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Thursday, January 31, 2019

A Thursday Morning Trek

Lone Ocotillo
Becca and I started out early on this Thursday morning unsure of how far we intended to trek.  When we started up the section of the narrow trail to the upper foothills I decided to take the new trail across to the single-track and descend into the lower desert.  Becca had no complaints.  We reached the dirt road that crossed through a wide arroyo to the north, opting to head east along the arroyo bank to the road behind the lineworker program grounds.  We saw a few distant hikers and one mountain biker who seemed in no hurry to get anywhere.  Who could blame him?--the weather was perfect for a morning hike.  In fact, midway through our outing I had to stop to remove my vest from beneath my Marmot PreCip jacket.  There was one, small perturbation that upset the normal progress of our journey.  When Becca decided to have a bowel movement she boxed herself into an area that restricted easy turnaround, and when she jockeyed to get out of her predicament she stepped directly into her deposit with the left rear foot.  I had to use most of my drinking water to wash off her paw, which I then dried with a paper towel I carry in a plastic baggie meant for just such emergencies.  I was a little put out with her, though; in the vast, wide-open spaces of the desert you'd think she could avoid places that restrict movement. :)
Early start just west of the mountain

The Magi (actually a single Torrey Yucca)

Long view of the Chihuahuan Desert east of the Rio Grande

Allthorn with sun coming through


Leader of the pack

Anybody else out here?

There must be other outdoor enthusiasts here

Rocky desert in the high foothills

Approaching the end of the new trail

Long single-track

Chihuahuan Desert flora

Two Barrel Cacti

Creosote/tree/Tortugas/Organ Mountains

Mountain biking in the desert

Poor-to-lousy long-distance shot of a Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Getting the Garmin

Somebody made a cairn that looked to me like a bird of prey
Yesterday I dug out my old Garmin Etrex Venture GPS unit, quickly read over the owner's manual to get a refresher on how to use it, and took the device with me when Becca and I did a hike on the west side of Tortugas Mountain.  I entered 10 or 12 markers along the way, and I'll download the data later to see if I can superimpose the track on Google Earth.  I did that a few times in the past and liked the way the images came out.  Today it was completely overcast during our trek, and we saw only one runner out there just as we started out before hiking into the high foothills and back.  The temperature was about 42F with no wind, so it wasn't cold--just a bit chilly.  Becca and I had a good time on our morning outing.
What the weather was like all morning

Becca scouting the area

The way forward

To the high foothills

This section of trail dips through a deep gully

Flank of Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

Same scene from a bit higher up

Heading down the road

Banana Yucca high up at the side of the road

Rugged territory

Power to the mountain

Power lines next to the access road

Long stretch of dirt road

Rundown shack near an experimental tower

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Short Bushwhack

Creosote Bush, Soaptree Yuccas and a Little-leaf Sumac
Becca and I got a bit later start on our morning hike today so I decided to abbreviate it because of errands I had to run later in the morning--namely, shopping at Target and Albertsons.  But we did an interesting short trek, bushwhacking partially up an arroyo we often pass by, but never explore.  Our first effort culminated fairly quickly, though, as we reached an area of deeply cut gullies with dense desert foilage; so we exited the arroyo and followed the main trail up to the old white shack.  There we took the narrow trail closest to Tortugas Mountain's west side, crossing through the gully created by the same arroyo we had explored in its northern section.  A good time was had by all.
Wide section of an arroyo on the mountain's west side

Fairly large den with entrance and exit, but I also see a hippie

Exploring a narrow arroyo

One yucca, two heads

Wide trail back to the parking area

Many Soaptree Yuccas in this arroyo

Further explorations

More Soaptree Yuccas

Becca has reached the far point of our morning bushwhack

Bottle cap hubcaps used on 1961-1966 Ford F100 trucks

One trail to the observatory

Upper end of the arroyo

Monday, January 28, 2019

Monday Morn

Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata)
Becca and I got a very early start on the west side of Tortugas Mountain, but there were already a few vehicles in the Sunset Area parking lot when we got there.We hiked on the foothills trail to the upper foothills, and then we started down the trail to the lower desert.  Almost immediately we began bushwhacking toward the northwest, but it soon became obvious to me that we wouldn't get far in that direction.  A forest of Catclaw Acacia bushes grew directly in front of us forcing a turnaround.  It was OK, though, because I got a few decent images of some of the flora growing along the gentle slope.  We saw several people out and about early on, notably a guy named Pete, who is one of the most dedicated runners I've ever seen in our section of the northern Chihuahuan Desert. 
Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus (3' by 2 1/2')

Becca beginning a bushwhack

Not looking very enthused

Torrey Yucca

Prickly Pear Cactus

Same Prickly Pear

West side of the mountain

Torrey Yucca along a deep gully

Three similar view of Tortugas Mountain's west side

Small Soaptree Yucca

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...