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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Sauna

On the trail southeast of Tortugas
If hot, dry and windless wasn't bad enough yesterday, how about stirring in a big dollop of humidity?  That's what we had today as Dr. K, Becca and I worked our way around the mountain.  We encountered two mountain bikers on the trail, but nobody else was on the Monte Vista side of the area.  Smart people were probably sitting in air-conditioned kitchens eating bowl after bowl of  Häagen-Dazs gelato.
Single-track behind the mountain


Dropping into a little valley

Southwest flank of Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain

Cruising by at altitude

The Organ Mountains, so-called because parts resemble organ pipes

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bad Day on the Mountain

Two young women out for a morning ride
Too hot, too dry, too little wind, and WAY too many people on and about Tortugas Mountain. That pretty much sums up the hike this morning. Becca and I did get in our requisite amount of exercise, so it wasn't all bad.












On the Crosscut Trail just above the arroyo

Not a leaf to be seen on any Ocotillos

A bit of smoky haze again


Sand bunny


Friday, June 28, 2013

Clearner Air!

Late-blooming Ocotillo flowers
The air here in the Mesilla Valley was much better today--no smoky skies, no "taste" of campire smoke.  The wind was blowing fairly strongly, and it was keeping the atmosphere fresh.  We did have the misfortune of crossing paths with a young woman jogger who had a megaphone mouth.  I don't mean to sound intolerant, but she was yelling at the top of her lungs for her dog, who wasn't paying attention.  A simple whistle or two might have sufficed to get the dog's attention.  Having somebody screaming for her dog is a definite hindrance to finding solitude.
Becca scoping out a noisy jogger

Tortugas Mountain (left) and the Organ Mountains

Heavy clouds rolling in

Road around the mountain

Far west of Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain

Clean air in the Chihuahuan Desert

Midsection of the Organ Mountains

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Smoky and Dry

Smokey haze over the Franklin Mountains near El Paso, Texas
The wind is still coming in from the northwest, carrying smoke from the Silver Fire in the Gila National Forest.  Only 20% of the blaze is contained as of this writing.  Health experts are warning people in our area who suffer from respiratory illnesses to stay indoors, preferably in places with refrigerated cooling.  Evaporative cooling draws outdoor air inside so is not ideal when smoky conditions prevail.  I didn't feel the effects of the smoke on my hike with Becca this morning, but yesterday afternoon I definitely had a burning throat from the smoky pollution.
Hummingbird

Smoke over the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico

Haze partially obscures the Organ Mountains

Heading down the dusty road

Taking a break on the Crosscut Trail

Up an arroyo west of Tortugas Mountain

Smokey pall hanging over Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shift in the Wind

White-Winged Doves
It was inevitable:  the wind shifted out of the west, bringing with it smoke from the enormous Silver Fire, which is burning out of control in the Black Range of the Gila (Hee-la) National Forest near Silver City, New Mexico.  It is now the largest fire in the state at 127 square miles, and is burning into the Aldo Leopold Wilderness--the world's very first wilderness area, created in 1924.  All during our hike this morning Becca and I were smelling "campfire" smoke.  We're hoping the wind shifts again soon.
Four Musketeers

Checking out people on the mountain

Allthorn (aka Crucifixion Thorn)


Flower of the Allthorn

Four hikers on the upper foothills trail

Soaptree Yucca in bloom

Soaptree Yucca flowers


Soaptree Yucca against Tortugas Mountain


Closeup of the blossoms

Smoke from the Silver Fire has reached our area

Snake with RD (Reptile Dysfunction)?

A well-earned break

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Provision Day Hike

Not a Spanish Bayonet flower
I abbreviated our hike this morning, but not by very much.  Becca still was able to get in four or five shade breaks.  There were other people out, but not many--several headed for the mountaintop, a man and a woman jogging, an elderly woman back near the Sunset Parking lot wandering around with a compass. Three cars were parked in the area.  After we came back I showered and headed out for Target and Albertson's to stock up on supplies for the coming week.  Exciting!
Becca near Mr. Tacoma's Toyota truck in the outback

The Organ Mountains on the horizon

Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain

The Franklin Mountains near El Paso, 45 miles away

Skimpy shade

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hot and Dry (Again)


Hiking along the lower foothills
Right now (11:40 a.m.) we've got a nice overcast sky, and the temperatures have dropped significantly.  Earlier, though, when Becca and I were hiking the west side of the mountain it felt pretty lousy:  hot, dry and no wind.  We weren't the only lunatics out there, though; we saw a couple of other hikers and a man and woman jogging at top speed; in fact, I'd say the latter two were running.  I kept cautioning Becca not to run, even when she saw several Black-tailed Jackrabbits and was chomping at the bit to get after them.  Fortunately, she listens to me nowadays. 
Huge Torrey Yucca

Cactus Wren


Blue skies, scattered clouds


Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain (left) and the Organ Mountains

It's always funny to watch two Cactus Wrens waging war

"Hello" from the shade of a Yucca

Between Yesterday and Today

Lady Ann Mountains Yesterday I took 15 photos; today I snapped 50.  Not sure why I was in a more photographic mood.  It wasn't because t...