One really fantastic weekend, a few years back, I had some girlfriends from college visit my hometown of Moab, Utah. I accidentally gave them a whole speech on desert science and why you shouldn’t step on Crypto-Biotic soil. They started calling me Ms. Frizzle (like from the Magic School Bus) for the rest of the weekend. I was not upset. So here’s Ms. Alyssa AKA Ms. Frizzle, at it again teaching you some desert ecology for your next trip.
Don’t Bust the Crust!
Ingrain that in your brain! Cryptobiotic Soil is one of the MOST important pieces of a desert landscape and most people don’t even see it. They step all over the sand and off the trails and crunch it to death.
Crypto soil is what makes the dirt stay in place from harsh winds in the desert landscape, as well as keep plants in tact with enough nutrients to survive long droughts.
If destroyed, Crypto Soil takes 5-7 years to even begin growing back, with another 50 years before it is as useful as it once was.
Here’s what it looks like, now stay off it!
Be Mindful of Flash Floods
Flash Floods can happen anywhere at anytime, however, there are even more dangerous in an environment that doesn’t see a lot of rain normally.
If the weather is predicting a rainstorm, even a small one, be ready.
- Get to higher ground
- Stay away from trees and rocks
- Park your vehicle and try to ride out the short storm
- Stay out of washes and low valleys
Flash Floods can happen just moments after rain drops fall. Don’t be caught in one!
Don’t Graffiti on the Sandstone
I’m not sure why some people think it’s cool to carve their name into rocks in nature, but it’s not. Ask yourself, would you spray paint your name on the side of a building? Then don’t carve it into rocks and ruin the view for everyone else! No one cares that Susie from 2016 was here. No one.
What to do if you Get Lost
First, try not to in the first place. Do this by being prepared. Always have a plan and make sure at least one person knows where you are going and for how long. Pack extra water, snacks and emergency supplies just in case.
If you do find yourself lost try these tips:
- Stop and observe your surroundings
- Try to retrace your steps
- Do not go off the trail if you are on one
- If you can call for help, stay put! Moving will make it very hard for rescuers to find you.
- Follow this mantra: Stop, Think, Observe and Plan!
Respect the Wildlife
It’s their world, not yours. Leave the lizards, mice, coyotes, deer and snakes alone. If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you!