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Mesa de Anguila

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Mesa de Anguila
« on: March 21, 2017, 07:59:59 PM »
The Return of DesertRatShorty

Part 2: Mesa de Anguila

This trip report details the second part of my week in Big Bend. During the first part, I hiked through the Sierra Quemada and around Mule Ears, and you can read about that here.

The plan for Part 2 was pretty basic: check out the Mesa rim, the Santa Elena Canyon, and various tinajas (pools of water) along the way. Here's my route:



Without further ado . . .
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 11:32:08 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 DesertRatShorty

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2017, 08:07:50 PM »
Day 1/5: Wednesday, March 1

I hiked out of my previous trip a little after noon on a Wednesday. That gave me plenty of time to start Part 2 the same day, but at the time that option wasn't very appealing. However, after getting some good food in my belly and taking a shower at Rancho Topanga, I thought again about starting Part 2 later that same day, and was like



So I drove to Lajitas and hit the trail around 4:30 or 5. The weather was perfect. My only goal for the day was to climb up on to the Mesa.



I was at the top within an hour. The view back toward the trailhead:



After a brief rest, I continued along the trail and views of the Rio Grande opened up to the west:





So far this week my hiking was ending around 7 PM, just as the sun was setting, so it was nice to make camp by 6:30 and have time to enjoy a beautiful sunset.



Looking SE toward La Mariposa (far right) and some mesitas:



Take your pick of these sunset photos.









Good clouds. I theme that would be reprised later in the trip.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 08:23:50 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

*

Offline dprather

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2017, 09:16:20 PM »
Great, great pics.  Thank you.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2017, 10:07:02 PM »
Dude, you are awesome. I think you may be my brother from another mother: You are the one mom liked best.

As you may remember...I, too, have been planning a March trip up to the Mesa. Our itineraries are freakishly similar. I'll PM mine to you so you can see what I'm talking about. Thanks for the trip report. I look forward to reading the rest!
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 09:20:56 AM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2017, 11:46:22 PM »
Love It!   Looks from the map that you found plenty of water sources and I hope you will share that info, it's like Gold to get first hand boots-on-the-ground info from the MDA.   Few people ever go up there and few of those ever report back with any useful water info but I can tell you visited several tinajas along the way.   Thanks so much for posting this info.  TWWG

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2017, 11:23:25 PM »
Day 2/6: Thursday, March 2

Cold and windy this morning, so I stayed in my bag an extra 30 minutes. Having knocked off a couple miles yesterday, I could afford to hike more casually today.

The temps for this trip were below average, with highs in the low seventies and lows in the forties. This allowed me to get by on 4 liters of water per day.

Continuing the theme from my Quemada trip, there was a lot of water out here (relatively speaking). Just after I hit the trail, I came across this large pool just west of the trail in one of the larger washes.



Continuing southeast along the trail, the first major point of interest today was Tinaja Rana, a pool of water that sits deep within a large slot on the western face of the Mesa that has been carved by the forces of water. Here's the entrance as seen from above.



The slot zigs and zags before opening up. Here's the view to the southwest.



And southeast, with La Mariposa in the background.



From the same position, but now looking down to the tinaja itself.



The vista to the SW:



Continuing along the trail, the lower elevations to the west were beckoning . . .



but not this trip.

The next stop was Tinaja Blanca, slightly smaller than Rana but still impressive. Fortunately for me there was water up above in a smaller pool, but if necessary, a decent climber could get down to the tinaja. Here's the entrance:





and the cleft in the Mesa below the pool:



Plenty of water in this tinaja too.

Continuing SE, there were impressive views to the south and west:



As I rounded Canyon Flag, the Santa Elena Canyon came into view in the distance, still some five miles away:



As you round Three Sisters Butte you have this view:



Those are the Chisos Mountains in the distance. Just to the left, there is a hill, and from that hill runs a wash that flows directly in to



a ginormous hole in the ground. I climbed down about 20 feet, although I've read it goes down about 60.



Inside I was able to find a small shelf with some shade were I took my afternoon rest. Definitely my least scenic rest spot, but there's not much shade out here.

Here's the barren terrain near the sinkhole, looking toward Three Sisters Butte.



After the long break, I returned to the trail and followed it southeast until it faded away. From there I continued cross-country toward the mesa rim. Here's what you're hiking on:



Easy walking if you aren't in a rush. Here's a view to the southwest, showing the undulating landscape.



Within a couple of hours of leaving the sinkhole I had made it to the mesa rim with an expansive view of the rest of the park to the east. Here I cached some water, soaked in some views, and startled a couple of Aoudad. It was kind of hazy today so I'll save the rim photos for tomorrow.

