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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Buggy With a Chance of Rain

Dead yucca posing as Anglo-Saxon warrior?
During the hot months in the Chihuahuan Desert after the kind of heavy rain we got last night swarms of insects often appear.  To the unsuspecting hiker (me) who might be watching out for rattlers (which also come out after downpours) or simply daydreaming while trekking it's an amazingly unpleasant experience to walk into a cloud of bugs.  If you're lucky you might inhale only a few.  Becca had them all over her coat, and I had to brush them off before letting her back into the car.  We ran into our buddy Jimmy on our way in, and had the pleasure of walking and talking with him for a while.
Looking to the high country

Flank of Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

From the high foothills we spotted this guy hiking with his two dogs

This is the way it looked most of the morning

A hazy Chihuahuan Desert

More rain is in the forecast

Soaptree Yuccas still blooming

Long road to the mountains

Old Ocotillo still has no leaves

This might be Cochineal infestation, but it looks different than mealy bugs

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Coyote Encounter

About a half mile in
About a mile or so into our hike this morning Becca and I crested a small bluff and discovered two Coyotes lying down to the south of us.  They spotted us right away and got up to go.  They weren't in a big hurry to get away, but there was too much desert flora between us for me to get a good photo of them.  A moment later, when one cleared the underbrush and stopped to look back, I realized they'd been eating.  One was chewing on a rabbit leg, probably from the Coyotes' joint fresh kill.  After it had finished with the bone the Coyote licked its chops and stood for a good while staring back at us.  It was really staring at Becca, as you can tell from the angle of its gaze.  I always love running into Coyotes while trekking in the desert.
Why do Black-throated Sparrows look so mean when they stare at you?

Much nicer look

"Everything's coming up roses . . ."

Can you spot the Trickster?

Gnawing on a rabbit leg

Caught your attention, did we?

The Coyote (Canis latrans) is staring at Becca

Boy that rabbit leg was good

Just about time to skedaddle

See ya

Had to check out that stare once more

Coyote's direction of departure

Flank of Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

Meep Meep

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Mistake

Becca in yucca shadow
We knew it would be more crowded than usual on the Sunset Side of the mountain this morning, but Becca and I had no idea of how crowded it would be.  Within the first twenty minutes of our trek we ran into more people than ever before on a trail that is normally sparsely populated.  Of course when we got into the outback there were no people, but on the final leg of the hike we ran into more outdoor enthusiasts.  One thing I can say is it wasn't noisy around the mountain.  Generally when it's crowded kids are screaming at the top of their lungs for no good reason.
Closer look at Becca's shady respite

Sun through Soaptree Yucca

Don't want to think about it

West of Tortugas and the Organs

Soaptree Yuccas have been in bloom a long time

Surprised to find Velvety Nerisyrenia flowering

Soaptree Yucca fruit and flowers

Merry little yucca tree

Big Yucca Elata just off Geothermal Road

Ladderback Woodpecker

Easy to see the ladder on its back

Same woody

I never actually saw it eat the fruit

Just about ready to go


Almost like a white rose on a thorny bush

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday's Crowd

Hiking along the west side of Tortugas Mountain
It was pretty crowded on the west side of Tortugas Mountain when Becca and I got out there this morning a little after 7:00.  It was even more packed when we got back to the trailhead about 90 minutes later.  Since the day started off cool, with an almost chilly breeze, those outdoor enthusiasts who didn't get hammered last night were taking advantage of the pleasant weather.  One guy who had soured on the whole experience was the biker we encountered within the first quarter mile; he approached us carrying his mountain bike draped over a shoulder.  When I said, "Shouldn't it be the other way round" he grumbled something about getting a flat tire right off the bat.  Though he did say to Becca and me, "Have a nice hike."
We three kings (and bird)

How tall is a Torrey Yucca?  Becca is 5' 11"

Cresting a ridge

Is he looking askance at us?

Distant Organ Mountains

Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

Same Mockingbird

Flank of Tortugas and the Organs

Soaptree Yucca flower stalks becoming skeletal

Heat is On Again

Headed down LDR-A arroyo to yucca shade for Wils The desert floor hasn't been cooling off very much during the overnight hours, and the ...