It's A Dry Heat

Hiking for Cacti and More

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My hiking spot for now, to get in a good workout, is Tortugas Mountain aka A Mountain. It’s not close, but nothing is to where I live. My ascent begins on one of the steep, narrow trails that wind up the west side.

While catching my breath, I get to look at an array of desert plants and views.

About half-way up to the 4,950 foot elevation summit, the classic scene of the Organ Mountains dominates the eastern horizon.

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At the top, a small makeshift shrine from a few days earlier.

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The road is the easier way for hiking, especially downhill to save one’s knees, but this guy is on his mountain bike which isn’t remotely easy, except it’s wide.

He passed me going down, after he made it to the top. Almost 1,000 feet of climb in 1 mile on a bike is a serious effort.

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Limestone ledges and different desert plants create an inspiring scene for a desert designer to recreate – when the client allows the time, accepts expertise, and has the budget.

Fouquieria splendens with numerous but young Echinocereus stramineus
Agave neomexicana in the grasses

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Opuntia engelmannii, but a more compact form with smaller pads.

opening flowers are as interesting to me as fully-opened

It is usually recognized from the O. lindheimeri some nurseries pawn off as O. engelmannii, since it usually has yellow blooms and the latter has orange to red blooms. The different cultural requirements come into play later…

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Opuntia macrocentra is starting to flower, too.

It usually has pale yellow blooms, which contrast the deep green to purple-ish pads, though maybe they will change once more open. These look almost sugary.

What impresses me the most about Tortugas Mountain is the sheer diversity of cacti, but there is so much more if you look. Only no oaks…still 1,000′ too low.

4/22/17 weather: 78 / 53 / .0

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