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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tortugas Saturday

In the shade of an Ocotillo
We saw a few people on the mountain today, but not many.  That's because conditions were pretty brutal:  hot, humid, no wind.  We have a slight chance for thunderstorms today, but we're hoping they'll be nothing like the storms that ravaged the eastern U.S. yesterday.  Virginia was especially hard hit.  We desperately need the moisture, though, because the desert flora is really stressed.
A good resting place

Ocotillos dropping leaves because of the drought

A quick lie-down

Devil's Claw

Looking for vermin

On the hunt

Friday, June 29, 2012

Heat Index

Take a high temperature, pour in a dose of humidity, and crank the wind machine down to zero; what do you have?  A high heat index that makes for a very uncomfortable hike.  That is what Becca and I had to suffer through this morning as we made our way around the back of Tortugas Mountain.  We bumped into Jimmy, who we talked to for a short while; and we saw a grandmotherly-type woman driving her granddaughter on the loop road in a colorful ATV with several different signal flags on it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Very Hazy Hike

I'm not sure why, but the air was very hazy this morning--almost smoky--akin to the conditions we had when the Whitewater-Baldy fire was raging in the Gila National Forest.  I saw on the morning news that smoke from the fire near Colorado Springs was being forced far south, but I don't know if it could be reaching us here.  On another down note, Forbes Magazine has just named Las Cruces as one of the top 25 places to retire.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Back Side of the Mountain

Along the western foothills
A very long, hot hike this morning for Becca and me.  We went around the back side of Tortugas, where we ran into one mountain biker.  There were no other outdoor types to be seen.  Can't say that I blame them; the weather is pretty brutal.  Not even a breeze to ameliorate the heat.  Right now we're 102 F.

Becca at the cave behind the mountain

Back in the full sun

A shady respite

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gracias al Viento

Out of the foothills
Thanks to the wind the temperature was bearable on Tortugas Mountain this morning.  Otherwise it would have been brutal out there.  We're headed for 102 F. today, and, despite the "it's a dry heat" addage, it feels pretty hot. We saw a few joggers in the desert, one the blonde athlete who looks as if she could easily run a marathon.  This woman and Becca have been slightly leery of one another in the past, but they crossed paths this morning with nary a suspicious glance.

Early break

Down from the mountain

Dog on a hot dirt road

Bishop's Cap

Looking back toward Tortugas

Dry-brushed Becca

Becca and the forest of Ocotillos

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hot Monday

Looking south toward Bishop's Cap (left) and the Franklin Mts. (center)
We saw two people around the back of Tortugas Mountain this morning, a young woman with tatoos on her arms who, without a helmet, was riding her mountain bike rather recklessly, and a slightly overweight young man who was jogging just under "speed walking" pace.  They both were very friendly and, obviously, very hot, as were Becca and me.

Desert Iditarod

Dove on an Ocotillo wand

Around the back of Tortugas Mountain

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday on the Mount

A break from the heat
Dr. K didn't accompany us on our hike today, too tired from her week-long trip to San Francisco; so Becca and I did a long tour of Tortugas.  There were quite a few other hikers/bikers on the mountain this morning, but we didn't run into any of them.  The temperature was pretty high, the humidity up there, and, at first, there was very little breeze to speak of.  The wind picked up shortly after we started off, though, and that ameliorated the heat somewhat.
On the loop road looking south

Soaptree Yucca (left) and Ocotillo

Approaching the Organ Mountains

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Crowded Mountain

Tall Ocotillos in the Tortugas Mountains foothills
There were a lot of weekend recreationalists out on the mountain today, despite high temps and high humidity.  What we had going for us today, though, was a nice stiff breeze that provided good evaporative cooling.  We did a long hike into the outback, where we ran into one dedicated woman jogger.  Other than her we saw no one else deep in the desert.
Growing right out of the rocks

Hundreds of Ocotillos growing along Tortugas's western flank

Becca's favorite shady Yucca

Tarantula hole

Looking at the southwestern flank of Tortugas Mountain

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hot, Humid and Windy

No better companion
The moisture pouring into the region is typical of the start of monsoon season here in the desert Southwest.  We generally get our first rains around July 4th.  Many people not from the region often laugh about "monsoon season," but a monsoon is a shift in the prevailing wind.  Instead of flowing from west to east, the wind flow begins pushing in from south to north, from the moisture-laden area of the Gulf of Mexico.

Ocotillos stressed out from lack of rain

Western end of Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain

Torrey Yucca fruit, the Organ Mountains (left), the Franklin Mts. (right)

Resting in Torrey Yucca shade

Ocotillo and Bishop's Cap

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another Hot, Dry Hike

Desert jungle
It felt worse than yesterday this morning until a slight breeze picked up.  Then it was slightly bearable.  We did a long hike around Tortugas Mountain marvelling at the many White-wing Doves and Jackrabbits that were out and about.  We saw three joggers braving the morning heat.  Then we made it back to the trailhead, hopped into the car and made a beeline home.

Let me off this lead

Outer Loop road

Road back up the 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...