Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Exploring Arroyos

Early start, puffy clouds
This morning was perfect for exploring arroyos, mostly cloudy and cool with a slight breeze.  The greater number of interesting desert plant species are to be found lining the banks of arroyos because that's where the greatest amount of moisture is located in this arid land.  On our exploration today we trekked through a large arroyo (aka "wash") west of Tortugas Mountain that we hadn't been in for over a year.  We were not disappointed.  The one downside came when--about two-thirds of the way through our hike--the sun made a prolonged appearance, reminding us that it can feel pretty toasty walking along the sand inside of an arroyo.  Nevertheless, Becca and I had a very good time.
Large Torrey Yucca in the western foothills of Tortugas

Pointed upwards

Under a nice cloud cover

Downright cloudy to the south

In the west, though, clearing sky

Can't get enough of these Barrel Cacti

Arroyo west of Tortugas Mountain

We had to bushwhack to get over to this large Barrel Cactus

It was worth the effort

Really loaded with flowers and buds


Desert Marigolds blooming again

Large arroyo in the outback

Fuzzy seeds of the Creosote Bush

Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

Having just climbed out of a major arroyo we took in this view

That Barrel Cactus in the foreground is 4' tall

4' Barrel Cactus

That's the 4-footer to the right of and behind Becca

Finding shade

We haven't explored this particular arroyo in over a year

Making herself comfortable

Ready to head out


Large Ocotillo, Tortugas and the Organs

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tantalizing Behavior

Early start just west of Tortugas Mountain
Early this morning after we crested the high foothills trail and were starting down into the lower desert some Coyotes began yipping, barking and howling nearby.  There seemed to be four or five individuals spanning an area of about fifty yards.  As soon as we began descending into the lower desert I knew for certain we wouldn't see them.  All except one grew silent, and his/her plaintiff call faded into the distance until it stopped altogether.  I kept an eye out for those critters through two-thirds of our trek, but never got even a glimpse of a Trickster.  One thing is certain about Coyotes in their natural desert environment:  if they don't want you to see them you won't.
Nearly into the upper foothills now

Rocky slope

Moraine-like area that supports a thriving cactus garden

Long view across the northern Chihuahuan Desert

Bishop Cap at the horizon

Popcorn clouds

Organ Mountains

I've walked past this Neeple Beehive Cactus 100 times without seeing it

I spotted this Neeple Beehive alongside the Crosscut Trail for the first time


Rough Menodora

Spectacle Pod

Typical flora of the northern Chihuahuan Desert

Barrel Cactus

My favorite Neeple Beehive Cactus budding for the seventh time

Velvety Nerisyrenia are back

Yet another Barrel Cactus

Becca takes a break on our climb back up the mountain

Monday, August 22, 2016

Another Rainstorm

Allthorn flowers
During the overnight hours we had a storm--lots of lightning and thunder--that sent Becca into the bedroom for reassurance.  I petted her for quite a while before she calmed down.  When I took her out into the backyard in the morning to do her business I saw that we had received more rain than I had imagined.  And on the west side of Tortugas Mountain, where Becca and I did a moderately-long hike, there was evidence of fairly heavy rainfall.  With a lower temperature (60F), a persistent breeze, and the shadow of the mountain it felt almost chilly here in this section of the northern Chihuahuan Desert.

Rather cool in the shadow

Missed this Devil's Head blooming

Rainwater flow had deeply pitted the single-track

Into the lower desert

Do you see the size of this Prickly Pear pad

Yucca kachinas

Heavy water flow here

Barrel Cacti blooming all over

The puddle on the right is about 15 feet in length

Side view of the puddle

More Barrel Cactus

Barrel Cacti flowers and buds look like candy

Closeup of Barrel Cactus blossoms

West of Tortugas

Ocotillo and the Organs

Starting back in


Fruit of the Pencil Cholla

Hedgehog in the sun