Interlude 1 – Critters!
Once we were inside the park and on our way to drop off the car at the Bright Angel Trailhead, we saw a mule by the side of the road eating a tree. A bit further on, we saw what I believe was a mule deer, also eating a tree.
The first 3-4 miles of descent I saw many squirrels and what I am going to call crows. I don’t know much about ornithology, but these were crows or ravens, or maybe blackbirds – but I am sticking with crows. One group of 3-4 crows were having either a game or a battle, but they stayed close knit, often beaks together rising and falling in turning circles. Further down, I saw birds too distant to identify riding thermals and currents off of the cliff faces. I also had a few encounters with either a hawk or a small eagle right above my head doing the same. It came out of no where and was gone too quickly to identify, but I saw the individual “fingers” at the ends of the wings.
Did not see any fish or otters at the river, but we did hear an awesome chorus of frogs all the way up the Bright Angel. At Indian Garden, crickets, frogs and a few other insects were serenading the night sky and cheering us on our way.
Ascending Bright Angel in the dark, I saw two baby scorpions (my people) a few miles apart. There were 8-10 centipedes over the 5 or so miles up from Indian Garden. The biggest was about the diameter of a McD’s straw for milkshakes and 10 inches long. The smallest about the diameter of the cylinder that holds the ink inside a standard plastic Bic pen and 4 inches long.
There were a ton of tiny-to-1 inch beetles and many small spiders. However, at 3 mile rest-house there was a very big spider. It looked like the same or similar species as the little ones, but it was big and freaky. I know it was not a Black Widow because I researched those bad ladies in 08. Of course its body was smallish compared to its “wingspan” – maybe the size of a walnut – but with those long bendy legs it looked as big as a tennis ball. And its eye glowed! I don’t know if it had two, or one, or one tightly knit cluster, but it looked like one glowing eye. I got up and out of there!! I saw one baby snake I could not identify either.
On the drive back home there was serious deer activity. The most dangerous time there were 5-8 holding court in the middle of the road. Jake saw them in time because they hid the double yellow. Until then we had been scanning the sides of the road not looking for a hootenanny in the middle of the road!