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Friday, September 30, 2011

Very Early Start

We had to get an early start this morning, a short while before the sun rose high enough to kiss the desert earth.  This is always a dynamic time of the day, clouds ablaze with sunlight, shadows giving three-dimensionality to the landscape.  Not to mention it's always cooler before old Sol rides high in the sky.  The wind was an irritant this morning, though, blowing hard and steady, gusting to cap-snatching levels.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Time of the Season

Into the desert
Yellowing leaves on the Ocotillo is one of the surest signs of the change of seasons in the desert.  The days are not quite so hot, and the evenings have been cooling down nicely.  Soon a vest or light jacket will be a requirement for early-morning hiking.
A yellowing Ocotillo

Rocky foothills of Tortugas Mountain


Harbingers of winter

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Artistic Renderings

Here are a few computer-enchanced photographs for your viewing pleasure.  Using the "Dry Brush" technique under the "Artistic" function in the "Filter" category of Photoshop produces something akin to a realistic painting using either oil or acrylic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Along the foothills trail
One thing that appeals to me about the Chihuahuan Desert is its austerity.  You can see its skeleton--the very essence of things.  And you can look a long way across the desert, so much so you often feel as if you can see the curve of the Earth.
to the trail down the mountain

and into the desert flatland

Monday, September 26, 2011

Can't Trust That Day

Becca on the Crosscut Trail
Nice long hike this morning, punctuated by an encounter with Lucien and Pappis near the end.  I never get over the stamina Becca has.  She and Pappis played like two football players, chasing one another round and round, banging into each other like linebackers.  When I had to go out to the post office later in the afternoon, Becca was the first one in the car.  Of course, I didn't let her drive.

Desert jungle

Rugged foothills, Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

Snaking through the Ocotillos

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday at Monte Vista

Trail to the south
Dr. K, Becca and I left from the Monte Vista side of Tortugas Mountain this morning and did a long hike to the south and west.  We ran into one mountain biker (Jorge) and saw a few joggers.  Beautiful weather--cool, with a slight breeze--made hiking a real treat.  Good exercise, good company and the natural world made for a good week end.

The Organ Mountains

Behind Tortugas

The happy hiker

The Franklin Mountains (near El Paso) on the horizon

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Outing

No sneaking up on Becca
It was a beautiful Fall morning in the Chihuahuan Desert, and, subsequently, there were a lot of people on and about Tortugas Mountain.  We encountered six joggers and several mountain bikers.  I was surprised to see a blossom just beginning to open on a Devil's Head (aka Horse Crippler), although many desert plants bloom twice a year when conditions permit.  The small shack at the head of the road to the top of Tortugas Mountain has been blasted to smithereens by gunfire.  Do the police know this?
Late-blooming Devil's Head

Shot to shreds

Friday, September 23, 2011

First Day of Fall

Foraging for what?
It was slightly below 60 degrees Farenheit when we lit out this morning.  The high is going to be 86.  Can't complain much about the first day of Fall. We had a very pleasant hike until about 1/4 mile from the finish when we had an unpleasant confrontation with a dirt biker who was careless and downright dangerous.  I'll omit the details of the encounter because I don't want to tarnish the rest of this beautiful day.

Favorite mountain bike trail

Canine queen

Late-blooming Cholla (pronounced choy-ya).

Late-blooming Ocotillo (Ok-O-TEE-yo)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cooler Hike

Canine checking out canid den
Ran into Jimmy after about a half mile and talked to him for fifteen minutes.  He'd gotten an early start, and we were a bit late getting started.  He'd been to the top of Tortugas and back, and we were headed for the outback.  We saw White-Toyota-Tacoma-Man's truck, but we never saw him.  After that, just a good, old-fashioned solitary hike--man and dog.
Soaptree Yuccas and Creosote

Prickly Pear and Ocotillo

Robin-egg blue?

Continental drift

Tortugas's western foothills

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Midweek Jaunt

Bug on lens
Because it's provision day here at the Chihuahuan Observation Center we had to shorten our hike somewhat.  It was 60 degrees Farenheit when we started out, with a gentle breeze.  Felt pretty good--a harbinger of Fall.  Except for us two intrepid hikers there wasn't another soul in the outback.  As we like it.
Western slope of Tortugas

Eager beaver

Sun through the Ocotillo

Pretty girl at rest

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Becca on a squiggly trail
We were almost finished with our hike when a bright yellow helicopter suddenly appeared, flying low over the desert.  It flew across Dripping Springs Road, seemed to hang over the new high school being built opposite the mountain, then headed west toward the freeway.  We've seen helicopters in the desert before, but none flying that close to the ground.

The foothills of Tortugas

Yellow helicopter

Surveying the area

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Morn

A bit of Zen wisdom reads:  "If you want to see more deeply into the unknown, look more deeply into the known."

Becca and I didn't gain any particular insight into reality this morning, but we sure enjoyed our hike around Tortugas (Tortoise) 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...