I continued perhaps another mile southeast along the rim, and camped about a mile shy of the mouth of the Santa Elena Canyon.

As I got ready for bed, a certain weariness started to come over me. The kind of weariness you get after you've been on the trail for 5+ days, 50+ miles, and you start to think about the comforts of civilization. Was it really worth it to be out here for two more days?

I shook it off, and resolved to continue with my plan and make the best of it.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2017, 01:01:55 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

*

Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2017, 12:03:13 AM »
Dude, you are awesome. I think you may be my brother from another mother: You are the one mom liked best.

As you may remember...I, too, have been planning a March trip up to the Mesa. Our itineraries are freakishly similar. I'll PM mine to you so you can see what I'm talking about. Thanks for the trip report. I look forward to reading the rest!

High praise coming from Odysseus himself! The MDA trip looks like a worthy follow-up to your recent epic, and I hope you can make it happen.
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

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2017, 10:07:41 AM »
Dude, you are awesome. I think you may be my brother from another mother: You are the one mom liked best.

As you may remember...I, too, have been planning a March trip up to the Mesa. Our itineraries are freakishly similar. I'll PM mine to you so you can see what I'm talking about. Thanks for the trip report. I look forward to reading the rest!

High praise coming from Odysseus himself! The MDA trip looks like a worthy follow-up to your recent epic, and I hope you can make it happen.

Thanks, Shorty!  Of all the things I failed to accomplish in my recent cross-park hike, not making it to the MDA may have been the most disappointing. I've been backpacking Big Bend since 1995 and never made a trip up there.  I thought last December would finally be my debut, but alas, it was not to be.  When an unexpected window opened up this March, the MDA was the first thing that came to mind. I'd actually hoped to be up there right now, but it seems I've injured the menisci in my left knee. Gotta be age-related: the last time I had any kind of knee problem was over 40 years ago while running high school track. I may have to postpone my first exploration of the MDA yet again. Ah, well, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.  ;)

I am thoroughly enjoying your trip reports. Two VERY ambitious off-trail hikes, both nailed. And back-to-back, no less. That's tough stuff.   :eusa_clap:

I got such a kick out of your MDA route. You and I both examined the terrain and made amazingly similar decisions about how to approach it.  I've never seen anyone else choose that seam running southwest from the north rim to the point overlooking Smugglers Cave.  I was looking forward to exploring that one, and I'm excited to see how it worked out for you.  I've heard rumors that it holds a tinaja about 2/3 of the way toward Smugglers Cave Overlook, somewhere around 29.1678, -103.6418.  Also, I do have a question about the first tinaja you found, the one just west of the packtrail heading away from the saddle: was it perhaps located around 29.2289, -103.7237 ? If so, that would be the same ephemeral, but generally reliable tinaja I've seen mentioned once before, and confirmed by Lance and elhombre on their recent trip up onto the Mesa.

Eagerly looking foward to the rest of your report!
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 12:17:45 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2017, 10:05:34 PM »
Also, I do have a question about the first tinaja you found, the one just west of the packtrail heading away from the saddle: was it perhaps located around 29.2289, -103.7237 ? If so, that would be the same ephemeral, but generally reliable tinaja I've seen mentioned once before, and confirmed by Lance and elhombre on their recent trip up onto the Mesa.

Not certain about the coordinates, but on Lance's Google Earth Big Bend project there is one water source, marked simply "Tinajas", before Rana. I believe that is it. It is actually a pair of tinajas, you can see part of the second one in my photo above.
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

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2017, 10:26:09 PM »
Thanks, Shorty. Yes, that must be it. Didn't realize there were two tinajas, that's good info. As far as coordinates go, if you pull up the caltopo.com maplink for my route (the one I sent you) and move the cursor onto any point, it will display the coordinates in the upper right hand corner of the screen. MuleEars turned me on to Caltopo last fall, one of the best learning experiences of my hiking life.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2017, 06:29:39 PM »
Day 3/7

Up at 6:00 am, a little more than an hour before sunrise. I broke down camp, prepared my pack for a day hike, and stashed the rest of my gear. I started walking by headlamp at 6:30, 20 minutes before the sky started to lighten, and set off toward "the point" where the mesa rim meets the mouth of the Santa Elena Canyon, about a mile away.

The dawn revealed some partial cloud coverage in the direction of the Chisos Mountains and Sierra Quemada, just what I was hoping for.



Whatever doldrums had hit me last night soon faded away entirely. I put it in high gear, and arrived at the point about 10-15 minutes before sunrise.



