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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
Thursday, August 1
Our journey began on July 31 from the Mexican border. I experienced the Chihuahaun Desert up close and personal as we hiked to the border to begin the journey. Through the generosity of Mark Hakkila, a recreation planner with the Bureau of Land Management, we were provided with detailed information about the land we were about to travel through. Mark was with us the first few days and we greatly appreciate his time and dedication in helping us begin this historic journey.
Although I am on the support team as the first alternate team member, I am also responsible for coordinating the special events and media contacts along the trip route. Because we had media personnel along with us this first day, I was able to travel with the trekkers on their four-wheel drive experience. As we walked across the damp desert (very atypical – they had just had a huge rain the night before), Mark was able to give a name to just about everything I could point to and ask “What is that?”. The following is a list of just a few of the plants and animals that I discovered that day. It was all so mind-boggling, especially since I have never been farther west than Kansas City, Missouri (at least in a car – I have traveled to Australia before). I had so many questions that I didn’t even know where to begin!

Plants
Engelman’s prickly pear cactus
soap tree yucca
ocotillo cactus
mesquite bush
cholla cactus
barrel cactus
spectacle pod
zinnia

Animals
western whiptail lizard
desert millipede
desert spiny lizard
Texas horned lizard
tarantula hawk wasp
spotted ground squirrel
velvet mite
tadpoles (bufo- and/or spadefoot)
glossy snake
fairy shrimp
side-blotched lizard
collared lizard
black-tailed jackrabbit


I have an interest in reptiles and amphibians, and this no doubt stems from my job with the Missouri Department of Conservation, where I work at the Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City. There I take care of over thirty species of native reptiles and amphibians. I also occasionally give interpretive programs to the public. The naturalists that I work with are very passionate about nature, which in turn has given me an enormous amount of respect for the environment in which we all live and must care for. They have also made me feel comfortable about asking questions, no matter how trivial they may seem. So I begin this trip with respect for nature as well as the ability to question the everyday occurrences that many overlook. Thanks to the folks at MDC for all you do!

About halfway through the drive today we stopped at one of the high points, where Mark wanted to explain some land feature. I looked across the barren landscape, seeing nothing that stood out, and wondered what we could be stopping for. Mark directed my eyes to a thin dark line that skimmed the desert surface and was tipped with white. This, he explained, was a maar (not Mars, as I first thought). If I understand correctly, a maar forms when superheated gas within the earth meets up with water, and a sort of explosion occurs, creating a deep hole in the earth’s surface. This particular maar was named Kilbourne Hole. And do you know how large this maar was? It’s difficult to imagine that it is over a mile across and about 800 feet deep!!!

Our campsite the first night was at Massacre Peak. At dusk, Jake and I searched for desert critters, and all we (or I should say he) came across was a western hognosed snake, which if you haven’t encountered before can be quite an experience. Hognosed snakes rarely bite, but have a few unique methods to make you go away. They may first hiss and spread the extra skin around their neck to resemble a cobra, thereby earning the nickname spread head. They may then strike at you, but with a closed mouth (this can be quite startling). As a last resort, they will defecate all over and writhe around, ending up belly up, tongue hanging out, and very smelly!! They “play opossum” quite well and would definitely make me turn the other direction!

Our technical crew, Earth Analytic out of San Diego, CA, was very helpful in setting up our computers using the latest in satellite technology. This enabled us to access the website and upload these journal entries straight out to all who wishes to follow us during our trek. This group also has helped us to determine our exact route from day to day with the use of GIS technology to create maps so that the trekkers may avoid private land.

Tonight I had my first opportunity to use all the gear we received from the Coleman Company. They provided us with everything from camp chairs and tents to sleeping bags and backpacks, and everything in between. I know that not only will I use this gear throughout the trip, but I will definitely have to find a way to use it on Missouri’s public lands when I return home! The sleeping bags are the “mummy” style and really are nice for keeping cold air out. We have the ones that keep you warm down to 25 degrees. I would say that I am like a lizard when it comes to heat. I am very comfortable in hot weather, but when it gets cool (which to me could be 75 degrees!), I feel like my body turns to ice! So the Coleman bags will truly pass the test if they keep this American Frontiers team member warm!!!
for Thursday, August 1
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
LM-jessicahorse04-08.jpg

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List of All Journal Entries
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Friday, November 15
Jessica Terrell
National Trails Symposium
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Sunday, October 27
Jessica Terrell
Meeting Team North
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Saturday, October 26
Jessica Terrell
The Finals Days...
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Thursday, September 19
Jessica Terrell
An Eye-Opening Experience
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Wednesday, September 18
Jessica Terrell
Days and Days of ATV's
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Tuesday, September 17
Jessica Terrell
My "Favorite" Day
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Friday, September 6
Jessica Terrell
Tour of Glen Canyon Dam, Hatch River Expeditions, and Lee’s Ferry (Lonely Dell) and the Houseboat!!!
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Monday, September 2
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon, North Kaibab Trail
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Sunday, September 1
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch
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Saturday, August 31
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon Day 2
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Friday, August 30
Jessica Terrell
South Rim, Grand Canyon
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Monday, August 26
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon Sunrise
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Sunday, August 11
Jessica Terrell
Snow Lake
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Wednesday, August 7
Jessica Terrell
Silver City, NM
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Saturday, August 3
Jessica Terrell
Location: Lake Valley, New Mexico
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Thursday, August 1
Jessica Terrell
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Wednesday, July 31
Jessica Terrell
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