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Monday, October 31, 2011

Starting the Week

Along Tortugas's western flank
We're headed for the mid-70s today, and this morning I had to remove my anorak midway on the hike.  Lots of sun, no wind.  We ran into the blonde woman jogger who looks like the Bionic Woman.  Becca, who was off-lead, obeyed my "down" command, and remained down until the woman had passed.  I was pleased that she (Becca, not the woman) listened so well. 
Loggerhead Shrike

Fall shadow and light

A shady break

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Morning Hike

Dr. K, Becca and I did a rather long hike in the Tortugas Mountain outback this morning.  It was beautifully sunny, but rather chilly with a stiff breeze.  We only saw one group of three hikers, who were trekking along the trail that circumnavigates the mountain.  We didn't even see a single Cottontail or Jackrabbit, which is very unusual.  We did hear somebody popping off shotgun shells on the south mesa.  Sure wish the BLM would put an end to that nonsense.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Go-Round

Observatory and tower atop Tortugas Mountain
Although it was in the low 40s when we started out this morning, it felt colder than yesterday's freezing mark.  Not quite sure how that happens since there was only a slight overcast and not a breath of wind.  We're 61 F. now--a very pleasant temperature for me.  Dr. K thinks it's too cold.  She'd prefer the upper 80s day and night.
Curving out of the foothills

She's always spotting something

One of the largest wealking sticks I've ever seen (approx. 6")

Friday, October 28, 2011

Freezing Mark

Coyote at the waterhole
I was well-equipped to handle the cold weather this morning; I remembered to bring gloves.  But because there was no wind I was able to remove them after a short while.  Even though it was freezing when we headed out (32 degrees Farenheit) the sun shone brightly and warmed things up.  We ran into two mountain bikers, the second of whom told me he was a beginner; he was having trouble finding the correct gears to use on a very rocky trail.
Non-coyote on the trail

Bald Ocotillo and Tortugas Mountain

Looking for Mr. Goodrabbit

A tall Soaptree Yucca

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cold Weather

A stand of Torrey Yucca
We had on-again-off-again rain last night as a significant cold front blew through the area.  Despite wearing a long-sleeve shirt, a windbreaker, and windbreaker trousers this morning, I froze my butt off.  It's somewhere along the foothills trail; I'll have to look for it tomorrow.  Becca, of course, wasn't cold at all.  This type of weather just gives her more energy
My best hiking companion

Along the foothills trail

Clouds over the Organs

Weather coming in over Tortugas

Midsection of the Organ Mountains

Southeast section of Las Cruces, New Mexico

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Tequila Sunrise

We were on the trail early enough this morning so as to do a good bit of the hike in the shadow of Tortugas Mountain.  With the stiff breeze blowing out of the southwest, it felt a little chilly.  The real cold front will blow through tonight, dropping temps by 15 to 30 degrees; we'll be in the mid-30s by Friday morning.  Believe it or not, the desert seems very winter-like already.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On the Trail

Purple Prickly Pear Cactus
It's amazing to have the Tortugas Mountain Trails area so close to the city, from which it takes only ten minutes to get to the Sunset parking lot and one of the trail heads.  Forty-five minutes of hiking takes you into the outback where, if you're lucky, you'll see nobody else.
Something up ahead

Sun breaks over the mountain

A rocky mountain

On the hunt

Monday, October 24, 2011

First of the Week Hike

At the start
It was a little warm on our morning hike.  This will change in the near future as a strong cold front is coming through.  By Thursday morning we'll be dealing with temperatures in the mid-30s.  Brrr.

Ran into two guys today, each with two dogs.  Becca was a little lady with them all--no growls, no hackles.  I was so happy with her.
Cresting the ridgeline

Water in the desert

Tortugas Mountain

Looking toward the Mesilla Valley

The Organ Mountains

Rest time

Chihuahuan Desert scene

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunny Day Hike

Balloon over the Mesilla Valley
Dr. K, Becca and I shortened our hike this Sunday morning, avoiding the south mesa behind Tortugas because people were shooting out there.  It's always dismaying when morons with guns are out and about.
Colorful hot-air balloon, west mesa in the background

Wha--?  We have to go all the way up there?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday on the Mountain

Tail down, worried look
Several interesting things were worth noting on our Saturday morning hike.  I've seen Hackberry and Red Barberry in the Chihuahuan Desert before, but I've never seen berries out in late October.  Since the leaves were gone, I'm not sure what this particular specimen was.  Also, I wouldn't expect to see a baby Horned Lizard at this time of year.  Finally, the paw print faintly resembles that of a mountain lion (cougars are present in the Organ Mountains), but this could have been a canid print rounded by the wind.

Red Barberry?

Baby Horned Lizard

Scouting the desert

Packrat and Becca in the field

Cougar print?

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...