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Saturday, October 31, 2015


Becca spots a Jackrabbit
The temperature was 45 F when Becca and I headed out this morning, but with the wind the conditions were right at the edge of coldness.  We were dressed appropriately, though.  We didn't hear or see any Coyotes in the outback, but we did cross paths with several mountain bikers, two of whom wore skeleton shirts in honor of Halloween.  The biggest spooky shock came when we got back to the trailhead and discovered a ghoulish passenger in the front seat of a Jeep Wrangler.  Got a huge kick out of that.
Clouds at the base of the Franklin Mountains, El Paso

Up an arroyo west of the mountain

Desert Marigolds still blooming

Becca and a very tall Ocotillo

Tortugas (aka "Tortoise")

Heading east to the mountain

No, we're not bushwhacking

Oh, all right

Heading through the Ocotillo Forest

Large stand of Ocotillos

Didn't realize what the first two bikers were wearing until I looked at the pic

Odd cloud over the mesa


Ghoulish passenger in a Jeep at the trailhead

Don't want to go off-roading with it

Friday, October 30, 2015

Semi-Close Encounters of the Coyote Kind

I tried to show the rain drops clinging to Ocotillo leaves.  Fail
As of 7:00 this morning it didn't look as if Becca and I would be able to do a hike; by 7:30, though, the rain had stopped and the sun began to break through.  So we headed off to Tortugas Mountain dressed appropriately for the windy, cool weather:  Becca in her coat and me in long trousers and a rain parka.  We hiked along the mountain's west side into the high foothills, and as we started down into the lower desert we heard loud yelping that made me think "Coyote pup."  Just before we approached the Ocotillo Forest on the outer loop road we got a glimpse of a young Coyote heading west.  We soon spotted the rest of the pack, four or five adult individuals following the youngster.  We pursued them, me with my camera out in hopes of getting some decent photos.  The Coyotes weren't about to stop, though, although the largest adult kept hanging back to keep an eye on Becca and me.  The Coyote would watch us until it was clear we were watching her then move on.  They disappeared south into a large arroyo.  In the wet sand of the arroyo I was able to find Coyote prints and photograph them.  I love seeing Coyotes out in the desert; coming in contact with them always makes me feel closer to nature.
I see a huge hedgehog wearing Prickly Pear Pad sunglasses

Doña Ana Mountains

Rain drops on Allthorn

Pincushion Cactus

Clearing sky

First glimpse of a young Coyote

Heading away at a fast walk

Adult Coyote laying back from the pack in a wide arroyo

Watching us

High point = 9,000 ft.

Coyote print in above-mentioned arroyo

The arroyo down which the Coyote pack disappeared

Exploring "Coyote" arroyo

Pursuer of Coyotes

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Just Ahead of the Storm

Our Purple Sage is blooming nicely
Becca and I lucked out this morning.  We did a really long trek west of the Tortoise, exploring several wide arroyos while bushwhacking through the outback--all ahead of a big storm building on the western horizon.  Later, back at the car, while I gave directions to Baylor Canyon Road to a man in a big white pickup truck, lightning began to crackle nearby, followed closely by thunder and rain.  Becca and I got out of there just in time.  It's been raining on and off now well into the early afternoon.

An early start west of Tortugas

Harbinger of what's to come


Heading for the high foothills

High foothills trail

Leveling out

Looking west over the Farm & Ranch Museum

Dicey sky

Happy hiking companion

Pastel scene

The desert west of Tortugas

Rolling hills

Flank of Tortugas (left) and the Organs

Further west

A chubby Barrel Cactus

Becca gives you an idea about the size of the barrel

No touching

Bushwhacking with the best

West side of a wide arroyo

Said arroyo

Becca in the arroyo

You can see how much water flowed here recently

Darkening sky

Doña Ana Mountains behind Centennial High School

Heat is On Again

Headed down LDR-A arroyo to yucca shade for Wils The desert floor hasn't been cooling off very much during the overnight hours, and the ...