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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Buona Pascua (Happy Easter)

Dr. K, Becca and I took a long Easter- morning hike in the starkly beautiful Chihuahuan Desert.  The weather was perfect, warm with a slight breeze, headed for a high of 80 F.  Not too many people were out when we started off, but when we got back near the parking lot we saw that it was quite full.  We don't celebrate Easter, but a lot of my cousins in Italy and Germany do.  So to them I say:  Buona Pasqua ai miei cugini italo-tedeschi.
Two riders enjoying a beautiful morning

Becca in fly-killer mode

Had to take a long shot, but I think it's a Say's Phoebe

Material for a Crown of Thorns

I've fallen and I can't get up

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Look of Spring

Cotton-candy sky
Unlike yesterday, there were just a few other outdoor enthusiasts on and about the mountain this morning. We didn't run into anybody.  We made sure of that by doing a lot of bushwhacking across the desert floor.  It paid off.  We saw visible signs of the beginning of Spring:  Ocotillo buds and Claret Cup Cactus flowers.  Soon the trees will begin leafing out and the Creosote Bushes will be covered in fragrant yellow blooms after the first good rain.
Heading down trail

Ocotillos are beginning to bud

Somebody's headed up the mountain

Torrey Yucca

Claret Cup Cactus starting to bloom

Looking down at the Claret Cup Cactus

A bright, orangish-red flower

Waiting patiently while Packrat takes too many photographs

A Red-Tail Hawk in flight

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Break on the Mountain

On the distant horizon the Potrillo Mountains
Today was the last day of Spring Break for area schools, including New Mexico State University.  About midway through our long hike this morning Becca and I began to run into outdoor enthusiasts:  mountain bikers, joggers and hikers.  About a mile from the trailhead on the way back in we saw young families out for a day on the trails.  Why not?  We're headed for the lower 80s today, and the cloud cover has already completely lifted.  But, boy, was it crowded out there.
Behind Tortugas

A thread of a trail

Closeup of Organ Peak

Looking east from the Outer Loop Road

Miles away now

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Close Encounter of the Balloon Kind

It was a beautiful morning in the Chihuahuan Desert today, as we now head for a high of 80 F.  The balloon pictured here came out of the valley and made steady progress toward Tortugas Mountain, where we were hiking.  Becca didn't see it for the longest time, but when she did it spooked her a bit.  Although it got really close to us, it was really the sound of the gas burner that upset her. She headed quickly up the trail with tail planted firmly between her legs.  I feel pretty certain that the pilot of that balloon was looking down at us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Overcast Morning

Not quite in bloom
We did an extra-long hike this morning, heading from the northwest side of Tortugas Mountain and circling around back to the south side.  In the entire time we saw only one other person--a jogger--who was heading west toward his red Jeep Wrangler, parked on the dirt road that heads east from Tellbrook Road.  We did run into Greg back at the parking lot, who made a snide comment about the jacket I was wearing.  He was under dressed for the hike--short-sleeved shirt and shorts--but I said nothing.  He'd find out soon enough.
A thorny breakfast for a Jackrabbit

A hike without sun

The long view to the Organs

South of Tortugas, east of the Organs

Becca spots a distant jogger in the outback

This is the jogger she spotted

Rock house ruins

Exploring near a cave entrance

South side of Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quick Hike on the Mountain

Somewhere along the foothills trail
It was somewhat windy on the mountain this morning, but not overly cold.  About two-thirds of the way through our hike we ran into Jimmy, who was headed to the top of Tortugas.  We chatted for a good fifteen/twenty minutes before Becca made it perfectly clear that she wasn't about to be hanging around with nothing of interest to do.  Before parting company we commented on the fact that we hadn't seen Greg around for a bit.  Jimmy said Greg had recently got his senior park service pass, and was, therefore, probably exploring surrounding areas.
Flattening out in the lower desert

Becca getting ready to do a handstand

Monday, March 25, 2013

Back to Tortugas

It was rather chilly this morning when Becca and I set off around the west side of Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain.  There were several cars in the Sunset Parking lot, but we didn't see any hikers in the outback.  I did a lot of thinking about literary matters--much to my consternation--but futuring about things you can do nothing about really detracts from living in the here-and-now.  If I'm going to waste time like this the least I can do is get Becca a steno pad so she can take notes for me.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Invierno, Otra Vez (Winter, Again)

Forging ahead of the pack
It was 21 F when I took Becca out to do her business this morning.  It was 29 F when Dr. K, Becca and I set off on the Grandview Trail.  And, for the fifth day in a row, we ran into nobody else out hiking.  I felt pretty certain that today (Sunday) we'd see other outdoor enthusiasts, but I was wrong.  I think we may have entered the Twilight Zone.  We're back in the lower desert now, having spent a relaxing spring break in the high country.  We really hated leaving the mountains, but what can you do?

PolarPlus pullover, black windbreaker, down vest, gloves, and fur

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Some of the animals present in this area
Remarkably, for the fourth day in a row, we ran into no other hikers.  This morning we did the Grandview Trail, which, on the weekends is pretty popular.  Perhaps people were worried about the high wind warning that's in effect all day today.  But it was barely breezy during our trek, and the sky was relatively dust free considering the gusty winds of yesterday.  We've been back from our hike for several hours now, and the wind has finally kicked in full force.  There's already dust in the skies over the Sacramento Mountains.
East across the Tularosa Basin

Pausing along the Grandview Trail

Juniper-studded country

Birds indigenous to this region

Dirt road off Rt. 82, White Sands in background, San Andres Mts. beyond

Views from the Grand View

Sacramentos We did the Grand View Trail this morning, surprised that nobody else was there on a Sunday morning.  We hiked the entire first l...