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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Photo

One picture is all I took on our abbreviated morning hike today, and, of course, it has to be of our beloved Becca.  There's nothing like hiking with a dog to experience the pure joy of canine-ism.  It's not always the environmentally right thing to do, but if you can control your animal then that's a big plus.  In wilderness areas and the like, it really is a bad idea to have your dog marking territory in wild animal country.  On those occasions we make Becca wear Depends.  Kidding!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Austere Beauty

It takes a special eye to see the beauty in the harsh, barren landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert.  But there is a special spirit alive in this place that cannot be denied.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday in the Low Country

Becca on the Mid-Mountain Trail
It was 28 degrees F. when we started off around Tortugas Mountain this morning, back in the low country after a Turkey-Day vacation in the high country.  It felt good in the sunshine, but the temperature dropped by ten degrees each time we entered the shadows. The only hiker we saw today was Jimmy, who was on his way down from the mountaintop.
Downright cold in the shadow

Sunday, November 27, 2011

High Country Hike

Animals you might see on the Grandview Trail
We did a morning hike on the Grandview Trail before heading down to the low desert this afternoon.  It was 22 degrees F. when we started off--a tad chilly.  But the sun was bright, there was no wind, and the exertion warmed us up quickly.  It's nice to be back in the lower Chihuahuan Desert, but we're always dreaming of the high country.
Grandview vista

A Robin in late November?

Is migration still a possibility?

Down canyon toward White Sands

A happy hiker on the Grandview Trail

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Snowy Rim Trail

View from the High Desert Research Institute
We had a slight dusting of snow in High Rolls yesterday, so we weren't surprised to find snow on the Rim Trail this morning; that's what happens when the trail elevation is 9,000 feet.  We did a good, long hike today because we had to abort yesterday's hike because of sleet and heavy rain.  Nothing to do now but kick back and relax before heading to the low desert tomorrow.
Becca loves snow

A slight accumulation

Becca and Packrat

Always forging ahead

Mile Post 1

White Sands National Monument in the distance

Threatening to snow again

Becca and Dr. K

Friday, November 25, 2011

What We Got Caught In

We had to abort our hike less than midway today because we got caught in a driving rainstorm.  Dr. K, Becca and I were completely soaked by the time we got back to Commander.  It took us an hour to clean ourselves up here at the High Desert Research Institute.  Right now it looks as if the rain is turning to snow.  Snow levels down to 7,000 feet will find us right at that lower level.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

High Country Thanksgiving

The rolling mountains near High Rolls, New Mexico
Dr. K, Becca, George and I are thankful for the yet-untrammeled natural areas we are fortunate enough to visit.
Becca and Dr. K

Little-Leaf Sumac

Dr. K on the gazebo

Becca, Dr K and Packrat along the Grandview Trail

A happy duo

Becca at work

White Sands Natonal Monument from the Grandview Trail

At the trail head

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Low Country Morning

We started out in the low country yesterday morning, and ended up in the high country by lunchtime.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meet Mr. Trickster

Smoke from a fire near Mesquite, New Mexico
We had an encounter with a Coyote in the Tortugas Mountain foothills this morning--commonly referred to as "the Trickster" in many Native American myths because of its uncanny intelligence.  We were about fifty yards away from this one when Becca spotted him.  Of course, the Coyote had spotted us already.  At that distance he was totally unperturbed by our presence, walking away at a slow, steady pace.
Mr. Coyote could use a good brushing

The Trickster saunters away after seeing us

One guess what Becca's looking at

Monday, November 21, 2011

Something Rainy This Way Comes

The old observatory atop Tortugas Mountain
It was primarily sunny when we hit the trail this morning, but things soon clouded up.  We could literally feel the humidity rise as a cold front blew in a mass of moist air.  By the time we got home it had begun to rain.  It's rained on and off ever since.  We never complain about getting rain in the desert, although the floods of 2006 were a skosh too much.
Leader of the pack

Dark skies on the western horizon

Changing cloud pattern above Tortugas

Dark skies over a desert oasis

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bar Canyon Trail

Soledad Canyon
Soledad Canyon is a twenty-minute drive from our place; it's often a very popular weekend hike.  We were fortunate that only a few cars occupied the parking lot when we arrived, and we only encountered two other hikers:  a woman with two well-trained dogs, and a man who was birdwatching.  The weather was outstanding for a late-November morning, and we had to take our windbreakers off after a short stint on the trail.  Becca, of course, took nothing off.
Counter-clockwise on the loop trail

Back toward Las Cruces.  Tortugas Mountain near the horizon line

Section of the loop trail

I call it Casita Grande (after Big Bend's Casa Grande)

The old rock house homestead in Soledad Canyon

Another view of Casita Grande

Adrift in a sea of grass

Sotol (aka Desert Spoon) in the foreground

Move it, people!

Ancient windmill

Trusty Commander waits patiently

Heat is On Again

Headed down LDR-A arroyo to yucca shade for Wils The desert floor hasn't been cooling off very much during the overnight hours, and the ...