Thursday, September 29, 2016

Surprisingly Close Encounter

Another early start
Becca and I were exploring far west of Tortugas Mountain when I spotted the young Diamondback Rattlesnake pictured below.  When it caught my eye I realized that we had walked right past it two times during our examination of an arroyo.  It wasn't at all agitated by our presence, which is slightly surprising because young rattlers are a bit excitable and far-and-away the most dangerous; they're dangerous because they haven't learned yet how to control the amount of venom they release when they bite.
Just the way she likes it

City of Las Cruces and the Robledo Mountains

This way to the lower desert

Fruit of the Cholla Cactus

Clinchweed is flowering all over the desert

Just west of Tortugas

Pair of cowboy chaps (really the fallen trunk of a yucca)

Late-blooming Ocotillo

A really late bloomer

Closeup of the Ocotillo flower

Becca exploring an arroyo

Lots of grasses still in evidence

Torrey Yucca and the Organ Mountains

The air is filled with the fragrance of Clinchweed

Clinchweed in almost every vacant spot

Desert Palafox

Organ Mountains

What we were doing prior to our encounter

Young Diamondback Rattler unperturbed by our presence

I stepped around to capture a different perspective

They can't help but look mean

Scott's Oriole

The poor dove who flew into our patio door survived

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Warm Days, Cool Nights

Just after sunrise
It was about 60F when Becca and I hit the trail west of Tortugas Mountain this morning, and we're heading for a high of about 80F.  Yesterday we reached only 74F.  We've arrived at the time of year when the daytime temperatures rise to the mid-eighties then drop at night into the mid- to low-fifties.  It's a time of year that I really like temperature wise because I can break out a jacket or light anorak at the start of each long trek and then remove it by the halfway point or before.
Barrel Cactus fruit looks like a small pineapple

Scouting the territory

Sky over the high foothills

Some type of drill bit must have made this quarter-sized impression

Doesn't look it, but we're on the western slope of Tortugas

Seed pods of the White-thorn Acacia

Cutleaf Globe Berry

Cutleaf or Slimlobe Globe Berry is a member of the cucumber family

Checking for critters or other outdoor enthusiasts

Misty mountains

Tortugas and the Organs

West of Tortugas

Same view sans yucca

Looking toward old El Paso

Close in to the mountain

About a quarter way to the saddle

Wooly Paperflowers again

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Desert Rain

Some blue sky at the start
It began sprinkling at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday then quickly transformed into a steady light rain that literally lasted until after 10:00.  This morning the desert was still soaked, and the humidity was high.  When Becca and I did a trek west of Tortugas Mountain there was fog and heavy cloud cover.  The sun broke through occasionally to paint the mountains in soft light, but old Sol was absent for most of our trek.  The upside was the cool temperature:  52F when we started off.  Becca truly enjoyed the break from blistering heat.
Centennial High School and the Doña Ana Mountains

Dynamic sky over the high foothills

Happy to be hiking in cooler weather

Very late blooming Ocotillo

Sun trying to put in an appearance

Advent of autumn in an Ocotillo patch

Harbinger of winter

Rain-filled Barrel Cactus

Wooly Paperflower

Clouds sweeping in near the Organ Mountains

Still some blue over Tortugas

Following the Crosscut Trail

View from inside an arroyo

Many Desert Marigolds still in bloom

Wet sand

Tiny purple flower on a low vine

Pencil Cholla fruit

Organ Mountains

This and the rest:  Clouds against the Organ Mountains