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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday Fun

Those black spots get hot in the sun!
We did an extra long hike around Tortugas Mountain this morning.  Nobody else was crazy enough to be in the outback, but we saw one jogger down by the Sunset Parking area.  10% chance of rain for the next few days--admittedly, not good odds, but we'll take any opportunity that's offered.

The Organ peaks above the flank of Tortugas Mountain

Old yucca

A Horned Lizard (aka Horny Toad)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hump Day Debacle

Where in the world is Becca Sandiego?
No debacle.  I just wanted to use that phrase.

Becca and I did a long hike in the Tortugas Mountain outback.  Again, we had quite a bit of wind.  It did help to cut the heat.  The heat wave we've been suffering is supposed to abate somewhat by week's end.  Let's hope so.
Purple mountains' majesty

Pack Rat snack.  Ouch!


The distant Organ Mountains

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Big Wind!

Something we haven't seen in a while:  clouds
The wind came during the night and has lasted all day.  It was pretty strong while Becca and I were out on the trail.  We saw two separate men hiking, but we never encountered them.  Just as well--we weren't in the mood for talk.
Waiting patiently

Monday, June 27, 2011

Too Hot/Too Dry

Jackrabbit at the waterhole
A pretty hot slog today.  Little wind.  No moisture (except what I carried for Becca and me).  No other foolish hikers.  We did see one intrepid female jogger on the road to the top of Tortugas Mountain.  She carried no water at all.
Becca, Soaptree Yucca, Ocotillo and Creosote Bush

Chihuahuan shrub

Shrub in bloom

Yucca shade on the foothills trail

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Faces of a Trickster

A young Coyote at the waterhole
A young Coyote, looking fairly thin, visited the waterhole at the Chihuahuan Observation Center.  He drank his fill and then some before finally moving across the arroyo into the Mesquite bosque (forest) on the far side, where he disappeared--probably to lie in wait for a rabbit or other tasty rodent to eat.

In many Native American cultures, Old Man Coyote was a Trickster, alternately wise or foolish, but never playing by conventional rules.
Good to the last drop

Should I go or stay?

Why the long face?

Something to eat in that tree

My Facebook photo


Shade, wonderful shade!
Dr. K, Becca and I took a long hike on the loop trail around Tortugas Mountain this morning.  We briefly considered taking an even longer hike, but the heat was unbearable.  We're running eleven or twelve degrees above normal.  We ran into a fellow hiker, Jimmy, who had also shortened his hike because of the heat.  To say we need relief--in the form of lower temps and precipitation--is an understatement.
The hot Chihuahuan Desert

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weekend Heat

A small herd of Mule Deer in the Tortugas foothills
It was brutally hot when Becca and I hiked around Tortugas Mountain this morning.  About a mile in to the hike we were surprised to see a small herd of Mule Deer.  We have had such a prolonged drought in the desert it's really hard to understand how large mammals can survive in this arid land.  That's why we have a permanently-running waterhole at the Chihuahuan Observation Center.
A large doe

Mule Deer camouflage

One-spot profile

A thorny matter

The distant Franklin Mountains near El Paso, Texas

Need some shade

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fry Day

Check out this Horned Lizard's camouflage
It was pretty hot this morning--not brutally hot, but really toasty.  We did a fairly long hike, but saw only one other hiker and her dog.  We didn't get close enough for an encounter, but we did have an uncomfortably close encounter (of the 3rd kind) with an adolescent Rattler.  Becca almost stepped on it, and when the snake started rattling both of us jumped out of our skin.  Damned snakes and their camouflage.
I spy another dog in the desert


Dry desert wash

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


A break before the roller coaster
Very hot out this morning.  Because of the heat and errand responsibilities we cut the hike a  little short.

The section of the foothills trail that I call the roller coaster is a place where Becca likes to get up a full head of steam before taking the ride.  It's really quite hilarious the way she goes at top speed over the middle section, so that her legs seem to barely touch ground.
The roller coaster

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Scary Dry

The distant Organ Mountains
I've been a desert observer for decades, and I've never seen things this dry; and there are no rain clouds on the horizon.  Becca and I were surprised to encounter several hikers this morning, a woman with a Chocolate Lab who told me they had just seen three coyotes over a ridge, and a lanky man who said to me, "We sure need rain."  Seven states in the Southwest have at least several big fires burning in them, and it almost seems as if the whole region is ablaze.  We NEED precipitation.
Eager to lead the way

Hot and dry

Which of the three to choose?

An extra dry wash

Heating up

Monday, June 20, 2011

First of the Week

Becca relaxing on the loop trail
Becca and I did an extra long hike this morning around Tortugas Mountain.  We made a minor detour to avoid a group of hikers with dogs.  It's surprising to see a group of people out hiking on the first day of the week.  We put some mileage on our boots/paws, and we never felt too hot because of a stiff breeze.  The breeze is supposed to turn into an ugly wind this afternoon, just like it did yesterday afternoon.
Westernmost section of the outer loop

Parched Mesquite in an arroyo

Early Monday morning hikers on the foothills trail

Blossoming Cholla Flower at the Chihuahuan Observation Center

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Trek

Dog's-eye view
We got in a long hike around Tortugas Mountain this morning, but we ran into quite a few other people:  two mountain bikers we encounter twice, a male jogger, another solo mountain biker, and a female jogger whose sunblock was so strong we could smell it for a few minutes after she passed us.  Becca was on her best behavior today, and I have absolutely no idea why.
Mesquite bottomland

Smoke from the Arizona and Mexico fires still visible

Road around Tortugas Mountain

Monday Monday Trek

This & next:  headed down the middle branch arroyo Another hot hike this morning, but not nearly as bad as yesterday morning; it didn...