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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Trekking

Trail up Tortugas
Becca and I spent part of the morning exploring around Tortugas Mountain.  We avoided doing any bushwhacking today.  Winter is the best time to bushwhack, though, for several reasons.  Of course, it's much cooler, and, therefore, more bearable.  You'd be surprised how much heat the desert floor can reflect.  And Rattlesnakes are hibernating--always a good thing.  Additionally, because of the absence of leaves, you can see all the thorns on desert plants, especially the Ocotillos.  It makes eluding the spikes much easier.
Wagging the dog

Pichacho (Spanish for "peak")

Under a boundless sky

Yucca, Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Fun

Medusa-like Yucca
Becca and I did a very long hike into the outback surrounding Tortugas Mountain this morning.  It was a very warm morning, the kind that gives you spring fever at the end of January.  We saw only one other hiker walking with his two dogs at a great distance from us.  We discovered an old single-track trail that led us in a long arc to the far outer-loop road.  It felt great being out in nature today.  Wish we could have lingered longer.
Rarin' to go

Smoke in the basin

Very tall Yucca from another perspective

Barrel Cactus and view

Bushwhacking again

I belive this is Sorrel, aka Wild Rhubarb

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Very Cold Start

Huge Torrey Yucca, city of Las Cruces in background
It was 29 degrees Farenheit when we got rolling this morning, with a really stiff wind that made it downright cold.  We were quite surprised at the number of hearty souls who were out on the mountain, enjoying the abundant sunshine.  To avoid running into other people, Becca and I did some bushwhacking in an arroyo that runs east/west across the desert from the high foothills of Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain.  It's always amazing to see the wild animal footprints in the sandy arroyo bottom:  rabbit, quail, coyote, fox, etcetera.  (Ah, yes, the elusive "etcetera.")

Yucca, Tortugas Mountain (left) and Organ Mountains

Cross-country hound

Healthy Barrel Cactus on an arroyo bank

Typical flora in a desert arroyo

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Scramble

Starting off under a heavy overcast
We were scrambling to avoid people this morning.  Despite the chilly, overcast, quite a few outdoor enthusiasts were on the mountain.  Becca and I decided to do some bushwhacking again, and were rewarded by discovering some interesting sights.  By the time we finished our trek, the sun was trying to break though the clouds.
Set for some bushwhacking

Pale immitation of a sun

Burning in the valley

Desert mountain bikers

Hedgehog Cactus

Barrel Cactus with deep gash (perhaps a fatal wound)

6-foot Torrey Yucca

The happy bushwhacker

Friday, January 27, 2012

Artsy Afterthought

Time for a Rant

A fallen Yucca continues to grow
My rant concerns the very last image here, the SUV "idiot" tracks in the desert.  I seriously wonder about people's mental health at times.  Finding himself (I feel fairly certain about gender) unable to tackle a difficult stretch of dirt road, this clown decided to simply turn around off the beaten track.  What the hell--the desert is just dirt and cacti.  There are miles of dirt road out here where SUVers and ATVers can drive without resorting to destructive behavior.  This is the thing about human beings that makes me fear for preservation of the environment.
The "I-see-something" look

A little Yucca forest

Me and my shadow

Gemelli (twins)

Idiot tracks

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Day after the Storm

Visions of Rin Tin Tin
The storm that blew through yesterday and into last night deposited a lot of rain and left some really cold air in its wake.  The stiff breeze fought against the abundant sunshine this morning, making the air feel quite chilly.  I don't know if it was the cold, but Ms. Becca had an incredible amount of energy.  She did more running than she has in a long while, up and back on every trail, leaving me to trudge behind.  It's a lot of fun watching her have a good time.
Moving along the dirt loop road

You can't tell, but the desert is wet

A dusting of snow in the mountains above Talavera


An expanse of Chihuahuan Desert

Fox hole (probably a Gray Fox vixen dug it)

Closeup of fox hole

Purple mountains' majesty (and electric poles)

Chihuahuan Desert homes

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cold, Cold Rain

Potrillo Mountains west of Las Cruces
Becca and I didn't get soaked this morning, but we did get wet in a very cold rain.  What else can you expect on a winter's day.  (Almost slipped into a refrain of "California Dreamin'" there.)  The sun did break through the clouds a few times, but it's been raining again this afternoon.  We had a good hike, nonetheless, only running into one other hiker--the elderly engineer and his elderly Lab.
Stormy sky

Canine compass

Rain over the Organ Mountains

Storm over the Franklin Mountains near El Paso

Chihuahuan Desert sky

Tortugas Mountain observatory

Dynamic weather

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 ...