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Still new after all these years!

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Offline Cookie

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Still new after all these years!
« on: December 08, 2018, 03:24:20 PM »
I can’t believe that ElHombre and I have been visiting Big Bend for almost 20 years! We used to go scuba diving for our vacations, but in 1998 we purchased a Toyota Tacoma and our adventures with camping began. In the spring of ‘99 we planned our first camping trip to the southwest. We hit Zion, Bryce, the Grand Canyon, and some cool stuff in between. The next year we headed out again for almost 3 weeks and discovered Big Bend on our way back home. Since then we have visited the park at least once a year. Good years were 3 times! I love the fact that after all those visits there are still parts of the park we have not explored. This trip was about doing some “new” stuff in the park. The Mesa De Anguila(MDA) would be new to me and YoungHiker (YH). ElHombre had done a multi-night rappelling trip last year so he was familiar with the area. We also wanted to explore the Rosillos Mountains. We had 10 nights to plan for so this was the itinerary:

Night 1: drive in/get permits/car camp primitive
Night 2-4: MDA backpacking
Night 5-8: primitive car camping in the backcountry/day hiking
Night 9-10: Backpack the south rim

The weather looked favorable for the week. Maybe a bit cool but the rain chances were low. We had an uneventful drive out and were getting permits by mid afternoon. The ranger at the gate said the park was already busy. For about the last 10 years we have been hitting the park on Thanksgiving. Always coming out the week early to secure our permits and ensured we got our pick of the camping spots. As we talked with one of our more familiar rangers, we were surprised that all of our first choice car camping spots were full that first night. We wanted something close to the road so we could pick up and hit the the MDA the next morning fairly quick. All of Paint Gap-FULL. Rattlesnake Flat-FULL. Pine Canyon spots-FULL. And so it went...We finally settled on Grapevine 5. Getting the zone in MDA was no problem. We also wanted SE 3 for 2 nights on the end of our trip. We ended up in a bit of back and forth because the ranger didn’t want to give it to us because it was a “group site”.  He said they had a call from a group wanting to come in and backpack a week from now, so they were trying to save the larger sites for large groups. We know there is no “minimum” on the Chisos spots, only maximums. We could see his point --but “First come, First serve”, and we had made the extra effort to get there early to get our permits. He said the same thing about SW3. Group site. He mentioned that just that day they had a meeting about trying to only put groups (~6 or more) in those larger sites during the busy times. We thought about taking SE4 but figured it there was a group of 10 in SE3, we might not want to be that close. We decided to relent, and took SE2 knowing the group thing was really Bullcrap.  It was not near another site, and we decided it would be a “new” spot to try. We headed out to GV5 for our first evening in the park. After setting up camp, we had neighbors arrive in GV4, but they were very quiet.  No music.  Minimal car door closing.  Never heard them talking.  They obviously where our kind of campers! We had a good night.

We were up and packing camp up early, excited to get on the MDA. Made the drive out to Lajitas. Met the Mayor and his girlfriend (we think).

IMG-7893 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG-7892 by Cookie, on Flickr

Had lunch and packed up.
DSC05134 - Copy - Copy by Cookie, on Flickr

 We were a bit worried when we pulled up to the trailhead and there was an “REI Adventures” 15 passenger van sitting in the parking lot. As we were packing, the group returned from a day hike on the MDA. Whew! Happy they were heading out as we were heading in. We were on the trail by about 1pm. We could see the trail cutting up through a gap in the hill that would get us on top of the MDA. With all the recent rain, we were hopeful the tinajas would have the precious water needed for us to complete our four day trip. We brought along our new Platypus Gravityworks 2L water filtration system. More on that later.

DSC05136 by Cookie, on Flickr

this fat boy was just hanging out
DSC05138 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05139 by Cookie, on Flickr

We found some water in the first unnamed tinaja we came to. We named it Centipede Tinaja. Our plan was to use Tinaja Blanca as our main water source for the trip. It was about 30 minutes from where we planned to camp. The Mesa was beautiful but definitely not flat. The trails were rough with lots of loose rocks and, did I mention, not a lot of flat. We made it to the base of Canyon Flag and set up our camp. The views were outstanding of Mariposa and off into Mexico. As night fell we were amazed at how many lights were visible on the Mexico side. Definitely not the dark skies it used to be out there.

