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Monday, March 31, 2014

Yucca Daze

Getting going
It's not that I'm particularly enamored of Yucca flowers, it's just that they're so purty.  And there are lots of them out in the desert--all of the Yucca faxoniana variety.  These are the infamous Torrey Yucca, so-called after the 19th-Century American botanist John Torrey, who, in 1859, designated it a different variety of Yucca faxoniana.  Apparently, modern botanists don't see it as a separate variety, but they're not sure what to call it:  Yucca faxoniana, Yucca treculeana or Yucca torreyi.  Now you know more about Torrey Yuccas than you ever wanted to know.
Yucca with Claret Cup Cactus

Waiting to cross the ravine

Flowers of the Yucca torreyi

Blossoms of Yucca torreyi (aka Yucca faxoniana)

More Yucca flowers

Spanish Dagger

These flowers look like a type of Italian pasta--cavatelli


Portrait of dog in sunshine

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Away From the Well-Trodden Path

White-winged Dove taking flight
Dr. K felt like doing some bushwhacking this morning, so Becca and I were quick to oblige her.  No telling the discoveries waiting to be revealed when you get off the beaten track.  We found a fertile section of desert west of the Tortoise (Tortugas Mountain) where several small arroyos fed an abundance of flora.  Many Yuccas were in bloom, and Claret Cup Hedgehog Cacti carpeted the desert floor with brilliant red-orange flowers.  It was so quiet and peaceful out there we hated to return to the city.
On the way round the mountain

Old rock shelter
Claret Cup Cactus flower and bud

Dos cabezas son mejor que uno

Twin Yucca flower stalks
Becca spots two hikers and a dog across a great expanse of desert

Down a small, sandy arroyo

Looking back at Tortugas Mountain from the west

Dr. K enjoying a morning of bushwhacking
Down a sandy arroyo bottom

Claret Cup Cactus nearly in full bloom

A good-sized Barrel Cactus
In a fertile Chihuahuan Desert valley

A fairly large Torrey Yucca in bloom

A gigantic Yucca--nearly 18' we calculated

Deer been here, done that

Claret Cup blossoms

Yuccas and the Organ Mountains

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bad Mood on the Mount

Becca and I started off in a good mood this morning as we made our way to the west side of Torgugas Mountain.  Her good mood persisted throughout our hike.  Mine did not.  First there was the man with a dog that barked nonstop.  Then there was the woman who yelled repeatedly for her dog, "Billy," to come back to her.  Then when we returned to the parking area some genius was blasting music for all to hear.  To compound the problem he was singing along.  He could carry a tune well enough, but he staggered mightily under the load.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bushwhack Deluxe

Getting started
When Becca and I set off this morning we intended to do a moderately-long hike on maintained trails.  But Bushwhack Fever soon gripped us, and we found ourselves exploring across the desert floor.  Out in the middle of nowhere we came across an old Torrey Yucca (image #7), and I photographed it without at first noticing that somebody had gone through the trouble of making a spoked circle of small rocks around it (image #8).  Often these circles are built for a spiritual purpose, but I have no idea what this one represented.
Fire in the Mesilla Valley

Spanish Dagger with flower stalks

Yucca #1 entrada

Sandy respite

Rodent pathway looks like a bicycle tire track

Far off the beaten track

Somebody took time to make a rock circle around this Yucca

Arroyo #2 entrada

A healthy Barrel Cactus about two feet tall

A vast stretch of desert, the Organ Mountains on the horizon

A far piece from Tortugas

Who would feast on Prickly Pear pads?  Packrats, that's who

Forest of Soaptree Yuccas

How tall are Soaptree Yuccas?  I'm 5' 11"

Blooming Yucca and the former two-dome observatory

Claret Cup Hedgehog Cactus budding and blooming

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 ...