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Thursday, February 28, 2013

After Hump Day

Interesting rock
Becca and I did a moderately-long hike west of Tortugas Mountain this morning in sunny, but cool conditions.  We didn't see anybody out there until--about two-thirds of the way back--we ran into Jimmy.  He said he hadn't been hiking in a while because of a bad sinus infection; and, boy, did he sound awful.  He said he was holding off hiking to the top of the mountain until he felt much better.  It's hard to stick to your exercise routine when you're under the weather.
A spot where Becca likes to pause for the cause

Halfway down to the lower desert

Watching a fleeing Jackrabbit

View across a great expanse of Chihuahuan Desert

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nice on the Mountain

The ramada at the Sunset Parking lot
It was freezing (32 F.) when Becca and I set off this morning, and the wind looked as if it would factor into our comfort level during the hike. Surprisingly, though, the wind disappeared when we got up on the mountain.  We saw a couple other outdoor enthusiasts:  a mountain biker who was wearing a bulky black backpack, making me wonder how hard it would be to bike like that; and a woman jogger who passed us when we were within a quarter mile of the car on our return.
What a dog's got to do

Blazing ahead

Is that what I think it is?

A large Soaptree Yucca west of Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Semi-Long Hike

Torrey Yuccas near the Lineman School
Becca and I did a hike out of the Sunset Parking area this morning, hiking up to the foothills trail then dropping into the lower desert.  We headed south along the outer loop road, followed a trail east back into the foothills, then retraced our steps to the old white shack at the road leading to the mountaintop.  We saw nobody on our trek.  J.C. and Shaque are in northern New Mexico, the first leg on the trip back to their home state of Alaska.
Jackrabbit watch

Four-pronged Devil's Claw

Headed back up the mountain      

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cold to Frigid

Getting an early start on the foothills trail
It was 19 F. with a wind chill of 10 F. when I took Becca out into the backyard this morning; and it wasn't much warmer when we started out for Tortugas Mountain.  Once we started on the outbound leg, however, it didn't feel too bad because the sun was shining brightly and there was little wind.  Things changed on the way back, though, as a strong breeze picked up, lowering the wind chill quite a bit.  Once we headed back into the valley (the one Becca is looking over in image #3) we were able to get out of the wind.
Tortugas's western curves

Looking for Shaque and J.C.

The trail out of the Sunset Parking area

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Out of the East

East of Tortugas, looking south--Franklin Mountains in distance
Dr. K, Becca and I did a fairly long hike out of the Monte Vista area of the Tortugas Mountain Trail System.  We did a lot of bushwhacking through the desert, enjoying a pleasant morning made occasionally cool by a slight wind.  During our trek we only saw three people:  a mountain biker in the distance, a woman we passed who was hiking with two Pitbulls on leads, and a man just starting off on a jog around the mountain.
Becca leads the way down a steep trail

Dr. K descends carefully

The Organ Mountains to the east

On a trail through a Creosote Bush forest

Poised to head down another precipitous trail

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Strolling on Saturday

Always anxious to keep going
Despite what the post title implies, Becca and I did a pretty long hike this morning; then, on the way back, we ran into J.C. and Shaque and we hiked with them for half an hour.  The morning was a little chilly because of a fairly-persistent breeze, but--dressed appropriately--we didn't mind the weather.  There were quite a few other people enjoying the great outdoors around Tortugas Mountain, and we ran into several:  two women with an out-of-control exuberant dog, and a jogger who showed a lot of interest in the deer leg Shaque was carrying.
Prickly Pear Cactus on the mountain's west slope

Round mounds of Strawberry Pitaya Cactus

Jet chalk line against the sky

Power to the mountaintop

Friday, February 22, 2013

An Early Start

Starting out
Becca and I got an early start this morning, and we hiked a little further than yesterday.  On the way back to the trailhead we ran into J.C. and Shaque, and we decided to hike with them on their morning rounds.  Becca never minds going further than planned because she just can't get enough time in the great outdoors.  Shaque was in a good mood, too, finding "his" bone and carrying it a good while.  Then both dogs waited in their respective cars while J.C. and I chewed the fat.
Heading up a steep incline

Shaque and J.C.

