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Monday, September 30, 2013

Pleasant Day/Crappy Mood

Yellow flowers carpet the desert
West of Tortugas Mountain
I'm glad it was really beautiful in the desert this morning, and that Becca and I got to enjoy a relaxing hike without bumping into anybody else.  I'm glad because I'm in a really crappy mood now due to the antics of an insanely dysfunctional U.S. Government that lurches from one manufactured crisis to another instead of buckling down and doing the job the American people elected them to do.  Is this really the best we can come up with in what is supposed to be the most powerful, most admired country on earth?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Far Side of the Mountain

Grass behind the mountain is very high
It was 42 Fahrenheit when Dr. K, Becca and I started our trek around Tortugas Mountain.  Unlike yesterday, though, it wasn't possible to wear jackets for the entire hike--not enough wind to keep it feeling cool.  About midway through the hike we had to peel off the outerwear.  It was warm enough to convince us that the weather woman on the morning news was right about heating up to the low 80s today.  Since we circled about two-thirds of the way around Tortugas we got in a good day's worth of exercise.
The rain this month has produced an abundance of weeds and grasses

Single-track through the grass

Hot-air ballooning

Two other hikers behind Tortugas

Union Jack balloon?

A very clear day

Trailing Four O'Clock not opened for business yet

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Good Hike Totally Spoiled

Up in the foothills
I don't know what was  going on at Centennial High School this morning, but at 7:45 am crap music was blasting out of the stadium PA system.  Even when we were miles away from the school we could hear the racket as if we were at the stadium.  Apparently, no adults were supervising the activities; or, if there were adults present they were as oblivious as the young people.  To make matters worse there was a flyer on our car window when we got back, announcing yet another fight to preserve the area around Tortugas Mountain.
Descending into the lower desert

This butterfly was flopping around on the trail

Into the verdant desert

West of the tortoise

We were at least four times further away from Centennial than this

More bad news for the mountain?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Beautiful Desert

Black-tailed Jackrabbit (a true Hare)
I took 90 photos on our long hike today.  These are some of them.  I'm posting these really late today (9:14 pm), so I'm too tired to ID the pink flowers--which I've photographed and ID'd in the past.  Oh well.
Desert Cottontail

The city of Las Cruces, New Mexico

My favorite dog

Stingleaf and sky

Becca, Tortugas and the Organs

Cloudy desert sky

The highest peaks

Road to Tortugas Mountain

Still green

Sandy desert floor

Carpeted in amarillo

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Gnat Attack

The largest Devil's Head I've ever seen (10" or 11")
Within the past few days the gnats have been swarming, creating quite an unpleasant experience for hikers. They're especially pesky when you've worked up a little sweat because, apparently, they like nothing better than a salty quaff of perspiration.  The one that flew into my right ear this morning sounded like a dentist's drill penetrating enamel.  There were also more grasshoppers than I've seen in ages.  When we hiked the Crosscut Trail, through a jungle of Trailing Four-O'Clocks the chapulines (grasshoppers) were flying left and right.
Feeble attempt to show size (I wear an 11)

Deep dip in the trail

Becca's favorite Ocotillo


Near the outer loop road

Desert Marigold

Heading back to Tortugas Mountain

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hot and Cold

We've reached the time of year where the morning and afternoon temperatures vary widely.  When Becca and I set off early today it was 53 degrees Fahrenheit.  We're headed for the mid-80s this afternoon.  So you start off wearing a jacket, which you end up removing pretty quickly because the strength of the desert sun demands it.  By the time you get back to your car you've already been sweating for a quarter-mile.  I look forward to the upcoming days when I can wear a jacket for the entire hike.  My kind of weather.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Late Hike

Path through the desert
Because of an appointment I had this morning Becca and I were several hours late getting on the trail this morning.  It's a good thing, too; that gave the sun a chance to climb a little higher in the cloudless sky.  And, by then, the wind had calmed somewhat.  It felt pretty chilly when Becca and I first went out into the backyard before sunrise to take care of business--her business, not mine.  60 Fahrenheit with a stiff wind.  So we pretty much enjoyed our moderately-long trek, although I'm still suffering a bit with allergies. 
Does this look comfortable?

Southwest flank of Tortugas Mountain

Yet another shady respite

Hump Day Hawk

Tortugas and the Organs We got a fairly early start this morning so it wasn't hot at all:  62F.  The cloud cover helped the temperature ...