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Thursday, October 31, 2013

An Epiphany of Sorts

Becca sees activity way up on the foothills trail
I'm not sure what it is about this particular arroyo on the far west side of Tortugas Mountain, but every time we enter it I experience an expansive "oceanic" feeling, a sense that in the long run everything will turn out okay. Perhaps it's the abundance of flora within the small ecosystem, or the expansive view of Tortoise Mountain.  Maybe there are some benevolent spirits residing in the area.  By the way, I have the distinct impression that Becca has the same expansive feeling every time we take a desert hike.
Using my camera's telephoto feature to see what she sees:  two hikers

The red circle indicates how far away from us they are

Entering an east/west arroyo far away from Tortugas Mountain

Stingleaf flowers still blooming

Some of the flora within the arroyo

Desert Marigolds blossoming in the Chihuahuan Desert

Having a sit-down

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Shadow and light in the desert foothills
Our weather over the past few days has been swinging back and forth as if it can't decide what to do:  let Indian Summer linger a while longer or leap suddenly from fall to winter.  Yesterday was chilly and overcast, and the predicted winds never materialized.  Today it's sunny and warm--headed for a high of 71 Fahrenheit--but the winds have already made an appearance.  The wind is ushering in a cold front that will drop temperatures significantly again.  It makes no difference to Becca and me, though, as we continue trekking around the mountain.
Tough-girl stance?

View from the upper foothills trail

Said trail

Tortoise Mountain with a glimpse of the Organs

Remnants of a Stingleaf plant

The highest peaks loom on the horizon

The Organ Mountains

Three massive mounds of Strawberry Pitaya Cactus, the largest 2' X 3'

I don't know what grass this is, but it was pretty in sunlight

The outer edge of a rock cave in the mountains

Looking toward the top of Tortugas

A happy camper behind the mountain

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It Looks Like Rain

It was so heavily overcast this morning that we had to drive over to the trailhead at Tortugas Mountain with our headlights on.  We did our entire hike under the same cloud cover.  I thought it would be cleared up by now (early afternoon), but it still looks as if it could rain at any minute.  Oddly, we have only a 10% chance of precipitation.  Later today the winds are supposed to kick up, so the clouds will probably take a hike then.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Summer Redux

Getting an early start
The light windbreaker came off quickly on this morning's hike.  We're heading for a high of 78 Fahrenheit today, and it felt pretty warm in the northern Chihuahuan Desert already. When we first started out we had an encounter with two young women (they looked like high school girls) who were out for an early-morning jog.  They got a big kick out of how Becca was lying down just off the trail, as if she were waiting for sheep.  I told the girls, "She's a herder."  The first girl said, "She is so cute."  I hope Becca won't let that kind of comment go to her head.
Not quite out of the shadow yet

The center Prickly Pear pad is as big as a dinner plate

Heading back behind the mountain

Spiny enough for you?

Shadows on Tortugas Mountain

The effect of wind on a jet contrail

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Semi-Long Trek into Soledad Canyon

Making an entrada in Soledad Canyon
Caroline (who's visiting from San Francisco), Dr. K, Becca and I did a moderately-long hike into Soledad Canyon this morning, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect.  We walked the high loop trail back to the old homesteader's cabin, then headed due west on the trail that drops steadily down to the parking area.  Along the way we encountered other outdoor enthusiasts (young and old) who were enjoying the beautiful day.  Good exercise on a great outing.
Over the hills to the Organ Mountains

Paper Flowers

Caroline and Dr. K

Becca scouting the territory ahead

Lost in a high desert grassland
Heading for the mountains

Huge rock formations

Gall on a shrub oak

In the high foothills of the Organ Mountains

Dead tree

Homesteader's rock cabin
Becca and Packrat

Cabin window

A different wndow

Mountain view

Admiring the view

Old Aermotor windmill

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...