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Friday, April 18, 2014

High Desert Hiking

Starting out on the Sierra Norte Trail
We were heading to our parking spot at the Sunset Area this morning when we saw a crowded lot.  Obviously something had been scheduled for Good Friday; it looked like a mountain bike race.  We drove around to the Monte Vista side of the mountain, but over there a deputy sheriff had two guys with hands raised against his pickup truck.  Not a good place to pull in, I decided.  So Becca and I drove up the western foothills of the Organ Mountains, through the village of Talavera, to the parking lot for the Sierra Norte Trail.  We did a two-hour hike there, battling against a brutal assault by aggressive flies.  In all the decades I've been hiking I have never been pestered this badly by flies.
Bending to the west

Except for the pesky flies Becca is enjoying herself

Torrey Yucca bearing fruit

The cucumber-like fruit of Yucca torreyi

A Sotol in foreground, Organ Mountains behind

Looking west

Cushion Cactus

A gnarly Barrel Cactus

Check out the three-inch spines on this baby

Protect America's Resources

A fine specimen: nearly 3-foot-tall Barrel

Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus

Tortugas Mountain in the distance

Hedgehog flower

Leftover fruit on a Barrel Cactus

Rainbow Cactus

A Barrel Cactus whose top has collapsed into a bird's nest structure

Three Sisters Barrel--obvious clones

More Hedgehog flowers

Across a grassy high desert to the Organ Mountains

On the trail back

Plethora of Barrel Cacti on the Sierra Norte Trail

Rainbow Cactus

In the high foothills

Nearly back to the parking area


Dr. K said...

I'm happy the hedgehogs are in bloom because I love their purple and yellow colors.

Scott said...

Nothing in the paper about the flies, huh? Maybe newspaper reporters never get out of the city. Surely, they could find an entomologist at the university to comment about the unusual fly year.

packrat said...

Nothing, Scott. I really wonder about what's causing the infestation. I've got to find out. We ran into a guy and his Australian Shepherd when we had nearly finished our hike this morning, and the first thing he mentioned was the invasion of flies. He said they were really bad in Soledad Canyon, too, which is an area tucked up into the Organs. Kind of bizarre.

Tonia said...

Those cactus flowers are so beautiful.

packrat said...

Thanks, Tonia. Really appreciate the comment.


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