Backpacking in Southern Utah

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jonathan
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Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by jonathan » August 21st, 2010, 2:20 am

In 2007 and 2008 I took two backpacking trips in Southern Utah, with a mix of my two best friends and my fiancee. After the first trip I tracked down the Utah Herpetological Association for help with lizard ID's, which eventually led to me finding the FHF and NAFHA (thanks Brian!). I've combined the trips into one post, heavily on scenery and light on commentary.


Canyon in the Glen Canyon Recreation Area

First year we did this canyon down-and-back, the second time we got a drop-off and did a through hike. My absolute favorite backpacking spot ever.


View from above before dropping into canyon

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Awesome pillar

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Let the gear down with ropes because it won't fit through the crack

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Sweet crack to get into the canyon

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Eastern Collared Lizards (Western subspecies) (Crotaphytus collaris baileyi)

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Bill makes his way to the lower end of the canyon

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Enormous arch

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new locality for Canyon Treefrogs (Hyla arenicolor) - and a striking color phase

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Plateau Fence Lizards (Sceloporus tristichus)

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Rose did not like navigating the slickrock - don't slip!

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Pretty spot to camp

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Desert Striped Whipsnakes (Coluber taeniatus taeniatus)

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Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii)

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So this is why they call them Red-spotted Toads (Anaxyrus punctatus)

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Northern Tree Lizards (Urosaurus ornatus wrighti) - a few were especially red

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Don't slip #2

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Little waterfalls can be beautiful

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Another massive arch

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1000-year-old dwellings from the Fremont people

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I'm blessed

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Beautiful Orange-headed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister cephaloflavus)

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Bill roosting

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Heading out in the morning

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Fremont peoples petroglyph

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Some of this just makes you feel small

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Patternless Plateau Fence Lizard - one reason I went around looking for an ID

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Massive canyon walls

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Momentarily lost

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Final trudge isn't as pretty

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Posing in front of a slot canyon at the end

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Can you find me?

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Nasty cow guarded our exit

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Matt almost didn't make it out....say no to drugs!

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Slot Canyons

When I went back to the spot with Bill in 2008, we decided we had to try to hit as many slot canyons as we could in the area. Most were found in a more arid habitat than the canyon we'd been backpacking in.


Northern Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris septentrionalis)

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This is why they call it "Peakaboo"

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Northern Tree Lizard

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Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii wislizenii)

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Fun way to enter a canyon

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Orange-headed Spiny Lizards

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Don't slip #3 - the bottom is too narrow for your body to fit

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Heart was beating like crazy

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In 1996 a guy fell into a spot he couldn't get out of and was stuck in here for 7 days before he was rescued

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Middle of nowhere

Found another beautiful spot to camp - pronghorn and prairie dogs

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You can see that our night was darn cold

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Even the jackrabbits were frozen

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Zion Canyon

We had to turn back from one spot we were going to hit, so we had an extra day to burn and decided to hit Zion Canyon. Unfortunately my batteries were low so I mostly saved them for vouchering herps, but it was another beautiful spot. Other than the photographed animals, we also saw ringtail and grey fox that we didn't manage to photograph, and heard a spotted owl.


Angel's Landing from afar

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Yellow-backed Spiny Lizards (Sceloporus uniformis)

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View from top of Angel's Landing

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Arizona Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus)

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Red-spotted Toad

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Lots of variety in Canyon Treefrogs

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Mule Deer

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Plateau Fence Lizards

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Striped Whipsnake

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Plateau Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis velox)

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Arizona Toads calling at night

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Wild Turkey

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Thanks for taking a look! I really, really like Utah.

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Jason Hull
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Jason Hull » August 21st, 2010, 8:12 am

Cool stuff man. I can look at habitat shots from that area all day long.

Jason.

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Fieldnotes
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Fieldnotes » August 21st, 2010, 12:20 pm

What a great adventure :thumb:

You sure that Woodhouse's toad is actually a Woodhouses? Arizona toad perhaps. That second Red-spotted has a pecularly round snout and elongated parotoid glands.

Intersting stuff

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jonathan
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by jonathan » August 21st, 2010, 12:42 pm

Fieldnotes wrote:What a great adventure :thumb:

You sure that Woodhouse's toad is actually a Woodhouses? Arizona toad perhaps. That second Red-spotted has a pecularly round snout and elongated parotoid glands.

I'm fairly certain that's well outside of the range for arizona toads, and I'd ID it as a woodhouse's anyway even if it wasn't. As for the red-spotted toad you make a very good point - others have wondered before whether that might have been the result of some hybridization.

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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Tim Borski » August 21st, 2010, 1:03 pm

Great looking area! The Fremont people pics were very interesting.
Your Whitetail is actually a Mulie. (Maybe she lost part of her tail or you just couldn't see it.) The ears don't lie.
Thanks for sharing
Tim

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jonathan
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by jonathan » August 21st, 2010, 1:19 pm

Tim Borski wrote:Great looking area! The Fremont people pics were very interesting.
Yah - it was especially cool for us when we found them because we didn't know they'd be there. Those petroglyphs were 20+ feet up an unclimbable wall, though who knows what that river bottom looked like 1000 years ago. The cliff dwellings were around 100' up though. Even though it was climbable, that's quite a journey to get to and from your place. I guess they lived in really small family groups and so they stayed in isolated, relatively desolate places to keep safe from larger people groups.


