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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hot Hike in OMDPNM

Familiar scene near the Sierra Vista trailhead
Dr. K, Becca and I got an early start in Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument this morning, and we spent a few hours thoroughly enjoying time well spent in this local natural wonder.  Although we ran into no other outdoor enthusiasts while we were on the single-track trail that heads east toward the rugged peaks we were not alone.  There were quite a few RVs in the campground, and we saw several mountain bikers tooling along a trail north of us.  We had no encounters of the third kind, however, not even when we got back to our Jeep.
Our Jeep among the campers. Far right RV from British Columbia

Organ Mountains in milky sunlight

Rolling grassland meets mountains

Barrel Cacti along the edge of the trail

Barrel Cactus with some fruit

Leader of the pack

Odd couple:  young Barrel Cactus and a grass ball

Mountains afloat on a sea of grass

No comment :)

9,000 feet in elevation

Rugged peaks

Dr. K and a Barrel Cactus

Barrel and me

Tortugas Mountain at the horizon

Sotol

Headed toward the peaks

Wild clouds

That wind will be ushering in a cold front later today

Mostly blue sky

On the road to the mountains

Big, old Ocotillo

Slightly different perspective from the last shot

Saturday, December 30, 2017

While the East is Freezing

Dr. K's new 'do
While most of the rest of the country is experiencing record cold we here in the Desert Southwest are having springlike temperatures.  It was 71F (22C) yesterday, and we're headed for the same today.  I know for a fact that visitors from colder climes are enjoying the weather in New Mexico, West Texas and Arizona.  What's not to like--except it may be representative of climate change.  Oh well, people who are constantly cold don't mind a little global warming.
Mountain biking Geothermal Road

Three buds biking

This way to cross the Crosscut Trail

Can't beat this weather

What's this Purple Prickly Pear pad doing in a Soaptree Yucca?

Way ahead of the pack where the road curves

The long view

Spent Soaptree Yucca seed pods

Friday, December 29, 2017

Visiting an Old Friend

In the rugged foothills of Tortugas Mountain
Becca and I did a little bushwhacking in the desert just west of Tortugas Mountain this morning, making a point of visiting what is, perhaps, the tallest Soaptree Yucca in our part of the northern Chihuahuan Desert.  It's so tall it somewhat resembles a palm tree, but the trunk is covered by old dead leaves that have wilted downward as the plant grew upward.  It's an awesome specimen that has reached an astonishing 20 feet (at least).  
Leading the way

A plant appropriately called "Allthorn" (Koeberlinia spinosa)

Allthorn

The wary eye

Devil's Head (Echinocactus horizonthalonius) just off the trail

Deep arroyo on Tortugas's west side

A little hazy in the valley

Bushwhacking northwest of the mountain

Bird in a yucca

Said yucca

Perhaps the tallest Soaptree Yucca in our part of the Chihuahuan Desert

Probably at least 20 feet tall

Sighting up the trunk

Becca and the Soaptree Yucca

From a distance

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Taste of Spring

Just getting started
It was a little chilly this morning when Becca and I set off for a hike west of Tortugas Mountain.  It quickly began to warm up, though, as we're headed for a high of 68F.  This is winter?  Better not get used to it, though, because a cold front is rolling in on Sunday to drop the temps by at least 30 degrees.  We ran into JC and Olivia on the way in and stood talking politics for fifteen minutes or so.  Seems none of us--including Becca--has a very high regard for our blowhard president.
Can't distinguish thin clouds from contrails

Three levels

Beside a giant, leafless Ocotillo

View from inside an Ocotillo

View from inside a giant, leafless Ocotillo

Becca exploring an arroyo

Arroyo through the desert

My guess:  flights from El Paso to Phoenix and L.A.

Intact bullet found not far off the trail

Super Velocity .38 Special hollow point: not what you want to find

This is the photo in the dictionary margin next to the word "gnarly"

Closeup of the gnarly Ocotillo

Again on the Grand View

At the lower trailhead Willow, Frio, Dr. K and I did the Grand View Trail again this morning, hiking nearly all of it today.  We ran into on...