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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Day of the Eclipse

A few minutes before the total eclipse
I got up early to try to capture a few images of the moon during the eclipse, but I'm disappointed with my efforts.  I couldn't get a sharp image with my Canon, and when I ran to get my Sony Alpha 100 I discovered the battery was almost totally discharged.  Oh well.  The early start allowed us to get out to Tortugas Mountain with plenty of time to extend our hike by several miles.  Before we'd gone even half a mile I had to remove my jacket and vest; we're headed for a high of 73F today, and, without a breeze in the desert the conditions were already feeling plenty warm.  Becca didn't seem to mind, however, totally involved in sniffing every other bush in the outback.
A few seconds before totality

Part of the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico

Steep flank of Tortugas Mountain

Looking that way . . .

. . . and this

The trail ahead

Down the narrow single-track

A couple of 10+ foot Torrey Yuccas

Before I could get a decent photo of this Loggerhead Shrike . . .

. . . it took off

Spent seed pods of a Soaptree Yucca

My favorite Torrey Yucca

How many different critters use this arroyo as a thoroughfare?

Looks like fox (center) and Javelina (above)

One critter whose prints we can ID for certain

Long arroyo we were exploring

Road rest

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Yet Another Shopping Day

Where Geothermal Road meets Tortugas Mountain
I didn't extend our hike today because I had to go grocery shopping at both Target and Albertsons this morning.  But Becca and I had a very nice outing in incredibly nice weather.  We're headed for a high of 64F this afternoon, and a high of 71F tomorrow.  This is all well and good for people who love the warm temps, but am I the only one worried about the winter we're not having?  In all the years I've lived in the desert I can't remember a warmer winter.  And it's a fact that 60% of the state of New Mexico is in severe drought once again.  If that doesn't scare you I don't know what will.
Lots of photos of Becca this morning

Typical northern Chihuahuan Desert landscape


More Becca

On the outer loop road west of Tortugas

Two shots of the west side of the mountain

Trail up the mountain (far left)

Some people think the desert is flat

It's not flat

Monday, January 29, 2018

Trekking on Moon Day

Vast Chihuahuan Desert
Becca and I got an early start on a normally long trek this morning.  There were no vehicles in the Sunset Area parking lot when we got there, and only a few when we got back.  In the interim time we hiked the big loop along the west side of Tortugas Mountain, down the single-track on the west side, south along the outer loop road, and then east on the trail that leads back into the upper foothills.  We saw absolutely no one during our excursion, which is always a pleasant experience.
This and the next two:  three views of a yucca

Wish I knew what she's staring at

One of many bends in the trail

Rocky going

Folds in the mountain

My best subject

Look inside a dead yucca trunk

I can just imagine her thinking "Not another photograph"

Sunday, January 28, 2018

National Monument Hike

Getting started on the Sierra Vista Trail once again
Dr. K, Becca and I got a pretty early start out to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument this morning, and we thought we were going to be cold.  It was 28F here at the house with a stiff wind when we left; but out at the monument it was sunny and warm, not a breath of a breeze.  Within a short distance we were peeling off layers of clothing.  We didn't get down to our skivvies, though, and it's a good thing.  On the way back a cooling breeze picked up and we were glad we'd kept light jackets on.  We ran into a few other hikers, the first two a man and woman with two dogs, one of which was a tiny replica of Becca.  When I said to the man, "I see a strong resemblance," he said, "This is the new model just off the lot."  The second man and woman were hiking with a beautiful German Shepherd.  When the Shepherd passed Becca he tried to get over close to her when the woman said to her dog, "Mind your own business."  Those were our only encounters, though there were quite a few campers in the campground, and we saw one man nearby walking a Great Dane.  We see more and more campers out there every week.  Obviously word has gotten out about our beautiful national monument.
Leafless Ocotillos

Who's that in the Ocotillo?

It's a Cactus Wren

Looking very cute

Final shot of the Cactus Wren

Black-throated Sparrow

Becca leading the way ahead

Fishhook Barrel Cactus

Closeup of the fishhooks

Happy hiker

Rolling grassland and the Organ Mountains

Northern section of the Organs

Shadow and light on the mountains

Sagebrush Sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis)

Sagebrush Sparrow

Organ Mountains

Getting closer to the mountains

Closer still

Curve-billed Thrasher

Tree just north of Black Mountain

Missed the bird, but I'm calling it an artsy shot

Leafless Chinaberry trees at the side of Black Mountain

Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus

Same Rainbow Hedgehog, different perspective

Dr. K and Becca

Side of Black Mountain

Sunlight barely touching columns of rock

Desert Life

1st 2:  Willow in yucca shadow It was so windy and the air was so bad this morning that Dr. K, Willow and I did only our regular hike. Not s...