The next few minutes yielded what was undoubtedly the scenic and photographic highlight of the entire week. One of those moments where you just lose your self-awareness; all I remember is taking pictures and gazing in awe and wonder. The following sequence of photographs was taken over about a 10 minute span, 5 to either side of sunrise.

















"Suitable for framin'!" Jack's Pass is the notch just to the left of the sun. The sunrise was extraordinary, but when coupled with the panoramic view, it was just phenomenal.

Looking NW, the way I had hiked in yesterday:



The view SW, and the Mexican side of the of the mesa.



1400 feet straight down:



Terlingua creek:



More random shots:







To be continued . . .
« Last Edit: September 09, 2018, 03:04:08 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

*

Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2017, 06:53:52 PM »
By 8 AM I started making my way west. I didn't try to follow the canyon as the terrain was too irregular.



A couple of times I was able to drop in to washes which eased my progress. One of these had a small tinaja, maybe 2 feet across and 3 inches deep. Within a couple of hours I had returned to the canyon, but upriver. Here looking back east, you can see the canyon mouth, where I saw the sun rise, in the distance.



I soon reached Fern Point, which overlooks Fern Canyon, a major canyon coming in from the Mexican side.



As impressive as the mesa rim is for its sweeping, panoramic views, somehow Fern Point is equally impressive but in a different way. You get a much better sense of the magnitude of the canyon, with birds circling below you, and the immersive experience of having a massive canyon extending in three directions filling your entire visual field. Of all the features I saw this week, this is the hardest to capture in pictures, but of course I tried nonetheless.







There is a registry.



I do not envy the person who hauled this ammo box out here. I roamed around for about an hour.







Around 11 AM, I began the hike back to the previous night's camp. Taking a different route, I decided to follow a wash all the way back. This was not only an easier route, but the washes way out here near the canyon are actually very scenic, with lots of exposed rock and few obstructions.



Around 12:30 I returned to my camp and packed up all my belongings. I then headed north following the mesa rim to where I had cached water the previous day. On all other days this week, I took my long afternoon rest in the shade, but today was cool with a light breeze, making this the ultimate rest spot.







I continued along the rim; Bruja Canyon can be seen in the distance on the right.



About this point I said goodbye to the rim and made my way toward lower ground.



Around 5 PM, I reached an overlook of Bruja Canyon, near its midpoint:



Cerro Castellan in the distance.



A side canyon that drops off rapidly:





Continuing NW:





I quickly reached the entrance to Bruja Canyon.



I believe this is Tinaja Susan right at the first drop off. Lots of water.



A little further down.



Unfortunately, with daylight running out, and my needing to be out around noon the next day, I needed to get a couple more miles in, and didn't have time to see how far I could get down the canyon.

I continued on toward Tinaja Grande, located at the base of this cleft.



Access to the main pool is gained by climbing up on the right. However, there was water right there in front



as well as in the main pool.



The view upward.



I continued NW



following a broad wash



right until it makes its final big turn NW toward Tinaja Lujan. This is also the point at which the wash becomes rocky, and a trail begins paralleling the wash, marked on the right by this cairn:



I'm grateful to Robert for pointing this out in one of his earlier trip reports. With the sun setting, I camped in the wash.

These spiders were everywhere.



They had something reflective (eyes?) that caught the glow of my headlamp even from far away, and everywhere I looked there were several to be seen. Are they dangerous? Fortunately, they did not seem interested in me.

What a day. And the night started as clear as could be . . .

« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 12:44:17 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

*

Offline elhombre

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2017, 09:23:43 AM »
We have always called those Big Bend wolf Spiders.  They are all over the bend and we have never had a problem with them. 

Sun rise on the edge of santa elena puts you on a short list indeed!
« Last Edit: March 25, 2017, 09:46:21 AM by elhombre »
For 2 years the Fake News Media, Obama's FBI, CIA & DOJ, and Swamp dwelling Politicians COLLUDED, Illegally Spied,and LIED to America about POTUS in order to overturn an election

All the while demanding censorship and removal of opposition Conservative "hate speech" voices.  Globalists Hate Freedom

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2017, 12:11:25 PM »
We have always called those Big Bend wolf Spiders.  They are all over the bend and we have never had a problem with them. 

I think you said you guys often tent rather than cowboy camp because of the irritation of critters crawling across your bag at night awakening you.  Is this one of them?  That doesn't sound appealing.  Or maybe I'm not bringing enough whiskey?  :icon_lol:
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline GaryF

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Re: Mesa de Anguila
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2017, 12:30:41 PM »
Definitely look like wolf spiders. They are common around here, and I like to go out  in the summertime with an led flashlight and look for them by eye shine. Technically they are mildly poisonous I think, but not really dangerous to people.

 


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