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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Weird Weather

Trail from the ramada
The cold front blew in last night, but this morning, owing to the cloud cover, it was 45F.  With no wind it was hard to know how to dress.  After Becca and I hit the trail the sun came out warming the desert, and I was about to stop in order to remove my Columbia vest.  Good thing I didn't, though, because in very short order the sun disappeared behind thick clouds and the wind kicked up briskly making me wish I had worn a heavier jacket.  The one I was wearing--a Marmot PreCip--would have come in handy had it decided to rain, but there was no precipitation.  Now, a little after 1:00 p.m. a bit of rain is coming down.  Fortunately we're warmly and dryly ensconced in our abode.  (Ever notice that "abode" and "adobe" are formed from the same letters?)
Lone Torrey Yucca on a ridge

An image to symbolize today's weather

Very young Nipple Beehive Cactus (Coryphantha macromeris)

Part of Centennial High School and the Doña Ana Mountains

Cinder cones on the horizon?

Picacho Peak, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Becca on the trail alongside Tortugas Mountain

Looking down on a Devil's Head (Echinocactus horizonthalonius)

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) on an Ocotillo branch

Partly to mostly cloudy day

Ocotillo, flank of Tortugas, and the Organ Mountains

A step back to look at the above view

Guess I'm obsessed with this view

Another look at Picacho Peak from a greater distance

Tortugas and the Organs

Just off the road to the mountains

Road in B&W

Heading to the saddle

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ahead of the Cold Front

A look up the west side of Tortugas Mountain
Miss Becca and I got a really early start this morning; there was only one vehicle in the Sunset Area parking lot when we got there.  We encountered one dedicated mountain biker west of Tortugas who we see almost every day; he's that dedicated.  We saw one other guy, a runner, when we were crossing the road to the mountaintop.  On the way back we bumped into JC and Olivia, and we stood talking politics with them for a few minutes.  When I say "we" I hope it's understood that Becca was pretty noncommittal.  She's about as apolitical as a canine can be.
NM Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum barn, part of Las Cruces, and Picacho

Three-headed Torrey Yucca alongside the trail

Becca on the trail

Yucca lighthouse

This is what's called a "rocky trail" (Franklin Mountains on the horizon

Interesting clouds

Where two jets went their separate ways?

Different perspective in B&W

Pause for the cause while heading west

Further west now

This is that Ocotillo

Cross purposes?  X marks the spot?

Contrails

A little closer look at those contrails

Picacho Peak

Not a chocolate chip cookie

Yucca and Picacho Peak

UFO?

Long drive up the mountain

Monday, February 26, 2018

Back on the Sunset Side

West side of Tortugas Mountain
Becca and I got a fairly early start on a relatively warm February morning, getting in a long hike--partially in the outback--before running into our pals JC, Olivia and Jimmy on the inbound last leg of our trek.  We stood gabbing for a while until Jimmy headed for the mountaintop and the rest of us returned to the cars at the trailhead.  JC and Olivia have only a few days left before wrapping up the Las Cruces portion of their trip.  Then they're heading up to northern New Mexico for a bit before returning home to Fairbanks, Alaska.  The time they spent here--from Thanksgiving to now--seems to have evaporated quickly.
What's coming out of the Ocotillo tip?

Flower bud or leaves?

Definitely flower buds on a Hedgehog Cactus

Ocotillo leaves

One-spot profile

Loggerhead Shrike

Torrey Yucca head

Large, oddly shaped yucca

Ocotillos and the Organs

White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) on a dead yucca

More Ocotillo leaves

Becca spots a runner on the side of the mountain

Looks like an Ocotillo flower bud

Arroyo Nuevo

Different perspectives from a new hike As soon as Willow, Frio and I exited the CR-V at the trailhead this morning I realized we wouldn'...