Venomous Creatures on our Guided Backpacking Trips, Part 1

Our trips in the high country of Wyoming and Montana are, for the most part, free of venomous creatures. This includes the various routes we utilize on our guided Yellowstone backpacking trips. The climate is simply too cold to support these cold-blooded animals. So far. Of course, the climate is changing, and future Rocky Mountain landscapes may well include hazards that today’s hikers do not have to consider. Such as poisonous centipedes, black widow and brown recluse spiders, and even scorpions. So far, though, in the world of Big Wild Adventures, such concerns are restricted to a few of the routes we run on our guided multi-day hikes in the desert Southwest. Unfortunately, too many of our political representatives do not believe in human-caused climate change. Science be damned, and so for now, the United States remains an outlaw of the global community’s consensus that fossil fuels are the greatest threat to life on Earth since the late Cretaceous. That was when a meteor crashed into the western Gulf of Mexico, about 60 million years ago. But I digress. This post is supposed to discuss venomous creatures, affectionately known as “creepy crawlies”. Venomous politicians are another subject.

Not including venomous snakes (which I’ll discuss separately in an upcoming post), or bee-stings — which can happen nearly anywhere — scorpions, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders and centipedes can be found on our Utah backpacking routes in Canyonlands National Park, the Escalante Canyons and the Grand Staircase back country. Does this mean that you should avoid these areas or lose any sleep if you choose to go on one of these amazing treks? Absolutely not! These are great trips in a unique and magnificent Colorado Plateau landscape! With just a bit of care and vigilance, there is no reason to worry. You are way more likely to get killed while attempting to negotiate twelve lanes of freeway traffic along Utah’s Wasatch Front (the Greater Salt Lake City megalopolis) than by any natural feature of Utah’s back country. My next post will discuss some simple common sense precautions that we incorporate into our guided Utah hikes, precautions that will keep you safe, at least until you are out of the wilderness and subject to the many and more serious hazards of “civilized” life in the paved, polluted and populated human-scapes of urban Utah and beyond.

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