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Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve Trek

Becca sees somebody approaching on the trail
Not long after starting off this morning Becca and I ran into Tracey (not sure of the spelling) and her beautiful dog, George.  (We once had a cat, George, who we named after the old mountain lion at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.) Becca and George have met a few times in the past, but they are more acquaintances than friends.  They greet each other then ignore each other.  Becca does the same thing with her buds in High Rolls; she's eager for them to show up at our place, but then ignores them after a short interaction.  Not long after parting ways with George, Becca spotted two mountain bikers enjoying a morning ride in the northern Chihuahuan Desert.  We saw other people after that:  two runners on the mountain road, a small group of hikers heading up the trail that parallels the arroyo on the mountain's west side, and a single hiker who greeted us on the final leg of our trek.  There were quite a few vehicles in the Sunset Area parking lot by the time we got back to Whitey the CR-V.  It was chilly during our hike, but the abundant sunshine helped ameliorate the cold.
It's George

They greet each other briefly

This is the extent of Becca and George's relationship

Allthorn growing along the foothills trail

What does Becca see?

Mountain biking in the high desert

Quite a different view from yesterday's

Bushwhacking not recommended through here

Prickly Pear Cactus turning purple

Becca being vigilant

Squiggly trail

West side of Tortugas Mountain

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hiking on Holy Day

On the first plateau in OMDPNM
Dr. K, Becca and I got an early start on a Sunday trek on the Sierra Vista Trail (Norte) in Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument this morning.  Three of the camping areas had resident campers, and one of the RVs sported an Alberta, Canada license plate.  In the lower parking lot sat a gray RAV-4, but we didn't see anybody until we were about halfway through our hike.  A group of people hiking with three dogs on leads came up behind us then; we stood aside while they passed us on the narrow trail east to the Organ Mountains.  On our return we found a lot partially filled with vehicles, most belonging to members of the Search & Rescue team out for morning practice with their dogs.  One of the dogs left alone in the back of a white Jeep was whining vociferously while another, tethered by a lead to its human, barked at Becca a few times.  Becca was so distracted by the canine members of the team she wouldn't even drink water while she stood in the back compartment of Whitey the CR-V.
Frosty morning

Snow on Barrel Cacti

Iceberg in the Arctic Ocean or snow-covered desert mountains?

Becca and Dr. K

Organ Mountains with a little snow

Becca leading the way

Shadow and light on the Organs

Slightly different perspective

And again

Straight on

Magnified slightly

Snow on Barrel Cacti clones

Becca didn't seem bothered by the cold this morning

Pretty good camouflage

Looked better in person

Snowy bushes in an arroyo

Blanketed in snow still

Becca in a narrow arroyo

Tortugas Mountain in the distance

Snow seemed to linger on plants in the arroyo

Organs against a blue sky

More snow on some peaks

Two more looks at the Organ Mountains


Heading back

What's with all the vehicles?

The only vehicle in the lot when we started off was the RV

One last peak at the Organs

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Snow Day Hike

Looking out a living room window
It was 26F when Dr. K, Becca and I left the house for a morning trek on the far side of Tortugas Mountain; it was 31F when we returned.  The temperature never rose above freezing.  Only one black SUV occupied the Monte Vista parking lot when we got out there, and even though we saw a single hiker's footprints in the snow we never saw any humans during our trek.  Dr. K wanted to accompany Becca and me because of the overnight snowfall, and it was extremely beautiful in our section of the northern Chihuahuan Desert; but it was cold, and an intermittent wind made conditions feel even worse.  Back at the area where we'd left Whitey the CR-V an old white pickup was parked nearby, two photographers standing in the bed taking photos of the Organ Mountains, the range looking pretty spectacular in clouds and snow.
Trail up to the loop trail

West alongside the northern slopes of Tortugas Mountain

You can barely see the disc of the sun

Boulder and the distant Organs

Becca and Dr. K have reached the loop trail

Southeast along the outer loop trail

Our favorite boulder with a thin snow cover

Following the loop trail on the north side of Tortugas Mountain

House-size boulder

Bishop Cap looking like a frosted cake
Organ Mountains peeking through cloud cover

Boulders covered in powdered sugar

Dr. K and Becca behind the mountain

Crazy snow patterns

Becca scoping out the territory


Talavera and the Organs

Snap it up, Pops

The sun just can't break through

Organ Mountains in cloud and snow

The long view

Becca and Dr. K


Trail across a small tableland

Torrey Yucca sporting some snow

Eager to keep going

Becca and me

Becca waiting while Dr. K descends a hill

Village of Talavera at the base of the Organ Mountains

Another long view

Torrey Yucca at the side of the trail

Same yucca

Heading down to the lower desert

Snow-covered Organ Mountains in cloud

Still descending

Going down

A steep descent

Snowy hills and the distant Organ Mountains

Closer look at the Organs

Guests at the Hilton Garden Inn

A look at the north face of Tortugas

Monte Vista parking lot and the Doña Ana Mountains

Barrel Cactus with a dusting of snow
Late arrivals

Seems an odd perch to attract so many pigeons

Cholla with snow frosting

Snow-covered Prickly Pear

Another view of the Cholla

Grand View--Not

Early morning moon A man and woman were just starting down the Bridal Veil Falls Trail when we rolled into the Grand View Trail parking lot....