IMG-7895 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG-7896 by Cookie, on Flickr

tiny tracks
DSC05141 by Cookie, on Flickr

"Centipede Tinaja"
DSC05143 by Cookie, on Flickr

first water on the trail
DSC05145 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05147 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05150 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05152 by Cookie, on Flickr

Our original plan was to hike out to the Point the next day, and day hike the second day checking out the water sources. With the forecast for the next day being much warmer than day 2 (a front was expected to cool things off) we opted to explore around the area first, then head to the point for our second full day when it was supposed to be cooler. Good plan! It was nice the first day, but it got very warm by the afternoon. Desert!

So, our first full day on the MDA we headed for the sinkhole. This is a pretty cool spot to explore. We down climbed into the hole and checked it out. YoungHiker really liked this spot, and we hope to explore it more in the future when we can bring better lights on another trip.

DSC05156 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05158 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05161 by Cookie, on Flickr

view from the hill north of the Sinkhole
DSC05176 by Cookie, on Flickr

looking out towards The Point
DSC05177 by Cookie, on Flickr

looking back down at the Sinkhole
DSC05179 by Cookie, on Flickr

We then headed towards Tinaja Grande A,B and C. We were hoping we could climb down the steep edge and make it to the tinajas. We spent a little time searching for a weakness in the ridge, but we didn’t bring enough rope equipment to safely get down the ledges.  Knowing how long it takes to hike anywhere off trail, and seeing the distance we would need to cover to get down the ridge we were on,  we aborted that plan.   We still needed to make it back to Tinaja Blanca for water, and back to camp before dark. So we settled on exploring the canyon north of Canyon Flag.

DSC05180 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05182 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05183 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05184 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05185 by Cookie, on Flickr


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Offline Cookie

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2018, 03:25:22 PM »
Really neat area, and as we were trying to head to Tinaja Lujan, we found an amazing unnamed tinaja. At least 3 feet deep! After marking it on the GPS, we decided to skip Lujan and pick up the spur trail back to Blanca.

DSC05186 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05187 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05188 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05189 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05190 by Cookie, on Flickr

looking down from the top of the pour off
DSC05191 by Cookie, on Flickr


DSC05194 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05195 by Cookie, on Flickr


DSC05196 by Cookie, on Flickr

back at Blanca for water
DSC05198 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05199 by Cookie, on Flickr

lowest pool at Blanca
DSC05200 by Cookie, on Flickr

looking past the BIG pour off at the bottom of Blanca
DSC05201 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05202 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05204 by Cookie, on Flickr

The main pool of Tinaja Blanca had some water but it wasn’t as clean looking as an upper pool. We were glad the water hadn’t dried up so much leaving the lower pool as the only option. It’s a bit of a climb to get the water from Blanca proper! So with our first full day complete we headed back for a relaxing night at camp. Next day, we would head out on the 14 mile round trip hike to The Point!

So a few thoughts on the hike out to The Point. Rough. Rocky. No trail. You really got to want this one. The rewards of making it out are breathtaking, amazing and beautiful!! There was a juvenile Buzzard perched on a rock near the edge that seemed to enjoy watching us. We wondered if it had seen people before because it had no fear. YH named him “Howard” and said “he was just chillin’ on the rim.” Added bonus was running into a small herd of horses. Can’t imagine surviving out there. They had a younger looking one, maybe born in the spring? We also noticed one was a bit lame. Probably had one of the rocks stuck in it’s hoof.

