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Friday, November 30, 2018

Wind Advisory

About halfway through our trek this morning, just as I was about to remove my Marmot PreCip jacket in order to take off my vest, the wind picked up big time.  Within a minute Becca and I were in the center of a small dust storm.  Clouds covered the sun, and the temperature began to drop steeply from the 48 degree mark it was hovering at near the start of our hike.  I'd planned to extend our trek a bit further this morning, but conditions degenerated so quickly Becca and I just turned around and headed back to the CR-V waiting at the trailhead.  I almost forgot to mention that it began to rain on our inbound leg and we got a little wet before reaching "Whitey."  On the drive home the rain came down harder, but it didn't last long.
Looking clear early on

Still looking good

Looking north across part of Las Cruces


Loggerhead Shrike

Here comes the weather

We won't make the high foothills today

Something coming in from the west

Check out that sky

Weather conditions beginning to deteriorate

Clouds getting pretty thick

South to bad weather

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Bit Longer Trek

First three:  Chihuahuan Desert sky
It was about 45F when Becca and I started our hike on the west side of Tortugas Mountain this morning.  Since it wasn't windy the conditions seemed perfect for a longer trek.  Becca had no objections so we hiked along the west side of the mountain and followed the trail into the upper foothills.  After a brief break we climbed the trail that intersects with the mountain road and kept on it to the north until we hit the trail leading back to the Sunset Area.  Although there were cars in the parking lot there we ran into no other hikers, although we did see one guy in the distance who was just beginning his outing.

Next three:  Becca enjoying her trek

Signalling a left turn

My favorite high-elevation cactus garden

In the high foothills

Steep flank of Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

Leafless Ocotillos against a mountain shadow

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hump-Day Bushwhack

Parallax effect #1
Becca and I didn't plan on bushwhacking this morning, but when we reached Geothermal Road we decided to cut across the desert to get where we were going instead of trekking down the road and across the Lineworker practice grounds to get south of the area.  It was a pleasant change, allowing us to pass through a section we hadn't explored before.  I was surprised to come across an old New Mexico license plate that had been registered eleven years ago.  The plate looked in pretty good shape, so I wondered if it really had been out in the elements all those years.  We saw several other outdoor enthusiasts this morning, including Tracey and her dog, George.  Becca and I were trekking up a ridge line above them when I greeted the two.  Here's how the conversation went.  "Hi Tracey, how are you?"  "Fine, Bob.  Hi, Becca."  "Hi, George."  I said, "Have a nice day."  Tracey said, "You, too."  George and Becca exchanged no greetings, but they stared at each other for quite a while.
Parallax effect #2

Trail back to the Sunset Area


Distant yucca seen through the twins

Soaptree Yucca head

Steep arroyo

Gorge created by rain runoff

Looking down a steep hell

Same view as above, slightly different perspective

One trail up the west side of the mountain

Becca spots Tracey and her dog, George

Becca wishes we were down on the trail Tracy and George are hiking

Nearly dead Hedgehog

Casting a long shadow

Hedgehog Cactus

Surprised to find this license plate registered eleven years ago

Becca enjoys bushwhacking

Yucca and Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus

Two-headed Torrey Yucca

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Biting Wind

Hiking slightly west of the mountain
Becca and I got an early start on a very chilly desert morning today.  The temperature was in the mid-30s, but a cold, biting wind made it feel like the low-20s.  It's a good thing I had to abbreviate the hike in order to do my weekly shopping tasks because it didn't feel significantly warmer when we were headed back in.  We saw only one other outdoor enthusiast today, not long after we'd begun our trek.  I had just taken that first photo of the mountain's west side when a man rounded a bend headed in our direction.  When I made Becca stand to one side, the man said, "The trail's plenty wide enough for the three of us."  He and I had a good chuckle over that.  Becca didn't find it at all amusing.
Looking at those yuccas a bit closer

A really sandy section of desert

Becca and her shadow

Bend in the desert

On a different road

Tortugas and the distant Organs

One west-side trail up the mountain

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 ...