothes and unneeded supplies in our cache buckets so we were off at 9am. We hiked up and over the hills to get to Maverick road instead of going through the wash that cut through them and that was probably a mistake because it was a little too much work made worse by having to carry the buckets.

By 10 we had left our buckets by the road and were headed towards the small wash that would take us north through the cut just west of point 2441 so we could start our swing around the west and north sides of Willow. The wash was choked with vegetation so we had to work are way along the sides. Once through the cut we turned east and cut across some open small hills.

Looking back the "cut" is to the far left in the foreground.


This area we were in was a mix of grass and open areas. When we were just north of point 2367 we hit the high point and started down into the Alamo Creek drainage. But once we got to the "blue" portion of the wash we found it full of grass and vegetation, almost impossible to get through.

This section that went all the way to Alamo creek had deep soil deposits that the grass was growing in. The banks of the wash were steep and covered in grass as well. In some places there were feeder gullies that were 3-4 deep and virtually hidden from view. So even trying to skirt the sides of the main drainage was a slow and painful process.


Here is just one of the deeper "feeder" gullies that we got into. The bank is about even with my elbows and it is only a few feet across. You could jump across but you can't see where you are jumping. Note the power line over my head.


Eventually we made our way into Alamo creek. Thankfully it was free of grass and a power line was running through it. We soon saw remnants of an old road and three sets of footprints going in the same direction. We diverted from ME's route by taking the first wash north past the "spring' and I believe he took the second wash. We did this so we would not have to backtrack to Pena Spring. There was no evidence of a spring that we could see while in the wash. We turned north up this wash and took a break for lunch. It was about this time that the wind really picked up and it continued for the rest of the day and into the evening.

After lunch we continued north though the wash through some low hills and we took a side fork to the east towards Pena. This wash was smaller and a little harder to navigate. It would close up on us and then open back up in other sections. I was surprised when we ran across water in the wash. At first I thought it was runoff from the rain but then realized it was from a spring as it continued up the wash in sections where it appeared and then went back into the sand.

Looking back downstream from where the water first appeared.


When we saw some cairns exiting the wash I realized we were seeing water from Pena as we had run into the Chimneys trail. But we were at least a half mile from where Pena was marked on the map. There was also a side wash coming in from the right that marked where Pena's water entered the larger wash we had been in. We took the trail exit and started eastward on the trail which was a nice break from cross country hiking. The trail went through a small hard rock canyon and we could see the water down in the creek below.


The little valley opened up some and the trail continued to parallel the creek on the right side. Eventually we had to cross and recross the creek. The trail followed the right fork of the wash when it split again going up towards where Pena spring is marked on the map. While we saw lots of vegetation we didn't get close enough to check for flowing water at this point. I would recommend this area for a long day hike from the Chimney's trailhead or even an overnight desert backpack as there is water flowing for quite a long ways.

Then we popped up on the top of the drainage and could see the Chimneys off in the distance.


We didn't stay on the trail for long. The wind was really howling by then. We dropped into the wash that would take us around the eastern side of the Black Mesa. We then took a left fork that would take us north over towards Red Ass Spring. Once we got past the upper end of the wash we dropped down the other side and the work started again as we had to cut across drainages that were going east to west. These got progressively bigger as we got closer to the spring and we had to consult the map a few times to ensure we didn't get down into something we would be better off trying to skirt.

It does look like it would be a lot easier coming from the Chimneys as you would be on the upper end of many of drainages. Eventually we were overlooking the wash that Red Ass drained into and found our way down into it.

One of the seeps at Red Ass Spring.


We found a nice flat spot down in the canyon past the spring. We were out of the stronger blasts of wind that continued into the evening. We had packs off by 4:15 and I was beat. We had covered 11.7 miles which was our longest day and it was New Year's Eve.

Dinner was Wick Fowler's chili with cheese and crackers, cookies for dessert plus hot chocolate and a couple of shots of Tequila to celebrate the new year.


That night was our coldest of the trip but I slept pretty well. I'd swear I heard firecrackers going off in the distance later. The wind finally died out later that night as well.


« Last Edit: January 09, 2010, 05:24:25 PM by Robert »

 


©COPYRIGHT NOTICE

All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments