Mesa de Anguila Backpack Trip - January 2006
The picture above was taken from the top of La Mariposa and shows Canyon Flag in the foreground and the Chisos Mountains in the background.
The pictures shown here are from a four day private trip to Mesa de Anguila in Big Bend National Park on January 26-29, 2006.
Ze'ev Saggi organized the trip. Ze'ev has been on the Mesa quite a few times and knows the area very well. The other trip participants were Linda Gamez, John Shannon, David Van Winkle and me. This was my first trip on the Mesa in over 10 years.
Here is what we did: On Thursday we started hiking from the Lajitas trailhead at about 9:45. We hiked the north route through the wash, bypassing Tinaja Lujan, to our camp near the wax camp between Tinaja Largo and Tinaja Grande. We camped there three nights, dayhiking on Friday and Saturday and backpacking back to Lajitas on Sunday.
Friday's dayhike took us south to Tinaja de la Verga. After visiting the tinaja, we climbed out of the canyon holding the tinaja and then continued south to the edge of Santa Elena Canyon between river mileposts 899 and 890 where we had lunch and enjoyed the views. After lunch we followed the canyon rim upstream a short distance before turning north and returning to our camp.
On Saturday, we hiked northwest and visited the upper end of Tinaja Lujan. Then we turned roughly north and visited the mesa rim for a great view of the Chisos Mountains to the east and the many mountains that are outside the park to the north. We then hiked the short distance to Tinaja Dam where we had lunch. Tinaja Dam is a man-made tinaja created by a concrete dam that dates from pre-park days. After lunch we headed roughly southeast and visited Tinaja Alphonso (aka Tinaja Smugglers), Tinaja Grande, and Tinaja Susan, before returning to camp. Along the way we got some great views of Bruja Canyon.
On Sunday, our last day, we broke camp and got ready to head back to Lajitas. Before putting our packs on, we hiked the short distance from our campsite to the upper end of the short canyon holding Tinaja Grande. We returned to our campsite, picked up our packs and hiked southwest to the Mesa de Anguila Sinkhole. Ze'ev, Linda, and I climbed down into the sinkhole as far as you can go without a rope - about 35 or 40 feet. That is far enough that almost no sunlight reaches you. From The Sinkhole, we took the trail roughly northwest. This is about the only major semi-maintained trail on the mesa. After passing Canyon Flag and Tinaja Blanca, we dropped our packs and dayhiked to the top of La Mariposa. This is a tough climb due to loose rocks and lots of cactus, but the views are worth the effort. We saw three bighorn sheep near the top. After returning to our packs and having lunch, we hiked on toward Lajitas, descended The Saddle, and got to our cars just after 5:00 PM. From there it was showers in Lajitas and dinner and beer in Terlingua.
Overall, we covered 40 miles on our four-day hike.