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Thursday, July 31, 2014

First Alert

Starting out under cloudy skies
We're under a meteorological "first alert" for the next three days:  possible thunderstorms with heavy rain and area flooding.   Becca and I got sprinkled on during our entire trek this morning.  The last image of the semi-ripe Prickly Pear here makes me think the scat image I posted yesterday was of coyote feces, and the "grape" was an unripe "green" Prickly Pear.  Coyotes love Prickly Pear fruit, and it seems likely that an unparticular canis latrans could have consumed a green one.
Close to the arroyo on the mountain's west side

The desert doesn't seem quite as harsh

What's keeping you?

Something's burning in the distance

Bishop Cap

Acacia in bloom

A stand of elegant Ocotillo

Semi-ripe Prickly Pear has me rethinking the coyote scat grape question

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Now We're Talking Steamy

In the western foothills of Tortugas Mountain
All we needed for steam heat under current high humidity conditions was a full dose of sunshine.  We got it this morning.  Hope the last image doesn't offend readers, but when I first saw the scat pictured there it looked like coyote feces.  Then I saw the green grape-like object and figured it was a dog deposit from a canine who'd had grapes.  (Don't feed your dog grapes; they're potentially poisonous to canines.)  However, on closer visual inspection I find that I'm not so certain that is a grape.
On the down slope

Devil's Claw

What you do when you're hot in the desert (I don't)

Very hot dog

Rain Lily pods will soon burst open, expelling seeds

A little bushwhacking

Wandering through an Ocotillo forest

Tortugas from the west

Ocotillo loaded with leaves

Colorful Chihuahuan Desert

First thought:  coyote scat (but what's the green spherical object?)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Swampy not Steamy

Devil's Head (note how this young specimen is nearly caged by thorns)
We've had a lot of rain over the past few days, and the humidity is really high.  Had there been any sun to speak of this morning the conditions would have been downright steamy.  But the heavy overcast made the air feel heavy with moisture, and it felt incredibly swampy out there--the kind of atmospheric phenomenon that has you sweating before you even exert yourself.
Classic canine pose

The trail forward

An older Devil's Head swelled with rain

Torrey Yucca (a second in the distance)

If it looks like rain you're right (we got sprinkled on)

On the road around the mountain

The Franklin Mountains near El Paso in the distance

What used to be a two-domed observatory (windstorm destroyed the other)

Across a wide expanse of Chihuahuan Desert

Organ Mountains

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Desert Smells Like Perfume

Huge moth on a patio scrren door
Beginning about 10:20 last night we had quite a downpour; and then it rained during the overnight hours.  It was muggy and overcast when Becca and I set off for Tortugas Mountain this morning.  Thanks to a nice breeze out there it felt pretty cool.  One of the coolest things was the scent of perfume that filled the air--the result of so many Acacias blooming at the same time.  Their tiny yellow ball flowers are the most fragrant blossoms in this part of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Verdant Ocotillos

Becca spots a hiker heading our way

Fruit ("pears") of the Prickly Pear Cactus

Stand of very green Ocotillos, Organ Mountains in background
On the loop road

What passes for "green" in the Chihuahuan Desert

Pollen-laden bee working an Acacia flower

Acacia:  an ingredient of many perfumes

Tortugas (left) and the Organ Mountains

Small Barrel Cactus growing from remnants of an old one

Flower buds atop the small Barrel Cactus

"Furry" with green leaves

Dark skies to the northwest

Clearing in the southwest

One happy hiker

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Miserable Hike

Prickly Pear Cactus growing in rock
It was too hot to be hiking this morning; that's how we all felt when we got back to the car after a brutal trek.  Behind the mountain we ran into a German woman who was very concerned about gunshots we were hearing in the desert.  "How close are they?" she said.  I told her that they were pretty far away.  She said, "I don't like that."  Dr. K said, "We don't, either."  Imagine if the woman was a tourist visiting the U.S. for the first time and taking a hike around the mountain, hearing gunshots and knowing how gun-crazed many Americans seem to be.  Sad.
Dr. K and Becca behind Tortugas Mountain

What brushed against this rock?

Where does she get her energy?

New Keen boot (I actually bought two)

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 ...