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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Frigid Temps

A familiar spot at the side of the mountain
It was 20 F when Becca and I started off on the trail alongside Tortugas Mountain.  The stiff breeze made for a freezing trek.  Fortunately I was dressed appropriately, though at times I had to press my gloved hand against my nose and mouth to warm the air I was breathing.  We met up with JC and hiked with him back to the trailhead; he, too, talked about how cold it felt out there.  The weather is predicted to get worse, with another cold front blowing through carrying freezing rain and snow.
Bleak sky

Cold as it looks

Tortugas (left), Organ Mountains (right)

Clouds rolling along the Organs

Cloudy and cold

At the end of the Crosscut Trail

Turning back toward Tortugas

Southwestern flank of the Tortoise

Brrr!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Beating the Wind

Local meteorologists have given us a "First Alert" about the Arctic Blast that will be descending upon us tonight, warning that high winds would push through in advance of the front.  Well the winds are here already in the early afternoon, but fortunately Becca and I were able to get in a decently-long hike before the blustery conditions started.  Temperatures are supposed to plummet tonight, and we have rain/snow in the forecast for Thursday and Friday.



Monday, December 29, 2014

Sunny Break

Cactus Wren supermodel
We're between cold-weather systems right now, and the weather is pleasant:  sunny (though chilly) with not much wind.  Things change on Thursday, however, as another cold front blows through with precipitation:  rain and snow.  We're enjoying the respite while we can.  To that end Becca and I did a long hike west of the Tortoise this morning.



Moseying along

Tortugas Mountain

There's a dog in this photo

Hot-air inversion in El Paso, Texas

Distraction

Flycatcher

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Twenty-Degree Start

Just getting going on the Sierra Vista Trail
It was cold (20 F) when Dr. K, Becca and I headed out on the Sierra Vista Trail this morning.  The sun ameliorated the cold somewhat, but a persistent breeze kept things pretty chilly.  Nevertheless, we did a long hike on one of our favorite trails, which skirts along the western face of the Organ Mountains about ten miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  We saw not one other soul on the trail, but when we got back to the parking lot a man and a woman in a black pickup truck were just leaving.  They must have done a short hike on the Sierra Norte Trail.
Dr. K and Becca

Packrat and Becca

A home near the Organ Mountains (center right)

The single-track back

Don't pilfer plants

Tortugas Mountain, where we usually hike

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cold Overcast

Doña Ana Mountains
Had there been anything more than a slight breeze out there this morning I'd have frozen my biscuits off.  Nevertheless, it was quite cold around Tortugas Mountain.  Surprisingly there were quite a few other outdoor enthusiasts about, including JC, who Becca and I hiked with back to the vehicles.  Down the road in El Paso the 81st annual Sun Bowl football game will be played between Arizona State and Duke, but the weather right now looks anything bu sunny.
Hiking across the flank

Getting down into the lower desert

This makes you cold just looking at it

The Organ Mountains are out there somewhere

There they are

The Tortoise from the west

Bishop Cap reveals itself

Southern section of the Organs

Mountain bikers dressed for the weather

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Day Late

Boulder puddles from last night's rain
We missed having a White Christmas by one day.  Overnight and into the early-morning hours we got rain and light snow; it only stuck to the Organ Mountains, though.  Still, it makes for a pretty day after Christmas.  We only ran into a few other people around Tortugas during our hike; one, a blonde woman runner, said, "I didn't think anybody else would be out here."  I said, "Only us lunatics."  I realized immediately that I had included her in the category of "lunatics" though I really had meant no disrespect.
This Purple Prickly Pear must taste delicious

Trekking in the cold temps

Blankets of cloud and snow

Round back of Tortugas looking at the Organ Mountains

A nice dusting of snow on the Organs

The community of Talavera got light snow

Some of the "organ pipe" spires in the Organ Mountains

A good bit of the white stuff

Looking east at the Organs

Heading back

Mountains on the west mesa got snow, too

Between Yesterday and Today

Lady Ann Mountains Yesterday I took 15 photos; today I snapped 50.  Not sure why I was in a more photographic mood.  It wasn't because t...