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Friday, January 31, 2014

Comes the Wind--Again

Sunrise at the ranch
Becca and I were out to the mountain before the worst of the wind picked up; but it started worsening when we were hiking with JC and Shaque on the inner loop trail.  It's supposed to get even worse than yesterday, 25- to 35-mile-per-hour sustained winds with gusts to 45 mph and 50 mph.  When the wind blows that powerfully in the desert there's always dust in the sky--as there was yesterday.  And it's looking like it will be even dustier today.  Yuck.
A particularly interesting Creosote Bush

Up the western slope of Tortugas Mountain

Trail through the arroyo

Higher in the foothills

Clouds come and go

Sunny in the west

Pausing for a look at Tortoise Mountain

Prickly Pear (foreground), Franklin Mountains on the horizon

Clouds return over Tortugas Mountain and the Organ Mountains

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Big Warm Up

Large Prickly Pear Cactus
40 degrees when we hit the trail.  Since we're warming up to 74 today it was hard to know how to dress.  It was a tad too chilly to go with shorts, so I opted for light weight Ex Officio pants, short-sleeve shirt and an anorak.  By the time we bumped into JC and Shaque I was already feeling a little overdressed.  Since Shaque is a Fairbanks, Alaska resident he seems to mind the heat a little more than Becca, who's a desert dog through-and-through.
Loving the desert

Blue skies

Loggerhead Shrike

Pointer Sisters Yuccas

Looking like spring

This tall Torrey Yucca looks like an inverted cowboy spur

JC and Shaque on the inner loop trail

Mr. Shaque

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dromedary Day

A Packrat and his dog (or, at least, their shadows)
No, we didn't see any camels on our hike this morning; it's just a silly way of saying "hump day."  It was quite cold when we started out:  18 degrees Fahrenheit.  The one really good thing was that there was no wind.  Even a moderate wind would have made it feel much worse.  We ran into JC and Shaque and hiked with them on about two-thirds of the inner loop trail.  Then JC and I stood shooting the breeze back at the trailhead while Becca and Shaque waited patiently in their respective vehicles.
Glad to reach the sun on a cold morning

Looking back at the mountain's edge

Looking for friendly faces:  canine and human alike

White-winged dove on a Torrey Yucca

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dynamic Clouds

There was a thin coating of ice on the car when Becca and I headed out this morning, so I knew the atmosphere contained some moisture.  This was confirmed on the trail when we examined the clouds in the sky, many of which looked to have ice crystals in them.  Whether they did or not, though, they sure put on a fine display.  The last image here is of Becca and Shaque greeting each other for the first time near the inner loop trail.  They really get along well, so it's a pleasure to watch them interact.

Dos amigos (due amici)

Monday, January 27, 2014

500,000 or 55,000?

The U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewel was in the area for two days last week touring the proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, which President Obama may be willing to create using a 1906 law that allows him to bypass Congress.  The proposal, put forward by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM), calls for 500,000 acres to be set aside for wilderness and national monument status.

Congressman Steve Pearce's (R-NM) plan asks for only 55,000 acres to be set aside around the Organ Mountains.  This is the same Steve Pearce whose recently released book, Just Fly the Plane, Stupid!, suggests that a wife's duty is to submit to her husband.  It reads:  "The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice.  The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else."  Apparently his philosophy stems from his reading of the Bible, the same Bible that suggests that man has dominion over the earth.  No surprise, then, that Pearce, owner of an oil-field service company, sees the creation of wilderness areas and national monuments as threats to our right to exploit as many of our natural resources as possible.  I pray that President Obama takes this opportunity to assert himself over a do-nothing Congress.  Apparently, last year was the first Congress since World War II to not set aside any land.

Read more here:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's a Beautiful Morning

Easter Island
I thought briefly about including a further line or two from The Young Rascals' song (they were called that before dropping the "Young"), but decided not to test your forbearance. The weather was gorgeous when Dr. K, Becca and I headed out of the Monte Vista parking area for a two-thirds trip around the Tortoise and back again.  We ran into Jimmy on the east side of the mountain.  Becca ran ahead to greet him, as Jimmy is one of her best buddies.  We all chatted (not Becca) for a few minutes before heading our separate ways.
Becca working a bush

Heading for the southwest section of Tortugas

Striking ahead through the grassland

Statuesque Torrey Yuccas

Becca and Packrat heading back

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mostly Overcast

Starting out on a cloudy morn
It wasn't nearly as cold this morning as yesterday because of a thick cloud cover acting as a blanket.  There wasn't too much wind, either, so it felt pretty bearable out there.  Quite a few people were getting their exercise on the mountain.  We encountered three mountain bikers as well as a hiker before bumping into JC and Shaque, who were out getting their exercise, too.  When we all returned to the trailhead there were a lot of cars in the parking lot.  Think I'll put a suggestion in the suggestion box recommending rangers keep the outdoor enthusiasts to a minimum when Becca and I are there.
Purple Prickly Pear Cactus

A hint of the sun

Saddle in the Organ Mountains

Behind the Ocotillos:  the Franklin Mountains near El Paso

Experimental area "J"  ?

Trail back to Tortoise Mountain

We're about to encounter a mountain biker

Brightening up

Heading in opposite directions

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 ...