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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monte Vista Hike

Beautiful weather greeted us as Becca and I started off from the east side of Tortugas Mountain. This first image is of a Purple Prickly Pear cactus in the morning sun.

A tangle of Yuccas, Ocotillos and Prickly Pears.

A little Yucca forest with the Organ Mountains in the background.

Prickly Pear and Soaptree Yucca, Tortugas Mountain in the rear.

Tortugas and the Organs intersect.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Trickster X 2

This plant is a Sotol, which is clinging to a rock outcropping on the east side of Tortugas Mountain.

Here's a shot of a Loggerhead Shrike sitting on an Ocotillo blossom.

Becca and I spotted two coyotes--one limping fairly badly--and I took several photos of them. Here's one.

Here's a closeup of the trickster. We went quickly up the trail and bushwhacked through the sage and creosote to try to get in front of them, but they never showed up. Too smart.

The ever-present Organ Mountains.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cloud Formations

There were some interesting wispy cloud formations over Tortugas this morning. Here's an example; they were not caused by jet contrails.

Swirly clouds above the mountain saddle.

We couldn't help noticing that the Ocotillo buds seem to have weathered the cold temperatures.

Buds and clouds.

Budding Ocotillo, Yucca and a vast stretch of Chihuahuan Desert.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cold Start

It was 29 degrees when we started our hike on the Monte Vista side of Tortugas Mountain this morning. Fortunately, there was little wind. The sun gave everything a sunny disposition. Here's a shot of blue skies over the mountain.

The trail back.

Name the four major plants in this photo.

Portillo Mountains on the far horizon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Return to Winter

It was 33 degrees when Becca and I started off this morning, and a brisk wind made it feel even colder. If the sun wasn't out, it would have seemed like winter. But here's the intrepid Desert Dog as eager for a hike as ever.
Looking back at the way we came.

Bishop's Cap formation.

The flower buds on these Ocotillos are freezing their stamens off.

Soaptree Yuccas in the morning sun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Prior to the Windstorm

Becca and I got our hike in before the wind started this morning, but now--just an hour after our outing--the gusts have begun. What's keeping these boulders from tumbling from their perch?

Desert Scout, always on the lookout for something.

A hearty Prickly Pear cactus growing on an arroyo bank.

A brief respite from the fun.

Purple Prickly Pear growing in another arroyo.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quick Hike/Quick Post

After shopping for provisions this morning, Becca and I got out on the trail on the west side of Tortugas. Here's a nice cactus garden that grows just off the trail.

The shoulder of Tortugas, with the Organ Mountains in the background.

A truck stuck in the middle of the desert.

I am a lineman for the county.

The west face of Tortugas.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Morning Jaunt

Beautiful views were abundant on our trek around Tortugas Mountain this morning. This is a shot of the dirt road leading out to the south mesa, Bishop's Cap in the background.

Uniquely-shaped Soaptree Yucca.

Hedgehog Cacti glistening in the early-morning sun.

An old Coyote Gourd from last year's crop.

This is a long-dead millipede whose normal brown color has changed to a petrified white.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day At The Races

Becca and I started off from the Monte Vista side of Tortugas this morning, and the weather was beautiful--breezy and cool. Here's a shot of the sinuous Tortoise, with the Monte Vista ramada in the middle-ground.

Mormon Tea growing on the east side of the mountain.

We ran into Rachel and Lacey, and immediately the race was on between Lacey and Becca. That's Becca trailing up the rear.

Becca passes on a hairpin turn.

A look back at Tortugas Mountain from the far west side.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Waiting For The Wind

Dr. K, Research Associate Becca and I got out this morning before the big winds came. The morning was beautiful, but it promises to get dusty this afternoon. This photo gives an idea of how nice the weather was.

Desert plants bathing in morning sunlight.

Dr. K and Becca enjoying the pleasant weather.

Tortugas and the Organs.

Lenticular clouds above the Organs show high winds aloft.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday Saunter

Here are some typical Chihuahuan Desert plants on the west side of Tortugas Mountain: Prickly Pear Cactus, Hedgehog Cactus, Ocotillos and Creosote bush.

This is an old Ocotillo that hasn't leafed out yet.

A small stand of Torrey Yucca.

A hot, happy and dusty dog.

A Soaptree Yucca colony.

Desert Life

1st 2:  Willow in yucca shadow It was so windy and the air was so bad this morning that Dr. K, Willow and I did only our regular hike. Not s...