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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Birds of a Feather

Giant rocks on the Monte Vista side of the mountain
Dr. K, Becca and I did our normally-long hike around Tortugas Mountain this morning, starting out at the Monte Vista parking area.  There were no cars in the lot when we began, nor were there any when we ended our trek.  We did see one runner in the distance just as we headed behind the mountain, and on our return we encountered a man walking his dog (which looked part Pit Bull) on a leash.  It was cooler out in the desert this morning, but much more humid.  We were comfortable for about two-thirds of the way because of a persistent breeze, but it disappeared after that and we felt rather warm during the final leg of our outing.
Enormous rock outcrop

Slightly different perspective

On the loop road behind the mountain

This way to the other side

Hedgehogs, Ocotillos and Yuccas

Looking upslope behind Tortugas

Flora-studded foothills

Flank of Tortugas (left) and the Organ Mountains

Finches on Torrey Yucca

Eating the fruit of the yucca

Future dispensers of yucca seeds?

Far point of today's trek

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Serpent

Early encounter with a large serpent
Just as soon as we got started on our hike this morning Becca spotted a large serpent just to the side of the trail.  It was a 4 1/2-foot Gopher Snake who was very aware of our presence.  It didn't seem perturbed by us, but it was definitely cautious, and immediately began moving away at a slow but steady pace.  As we turned to resume our trek I saw a woman coming our way with two dogs.  At first I considered warning her about the snake--just so she wouldn't be startled by the sight of it--but then I realized the serpent would be well off the trail by the time they arrived.  
4 1/2-foot Gopher Snake

Becca spotted it first

It was in a hurry to get away from us

Odd-colored Horned Lizard

Scramble through the brambles

On the road heading west

Keeping an eye on people climbing the mountain

Gap in the Organ Mountains

For those who believe the desert is barren

Large arroyo west of the mountain

Heading back to Tortugas

The cloud and the depression have something in common

Striking back up the western flank

Mountain biker coming up the hard way

Friday, July 29, 2016

Another Friday Trek

Just about to head down to the lower desert
There were quite a few people enjoying the outdoors this morning despite it being fairly uncomfortable due to heat and humidity.  The trick to enjoying a summer hike in the desert is to get a really early start, wear protective clothing, sunblock, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  Becca is good on the early start and the water drinking, but she disregards all that other stuff.
Headed down

We encountered this Roadrunner hunting for breakfast

He didn't seem too worried about us

Serpentine root

Ocotillo tangle

Soaptree Yucca pods

Section of tall Ocotillos

Becca resting in Ocotillo shade

Tortugas is through there

Two older mountain bikers

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Not Much of Note

Up on the plateau
Becca and I had a long uneventful hike west of Tortugas Mountain this morning.  We crossed paths with two women hikers and two mountain bikers early on, but saw no one in the outback.  Took a photo of a hummingbird (out of focus), a Lesser Nighthawk (out of focus) and a Stingleaf flower (out of focus, too) so no pictures of critters or blossoms to share today.  There is a shot of somebody's pet rock, an interesting chunk of what looks like iron oxide covered by a type of sediment.
Large, detached Prickly Pear pad

Torrey Yucca whose dead center stalk is surrounded by suckers

Undulating desert

Rock with iron oxide inside?

Break!

Best not to pick up for examination purposes

A four-foot-wide patch of Prickly Pear Cactus

Deep gully

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Your Daily Desert Weather Report

Some genius jettisoned a doghouse where Becca and I park our car
Humid!  That's how it felt this morning after hours of rain overnight.  For much of our hike, though, the desert sky remained completely overcast.  Therefore, Becca and I were able to take advantage of the weather conditions to do an extra-long hike in the outback west of Tortugas Mountain.  On the way back we had the good fortune of bumping into our buddies Gregg and Jimmy who were hiking down the mountain.  The four of us hiked together for the final leg of our respective treks, trading stories and just generally enjoying ourselves.  By the way, in case you're wondering, Becca shared no stories.
Somebody's been eating the Prickly Pears

A type of hieroglyphics

Getting ready to dip through a gully

This sky greeted us as we crested the high foothills trail

Always forging ahead

Sky to the west

Looking eastward

I always have to keep slowing her down

Single-track through the desert

Loving these clouds

It looks as if this Ocotillo is stirring the clouds

Back to the east there was heavy overcast

But it was clear to the north

Looking down at a Barrel Cactus

Bunch of buds on a Barrel Cactus

Tortugas (left) and the Organ Mountains

A lot of water ran here overnight

Very wide section of the same arroyo

Headed back that-a-way

Organ Mountains

Best buddies:  Torrey Yucca and Ocotillo growing together

Fruit of the Cane Cholla

Between Yesterday and Today

Lady Ann Mountains Yesterday I took 15 photos; today I snapped 50.  Not sure why I was in a more photographic mood.  It wasn't because t...