Gold Butte - Gila Monster search team

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June 20th 2009
Published: June 20th 2009
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Alright, here it goes. I shall try to cover my week, as best as I can. 😊 Ya'll may want to read this in parts, as it will probably be excruciatingly long and not all that interesting. haha.

We met at the office at 8am. I was with one of the other interns and one of the staff and we were headed to Gold Butte, a fairly large desert area in Nevada around Lake Mead. We were the herp team... so we basically spent the entire week going to different points searching for Gila Monsters. We took a bit getting out and then we stopped to eat lunch at one area. At about 1pm we arrived at the first hike site. It was absolutely gorgeous. I think in total it was maybe 5km total. It is slow-going because you have to look in all the rock crevices and under shrubs and everything. Sadly, no Gila Monsters. Oh, I should probably preface all of this by saying that they have been searching for I think nearly 3 months and they have not found any. Yeah. So, we did not find any, but we did see fledgling great-horned owls! I thought of you AC ;-) They were quite cute, and we got a pretty good look at them! They were already flying around. Very cool. We also got a little glimpse of a rattle snake (don't worry Carolyn, I was safe, I promise). We were done around 5pm and headed to a different area to camp. Ended up all the others who were out in Gold Butte with USGS camped there as well that night so there were 9 of us. It was fun. We had a campfire and played a few games of BS. Went to bed crazy early. I think I may have gotten more sleep this week than I had so far. lol.

We got to sleep in, compared to the others, who were doing bird points. We got up around 6am and headed out by 7. Much to my surprise I awoke to rain falling on my head! I was like, wait a minute, I thought this was the desert where it like, never rains! but it was only a few drops. However, it stayed cloudy for the whole morning which was lovely because it kept it much cooler. We stopped briefly at one spot with some old structures, to search for Gila Monsters and other critters. Did find a whiptail (small lizard) and was able to hold it, which was very cool! Not much else though. The rest of the day was spent on a slightly longer hike. We started it around 8:30 or 9 I guess. Almost right away we came across an abandoned mine and we went inside to check it out. I was hoping to see bats, but no such luck. Bummer. The first part of the hike wasn't too bad, as it was so cloudy. It was very slow-going though. Felt like we had gone so far but it was only about 3km I guess. We stopped to eat some food and then continued on to search a few more washes (they are kind of like dry river beds of sorts). Saw nothing. Huge bummer. Eventually headed back. Emily and I we were walking ahead of Justin (the staff member) and so apparently we missed out on seeing a very large chuckwalla that Justin managed to catch. Again, bummer. We ended up back at the car around 3pm. Then drove to the nearest town (Mesquite) which took about an hour
Abandoned MineAbandoned MineAbandoned Mine

Me and Emily
and a half. Basically just went to walmart so they could get a few food items (I bought a mango... delicious! different than the kind I normally have), got gas and then headed back into Gold Butte. Camped that night at the Petroglyphs. Extremely beautiful. I loved it there. We got to climb around on the rocks and check out the petroglyphs andsee some incredibly views. I took a million pictures.

Up a bit later, left around 7:30am. Had to drive pretty far to get to where we wanted to hike. Then, we ran into a slight problem. Climbed up this pretty steep hill to get a view of the area we wanted to hike and confirmed the fact that it was near impossible to get to. We had wanted to cover it the day before but simply ran out of time. Justin decided that would be better for a backpacking excursion. So we climbed back down and drove to a different spot. Did a shorter hike, didn't see much of anything. Had lunch in the shade and then went to the next spot, which was interesting. A bit longer of a hike. Think in total it was about 4 hours and towards the end I thought I wasn't going to make it lol. The first part wasn't too bad. quite pretty. Again, no Gila Monsters. Did see a speckled rattle snake though! It was very cool. Justin got some very good pictures with my camera. I'll post one, I promise. 😊 So the actual search part wasn't too bad. But then sun came out and the walk back was not so great. We had to climb up a pretty steep part which was tiring and then we were just hiking along the road for about 3km to get back to the car. By the end I was quite tired and extremely hot and not feeling the greatest. But then we reached the truck and after cooling down and eating a little something, I felt much better. By then it was about 4:30 and we headed to Lake Mead. It ended up that everyone else from USGS was already there! So that was nice. I had not brought my swim suite because I didn't realize we would go to the lake so I had every intention of only putting my feet in. However, it felt quite lovely, and
Black Widow SpiderBlack Widow SpiderBlack Widow Spider

