Desert Canyon Reptiles

   Heres a little story called an Adventure in May.

Beep beep beep went the alarm at 4:15 am.  I had to get an early start for the trip which lay ahead.   I quickly got dressed and packed my gear for the days activities.  I left  the house at about 5:05 am in my little ford festiva.  The sky was already beginning to lighten as the sun began its ascent.  it was the first day of may, and the high for the day was supposed to be in the mid 70's.  This was very chilly for may in southern arizona.

    By the time I arrived at Robert's house it was 6:00am and about 55F.  By 6:10am we had loaded the jeep and were on our way.  Our destination for the day was the harcuvar mountians of western arizona.  Our goal was to collect rosy boas that were sunning themselves  in the early morning sun.  As we passed Wickenburg it was still under 60F.

    We ascended the harcuvars and reached the top by about 9:00 am. It was sunny at the top, but very windy and cold. It was about 55F at the top and we began to doubt our chances of finding any reptiles. We parked the jeep at the top and hiked from the radio towers at the top about 1/2 mile to the water-encatchment that is maitained by fish&game for desertbighorn sheep and other wildlife. We flipped rocks and hiked for a few hours and headed back to the jeep, defeated and exhausted. During our search we didnt come across anything but some insects underneath the rocks we were flipping. It was about 10:45 and had warmed up slightly, to about 68F. We decided to leave, exhausted and empty handed.

    We rested a bit, had a bite to eat and began our descent. We steadily drove along the bumpy rocky road, still with a careful eye out for any wildlife. At about 11:45 we came across our first snake. Streched out across the dirt road sunning itself was an adult patchnose snake. Robert left the jeep and slowly approached. The patchnose paid no attention to his advance and soon Robert had the slender creature crawling in his hands. After releasing the patchnose, we continued our descent.

    At about 12:20 pm we came around a bend in the road just in time to see a beautiful creature. A Gila Monster stood sunning itself on the side of the road. It was a large adult with the typical orange markings and a stubbier than normal tail. The Gila, not appreciating the disturbance began to flee. It headed towards a steep cliff along the side of the road and began to climb the cliff face with great agility. I didnt know that they were able to climb like that!

    We finally reached the bottom of the mountain, feeling much better about our trip. In Aguila we stopped and refueled. It was only 1:30 pm by now and after finding the Gila, we didnt want to go back home just yet.

    We decided to make a small side-trip to the harquahala mountains that were just a few miles away. Maybe we could find a ringneck snake sunning in the road. By the time we reached the harquahalas it was about 2:00pm and 75F. We acended the mountain , a mountain which has always been a favorite of mine. After driving for about an hour, we decided to head back down. We hadnt seen any herps. We did see a petroglyph on a rock not too far from the side of the road, but no reptiles.

    It was about 3:45 pm when we reached the bottom of the mountain and we decided to leave. We decided to call it quits. It was hard to give up the addiction to herp, but we did.

    We turned around and began to ascend the mountain again, letting our desire to herp take over as usual. We were not more than 1/3 of the way up the mountain when we say a glistening creature streched out across the dirt road. It was a rosy boa! The first rosy boa either of us had ever colleced from this mountain range. Robert let out a hollar and we examined the creature for flaws. It was a heathy adult female rosy with fairly good body weight. I did have some scars along its body like it had been in a rockslide or a fight. We bagged the creature and finished our acsent and descent without any other herp sightings. Soon after returning to Phoenix it ate a thawed hopper mouse and is now well on its way to adjusting to captivity.