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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

100 Again

Along the foothills trail
We're at least 13 degrees above average today, as we were yesterday when we hit 100.  The dog days of summer continue to hang on, making it especially unpleasant on hikes in the Chihuahuan Desert.  Fortunately, we're able to go early enough to ameliorate the effects of the heat.
Across a deep arroyo, Tortugas and the Organs

Hot, hazy day

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shadow of the Mountain

In the shadow of Tortugas Mountain
We got an early start this morning, so much so that we were in the shadow of Tortugas Mountain for the first fourth of the hike.  Ten degrees cooler in the shade.  On our way back we bumped into Jimmy, who was just starting up for the top of the mountain.  Becca kept standing on her rear legs trying to catch a fly that had landed on Jimmy's right shoulder.  Becca is not fond of flies.
West side of Tortugas before the sun crested the ridgeline

Hula girl Yucca

The sun creeps over the mountain

Breaking into sunlight

Shadow and light

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday in Church

Range Ratany is blooming everywhere
Dr. K, Becca and I started off from the Monte Vista side of Tortugas Mountain this morning, hiked around the south side of the mountain to the far west side, then retraced our steps.  It was a good, long hike.  The only distraction was a dirt biker on the south mesa whose internal combustion engine was really out of place on a peaceful holy day.
Edgy stance

Backside of the mountain

Looking to the southwest from Tortugas

Co-managed by the BLM and NMSU

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Walkabout

Becca spots two dogs
Many exercise enthusiasts were on the mountain today.  The weather this morning was not quite so unbearable; that's because we got all the way down to 68 F. last night, and the humidity was 47% when we set off.  We had only one direct encounter with a hiker despite the crowds.

Ciao a mia cugina italiana ed ai miei cugini tedeschi in Germania!(:o)
Knurled old Ocotillo

Yucca and Ocotillos on Tortugas's western flank

Lingua di cagna

Friday, August 26, 2011

TGIF (Thank God It's Frīġedæġ)

Tortugas Mountain and the Organ Mountains
Quite a few hikers, bikers and joggers out on the mountain today.  We had close encounters of the 3rd kind with several.  One mountain biker and her male companion had two loose dogs, and they and Becca romped around for a minute before we all moved on.  We came across a newly-dug den that probably belonged to a canid, mostly likely a Coyote.  Becca was very interested in the scents surrounding the opening in the earth. 

Well-traveled dirt road

Somebody's new den

Canid footprint near the den (from the size, propbably a Coyote)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where in the World

Is Becca Sandiego?

Riding the Rollercoaster

The Sacred and the Profane

Sacred Datura blossom
Although different plants, Sacred Datura and Jimsonweed are often confused.  Both can produce stunning hallucinations, temporary blindness and high fever.

The Devil's Claw appears after rains during the hottest months of the Chihuahuan Desert summer; it produces seed pods that, when dry, resemble the claw of a devil (if you've ever seen such a thing).
Sacred Datura (aka Jimsonweed)

Flower of the Devil's Claw, which blooms during the hottest months

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Texas Ranger

 One of the most beautiful sights is that of a sage in bloom.  After last night's big rain this one--on the grounds of the Chihuahuan Observation Center--was covered in purple blossoms.


Brutal Morning

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Morning Hike

Bishop's Cap, in the southern Organ Mountains
We talked to Jimmy briefly this morning; he was on his way to the top of Tortugas Mountain.  We were headed for the outback, where we saw absolutely no-one.  Very little breeze today made for a hot hike; and we're heading for a high of 98 Farenheit.  This is the time of year when I really begin to tire of the hot, humid days.
Happy camper

There's a dog in this photo

There she is

The trail up

Grizzled old Yucca and Ocotillos

Monday, August 22, 2011

Moon Day

Relaxing in the dirt
Nobody was on the mountain when we did our hike this morning.  Fortunately there was a nice breeze to ameliorate the heat and humidity.  The most notable thing we saw was a 5"-long Horned Lizard whose outstanding camouflage you can see in the posted photo.  He stayed perfectly still while I photographed him with a macro lens setting; but when Becca approached he took off.
Senna in bloom

We're talking camouflage here

Buggy whips (aka Ocotillos)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dog Day Hike

A Little-Leaf Sumac has benefitted from recent rains
It was fairly brutal on our hike today, though Dr. K, Becca and I did a long one.  All sun, just a few clouds, and an inconsistent breeze made for high temps.  We enjoyed our trek, but were thankful to get back to the car.

Becca in the shade of said Sumac

A Barrel Cactus begins to blossom

Closeup of Barrel Cactus flowers

The flower of a Mustard plant

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Crowded Saturday

Western flank of Tortugas Mountain
College is back in session, so there were many young people out and about on the mountain.  We had direct encounters with a woman jogger and a male mountain biker.  Becca was loose on both occasions--good for the jogger, not so good for the biker.  All she did was growl at the biker, but I had to explain to him that she's afraid of mountain bikes.  I haven't been able to break her habit of feeling anxious around them.
Scouting the territory ahead

The rain has done wonders

Old neighbors

Why Tortugas Mountain is a tortoise

Bushwhack or Not to Bushwhack

1st 2:  this morning's moon Another morning doing our regular hike, this time with added distance; we bushwhacked out of the left branch...