pretty cool. As long as it stays on a web. All the time.
I was convinced (pretty easily, I'll admit) to just swim in my clothes. That was what one of the other interns did. It was nice. Refreshing. The lake is quite pretty, but definitely not the jersey shore. I missed sand. and waves. But it was definitely nice. I didn't get to completely dry off before we left but the car ride wasn't too bad. Saw a kit fox on the drive back. very cute. We camped back at the place we were monday night, with 2 others.Had another fire. Once again, it was cloudy and so there were no stars which I was bummed about. I had been hoping to have spectacular star gazing and so far, nothing.

Up early. Left by 6am. On wednesday one of the birding groups had climbed a big mountain and come across FIVE mountain lions. Insane. People NEVER see them. As in, biologists who study them won't see them. Way crazy lucky. 2 adults and 3 sub-adults. So, Emily really wanted to see them, as did we all so we got up extra early to try to go see them (keep this on the down-low. we are not telling anyone we did this). I was afraid I wouldn't be able to hike the mountain but it actually wasn't too bad. I think it was about 700m up, took about 45minutes. Absolutely STUNNING views. But, no mountain lions. Biggest bummer ever. Spent a while trying to spot them with no luck. Eventually headed back down. Then about 10am started the search for Gila Monsters. With no luck. After that we went back into Mesquite and had lunch at a chinese place. Not spectacular by any means, but it was a cheap buffet and some of it was okay. Spent a bit more time then back into Gold Butte. Camped at the Petroglyphs again! Tried to look for snakes along the road at about 6:45, with no luck. Then I scrambled up the rocks to catch the sunset. It was pretty. Sat up there for a while and then we did some night herping. Saw NOTHING. r-diculous. But, it was sunny and clear all day and the night was the same! I got to lie on my cot and look up at a sky full of stars, with no light pollution. Lovely marvelous.

Had every intention of sleeping in. Woke up and
Zebratail lizardZebratail lizardZebratail lizard

it was basking in the sun
the sun seemed high and bright and it was super hot already so I assumed it must be kinda late. Maybe 8 or even 9. Ha. It was 6:20am. Layed til a little after 7 but it was simply too hot. We all got up and walked around the petroglyph rocks looking for Chuckwallas. Found a few through binoculars and then we were able to catch one and hold it!!! Way cool. Very cute. Got some good pics. So at least it was a good end to the week. Even if we saw no Gila Monsters.

So that is about all I have to report. It was a good week, with lots of stunning views, and some cool creatures, even if we didn't see any Gila Monsters. In addition to the lizards and owls I mentioned, we did see many baby cotton tails and jack rabbits. And I got some decent exercise in. 😊

Tonight we drove one of the interns to the airport. Sad, cause I barely got to know her and she is already done. Even more sad for the 2 interns who had spent 2 months here with her. So now, 2 have left and we are down to 4. Strange.

Okay, I will attempt to pick out some photos. If anything of note happens this weekend I will post, otherwise it may be a while. I am in the office on monday and then on tuesday I am going down with Emily and Claire (staff from West Windsor) to Barstow once again to track some tortoises! I am looking forward to that. So that is what the future holds. Hopefully I'll write again soon! 😊


Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17



Just one of many. Very cool.
Pretty skyPretty sky
Pretty sky

as the sun set on wednesday

from the stop of the mountain on thursday. That is lake mead. among other things.
Juvenile ChuckwallaJuvenile Chuckwalla
Juvenile Chuckwalla

in a rock crevice. we couldn't get it out.
Holding a Chuckwalla!Holding a Chuckwalla!
Holding a Chuckwalla!

this is the one that was with the juvenile. we were able to get her out and hold her!

21st June 2009

Desert Adventures
Hi Jackie, Loved your most recent e-mail. Especially the photos. :-) Also, glad to see you wearing your hat. It's kinda cute! :-) Keep the entries coming!

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