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Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Great Dog!"

Becca watches someone descend the mountain
Becca and I were within an eighth of a mile from the trailhead on our way back when we rounded a bend and came upon two women hiking toward us.  They were within ten yards, so I had Becca go to the right side of the trail and lie down to wait for them to pass.  The first woman beamed a big smile and said, "Great Dog!"  "Sometimes," I said.  The two hikers laughed as they continued up the trail.  But Becca really is a great dog, one of the best I've ever known, though when Dr. K and I first adopted her I thought Becca was going to end up breaking me; she was quite a handful.
Heading away from Tortugas

Tasajillo (aka Christmas Cactus)

One of the sandiest sections of desert west of Tortugas

On the slant west of the mountain

Torrey Yucca

The long way around Tortugas (left)

Far end of the loop

Getting ready to head back up the mountain

Single-track through the desert

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Nice, Long Hike

Early start west of Tortugas
When Dr. K, Becca and I got out to the Sunset Area west of Tortugas Mountain early this morning the parking lot was already filled with vehicles.  Everybody, it seemed, wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather predicted for today.  We're supposed to reach 71F (21.6C).  And, indeed, conditions were wonderful for the extra-long trek that the three of us did west of the mountain.  We did run into quite a few people, though, who were enjoying our little section of the northern Chihuahuan Desert.
Why does my neck hurt?

Smudge cloud above Tortugas

In an arroyo west of the mountain


Brief respite in the shade

Where in the world is Becca Sandiego?

Flank of Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

Another break in an arroyo

Yucca and mountains

Where bushwhacking gets you

Rambling around in the western hills

Jogger and mountain bikers

Part of Las Cruces, New Mexico

Just starting up the mountain

Headless bird cloud over the saddle

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekend's Brink

Into the light
The Beckster and I had a nice long hike west of Tortugas Mountain this morning, and we were able to fully enjoy the weather because it was absolutely beautiful:  sunny, warm with no wind.  In fact, I was able to take off my vest at the midway point of our journey and stow it in my daypack.  Just before we got back to the car after the trek we ran into JC and Olivia and stood talking to them for a while; it's understood, I hope, that I talked to them.  Becca just sought pets from her two human friends, and they were more than happy to oblige her.
Follow the trail

Up on the flank

Another cactus garden (they're all over the place)

Heading west into the outback

Ocotillo partners

An area rich with Javelina prints

Soaptree Yucca with normal, straight flower stalks

Barrel Cactus and Prickly Pears

Soaptree Yucca with curved flower stalk that seems to mimic the trail above

Different perspective of the curved flower stalk

On a hill looking toward the mountains

Javelinas have been eating these Prickly Pear Cactus pads

How far we are from the city

Distant rider and Bishop Cap

One lump or two?

Further up the hill

Hedgehog Cactus

Clouds and contrails over the Organs

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Beginnings and Endings

Down the single-track
As Becca and I drove down Senna this morning we rounded a bend and spotted a young Coyote eating carrion in the middle of the road.  The animal very reluctantly moved aside as we approached.  I saw in the rear-view mirror that it went back to finish its breakfast after we had passed, and I worried that another car barreling around the bend might kill the Coyote.  And, indeed, another car came along behind us, but it, too, stopped for the critter.  All during our hike then I thought about what it would be like to be a Coyote trying to survive in the desert, struggling to find food and water.  I figured if I was a Coyote I'd live as close as possible to the city because finding sustenance there would be far easier.  Imagine my surprise when, two-thirds of the way into our trek, Becca came upon the dead Coyote pictured below.  In all my decades of hiking in the desert it was the first dead Coyote I've ever discovered in the wild.  I have to admit that the find made me feel sad.  As I've said in the past I feel a certain affinity for Coyotes, perhaps because of the love I have for dogs.
Twist and bark

There's a dog in this photo

Rolling desert hills

Straight shot across the desert

Moon and jet

Balancing on an Ocotillo wand

Dead Coyote

I couldn't tell what killed it (I hope it wasn't poisoned)

Prickly Pear, Ocotillo and mountains

Another skeletal Ocotillo

Desert Life

1st 2:  Willow in yucca shadow It was so windy and the air was so bad this morning that Dr. K, Willow and I did only our regular hike. Not s...