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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Close Encounters

Claret Cup Hedgehog Cactus
Becca and I were about a third of the way along the Crosscut Trail when--"Hello!"--we had a very close encounter with an adolescent rattler.  Fortunately I had Becca hiking behind me because she wouldn't have seen it; I almost didn't see it due to its amazing camouflage.  It was sleeping, and never really stirred.  It may have opened an eye to see what was up, but we skirted it without incident.  Young rattlers are the most dangerous because they haven't yet learned to regulate the amount of venom they inject with a bite.
Claret Cup

In the foothills again

Ocotillo budding out

When fully bloomed they're among the most beautiful desert flowers

Mustard flowers blooming all over the desert floor

Velvety Nerisyrenia (mustard family)

Pause for the cause

The center segments of this Hedgehog are a foot-and-a-half tall

Tortugas (left) and the Organ Mountains

Mormon Tea (Ephedra)

Claret Cup and Yucca buddy

The camouflage is what concerns you

An adolescent Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Across the desert to the Organ Mountains

The dessicated remnants of a millipede

Torrey Yuccas

Haven't been able to ID this yet

Closeup of its flowers

Every spring a mama White-winged Dove builds a nest in our backyard

Now I have to worry until the babies leave the nest

Monday, March 30, 2015

Warm, Humid and Overcast

Claret Cup Hedgehog Cactus is blooming all over the mountain
It was 70 F when we went out this morning with a solid overcast.  The humidity felt high, as if rain could break out at any moment.  It felt that way during our long hike as Becca and I trekked along the trails west of Tortugas Mountain.  There were a few other hikers out, but we didn't encounter any.  All in all we had a very pleasant outing to the west of the Tortoise.
On the high trail

White-winged Dove

Scalloped Phacelia

Claret Cup

Claret Cup

Torrey Yuccas

Torrey Yucca

Closeup of flowers

An overcast Chihuahuan Desert

No leaves yet on the Ocotillo

Always willing to keep going

Flank of Tortugas Mountain

Velvety Nerisyrenia

Velvety Nerisyrenia

Claret Cup

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Long Way Round

Back behind Tortugas
Starting from the Monte Vista area on Tortugas's east side Dr. K, Becca and I hiked three-fourths of the way around the mountain before turning back on the outer loop road.  We hiked that way until we saw a man mountain biking with his young son ahead of us; and because they kept stopping on the trail we made a detour, climbing back up to the inner loop.  It added only a short extra distance to our trek, but it was worth it to avoid an encounter.  Not that we're antisocial you understand, but we don't want to engage in idle chitchat when we're doing serious trekking.  :)
Rocky grassland south of the mountain

Having a good long look across the desert

Where the trail begins to wrap around the Tortoise

View from outside a rock shelter

Slashing across Tortugas's southern flank

On the outer loop road

A section of the inner loop road is visible at the center of this image

Scouting for critters and other people

Picking these flowers would be a thorny prospect

This and those that follow:  Mexican Gold Poppies



Pointed back to the Organ Mountains

Striking ahead on the return trip

Closeup of Torrey Yuccas

Again on the Grand View

At the lower trailhead Willow, Frio, Dr. K and I did the Grand View Trail again this morning, hiking nearly all of it today.  We ran into on...