Avid hiker striking straight up the mountain

A happy Shaque

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tortugas Mountain McDonald's Update

The Extra-Territorial Zoning Authority has denied commercial rezoning on the 16 acres south of Dripping Springs Road for now.  Here's a link to the Las Cruces Sun-News article detailing the decision.

Chilly Thursday

Near the Sunset Parking area
Becca and I did a little longer hike this morning before running into J.C. and Shaque.  While we were talking, Jimmy came up and joined us.  We gabbed for a few minutes before going our separate ways.  It was a little windy early, but the breeze tapered off while we were out there.  The windstorm that swept through yesterday ushered in some significantly lower temperatures, and it seems as if the days will remain cooler for this week.
Western slope of Tortugas Mountain

Question mark for a tail?

Gate on the road to the top of Tortugas Mountain

A dusting of snow on the Organ Mountains

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beating the Wind

A narrow trail through the desert
We took a very short hike this morning because Becca's leg appears to be bothering her again.  We're monitoring her movements carefully.  We got a chance to say hello to Greg as he was starting off early this morning to avoid the coming windstorm.  We did half of our hike with Shaque and J.C., the second leg back to the parking area.  J.C. and I talked for awhile, then decided it was best to mosey on out of there because the wind had started to pick up.  It's blowing hard as of this writing.
Mounds of Strawberry Pitaya Cactus on Tortugas's west slope

Becca spots other hikers

It's Shaque leading J.C.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tortugas Mountain McDonald's

This is a link to a Las Cruces Sun-News article that details the zone-change hearing the Extra-Territorial Zoning Authority will have tomorrow evening in order to rezone 37.1 acres near Tortugas Mountain into commericial acreage so a McDonald's can be built not far from the new Centennial High School.

The following is the message I sent to District 3 County Commissioner Karen Perez asking her to vote "no" on the measure.

Dear Ms. Perez:
I urge you to vote no on the proposed rezoning of the 37.1 acres across from Tortugas Mountain.  As an everyday hiker around the mountain I fear that allowing this zoning change will only open the floodgates to further detrimental development in the area.
Additonally, as one who is sympathetic to issues concerning Native Americans, I can imagine the disgust that will be felt by members of the local pueblo, who, on beginning and ending their annual pilgrimmage to the top of the mountain must pass by one of Anglo-America's greatest symbols of entrepreneurial success:  the golden arches of McDonald's.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Robert Rowley

Sun, Clouds, Then Rain

Sunny skies at start
It was bright sunshine when Becca and I hit the trail west of Tortugas Mountain this morning, a little later than normal because I had an appointment to have my teeth cleaned.  The weather quickly changed as a persistent westerly wind blew cloud cover in.  Back at home now, hours after the hike, it's been raining steadily for about forty minutes.  Tomorrow we'll experience the wind event that weather forecasters have been warning us about for an entire week.

Getting cloudy

Becoming a grey day

Becca notices other outdoorspeople

Gloomy desert

Monday, February 18, 2013

Early, Long Hike

Becca sees somebody climbing the mountain
Becca and I got an early start on a long hike west of Tortugas Mountain this morning.  On the way back we were lucky enough to run into our buddies J.C. and Shaque.  Shaque was in a frisky mood, and he ran and played quite a bit.  Later, when J.C. showed us how good Shaque is at following retrieving commands, Shaque went, on release, to find a deer leg he had discovered earlier.  Becca was very interested in the leg, but listened to my "Leave it" command and didn't engage in a tug-of-war competition with Shaque.
The fenced-off parcel, I believe, is a university study area

Beautiful day in the Chihuahuan Desert

What appears as three individual Torrey Yuccas is undoubtedly just one

Long look across the outback

Leafless Buggy Whips

Here comes Shaque!

Happy canines

Becca and Shaque playing with J.C.

Attentive dogs

Shaque carrying a deer leg he found

Grand View--Not

Early morning moon A man and woman were just starting down the Bridal Veil Falls Trail when we rolled into the Grand View Trail parking lot....