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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Cold, Mostly Cloudy and Windy

West side of Tortugas and heading for the lower desert
Got bad info from this morning about the temperature and the force of the wind so, as a result, I under-dressed for a Saturday trek.  It was cold out there, and the gusty wind made it feel frigid.  I needed a heavier vest beneath my Marmot PreCip jacket, a more substantial hat--one with ear flaps--and gloves.  Despite these deficiencies I did a long bushwhack anyway, keeping my hands sheathed in my pockets when I didn't require them for taking photos.

As usual when strong winds push clouds around the desert sky the views were quite dynamic, and I took a lot of photos (48) for such a cold morning.  I saw a few other hearty outdoorspeople around the mountain, but I didn't bump into my buddy Jimmy whose truck was parked behind my vehicle at the side of the entrance road to the Sunset Area.
This and the next 3:  bank of clouds over the mountain and environs

View to the southwest

This and the next 2:  bushwhacking far west of Tortugas Mountain

View to the northwest


Looking back at the mountains from a ridge


Long way out

This and the next:  close encounter with an American Desert Hare

"Dry Brush" filter applied

Flank of Tortugas and the Organ Mountains

Coyote in the arroyo ahead of me

My favorite Torrey Yucca

A hearty welcome to the sunshine

Cloudy again already

Clouds and sunshine

Friday, November 29, 2019

Blustery Morning

Conditions at start
Dr. K and I did a rare Friday morning hike together, and we explored a trail we'd not taken before.  My friend Jimmy told me about a single-track that begins near the sign at the westernmost entrance to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and strikes east until it intersects with the main Sierra Vista Trail (Norte).  We found it without trouble, and we spent a good hour-and-a-half trekking from the Dripping Springs Road trailhead to the juntion with the main trail and back again.

It's a good thing it wasn't cold out there because the wind was strong, and it got even more forceful on our way back to the waiting Whitey the CR-V.  On our return we bumped into a small group of hikers:  four people and three young Weimaraners.  Both Dr. K and I commented to the humans about how beautiful the dogs were.  Those were the only sentient beings we encountered directly.

At the very end of our trek the sun came out for a short visit.  Now, in the early afternoon, it's cloudy again and the wind is much stronger with gusts predicted to reach 60 mph.
This and the next:  Barrel Cactus in an arroyo

Christmas Cactus in front of Barrel Cactus

This and the next 3:  views of the rugged Organ Mountains

Fog and clouds across the Mesilla Valley


This and the next:  following the single-track toward the mountains

Triple Barrel Cactus

Long view west

This and the next:  more Barrel Cacti

Almost to the Sierra Vista Trail junction

Interesting decals on a trail marker

This and the next:  clouds and the mountains

Looking up an arroyo at the Organ Mountains

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Turkey Day Rainout

This and the next:  raindrops on Tree Cholla fruit
As the blog title suggests, I wasn't able to get out for a Thanksgiving Day hike this morning due to the constant rain we've been having for the past day-and-a-half.  I thought, perhaps, I might be able to get out for a spell this afternoon, but it's still raining.  My hope is this system will roll out of here by tomorrow so I can resume my daily ritual of trekking in the northern Chihuahuan Desert.

Golden Barrel Cactus

A very wet Desert Willow tree

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Gloomy and Cold

First 6:  sun through heavy cloud cover
Got an early start on a gloomy and very cold morning today, and I ended up bushwhacking far further than I had planned.  Although the lighting wasn't the best for photography I got some good shots, especially a few of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker who was pecking away at Soaptree Yucca stalks in a major arroyo west of Tortugas Mountain.

On my way back in, just as I was about to reach the road near the old white shack, I got a phone call from my pal Jimmy, who asked if I'd mind waiting for him.  He was coming down from the mountaintop and had spotted me crossing the single-track trail across the western flank.  After a few minutes he caught up to me and we hiked back to the Sunset Area together.  It was too cold to stand chatting so we parted ways, wishing each other a Happy Thanksgiving.

Embarrassed Prickly Pear Cactus pad

Halo around the sun

This and the next:  ever-larger sun

Organ Mountain from west of Tortugas Mountain

Wide arroyo

Soaptree Yucca stalks

This and the next 2:  Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Soaptree Yucca west of Tortugas

Home Sweet Home

Probably a Cactus Wren nest

Another Soaptree

Mesquite/fallen Soaptree/Soaptree Yucca

Arroyo running out of Tortugas 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 ...