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Friday, July 31, 2015

Sierra Vista Trek

Getting started on the Sierra Vista Trail (I see a seahorse in this shot)
This morning, just as I was about to let Becca out of the car, two young women approached and told me the Tortugas Mountain Trails area was closed; they had been stopped by two policemen and advised not to enter.  I saw the police officers in the parking lot, and drove up to discover what was happening.  When I opened my car window and asked one of the officers, he said, "There's been a small incident at the top of the mountain."  When I asked if the east side was closed, too, he said the whole place was off limits.

So Becca and I drove up Soledad Canyon Road to the Sierra Vista Trail parking lot and did a moderately-long hike south.  It was terribly humid, and gnats were swarming all over.  At first there had been a nice overcast, but that soon disappeared, replaced by brutal sunshine.  By the time we turned around and headed back we were anxious to have the hike over with.

Tortugas Mountain was still closed when we drove by on our way home, the Sunset Area now blocked by a police vehicle with flashing lights, and yellow crime scene tape had been stretched across the entrance.  I learned later from the Las Cruces Sun-News that a middle-aged man had been found dead on the mountaintop, and initial reports suggested his death was a suicide.  Here's a link to the newspaper report ( if you're interested in reading about it.

Another article I'd read in the Sun-News this morning detailed how El NiƱo is responsible for the abundant rain we've been getting this monsoon season.  Apparently this past Wednesday was the third wettest day we've had in the past five years, and all the extra precipitation has actually put a dent in our short-term drought conditions.  Read the story here:
Sotols were blooming all over the higher elevations

Heading south

Looking back on the way we just came

Sotol flower stalk against a cloudy sky

Hot, but happy

Pinacate Beetle

Barrel Cacti in various stages of blooming

A mile or so in

Bishop Cap

Barrel Cactus flower

Crossing into the wilderness

Large Barrel Cactus ( 3')

Flower bouquet

Rainbow Hedgehog with spiral ribs

On the way back

Getting close to the trailhead on Soledad Canyon Road

Ocotillos in the high foothills of the Organ Mountains

Becca smelling a bush

Sotol with double flower stalk

Soledad Rocks in middle background

The beauty of the Organ Mountains (part of the Rocky Mountain chain)

I've never seen so many Sotol blooming simultaneously

Almost done with our hike


Dr. K said...

I'm glad you and Becca were able to hike. Very sad about the possible suicide on the mountain.

Scott said...

The images of the barrel cacti about to bloom make them look sorta' like birds' nests.

We've had several attempted suicides at my preserve, but none that has been successful as far as I know. One evening, after a walk (many years ago), Kali and I walked through our parking lot and there was a car with its motor running. On closer inspection, I noticed that the windows were all up, there was a man slumped in the front seat, and there was a tube running from the exhaust into one of the rear windows. I opened the driver's side door and the man was very groggy. Fortunately, there was a cop giving a man a speeding ticket just outside the preserve gate, so he took care of the situation and got the man to the hospital. I know he didn't die, but I don't know anything about what happened later.

There are a lot of suicides around the Philadelphia area by people who walk in front of trains.

packrat said...

That's an amazing story, Scott; your discovery must have shaken you and Kali up quite a bit. Not finding out what happened afterwards what is slightly off-putting.

While I talked to the one cop the other one was taking down license plates numbers of cars in the Sunset Parking area, so they were treating it as a potential crime scene, but still no updates.

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 ...