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Friday, May 31, 2013

Rim Trail Section One

Appendages inside hollowed trunk of old felled tree
Dr. K and I decided to look for old, hollowed-out trees to see if we could find evidence of the cone-like (or funnel-like) appendages like those we saw yesterday; and, sure enough, we found them.  A conundrum, for sure.  We hiked the first section of the Rim Trail, whose trailhead is just a few miles outside Cloudcroft.  For the third day in a row we ran into no other hikers on the trail.  The weather has been just fabulous for being outdoors in the high mountains.
Yucca blossoms in the 8500-foot elevation range

Fire ring at a primitive campsite

Horned Lizard

Becca spots a squirrel

Up there

Scott at It Just Comes Naturally just posted about this kind of pinecone

Yucca buds just starting to open

Maple leaves

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Up Next: the Rim Trail

At the trailhead
Among the tall pines

Freshly-cut tree
We did a three-hour hike on the second section of the Rim Trail outside of Cloudcroft, New Mexico this morning, and, for the second day in a row ran into absolutely nobody.  It was a beautifully cool morning (50 F to start) that warmed up nicely by the time we finished.  Need a little help here.  Can anyone identify the bird singing in the first video?  And, to solve the biggest mystery of the day, does anybody know what the four appendages are inside the hollowed-out felled tree?
Upon closer inspection we see something inside

These four appendages signal a new mystery to be solved

Towering Aspens

Up an Aspen trunk

Becca staring at one of several deer she spooked

The result of a lightning strike

Dense stand of Aspens

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

First Up: Osha Trail

We were hoping for cooler temperatures up here in the Sacramentos, and all I can say is that it's a good thing I ran back to the cabin to get my jacket before leaving for the Osha Trail.  At 50 F with a stiff wind, we were glad to be dressed properly.  We saw more tent caterpillars than ever before, most tents firmly ensconced on chokecherry shrubs.  After uploading the image of the checkerboard stump it occurred to me that this might be a method of helping the stump break down more quickly.
Special sniffing posture

Becca and Pacrat

Why does the forest service use a checkerboard pattern on cut trees?

Dr. K and Becca

Rocky Mountain Iris

Hungry moth


Tent caterpillars

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hurried Hike

Becca and I had to cut our hike really short this morning so we could prepare for an excursion into the Sacramento Mountains.  We've been at our place in High Rolls since noon, and it's really pretty windy here.  We're hoping to get in some good high-mountain hikes before returning to the low desert.  When we first pulled in we were greeted by Becca's pals, Hailey, Champ and Hoss, who stayed around only long enough to greet us; then they made their way back home.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Hike

Overcast sky over Tortugas Mountain
There were quite a few outdoors people enjoying the morning on Tortugas Mountain.  Becca and I abbreviated our hike slightly so that Dr. K and I could go shopping and stock up on supplies for a trip up into the Sacramento Mountains tomorrow.  We were 95 F in the low desert today.  Looking forward to cooler temperatures in the mountains this coming week.

A group of hikers making for the mountaintop

Becca watching the hikers

I count eleven vehicles at the Sunset Parking lot

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Behind the Mountain

Common Nighthawk camouflage
Unfortunately, our (Dr. K, Becca and Packrat) hike this morning was partially ruined by some guy who was firing a semi-automatic weapon in the outback behind the mountain.  After hearing news reports this morning about the seventeen-year-old boy who had intricate plans to blow up his high school in Oregon we were feeling particularly down on our fellow human beings.  It doesn't make you feel more confident then to hear some yahoo blasting away out in the desert.  Makes me wish sometimes that I could live in the wilderness away from Homo sapiens sapiens.
The Organ Mountains

In the shadow of a giant yucca

Back behind Tortugas

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Crowded Saturday

Seeking shade wherever she can find it
There sure were lots of people on and about Tortugas Mountain this morning, attributable, no doubt, to the holiday weekend. Nevertheless, we managed to minimize contact by doing a long trek into the outback.  Very hot, yet very peaceful in the desert today.  There was a steady wind, which helped moderate the heat, but it proved to be pretty hot regardless
Oceanless beach

Brother hare

Flowers starting to bloom on a Finger Cholla

Friday, May 24, 2013

Can't Get Enough Strawberry Pitaya

Whew it was hot this morning, but a steady breeze helped promote good evaporative cooling.  I remember reading about and seeing photos of early settlers in the Southwest hanging wet sheets in front of opened doors to cool their homes via evaporation.  That, no doubt, was the seed from which the modern evaporative cooler grew.  Ran into and talked to a couple of people out there, one a mountain biker who was wearing an Arziona Wildcats t-shirt.  Becca must be getting used to mountain bikes because she didn't seem too concerned about this guy's machine.

This mound is 3 1/2 feet long and 2 1/2 feet tall

Huge mass of Strawberry Pitaya Cactus

Not a Pitaya

Computer-enhanced photo of two Loggerhead Shrikes

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day After the Hump

Western Kingbird
Most of the photos here are of Strawberry Pitaya Cactus flowers, with the exception of three critters:  two birds and one dog.  The short video is of a Curve-billed Thrasher, in case anybody was too lazy to follow the link I provided yesterday to hear what the song of one sounds like.  A note on the weather:  it was already hot when Becca and I started trekking around Tortugas Mountain.  We're heading for a high of 95 F, which, I believe, will be the highest we've been so far this season.
All of the "ball" mounds here are Strawberry Pitaya Cacti

Like this one blooming out

And this

Natural, unenhanced photo

The true color of Strawberry Pitaya

Respite from the heat

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 ...