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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Midweek Meanderings

Squiggling through the desert
Other than a few moments of chilliness early this morning, the weather was near perfect for a long trek west of Tortugas Mountain.  On the way back we ran into Greg, who called Becca "Bertha" several times.  He's only known her a short while, so I didn't bother correcting him.  He told me he's been hiking to the top of the mountain three times a week, trying to get back into decent physical shape.  "Only problem with my plan," he said, "is that I'm old."
Zigzagging out of the foothills

Spotting trucks on the mountain

Where the road meets the mountains

Becca sees something I don't

Tortugas Mountain from a westside arroyo

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Raccoon Creek State Park

Last Friday my brother and I had a whole day to kill in the Pittsburgh area, and fortunately we stumbled upon Raccoon Creek State Park, a park neither of us had heard of before.  Boy were we glad we found it.  A 7,572-acre park that started as a Recreational Demonstration Area operated by the National Park Service in the 1930s and improved upon by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the park's gem is the 101-acre Raccoon Lake, featured here in these images.

An Uneventful Hike

Becca at work along the Crosscut Trail
We did a moderately-long hike this morning, and the most exciting thing we saw was a guy walking a Pit Bull.  Becca, though, found all kinds of interesting smells to pursue.  It was a beautiful day weatherwise, but a tad on the chilly side when we started off.  Two-thirds of the way through, however, I had to remove my windbreaker.  High today of 78 F., low in the mid-40s.  All in all, considering what's happening back east, not bad.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Taking Mom Home

Glacier Lake, Mill Creek Metroparks, Youngstown, Ohio
Last Wednesday my brother and I met in Pittsburgh in order to bury my mother's ashes in our hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.  The following morning we watched while she was interred at Belmont Park Cemetery.  It was a sad obligation we had to fulfill, and afterward we toured one of the most beautiful spots in the area:  Mill Creek Park.  We were buoyed by nature's beauty, and reassured by what we saw that we were part of life's great mystery, the neverending cycle of birth and death.
A remnant bloom in Fellows Riverside Gardens

Brilliant red tree in Fellows Riverside Gardens

Leaves of said tree, whose name I have forgotten

Steel bridge, Mill Creek Metroparks

Canadian Goose on Smythe Island, Mill Creek MetroParks

The wetlands surrounding Smythe Island

A Lengthy Trek

Becca on break
The Beckster and I did a long hike on the west side of Tortugas Mountain this morning.  On the way back we ran into Becca's good buddy, Jimmy, who told us about his three-week jaunt through the west.  He and his wife looked at homes in Bend, Oregon, but he said they were outrageously expensive.  He liked Boise, too, but, apparently, it's a big city now.  They came back through Utah, which reminded me of the times I've been there, and how incredibly beautiful parts of that state are.
Miles from the break point

Stingleaf flower (Cevallia sinuata, Stickleaf Family)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Back From the East

Becca on the trail south of Tortugas Mountain
Dr. K, Becca and I did a long hike out of the Monte Vista trailhead around Tortugas Mountain.  I hadn't hiked in four days, so it was nice to stretch my legs.  I just returned last night from a trip to Pennsylvania and Ohio, and over the course of the next few days I'll be posting some of the photos I took back there.  On the trail today Becca spooked a couple of Mule Deer who made tracks straight up the steepest side of the mountain, causing Dr. K to comment on the nimbleness of the animals.
A young Mule Deer doe heading up the mountain

The young Mule Deer buck who accompanied the doe up Tortugas

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Hot One

It was unusually warm this morning when Becca and I took off for a moderately-long hike around Tortugas Mountain.  We didn't encounter any hikers on the trail, but the lineman school area was the most crowded I've ever seen it.  In this poor economy it seems that students are eager to get training in what will provide for a steady job with good income.  I'm guessing about the income, but it seems to me pay is probably pretty good for skilled lineman.  I guess I could contact Glen Campbell.  (Just Googled Lineman pay scale.  Darned good money.

One way up the mountain

Becca watching students at the lineman school

Most of the Ocotillos are leafless now

Monday, October 22, 2012

Once and Future Snake

Snake skin
When we started off this morning Becca went off trail to check something out.  At first it looked like chaff from a Yucca or a ribbon of clear plastic.  But when I saw her shy away from it I had to investigate.  It was skin a snake had shed.  Interesting, though, because I'd never seen snake skin that had been shed partially down a hole.  We saw Mr. Tacoma (drives a Toyota truck) hiking down the mountain, and later we watched him driving his vehicle across the desert.  (My camera is starting to sound like an old, rusty machine.)
Closeup of skin in hole

Snake skin avoider

Familiar scene

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sierra Norte Trail

The start of the Sierra Norte Trail
Dr. K, Becca and I headed up into the Organ Mountains this morning and hiked the Sierra Norte Trail, not far downslope from Soledad Canyon.  It was surprisingly warm for 8:00 a.m., and we peeled our windbreakers off almost immediately.  The trail descends gradually to its end point at Dripping Springs Road, making for an arduous return trip.  We didn't run into anybody until we were about a mile from the trailhead; then we saw Jorge the mountain biker, four hikers with three dogs, a man and woman hiking together, and a woman hiking alone.
Fruit of a Barrel Cactus

Climable rock formations

Rocky formations in the Organ Mountains

Dr. K and Sniffy the dog

Looking down on Tortugas Mountain

Great picnic spot

Local color

Apach Plume (foreground)

Closeup of Apache Plume

The Organ Mountains

Four sisters (four-part Barrel Cactus clones?)

Up a steep slope

Packrat and Becca beside a good-size Barrel Cactus

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chilly/Hot Hike

Dynamic clouds early
The weather seemed really odd this morning.  When I first took Becca out to do her business at home I donned a windbreaker, but felt warm from high humidity.  By the time we left for our hike the wind had picked up, the sky was slightly overcast, and it felt quite chilly.  So I wore my windbreaker for about half the hike.  Had to take it off then to avoid overheating.  Hiked the rest of the way in shorts and short-sleeved shirt.  We're heading for a high of about 85 F., pretty toasty for this time of year.

Blue skies to the northeast

Clouds hugging the horizon to the west

Long, straight shot

Becca and bare Ocotillos

Across the Mesilla Valley, the Potrillo Mountains

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 ...