Tim Borski wrote:Your Whitetail is actually a Mulie. (Maybe she lost part of her tail or you just couldn't see it.) The ears don't lie.
duh! Any idiot could tell that. :crazyeyes:

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ACK!
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by ACK! » August 21st, 2010, 2:45 pm

I can't get over the color of this Urosaurus:

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Your post makes me homesick- thanks for sharing!

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jonathan
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by jonathan » August 21st, 2010, 3:28 pm

I don't think that's even the most red one I saw....that was one of my ID issues. I'd never seen a tree lizard before, and even though it seemed like that was the closest match from my field guide, no field guide ever told me that they could be red.

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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Lizardman1988 » August 22nd, 2010, 11:45 am

jonathan wrote:I don't think that's even the most red one I saw....that was one of my ID issues. I'd never seen a tree lizard before, and even though it seemed like that was the closest match from my field guide, no field guide ever told me that they could be red.
That's something I run into in Utah a lot, lizards being colors they're not supposed to be. It made the ID of this Sagebrush lizard difficult for me.
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But this horned lizard was just downright cool.
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Awesome pictures, I really want to take a trip like that someday. Utah is definitely one awesome place.

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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Jeff Teel » August 22nd, 2010, 4:49 pm

Utah is awesome!. I have never seen pics of the red tree liz's, and that sgaebrush is insasne too!
Jeff

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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Flippin Idiot » August 23rd, 2010, 1:17 pm

Very nice post!

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croatrox
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by croatrox » August 23rd, 2010, 8:40 pm

Excellent post. Love the slot canyon shots!

RobK

Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by RobK » August 23rd, 2010, 8:59 pm

Southern UT, nothin' like it, that place is like another planet.
Great trip report.
If someone could just figure out how to transplant the herps from AZ & KS there.

-r

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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by TimCO » August 24th, 2010, 7:27 am

Love the slot canyons.

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occidentalis
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by occidentalis » August 28th, 2010, 9:44 pm

Any closer shots of the Crotaphytus? They look rather like C. bicinctores.

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jonathan
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by jonathan » August 28th, 2010, 9:54 pm

occidentalis wrote:Any closer shots of the Crotaphytus? They look rather like C. bicinctores.

No, unfortunately those shots were from the first trip (before I was herping systematically) and we're lucky that I took any shots at all. According to the range maps I've seen, it would be some 40-50 miles outside of the range for C. bicinctores. The coloration looked more like collaris than bicinctores to me as well, but perhaps the Utah bicinctores are different than the Cali ones that I'm used to.

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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Biker Dave » October 28th, 2010, 10:43 pm

If someone could just figure out how to transplant the herps from AZ & KS there.
I'd rather they transplant the scenery (and weather) of Utah down here to AZ!!!!

Dave Weber

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Lizardman1988
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Lizardman1988 » October 29th, 2010, 5:21 pm

jonathan wrote:
occidentalis wrote:Any closer shots of the Crotaphytus? They look rather like C. bicinctores.

No, unfortunately those shots were from the first trip (before I was herping systematically) and we're lucky that I took any shots at all. According to the range maps I've seen, it would be some 40-50 miles outside of the range for C. bicinctores. The coloration looked more like collaris than bicinctores to me as well, but perhaps the Utah bicinctores are different than the Cali ones that I'm used to.
I'm going to say that those are C. bicinctores. They've been popping up where they're not supposed to be all over eastern Utah. I think the area is just very poorly sampled scientifically.

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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by ThomWild » October 30th, 2010, 5:37 pm

I'm going to say that those are C. bicinctores. They've been popping up where they're not supposed to be all over eastern Utah. I think the area is just very poorly sampled scientifically.
I don't have any useful knowledge to add concerning the Crotaphytus but I can voucher for the fact that the area is poorly sampled and any range map used of the area should be referenced but not necessarily used as the deciding factor of species recognition.

-Thomas

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jonathan
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by jonathan » October 31st, 2010, 11:52 pm

I'm interested by the possibility that this could be C. bicinctores. I have heard from others that the sampling is poor there as well (that Canyon Treefrog was likely the first record from the area, and in my second trip I had my eye out for three other species that hadn't been recorded from there yet). Unfortunately I doubt that the picture is good enough to make a definitive ID, but can anyone say exactly why they think it is bicinctores?

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Lizardman1988
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Lizardman1988 » November 4th, 2010, 1:54 am

Just a quick comparison, since I have to go to work in a minute, but notice the pattern differences between the two species. Your observed specimens have a yellowish wash on the hindlimbs and tail, just like most of the C. bicinctores I've seen. C. collaris have quite a few other background colors other than tan as well.

C. bicinctores
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C. collaris
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I'll upload some better pictures later.

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Jeremy Westerman
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Jeremy Westerman » January 20th, 2011, 8:37 am

Looks like a good trip for sure. I need to backpack more in the desert, mostly its weekend trips there and weeklongs in the mountains

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Jeremy Westerman
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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Jeremy Westerman » February 9th, 2011, 2:55 pm

Have my backpacking trip set for the Barrier Creek Drainage in the middle of May then the four corners survey at the end of May. I'm stoked to say the least. I can't wait for some Southern Utah Desert trips. May seems far away.

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Re: Backpacking in Southern Utah

Post by Ross Padilla » February 15th, 2011, 12:09 am

Great post, Jonathan! I've never seen shots like this from southern Utah. Those canyons are absolutely amazing! :thumb:

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