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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trek Sans Camera

A few miles west of the Organ Mountains
It was raining hard enough at the trailhead this morning to necessitate leaving my camera and daypack in the car when Becca and I started off on our morning trek.  The rain stopped about a quarter of the way in, so we did our usual long hike west of Tortugas.  Afterwards, because I wasn't able to take any photos, the Beckster and I drove out to the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to see if there were any outstanding views.  We were not disappointed.  It did, however, rain sporadically on the drive.  Now that the road is paved all the way out there it's an easy ride from Tortugas to the Organs.  The trip used to be much different when the dirt road was a washboard surface most of the way, and if you drove over 25 mph all the bolts in your vehicle would be loose by the time you reached the tall mountains.
Glad we're not hiking up there this morning

I don't care if it is raining, let me out

Becca is tired of waiting for the photographer

Looking pretty bleak over the mountains

The mass of the Organs is obscured by the heavy clouds

Still a mile or so away

Drawing nearer

The road is paved all the way from Las Cruces to Dripping Springs now

You can just see La Cueva Rocks at lower left

With proximity the Organs become more visible

You might almost mistake this for a scene from Hawaii

Somewhere on the Big Island?

Clouds blowing through

Getting close to La Cueva picnic area

Raining quite hard near the mountains

La Cueva Rocks

Looking pretty lush out here

La Cueva ("The Cave") is at the base of the huge outcropping at left

I like the composition of this image

There's a nice trail that circumnavigates La Cueva Rocks

The rugged Organ Mountains, southern section of the Rockies

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Eureka!

Hiking along the arroyo west of Tortugas Mountain
It was barely above 60 degrees Fahrenheit when Becca and I started our hike west of Tortugas Mountain, and it stayed that way for fully two-thirds of the trek.  When the sun did make an appearance it was weakened by cloud cover.  Today I had the good fortune of discovering yet another Nipple Beehive Cactus I must have passed a hundred times without seeing--this one off the Crosscut Trail about midway between the two opposite intersections of the major loop.  This Nipple Beehive was smaller than the other two I've discovered, but its flower buds were much larger, just on the brink of opening.  I hope they'll hold off until I can inspect them tomorrow.
Desert, Ocotillo, clouds, sky

View to the southwest

How deep is that gully?

Exploring on high

Organ Mountains

Slightly altered perspective

Ocotillo forest

Yellow-flowered Devil's Claw

Sandy desert scene

From here to there:  about 10 miles

Clouds over Tortugas

Becca behind a Nipple Beehive Cactus

Flower buds on said cactus

A plant Mr. Magoo would love:  Spectacle Pod

Flower buds on a newly-discovered Nipple Beehive Cactus

Hope I can see them in full blossom

An idea of why it was so cool this morning

Lineman school west of Tortugas Mountains (Doña Ana Mountains behind)

Barrel Cactus on the far side of an Ocotillo

Monday, August 29, 2016

In Search of the Unicorn

Dropping into the low desert
I knew from our hike the other day that the striking flowers of the Desert Unicorn Plant (aka "Devil's Claw") would be making an appearance soon, and this morning I went a bit out of our way to look for them.  I had no trouble finding them because they're blooming all over a sandy section of desert west of Tortugas Mountain not far off the outer loop road.  As I say in one of the photo captions the Unicorn Plant spreads by means of a claw-like structure that gets caught up in the fur of animals who then inadvertently carry the seeds to other parts of the desert.  It must be a pretty successful strategy because the hearty plans are growing abundantly in the Chihuahuan Desert.
One of two happy hikers this morning

Ocotillo/sky

About to cut through an arroyo on the Cross Cut Trail

Said arroyo

Ocotillo with a wide spread

Another Nipple Beehive Cactus with flower buds

North of the Organ Mountains, southern section of the Rockies

Desert Unicorn Plant

Unicorn Plant (aka "Yellow-flowered Devil's Claw)

Devil's Claw has a unique way of spreading its seeds

A claw-like segment attaches to wildlife to broadcast seeds

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...