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Nov. 01, 2008 - Tarantula Round Up at Bluffington Pockets

Tarantula Round-up at Bluffington Pockets

It's mating season for Tarantulas in the Desert Southwest. We've camped in this location many times and never saw a single tarantula. This mating season, it seemed we had to watch were we stepped. There were more of these large arachnids marching about than I could have imagined. It's amazing how much life and how much more unseen life is in the desert. It may be an inhospitable, dry environment but it is certainly a place where life finds a way to thrive, albeit on the edge.

Most of the photographs taken at Cave Rock in Bluffington Pockets, off of the Bitter Springs Backcountry Byway, are of males seeking amorous females. This photo set is comprised of five or six tarantulas. Some photos are taken in early morning, late afternoon, and at night (flash photography). These are truly beautiful creatures. I get the willies over encounters with smaller spiders but these larger guys, for some reason, don't provoke such feelings. An interesting fact about tarantulas is that their legs function using hydrolics rather than muscles as in higher order animals. A dehydrated tarantula cannot move. Many belive that tarantulas are highly poisonous. They're not. They are docile creatures who would rather avoid an encounter with you. A bite from a tarantula will deliver less venim than a small bee sting.

Image #94 is my having some fun with Photoshop. It is a tradition for us to "stage" photographs that are a comic look at our experiences. In this photograph, we looked at several tarantula photogaphs, figured out the sun angles and the angle of the spider. My wife then sat on a small step ladder, which was later removed and her image transposed on top of the spider. All good fun!

Later in the photo set is our exploration of the Colorock Quarry, an old abandoned sandstone mine. The road up to the old mine house is rough and suitable only for high-clearance / high traction vehicles. Coming up the steep incline to the old mine house, we hit soft sand and dug in with all four wheels. While we have a locking CDL and front and rear diff locks, it did no good in the steep sand. I had to winch up the last 20 feet. I wrapped a tow strap around the window and door of the house and used it as an anchor point for my winch cable.

The ampitheature like sandstone upcropping adjacent to Colorock Quarry was beautiful beyond words. We got there late in the day (just before sun set). We will definitely be back to camp and explore this area of Bluffington Pockets. I'm thinking we might head out there and set up camp for the Leonid meteor shower in November.