Sunday, May 31, 2009

Desert Survival - Studying Nature

Hi everyone!

I'd like to thank RW for letting me do another guest post. I know this time of year we all have a lot of better things to do, so I thought a few of my random wandering's would give him a much needed break.

For those of you that haven't heard of me, I'm an ex off-road racer living in Arizona. I used to race enduro in the Midwest and wasn't very good at it, When I moved here in ‘85, I figured I'd go desert racing...which I wasn't very good at either! Now, I can do things that would scare most people, but not worthy of the national guys. No way I'd make a living at it!

Besides spending way too much time in the desert, either broken down or blazing thru it, I've noticed a lot of trends .I've recently made a few trips to Mexico and sitting in the seat watching the desert go by made me think a bit. Every time I get bored with the scenery, I see a wash and there are cottonwood trees along it. I'm originally from Nebraska and know cottonwoods need a lot of water...hmmm...Sure; there were a lot of other trees there too, but cottonwood?

Now, let me pass on another rambling story. Back when I was in good shape, I'd get up at 6 am and do a 5 or 6 hour practice ride every Sunday morning. I ran a power line road for about 15 miles to the Verde River, take a break, then ride it back. One day I noticed a little trail running off the side and decided to see where it went. It was barely a goat trail, It was probably a javelina (wild pig) path that slowly opened up into a small wash. This turned into a small canyon that ended in a 20 foot high wall. Looked like a good spot to take a break and then go home.

As I sat there eating a couple of granola bars and slurping down a drink from my fanny pack. I noticed a bunch of butterflies all over the area. Now, it was the season for all the plants to be pollinated but I'm 10 miles from the nearest river. Hmmm? I'm not talking 5 or 6 butterflies but several dozen butterflies all over the place! And lots of bees! Not too many critters can survive in Arizona during May. I got a little curious and went over to where they were gathering and sure enough the ground was WET. Guess what? There was a small natural spring seeping up thru the sand! I scooped up a handful of sand and the hole filled within a few minutes. Amazingly, these critters knew where the water was, even in the desert!

My point here is never overlook anything you see. It's easy to swat the mosquitoes, but think...where did they come from, breed, and so on. If there are no animals around, chances are there isn’t any water either. No trees, no water! Just learn to observe nature’s critters!

Dean in Az


matthiasj said...

Great post Dean.

Kentucky Preppers Network said...

This is an excellent post. I think perhaps in our modern world where food and water and other supplies come from mass transit, we tend to forget that in nature most resources are relatively local. So that in order for there to be a certain species in an area, there must be the support structure for that species within a certain distance. In this case, for large insects or wild pigs to exist, there needs to be a water supply nearby.

Anonymous said...

Matt: Thank's!
Being a newcomer to the desert all those yr's ago,I thought the same as most people driving thru it think...what a desolate wasteland! And if your not properly prepped for it,it really is!I've hiked and camped up north a lot,found lot's of natural spring's in my bug out area,and it's plentiful with deer,antelope,and game bird's.I never expected to see a spring in the middle of the desert tho! Just show's that you can never be too observant.
Dean in Az

HermitJim said...

As I am getting ready to move to the desert in West Texas, I am amazed at the people that look at the pictures and say "There's nothing there!". That's one reason I won't have too many neighbors...and that's how I like it!

Nature gives us all kinds of clues, we just need o learn to understand them.

Good post!

Bullseye said...

Super Duper Post Dean. If we keep our eyes open as well as our minds we can find many things that others ( those that never look ) would never know where there. A good post for anyone anywhere. Thanks for giving my buddy RW a much needed rest. lol

Code Name "Bullseye"

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the post too. I wish we had springs like that down here, natural springs are extremely rare down here.

In the Western desert country where there's lots of rocks, don't forget to check those natural tinajas, rock holes where rain water can gather and gain you some needed water. Just look for signs where water seems to flow down - you might find something that can save your life in an emergency.

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