You are here

I would do anything for food... but I won’t eat that.

Pacific Crest Trail Progress:

Total Distance Traveled: 500 Miles

Total Time on Trail: 31 Days

Trail Tales

The days are getting longer and hotter here in the desert of southern California . But we are now almost finished with this part of the trail! This week we made it to the 500 mile mark!
Recently we’ve noticed lots more desert horned lizards. They are so well camouflaged that you can’t see them until they move out of the way! One hiker picked one of them up and learned all about the lizard’s interesting way of defending itself. Learn more below! Hiking in the evenings is a good way to avoid the heat. It’s also a good time to spot coyotes. We have been lucky enough to see two of them this week! One more week in the desert to go. Wish us luck!

          – Wampus Cat and Zen

Wild Things of the PCT

HORNED LIZARDS (Phrynosoma spp.)

Horned lizard, Southern California. Photo by Gavin “Zen” Morris.

Horned lizard, Southern California. Photo by Gavin “Zen” Morris.

Can you spot the horned lizard in each picture?

  • Referred to (incorrectly) as “horny toads”
  • Variety of colors to match their environment: black on dark lava flows, and rufous (reddish), brown, gray or nearly white depending on the color of the soil where they live
  • Feed on ants and other insects, spiders, and sometimes berries and other plant materialsSome species can squirt blood from their eyes, to a distance of several feet, which repels predators like coyotes and foxes
  • Some species can squirt blood from their eyes, to a distance of several feet, which repels predators like coyotes and foxes

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign..

“Sign” is a term which refers to that evidence found of an animal, for example scat (droppings), tracks (footprints), burrows, etc. that can sometimes be used to identify the animal who likely left it there.

Do you hear what I hear??

COYOTE (Canis latrans)

  • Although all canines, including wolves and foxes, have 5 toes on the front foot and 4 toes on the back foot, however ALL tracks are 4-toed, because the 5th toes of the front feet are not used to bear weight.
  • Coyote tracks are very similar to those domestic dogs, but leave prints that are more pointed in overall appearance, and are usually about 1.75-2 inches wide. How do you know if those prints in the mud belong to a dog or coyote? Click here for pictures and more information

Next Week’s Adventure

Join Wampus Cat and Zen as they travel further along the Pacific Crest Trail. Next week, they will be crossing the San Andreas Fault Zone, and hiking through the western arm of the Mojave Desert.

Check out next week’s “Wild Things”, featuring the Desert Pupfish, which survives the extreme conditions of the Mojave Desert!

Trail Thoughts

In what are some other ways that animals avoid being seen (camouflage) in their environment? Can you think of any examples?

Have you ever heard coyotes howling in the wild? Where were you? Did they sound close to you or far away?

strong>More, Please!

Are you curious about what it’s like to hike along the Pacific Crest Trail? Would you like to know more about the different plants and animals they encounter? Feel free post any comments or questions about today’s post!

“A desert is a place without expectation.” - Nadine Gordimer


Add new comment

User login

Featured Contributor

Climbers & Bats GCRT

This research team creates a working group of rock climbing interest groups, CSU biologists and human dimension specialists, and CSU students to strategically collect information on bat roost locations and share bat conservation information with the climbing community. View details of their GCRT here and their blog entry here.

Recent Comments

Join the Conversation