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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jacob MacLeod
Wednesday, July 31
The Trek Begins
Our first step!!! How amazing! The first day of the trek is still the most memorable for me, and probably will still be until the last day. I had never really been in the Southwest before, and it was absolutely magical. The sunrise in the desert was absolutely gorgeous. The ruby hues of the earth embraced the first light of day like a long lost friend. As the first rays peaked over the horizon and danced across the mesquite, all the animals were ready to either bask in its rays after the cool night, or retreat until another nights prowling beckoned them forth. All the plant and animal life was so far removed from everything I’ve seen in the Midwest or the Southeast. We walked about a mile from the road to the Mexican border, mostly in silence brought on partly by the wonder of the morning, fatigue, and disbelief that our trek, The Trek, was about to begin. We reached the border all too quickly and tried to get in touch with Washington where there was a big press conference and a videophone link from the Northern Team, but to no avail. We were far to excited to let a little thing like a phone call disappoint us, so we all lined up on the fence and took the first step of an incredible journey together.

Both my Grandpas are biologists, so I was fascinated by the ecology of this part of the country, I wanted to know what every plant and animal was; fortunately, our BLM guide for the day, Mark, knew them all. We found a beautiful and aptly named Glossy Snake, and watched a Tarantula Hawk Wasp hunting for Tarantulas, which was a very interesting sight. The largest wasp in the Midwest where I grew up is the Cicada Killer, which paled in comparison to this desert giant. It was quite an impressive sight, with a powerful, Hymenopteric body of dark purple, and dark yellow translucent wings buzzing, as it purposefully stalked about in search of Tarantula dens. Its goal is to lure a Tarantula out of its daytime lair and battle with it in the open, not unlike a knight fighting a dragon, in an attempt to parasitize it. Also like a knight, its concern is with family matters; as a knight fights to rescue a maiden, the wasp will use the parasitized body to feed its larvae, in the never-ending battle of procreation. We couldn’t get away from “hitchhikers,” which are the seedpods of a desert ground vine. I was amazed at how strangely they are shaped, and at how effective they are at clinging to anything, and staying there! They remind me of the shape of a mammal’s mandible, teeth and all-evolution at it’s finest.

After seeing the trekkers off on their 4X4 adventure, we drove ahead to our campsite for the night. The middle of the day was HOT! We didn’t have a whole lot to do after setting up camp. I walked around for a while, but realized that all the native wildlife knew exactly what to do during the hottest part of the day – Sleep! I saw a few hummingbirds but was unable to identify them. Unfortunately for me, Mark was with the trekkers for the day.

After the trekkers arrived, and it started cooling off, the land became more beautiful again. Nighthawks flitted about over the Creosote, both Common Nighthawks and Lesser Nighthawks which, just as it says in Petersons, were, “Readily identified by odd calls and manner of flight-very low.” I took another walk and was rewarded with finding a Western Hog-Nosed Snake, which Mark brought back for the rest of the group to see. The night was unbelievable!! I grew up in the country, so I’m blessed with being used to seeing a lot more stars than the average city-dweller, but that night was absolutely spectacular. The lunar cycle was close to being new so the stars were emphasized that much more. Now I know what that Live means when they sing, ”…a trip to the desert to look at the sky.”
for Wednesday, July 31
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jacob MacLeod
Jake hikes through the sandstone wonderland of the Wave formation in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Where's your hat, Jake?

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List of All Journal Entries
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Saturday, September 28
Jacob MacLeod
National Public Lands Day
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Friday, September 27
Jacob MacLeod
Together Again!!
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Thursday, September 26
Jacob MacLeod
Our Last Full Day
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Sunday, September 22
Jacob MacLeod
Letter to My Family
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Thursday, September 5
Jacob MacLeod
My Bird List for the Trek
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Sunday, August 18
Jacob MacLeod
I Got It!!
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Thursday, August 15
Jacob MacLeod
Exelsior
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Monday, August 12
Jacob MacLeod
The Lesson at Eagle Peak
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Sunday, August 11
Jacob MacLeod
Snow Lake
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Thursday, August 8
Jacob MacLeod
"Attack of the Nine-Million Flies!"
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Sunday, August 4
Jacob MacLeod
Backpacking at Last
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Friday, August 2
Jacob MacLeod
El Paso and Back
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Thursday, August 1
Jacob MacLeod
A Rocky Place
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Wednesday, July 31
Jacob MacLeod
Day 1 Highlight
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Wednesday, July 31
Jacob MacLeod
The Trek Begins
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Tuesday, July 30
Jacob MacLeod
To the Mexican Border
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Sunday, July 28
Jacob MacLeod
Training Week
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