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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hump Day Humidity

Too many roommates for this pad
It was humid again this morning, but not nearly as much as the previous two days.  Becca and I got an early enough start to hike in the western shadow of Tortugas Mountain for about half of our trek; then we bushwhacked over to her favorite sandy spot in the shade and took a long break.

There were other outdoor enthusiasts on and about the mountain, but we didn't run into any; and the parking lot at the Sunset Area was definitely less crowded than it's been in recent days.  Not sure why that is.

I had about an hour's worth of cleaning to do when we got back--vacuuming rugs and washing the kitchen floor--and in this high humidity any physical activity tends to tax your body more than normal.  So I feel a bit more tired now than I usually do after our morning trek.
Fluff the magic Cactus Wren

Huge packrat midden beneath this Prickly Pear

Extra-ripe tunas

Golf ball courtesy of some kid who drove it from the mountaintop

Desert Yule tree

Soaptree Yucca stalks

This and the next:  spent seed pods of Soaptree Yuccas

Hamming it up for the camera

More Soaptree Yucca stalks

Leading the way back

Twin-spotted Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus bimaculosus)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Another Humid Morning

City of Las Cruces
It was as humid as hell (is hell humid, too?) this morning when we got up.  Things didn't get any better for Becca and me while we hiked west of Tortugas Mountain.  The sun was shining and there was no wind--not even a hint of a breeze whispering, "Let me help cool you down."  As a result Becca spent a lot of time lying in her favorite sandy spot shielded from the sun by an Ocotillo shadow.

We saw other outdoor enthusiasts on and about the mountain--hikers, runners, a distant biker--but we only had a direct encounter with a guy who passed us from behind on Geothermal Road.  By then we were headed back to the trailhead, pretty hot, but not as hot nor exhausted as we felt yesterday on almost the same trek.  I am more than ready for our sweltering weather to break, but I know we'll have to deal with these conditions through most of August.
Prickly Pear

Vintage photo

In the western foothills of Tortugas

Spent Soaptree Yucca seed pod

Further up the slope

This and the next:  how to take a break in the desert

Monday, July 29, 2019

Steam Heat

Fishhook Barrel Cactus buds
It rained a little overnight, but it started to pour down at about 4:40 this morning; the precipitation delayed our hike, and Becca and I didn't get on the trail west of Tortugas Mountain until 8:00.

Our pal Jimmy rolled in just before us, and we were able to trek the first leg with him.  While the three of us were together the sun stayed behind clouds, and it felt comfortable out there.

Not long after we parted company with Becca's favorite outdoor enthusiast, though, the sun began to make its presence known; with little breeze to ameliorate conditions the weather suddenly felt steamy.  It was easily the worst hike Becca and I have taken in quite some time, and both of us were eager to get out of there.  She's been lying on the cool tile here at home for several hours now recovering from our dreadful outing.
Very iffy in the northwest

Break in the damp sand

Flower child

Monitoring the direction of that storm

Looking south

"Cup" atop Prickly Pear fruit has some rainwater in it

Capturing water from this morning's rain

Heading south

Pause for the cause on the way back


West side of Tortugas

Skinny flycatcher

Sunday, July 28, 2019


Heading into Soledad Canyon
Dr. K, Becca and I decided to drive up to do a hike in Soledad Canyon in the western unit of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.  We hadn't been up there since Soledad Canyon Road was completely repaved, all the way up to and including the first-time paved and lined parking lot.  It was a pleasure getting there.  Not surprisingly four or five other vehicles were already parked in designated spaces, though we only ran into three individual hikers during our trek.

We followed the main trail east into the canyon until reaching the intersection with the Bar Canyon loop trail, which we followed south for several miles.  Not in the mood to hike the entire loop--including the elevation gain on the eastern portion--we turned around near The Chimney and headed back.  It was beautiful out there this morning, not too hot (but humid) and extremely lush.  We were fortunate to spot three Mule Deer browsing in the grass on the far side of a major arroyo, a mama and her two fawns--a doe and buck who were probably one year old or slightly younger.  None seemed worried about our presence, just curious.  By the time we headed back they were out of sight.
View from the trail

Apache Plume

Further into the canyon

The Chimney

Sun over the mountain

This and the next:  young Mule Deer doe

Mountain layers


To the southwest

This and the next 3:  young Mule Deer buck (probably one-year old)

Mama Mule Deer

This and the next:  Mama and son



Bar Canyon Trail

The Chimney

Heading back

This and the next 2:  images of the mountains

Beetle and friend on Apache Plume flower

Beetle on Apche Plume

Water trough at the trailhead

The newly paved parking lot

Views from the Grand View

Sacramentos We did the Grand View Trail this morning, surprised that nobody else was there on a Sunday morning.  We hiked the entire first l...