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Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Trek

Different colored flowers on the same Engelmann's Prickly Pear Cactus
Becca and I got a fairly early start on our morning trek today, and therefore we missed the brunt of the wind that was supposed to kick up about 9:00.  When we were leaving our buddy Jimmy pulled in behind us to say hello.  I had to power down the rear driver-side window so Becca could properly greet the J-man.  He was striking for the mountaintop and hoped to get in a hike before the big winds came.  Right now (nearly 1:30 p.m.) the gusts are probably between 25 and 30 mph, and they're set to surpass 40 mph by about 4:00 this afternoon.  Can we say "blowing dust"?
Yucca in black-and-white

Scoping out the territory from the upper foothills trail

Becca spots a couple of hikers in the distance

This will lead you over the flank

All hail the Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata)

Scaled Quail

Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata) belting out a tune

Soaptree Yucca (Yucca elata) sending up a flower stalk

Mexican Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

Same Mexican Bird-of-Paradise

Looking through a Mesquite on our property to the arroyo

Greening up at the hacienda

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Our Favorite National Monument

Amazing what you might find on the trail
Dr. K, Becca and I piled into the Jeep Commander and headed east on Dripping Springs Road until we reached the entrance to the Sierra Vista Trail just west of the Organ Mountains in the national monument, a mere 17 minute drive from our home.  It's so fantastic to have such a great resource nearby.  Although it was a little warmer than it's been the last few mornings, a nice breeze sprang up to keep us cool, and we never felt hot during the trek.  Nevertheless, we made a point of keeping ourselves hydrated, especially Becca, who drank quite a bit of water out of her special water bottle, the one whose screw-on top has a drinking cup built into it, which is filled by squeezing the bottle's sides.  We saw a few mountain bikers enjoying nature out there, and we crossed paths with a woman hiker and her dog.  All in all, though, the national monument was remarkably uncrowded, and we totally enjoyed our 90-minute outing.
Old Man's Beard (Clematis drummondi) growing out

Old Man's Beard

Mystical layers

Ocotillo forest on a slope

To and . . .

. . . fro

Mother and daughter Mule Deer

Becca watching the Mule Deer depart

Morning at Black Mountain

Desert Willows growing alongside the arroyo

Secreting itself


Apache Plume

Apache Plume flower

Western Soapberry (Sapindus saponaria) leafing out

On the first plateau

Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii) growing inside an Ocotillo

Into the pollen

Happy bee

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Las Flores

Compact-car-size boulder on the Tortugas Mountain's north side
Becca and I did another Saturday hike out of the Monte Vista area of Tortugas Mountain; the Sunset area was very crowded when we drove by.  There were only two vehicles in the parking lot on the east side, and only five there when we got back to our car.  We saw some outdoor enthusiasts, and even had an encounter with Jorge, a long-time mountain biker who we see fairly often, but it was decidedly less crowded where we were trekking.  The best surprise this morning was discovering Strawberry Hedgehog Cacti blossoming behind the mountain.  The flowers are out of this world.
I did that with a karate chop

House-size boulders on the northeast side


Fuller picture of the Sotol


Getting behind the moountain

Purple Prickly Pear (Opuntia macrocentra)

Same flower a tad closer up

Here we go round the mountain

First Strawberry Hedgehog flower I've seen this spring

And another

Getting ready to climb that cliff

Can't wait until this blossom has company

Found these beauties on the west side of Tortugas

Closer look

A small Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus

Beautiful blossoms (Echinocereus enneacanthus)

So I can't get enough of these delicate flowers

Indulge me

Please bear with me

Green Stawberry Hedgehog Cactus

Chihuahuan Flax (Linum vernale)

Chihuahuan Flax

This almost looks like a Scaled Quail/Gambel's Quail hybrid

But I'm pretty sure it's a young male Gambel's Quail

Hump Day Hawk

Tortugas and the Organs We got a fairly early start this morning so it wasn't hot at all:  62F.  The cloud cover helped the temperature ...