Monday, May 25, 2009

"No Country for These Old Men:" Strange Escalante River Sightings

Dangerous Dreams

Doze off for a few seconds, and you never know what you will wake to find. Most people who visit the red rock canyons watch hopefully for a desert bighorn or mountain lion. While these critters are common, even more interesting creatures inhabit the Escalante Canyons. Take for example the worm in the picture below. You might think it is a string or shoelace, but it's actually a wriggling, crawling worm. Utah discovered it during one of our many river crossings. He has seen them before, but can't identify genus or species. Maybe you can help us out. Dangerous spent time researching this unusual creature, but couldn't identify it. How about some help with a name and description? The boys and I would appreciate it.

Escalante River Worm

Dangerous doesn't appear too worried about his nap spot. However, you have to be careful where you lie down to rest or sleep. There isn't much chance a lion will carry you off, but you can't be sure about a scorpion crawling up your pant leg. The little fellow below is why Dangerous and the others always shake their sleeping bags out before climbing in at night. According to the boys, this scorpion is the smallest they have ever seen, but I suspect that its sting might cause some discomfort. Always remember, shake your boots out before putting them on in the morning. You never know what might crawl in during the night.

Micro Scorpion

While prowling the canyons, Dangerous and his buddies are always watching for wildlife. In recent years, wild turkeys have become prevalent. We see them regularly, and flushing one while hiking along the river gets your heart really pumping. You also have to be careful camping under cottonwood or box elder trees. The turkeys roost in them during the night, so sleeping with your mouth open under a turkey roost isn't advised. Deer tracks are plentiful along the river, but we rarely see deer. With all the noise we make, they usually scatter well ahead of us. The real wildlife sport among the High Plateau hikers is hearing the first Canyon Wren. If you haven't heard a wren sing, go to Cornell University's ornithology website. You can download a picture and hear their call. According to Dangerous, he wants Canyon Wren music at his outdoor funeral rather than traditional Mormon hymns.

Unusual worms and scorpions aren't the only natural, or in this case, historic creatures you might see in canyon country. While Dangerous was sleeping, we had two visitors that few hikers encounter. Our first unannounced visitor appeared to be an Escalante Taliban fighter fresh from Afghanistan. I am not sure how he found his way to the Escalante River, but sure enough one of the boys captured his picture. He didn't hang around long because I needed my dog dish back for dinner.

Escalante Taliban Sighted

Since I am only five, Dangerous, Utah, Dan, and Dan had to explain our next visitor. I am still not sure who General Douglas Mac Artur is or was, but they tell me he was a force to deal with in the 1940s and 1950s. I am not sure how he showed up 50 years after his reported death, but there he was. If you don't believe me, take a close look. He has his signature corn cob pipe clenched between his teeth. Who else could it be?

General Douglas Mac Arthur

I am sure you've heard that Everett Reuss's body was recently found. For years, the High Plateau bunch have speculated about what happened to him. Supposedly, Reuss disappeared in Davis Gulch not far from where we were hiking. Dangerous and Utah talk for hours about what might have happened to him always hoping to find some evidence of his disappearance or catch a glimpse of his ghost. While the mystery seems to have been solved 70 years later, there are still some super natural happenings on the river.

"Skeleton Man"

Take for example "Skeleton Man." Seeing Everett's ghost doesn't hold a candle to encountering this frightening aberration. He appears half-man and half-skeleton. I think I would go with mostly man because who has ever seen a skeleton with a gut like that.

"Walrus Boy"

I always thought that you had to travel above the Arctic Circle to encounter walrus. Well, I know you won't believe me, but there are walrus like creatures living on the Escalante River. Again, If you doubt my veracity, take a close look at the pictures. You surely can't doubt your own eyes when I tell you that the Escalante is infested with these half-man, half-walrus like creatures. In fact, I believe that a new virus worse than the swine flu may be rampant on the river -- walrus flu. It appears to have infected General Mac Arthur and "Skeleton Man" turning them into walrus. Canines appear to be immune from the disease. Looking at the last picture shows how rapidly the virus spread amongst all the human High Plateau hikers leaving only me uninfected.

"Tusk Man"

The Infection Spreads

Well, I think you have heard enough about our latest Escalante adventure. Until September, the boys are putting their backpacks away, and pulling out their saddles. From now till fall, I will bore you with horse riding on the High Plateau. Love to hear from you!


Becca Hatch said...

What? No pictures of the elusive Escalante Nude Swimmers Association? I know you have them.

Anonymous said...

Horsehair worm, looks like to me. Great adventure, you guys are nuts, still smiling!