IMG-7900 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG-7902 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG-7906 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG-7907 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG-7909 by Cookie, on Flickr

they had no idea we were up there watching
DSC05254 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05256 by Cookie, on Flickr

rock cactus with flower
DSC05259 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05262 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05269 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05272 by Cookie, on Flickr

7 miles back to camp
DSC05274 by Cookie, on Flickr

so many rocks :eusa_doh:
DSC05276 by Cookie, on Flickr

you can see the lights in Mexico
IMG-7914 by Cookie, on Flickr

My description later to YoungHiker on my thoughts of the trail as we hiked out: “I pictured a solid slab of rock about 6” thick covering the entire Mesa. 14 miles long x ~5 miles wide (just a guess as I hiked). Then I pictured Thor “putting the hammer down” on the Mesa and shattering all the rocks into millions of pieces and jumbling them all over the plateau. Now I had to walk on them.” I was not particularly fond of Thor as we hiked that day. Yes, we are Marvel nerds.

It was a long day and well earned. Hard to believe our time in the MDA was coming to an end. While hiking back on the Point trail, we did see some footprints that were new from the morning. When we got back to camp someone had checked out our spot and walked around the tents. Happy to say we did not actually see anyone on the trip till we made it back out to pavement. The walk out wasn’t bad and went fairly quick. We stopped at the resort in Lajitas, did laundry, took a $5 (unlimited time) shower and got ready to head back into the heart of the park for out next set of adventures.

sunrise of the last morning
DSC05280 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05282 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05283 by Cookie, on Flickr

beautiful day to hike out
IMG-7916 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05286 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05289 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05290 by Cookie, on Flickr

our exit from the MDA in the distance
DSC05292 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05293 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC05294 by Cookie, on Flickr

looking out across Lajitas
DSC05296 by Cookie, on Flickr

To be continued………..

~Cookie

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2018, 05:12:45 PM »
Link to location of the deep tinaja.  Map nerds can mark it on your own maps.  It is easy to get to from up stream.  Much, much bigger than Tinaja Blanca.

N29° 12.620' W103° 40.436'

https://mapper.acme.com/?ll=29.21033,-103.67394&z=15&t=U&marker0=29.21033%2C-103.67394%2CN29%25C2%25B0%2012.620%27%20W103%25C2%25B0%2040.436%27
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Offline Txlj

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2018, 08:36:29 PM »
I knew there were wild burros in the park but had no idea about the horses. Thank you!

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Offline Al

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2018, 01:46:36 AM »
Thank you.  A great trip and report!

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Offline dprather

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2018, 08:53:40 AM »
MdA is truly awesome.  Thanks for the pictures. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2018, 09:28:33 AM »
That the MDA was only part of your trip says alot about you all !  Wild Horses ? I thought those were long gone, that is really cool.  Great report.

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Offline Flash

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2018, 11:36:40 AM »
Probably strays? Is the gray one a horse?

==> Sent from Flash's phone


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Online Robert

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2018, 09:33:35 PM »
Quote
Link to location of the deep tinaja.  Map nerds can mark it on your own maps.  It is easy to get to from up stream.  Much, much bigger than Tinaja Blanca.

I walked by that tinaja on my trip to the MDA in 2014. I looked down on it but stayed above it and dropped back down into the canyon a little ways further downstream. I ran across other water in potholes from previous rains above Largo. Good to know the tinaja is fairly deep and can hold a good amount of water. Thanks for a great trip report!

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2018, 09:05:42 PM »
That the MDA was only part of your trip says alot about you all !  Wild Horses ? I thought those were long gone, that is really cool.  Great report.

Probably escaped  from Mexico. We saw lots of hoof prints. I thought burros :eusa_think:
Yes, Flash, the gray one was a horse too. We think it may have had a rope with a bell on it's leg. Maybe hobbled still, it was hard to get a good look. We could hear a bell on one but after looking at the pictures we couldn't see anything around any of their necks.

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Still new after all these years!
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2018, 09:10:06 PM »
Quote
Link to location of the deep tinaja.  Map nerds can mark it on your own maps.  It is easy to get to from up stream.  Much, much bigger than Tinaja Blanca.

I walked by that tinaja on my trip to the MDA in 2014. I looked down on it but stayed above it and dropped back down into the canyon a little ways further downstream. I ran across other water in potholes from previous rains above Largo. Good to know the tinaja is fairly deep and can hold a good amount of water. Thanks for a great trip report!

MDA is an amazing place! We did time the visit knowing their had been good rain out there. We were amazed at how deep that one was. Looked like it would have water for quite a while.

 


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