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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Church-going

Clouds over Tortugas
We spend our day of worship in the church of the Chihuahuan Desert, where we can get close to the Great Spirit.  It's hard not to believe in something greater than yourself when you behold the glory of the natural world.

The huntress


Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain


Mule Deer in arroyo

A perfect Chihuahuan Desert day

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fun

Soaptree Yuccas and Tortugas Mountain
A Friday frolic in the Chihuahuan Desert proved much more enjoyable than yesterday's hike.  Even though it was colder (41 degrees F), it felt warmer because there was no wind. I almost overdressed, but decided to go with just the Speedo and boots.  (Kidding.)  We heard the Snow Geese honking before actually seeing them.

A look down the trail leading back toward the mountain


A desert grassland

Desert scout

Snow Geese heading for Bosque del Apache

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cold Desert Wind

A biting wind in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Very Cold Morning

Torrey Yucca on Tortugas's west side
The temperature was in the low 40s when Becca and I started off this morning, and a strong wind added to the chill factor.  I'd say it felt like the low 30s for much of the hike.  The video in the post above this one shows how foreceful the wind was.

The mountain still very much in shadow


Over hill over dale


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Perfect Weather

The sinuous foothills of Tortugas Mountain
The weather this morning was perfect for a hike around Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain:  temps in the low-50s, a slight breeze, and brilliant sunshine.  Hiking apparel:  shorts, a short-sleeve shirt, and a light windbreaker--and a healthy coat of white fur with black circles.

Early-morning clouds over Tortugas


Scouting the trail ahead


Ligh and shadow on the mountain's west side


Tortugas and the Organ Mountains


Curvaceous clouds over the Organs

A dirt road leads south toward the mountains


Torrey Yucca blocks the sun


Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Hike

Old Torrey Yucca
We got out on the trail this morning before the coming windstorm.  It's supposed to get bad this afternoon.  Wind in the desert is the enemy of allergy sufferers.  45 mph sustained winds with gusts to 60 mph will pollute the air with sand and dust.  But our hike was pleasant, mostly overcast at the start, but clearing up later.  Becca, not surprisingly, thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Ocotillo in Autumn

Dog on alert


Dog at work

Torrey Yucca against a threatening sky

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monte Vista Hike

Full moon over desert boulder
Research Associate Becca, Dr. K and I got an early start on the east side of Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain this morning.  We wore jackets because the temperature was in the mid-40s, and there was a slight wind.  The season has definitely changed here in the Chihuahuan Desert, with highs in the high 60s and lows in the low- to mid-40s.  Personally, I like this kind of weather; there's much less sweating on long desert hikes.

The Beckster leads the way around Tortugas

Looking back the way we came


A lush arroyo


A dirt road leads over a hill toward the Organ Mountains


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday at Tortugas

Nebulous cloud over Tortugas Mountain
We ran into a few joggers in the desert this morning, but the area around Tortugas Mountain was relatively people free.  Toward the end of the hike we encountered two women hiking with their dog.  Becca felt it incumbent upon her to play with the male dog, who didn't seem particularly interested in her.  We also found a string of helium-filled balloons that had somehow come to rest on a creosote bush.

Best hiking companion ever


Tortugas (left) and the Organ Mountains


The Franklin Mountains near El Paso, Texas


The dirt road around Tortugas Mountain


Listening to a coyote in the distance


Balloons in the desert


Friday, October 22, 2010

The Spectacular Chihuahuan Desert

Typical Chihuahuan Desert vegetation

Vistas like this force us to hike as often as possible in the Chihuahuan Desert.  The Chihuahuan is a high desert, extending from northern Mexico into the mid-regions of the state of New Mexico and west to the Texas Canyon area of southern Arizona.  Hot in the summer and cold in the winter it is a land of many contrasts.
Bishops Cap (left) and the Franklin Mountains near El Paso, Texas


Porpoise clouds


Clouds ride over the Organ Mountains


The trail around Tortugas, heading toward the Organs


The flank of Tortugas Mountain (left) and the Organ Mountains


This photo appears next to the word "intensity" in the dictionary


The Potrillo Mountains, southern New Mexico


The long view across the desert


A glorious desert sky


Adolescent Trickster


A young coyote licking its chops
This youngster was hunting on the grounds of the Chihuahuan Observation Center yesterday at noon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

After the Downpour

Heavy foilage on Tortugas's west side

There were surprisingly few signs that we'd had a big rain last night.  It's possible that the precipitation fell lightly here.
The sun shines through yellowing Ocotillo leaves


Robust Barrel Cactus


Barrel Cactus fruit


This is not Annette Funicello on the beach


Arroyo Nuevo

Different perspectives from a new hike As soon as Willow, Frio and I exited the CR-V at the trailhead this morning I realized we wouldn'...