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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Autumnal Spring Day

Getting started on a chilly morning
It felt more like fall this morning than spring because of a cold front that swept in early this morning.  It was still sweeping in when Becca and I were trekking west of Tortugas Mountain, a persistent wind making it feel quite chilly.  I wore my blue hooded anorak, never taking it off during the entire hike even though I unzipped the pit zippers near the end of our long exploration.  As usual cloud cover made for some interesting lighting conditions out in the desert.
Striking for the high foothills

I've never seen an Ocotillo leaf out with fall-colored leaves

Littleleaf Sumac west of the mountain

Banking up the high road

Back behind Tortugas Mountain

Deep gorge behind the mountain

Stunted Mesquite

Between the goalposts the road to the Organ Mountains

Desert flora on Tortugas's southern flank

Blue sky over the Organs

Tall Torrey Yucca

Claret Cup Cactus

The flank of Tortugas (left) and the Organ Mountains

Surveying the territory

The road west

Further away from the mountains

I've looked at yuccas . . .

. . . from both sides now

Blue fissure in the clouds

A wide expanse of Chihuahuan Desert

Looking down a large arroyo

Threatening sky

Spectacle Pod

Shades of grey


Scalloped Phacelia

Becca in a rhubarb (not the melee type)

Desert Sumac flowers and buds

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Skirting the Wind

Creosote in bloom
Becca and I got a really early start this morning, and, again, we barely beat the unpleasant windy conditions.  I don't know if it will get as bad as yesterday afternoon and evening, but gusts in the 40 mph range are predicted.  We managed a long trek--partly on trails, partly bushwhacking across the desert floor--and we came upon some outstanding sights, including the many flowering plants pictured here.  The last two or three days we've heard a lot of coyote commotion, but haven't seen any of the critters.
Happy hiker Becca

Nipple cactus

High winds aloft

Abert's Buckwheat

Baby Barrel Cactus and Prickly Pear

Sandbells (Nama hispidum)

Mormon Tea flowering out

Small dead tree

Freshly-eaten Prickly Pear pad.  Ouch!

Yucca flowers

Claret Cup Cactus

I believe this is a type of Phacelia, but I'm not sure

Phacelia crenulata?

Ocotillo budding out


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Shorter Trek

Up high
Errand day around the hacienda necessitated an abbreviated hike this morning; but it was still long enough to satisfy Becca's need for extended outdoor activity.  We were fortunate that we went early enough to miss the brunt of the ugly winds which are now battering our section of the desert.  We ran into one mountain biker who was cycling with his dog, Grace, an Australian Shepherd/Poodle mix that was reluctant to run by us while we stood at the side of the trail.  The man told me she was a shelter dog who was a bit shy.  With gentle coaxing from him, however, she managed to get past us with no problem.
Heading down that long trail into the lower desert

Mesquite Trees in a deep gorge

Pale Evening Primrose

On the road again here . . .

. . . and here

Flycatcher or woodpecker?

Headed back into the high foothills

One way up the mountain

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 ...