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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

That Good Ole Monsoon Feeling

Early shade break
I know I've mentioned this feeling before, but it's a good one.  The morning is hot and noticeably humid.  No clouds in the sky.  The absence of even a breeze makes the heat stifling.  A long, arduous hike raises your body temperature, and you're perspiring.  You stop in the shade of a Yucca to get some relief.  A light wind picks up before dying almost immediately.  Then the wind freshens, blowing across your exposed face, arms and legs, causing your sweat to evaporate quickly in the body's efficient mechanism for natural cooling.  Somehow the physical relief is mental as well, generating an ever-so-temporary sense of well being.   Then the wind dies.  The feeling is gone.  Only the memory of the epiphany remains.
New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum (center right)

Past the Ocotillos

Rain Lily seed pods

Closeup of the pods

Circling before plopping down

Plopped

Shady respite

Not just yet, okay?

I believe this is a Fire Ant with a heavy load

I'm always on ant lookout when Becca lies in the sand

Two young women walking horses on Geothermal Road

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunset Side Trek

That's not a snake behind Becca's butt, but rather a Yucca root
Not much to say this morning.  Becca and I did a moderate hike out of the Sunset Area; we cut it short because she seemed pretty hot not long after our start.  We're heading for 95 F today, and it felt like we were seven-eighths of the way there already.  We ran into a few other people during our excursion:  an elderly couple hiking along the west side of the mountain, a good-natured mountain biker who seemed to be having a lot of fun on his ride.
Ocotillo fully leafed out

Back into the foothills on a thoroughly hot morning

Summer green--pretty verdant for the Chihuahuan Desert

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fat Rattler

The Acacia tree in our backyard is in full bloom
If you hike in the desert every day you're sure to see a fair number of rattlesnakes.  Becca and I have seen five or six already this hot season.  She spotted the Western Diamondback pictured below in time to make an appropriate avoidance response.  I was able to take photos without getting too close.  It was non-aggressive, though, having just eaten a morning meal (I think).  When I was done capturing images, Becca and I had to go off trail in order to give the snake a wide berth because it was right at the edge of the hiking path.
If you're familiar with Acacia you know how sweet the yellow balls smell

An out-of-focus bean from one of our Desert Willows

Sotol are flowering all over the northern Chihuahuan Desert

A yardstick worth of Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

A viperous-looking face

Distinct black-and-white bands near the rattle mean this is a young snake

It looks as if this snake had a morning meal:  Rat McNugget?

View to the south from Tortugas (Tortoise) Mountain

Hot dog in the outback

Getting hotter

No water in sight

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sprinkled Upon

Looking out from the Grand View Trail
Becca and I awoke this morning to lightning, thunder and rain, but it let up long enough for us to begin a hike on the Grand View Trail.  It was so humid it felt as if we were trekking in a sauna.  Then the rain started again.  It never came down hard enough to really soak us, but we did get spat upon for most of the hike.  We ran into only one guy on the trail, a jogger whose t-shirt was thoroughly sopping with sweat.  After our hike Becca and I headed down the mountain for our desert home.
I thought we were done getting rained on

The gypsum lake of White Sands National Monument

Grazing in the high desert

Sotols in bloom

Steady descent

Cactus out of rock

Buffalo Gourd (and beetle friend)



Buffalo Gourd (aks Missouri Gourd or Coyote Gourd) is a perennial vine

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thoroughly Drenched

Our buddy Jimmy reading a sign alongside the Rim Trail
Our friend Jimmy came up to our place in High Rolls so we could do a hike together on the Rim Trail.  We chose section #4, and were nearly three-fourths of the way to the Karr Canyon Road junction when it started raining pretty hard.  By the time we reached the junction the rain was pouring down steadily; to add insult to injury we got hailed upon for quite a while.  The bee bee-sized to pea-sized ice pellets stung a bit, especially the one that nailed my left ear.  We turned around and hiked back as quickly as possible, but we were just about as wet as hikers can be.   Our plan to have lunch in the forest was thwarted, so we ended up eating in the car.
Pre-rain look toward the valley

Becca booking up the trail

Some of the many Aspens along the Rim Trail

Not sure what this purple beauty is

After the heavy rain

Scratch-and-sniff:  a very wet dog

Our shower was nearly over by now

Indian Paintbrush

Do I look happy?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Creepy Crawler

Starting around Tortugas
Becca and I are in High Rolls in the Sacramento Mountains now, but this morning we did an early hike around Tortugas Mountain in the lower desert.  Upon arrival here we found the top portion of a tree blocking two-thirds of our drive, so I had to spend an hour chopping and hauling wood out of our road.  Just another unexpected pleasure of having a place in the mountains.  I had other work to do up here, so this was an unplanned chore.  One nice thing about working outdoors in the mountains, though:  I got rained on while chopping the tree.
Looking west from the high foothills of the Tortoise

Devil's Head Cactus (Echinocereus horizonthalonius)

Higher on the mountain now

In the distance the Organ Mountains

Tarantula

I called it "creepy," but it doesn't creep me out at all

About the size of your palm with fingers outstretched

Devil's Heads in the process of blooming

Usually the Devil's Head has one flower

Much-needed break in skimpy shade

Ripe pears of the Prickly Pear Cactus (I've eaten them after de-spining)

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...