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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Running Errands

Well on our way to the upper foothills
Because Tuesday is my errand day I cut our hike a bit short this morning.  However, it was long enough for Becca to consider it a 3-BM trek.  Unfortunately we weren't out there long enough to encounter any desert denizens even though we saw a few birds in the distance.  We didn't run into any humans, either, but there were a good number of vehicles parked at the Sunset Area when we finished up.
Tall Ocotillos and a little Soaptree Yucca

Heading northwest

Dirt road west of the mountain

Becca explores an arroyo

Becca takes a break in an arroyo

Looking east in the arroyo

Try hiking through there

The only observatory on the mountain now

Small practice poles

Tall practice poles

Monday, January 30, 2017

Low Sixties

Becca is eager to get started
When Becca and I started off this morning I thought I was seriously under-dressed; the wind was blowing strongly, and my windbreaker seemed insufficient.  But as soon as we broke into the sunshine the wind died and the temperature rose.  Before we'd even hiked half of the way out I had to take the jacket off.  We ran into JC and Olivia on our way back in, and we hiked with them for a good portion of their trek.  We're supposed to warm to just above 60F this afternoon, making for a very pleasant day in the northern Chihuahuan Desert.
Long view across the Mesilla Valley

Animal tracks in an arroyo

Black-throated Sparrow in an Ocotillo

Tortugas Mountain (left) and the Organ Mountains

Torrey Yucca crown

Stand of Torrey Yuccas

Get a grip

Organ Mountains

Which of these doesn't belong?

Cactus Wren in an Ocotillo tangle

Part of the city of Las Cruces and Picacho Peak

Desert trekkers JC and Olivia

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The High High Foothills

Getting started on the Sierra Vista Trail
We decided on a hike in the very high foothills of the Organ Mountains this morning, so Dr. K, Becca and I drove up Soledad Canyon Road to the Sierra Vista Trail and set off south in the direction of El Paso.  We thought it would be much colder than it was, so we enjoyed the warm desert sun as we trekked for forty-five minutes without stopping.  After a quick quaff of water we turned around and headed back.  On the way we met a woman, Grace, and her two Labs (one chocolate, one yellow) named Jake and Rocky.  We stood talking for about ten minutes while the dogs got to know one another, the latter exchanging phone numbers and business cards before we all parted company.
A closer look at Soledad Rocks and the Organ Mountains

Never did see what Becca was staring at

Stand of yuccas

Barrel Cactus clones

Living on the edge

Becca having a good time

Deep, high country arroyo

Path through the grasses

It's a rock, but what does it look like?

My two very favorite hiking companions

Southern reaches of the Organ Mountains

Those jagged peaks are the Florida Mountains near Deming, 61 miles away

Sotol growing in the high desert


Soledad Rocks (left) and the Organ Mountains

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sunny and Cold

North face of Tortugas ("turtle") Mountain
I made two wise decisions this morning:  1) taking Becca along on the hike, and 2) going to the Monte Vista side of Tortugas Mountain where the sun was already shining brightly.  Had we hiked on the west side in the shadow of the mountain we would have frozen; that's because there was a persistent, consistently cold wind out there.  It was windy where we were, too, but the sun helped ameliorate the chill.  Becca thoroughly enjoyed herself on our trek, limping ever so slightly just a few paces from the car.  No long hikes for her for a while.
White cross in the desert

Getting around behind the mountain

Somebody's really happy to be hiking this morning

Climbing a hill west of the Organs

Creosote Bushes and the Organ Mountains

Where angles intersect

On a dirt road east of Tortugas

Hilly section of desert

Road heading east toward the Organs

There's actually a way through there

Becca will find the way

Shadow in a narrow valley

Far east of Tortugas Mountain

Observatory atop the mountain

Trail around the north side of Tortugas Mountain

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...