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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Really Heating Up

Mesquite Tree flowers
We're heading for a high temperature of 90 F today, and it already felt hot when we hit the trail this morning. There wasn't much of a breeze, either, so it was somewhat uncomfortable.  Tomorrow is supposed to be the same kind of day before a cold front sweeps in overnight, ushering in cold air that will reduce our high to the upper 60s.  The cool won't last, though, and it's now time to start preparations to switch over to our evaporative (swamp) cooler.
Lots of pollen here

Desert hikers

Ocotillos in front of Tortugas Mountain

Not completely in the shade

Monday, April 29, 2013

Snake Day

Loggerhead Shrike
Becca and I were headed back from the midpoint of our hike when we ran across a small Gopher Snake on the trail.  While I was photographing it I heard somebody say, "What are you looking at?"  It was Jimmy.  We then started hiking back to the parking area together discussing how seeing that Gopher Snake pretty much assured us that Rattlers were out, too, when Jimmy said, "There's one."  Sure enough, lying lenthwise across the sandy trail was a small Diamondback Rattlesnake.  It was completely passive, though, and allowed me to take its picture.

Loggerhead Shrike on the move

Becca at a curve in the trail

One of her favorite shady spots

Ocotillo flower

Ocotillos flowers against the mountain backdrop

Gopher Snake

Notice the tapered, rattle-less tail

Slightly over two feet long

Tapered head

Small Diamondback Rattlesnake

Two feet of potential danger

Notice the black-and-white banded tail with rattle

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Quick Hike with a Grand View

Dr. K, Becca and I got in a quick hike on the Grandview Trail before heading back to the lower desert.  It was perfect hiking weather, sunny with a cool breeze.  We had the trail all to ourselves, and we liked it that way.  The 90-minute drive home went well, but we're already pining for our piney getaway in the Sacramento Mountains.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Water in the Desert

Railroad trestle across Fresnal Creek
Dr. K, Becca and I did a two-hour hike on the Bridal Veil Falls Trail early this morning.  Being alone down at the falls was a very relaxing experience.  In the Land of Little Rain (Mary Austin) it is wonderful to hear the sound of water percolating over rock, accompanied by a chorus of birds drawn to the small oasis in the upper reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert.  We stayed there just long enough for a breather, then headed back.  We ran into three other hikers who were also headed for the falls.  But that was it--not bad for a Saturday morning in the Sacramento Mountains.
Just getting going

Pinyon-studded countryside

That's the way down into the canyon

Two hikers at a sign detailing steam locomotive use in the area

Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus

Scrub Jay on a boundary gate

Friday, April 26, 2013

Headed For Higher Ground

Flowering Mesquite Tree on Tortugas's west side
Becca and I took a quick hike in the lower desert this morning before the three of us--Dr. K, the Beckster and I--headed for High Rolls in the Sacramento Mountains.  Unfortunately, we only get to spend the weekend here.  Once you get up here, though, you feel like never going back.  It's about fifteeen/twenty degrees cooler than in the low desert.  I learned something today:  the Mesquite flowers you see in image #1 are used by bees to make Mesquite honey (monofloral honey), which, apparently, has a distinct flavor.  I've never tasted any.  Going to have to hunt some up.
Hot enough to enjoy the shade

A look back at Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain

Our pumphouse in High Rolls, 1500-gallon water storage tank at right

The greenish-yellow trees line a creek that runs below our property

Welcome to the pumphouse

A closer look inside

View of our place from the pumphouse

We're at about 7,000 ft. here.  9,000 ft.-mountains in background

Becca on our driveway

Lots of dead Pinyon Pines in the area

A look at the south side of the house

Becca at the perimeter of our land

After five weeks of not being here, this is what our rain gauge registers

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Different Face of the Desert

Mostly cloudy over Tortugas Mountain
There was almost no sun on our morning outing.  And the wind was still quite strong.  I wore a thin Adidas windbreaker throughout the hike, and never did feel too warm.  Becca did the entire trek in her one-piece suit.  We heard and saw quite a few hummingbirds out and about.  It's entirely understandable, but it still amazes me, how the Hummers make their appearance at exactly the same time the Ocotillo flowers are opening up their throats to accomodate the hummingbirds' needle-like beaks.

New from the old

Yet another Hummer

The trail ahead

Brilliant Ocotillo flower

The Organ Mountains

Way ahead of the pack(rat)

A steep trail up the mountain

Bushwhack or Not to Bushwhack

1st 2:  this morning's moon Another morning doing our regular hike, this time with added distance; we bushwhacked out of the left branch...