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Friday, September 30, 2016

During the Rain

High Desert grassland just west of the Organ Mountains
We were delayed for about an hour this morning because of heavy rain.  When it finally let up a bit Becca and I headed for Tortugas Mountain.  We got a little wet at first, but the rain stopped and a light breeze dried us off.  Eventually the sun appeared.  Since I had left my camera in the car so it wouldn't get drenched I decided the Beckster and I would drive over to the Sierra Vista Trail to do another short trek while I took some photos; by then the sun was shining brightly, though we had to walk through some soaked high grasses overhanging the path.  Becca didn't seem to mind the extra exercise, and I was glad to capture the images that are posted here.
Happy for sunny conditions after a rainy start

The rugged Organs

Sotol (aka "Desert Spoon") just flowering

Becca spots two Jackrabbits bounding through the underbrush

Long view of a high-desert grassland

Two large Sotols

Nice to see blue sky after a dreary start

Water runoff in the mountains

A bit closer look at the runoff

Getting set to turn around

Heading back

Getting closer to the Soledad Rocks

All part of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

Organ Peak (high point of the range at approximately 9,000 feet)

Tortugas Mountain from the Sierra Vista parking lot

Barrel Cactus fruit

Almost home

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Surprisingly Close Encounter

Another early start
Becca and I were exploring far west of Tortugas Mountain when I spotted the young Diamondback Rattlesnake pictured below.  When it caught my eye I realized that we had walked right past it two times during our examination of an arroyo.  It wasn't at all agitated by our presence, which is slightly surprising because young rattlers are a bit excitable and far-and-away the most dangerous; they're dangerous because they haven't learned yet how to control the amount of venom they release when they bite.
Just the way she likes it

City of Las Cruces and the Robledo Mountains

This way to the lower desert

Fruit of the Cholla Cactus

Clinchweed is flowering all over the desert

Just west of Tortugas

Pair of cowboy chaps (really the fallen trunk of a yucca)

Late-blooming Ocotillo

A really late bloomer

Closeup of the Ocotillo flower

Becca exploring an arroyo

Lots of grasses still in evidence

Torrey Yucca and the Organ Mountains

The air is filled with the fragrance of Clinchweed

Clinchweed in almost every vacant spot

Desert Palafox

Organ Mountains

What we were doing prior to our encounter

Young Diamondback Rattler unperturbed by our presence

I stepped around to capture a different perspective

They can't help but look mean

Scott's Oriole

The poor dove who flew into our patio door survived

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Warm Days, Cool Nights

Just after sunrise
It was about 60F when Becca and I hit the trail west of Tortugas Mountain this morning, and we're heading for a high of about 80F.  Yesterday we reached only 74F.  We've arrived at the time of year when the daytime temperatures rise to the mid-eighties then drop at night into the mid- to low-fifties.  It's a time of year that I really like temperature wise because I can break out a jacket or light anorak at the start of each long trek and then remove it by the halfway point or before.
Barrel Cactus fruit looks like a small pineapple

Scouting the territory

Sky over the high foothills

Some type of drill bit must have made this quarter-sized impression

Doesn't look it, but we're on the western slope of Tortugas

Seed pods of the White-thorn Acacia

Cutleaf Globe Berry

Cutleaf or Slimlobe Globe Berry is a member of the cucumber family

Checking for critters or other outdoor enthusiasts

Misty mountains

Tortugas and the Organs

West of Tortugas

Same view sans yucca

Looking toward old El Paso

Close in to the mountain

About a quarter way to the saddle

Wooly Paperflowers again

Views from the Grand View

Sacramentos We did the Grand View Trail this morning, surprised that nobody else was there on a Sunday morning.  We hiked the entire first l...