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Camp Out for Spider Lovers Only…Comanche National Grassland

  • Sep 28, 2013 · 9:30 AM
  • TBA

Camp Out for Spider Lovers Only…

(Ok if that is not a cool title for a campout … isn't it!???!)

Note: If interested.. go on the waiting list... I will add you when I send you some needed information and your reply is received.

Why:

Backpackers Magazine just had an article on Good Viewing of tarantulas and right here in our back yard: the Comanche National Grassland

Best Viewing of Tarantulas are from September into October- Morning and evening:

Who:

Don’t even think about signing up if you fear Spider or freak out about them…

I would like to have no more than 8 on this trip and no dogs (Rattle snakes in the area are a risk for them)

This is a suggested trip to see if there is interest in learning and observing these little guys search for their mates…  

When:

                                  Suggested days: (short, sweet and neat)

 Sept 28th (Sat.) set up camp about 1 in the afternoon

May do a afternoon hike – early dinner – then grab cameras, flashlights and day packs – and start our search for the spiders and other creatures of the evening…

Sept 29th (sun.) Up Early to look for them again at sunrise…and other fun animals….

Breakfast and head home (if anyone wants to stay longer or more days that is cool with me)

HOW MUCH:

COST – no fees

Dinner – kind of a planned pot luck – everyone brings something

Backpackers Magazine just had an article on Good Viewing of tarantulas and right here in our back yard: The Comanche National Grassland

Best Viewing of Tarantulas are from September into October- Morning and evening:

Tarantula's bite is not poisonous to humans. (In Oklahoma, I use to save them off the roads so they would not to get ran over…) They are interesting to watch and my main idea is to go shoot photos of them - 

Tarantulas comprise a group of often hairy and very large arachnids belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders, of which approximately 900 species have been identified. This article only describes members of Theraphosidae, although some other members of the same suborder are commonly referred to as "tarantulas".

See more information on Tarantulas at the bottom

 The Comanche National Grassland, located in Baca, Las Animas and Otero counties southeastern Colorado.  The total land area of the Grassland is approximately 443,784 acres.

The Comanche National Grassland was created in 1960 when the federal government placed the recovered lands of the dust bowl under the management of the USDA Forest Service.  The Comanche National Grassland is managed to conserve and utilize the natural resources of grass, water and wildlife habitat and to protect prehistoric and historic areas.

At a Glance

Fees  NO fee required.

Busiest Season:  Summer

Water: No Potable Water

Restroom:  Vault toilet

During the day we can do a few other hikes or just relax and wait for the spiders to come out….


The Comanche National Grasslands are located in the southeastern most part of Colorado's Eastern Plains.  (not your average Colorado Area…)

Understand

Colorado's National Grasslands are far off the beaten tourist track, usually not even on most travelers' lists of places to see. But for all that, the Comanche National Grassland has a lot to offer for wilderness backpacking, camping, and horseback-riding enthusiasts. There are a handful of great, well-marked canyon hikes, in addition to virtually limitless possibilities for off-the-trail wandering through the prairie.

Perhaps the number one reason to visit is for the sense of real isolation the grasslands offer. Anywhere else you go in Colorado, you'll be sharing the hiking trails with fellow travelers, but the grasslands offer memorable hikes where you can see in all directions straight to the horizon, with not a single sign of civilization visible.

The Comanche National Grassland is split into two main units, the Timpas Unit in the northwest, and the Carrizo Unit in the southeast along the Oklahoma border.

History

the first visitors to really leave their mark did so in the Jurassic Era. The Picketwire Canyon trail boasts the Purgatoire River dinosaur tracksite, the largest assemblage of dinosaur trackways in North America, which you can hike along (or in) for a long stretch of the trail.

But the Grasslands get their name from the Comanche Indians, who (along with the Arapaho and Kiowa peoples) lived and hunted in these parts before settlement by Europeans. The story of the Comanche Grasslands' inhabitants is older than these names, however, and it is written all over the canyon walls in the form of petroglyphs (in Picture Canyon, Carrizo Canyon, and Vogel Canyon) and the remains of prehistoric rock shelters (in Vogel Canyon). Not to be outdone by their prehistoric forebears, modern Americans have left their marks as well—wherever there is prehistoric art, you can expect that an appalling quantity of moronic name-scribbling will mar the visual experience. Oh well. Back to the history, though, the most intriguing prehistoric artifacts in Comanche adorn the walls of Crack Cave: rock carvings and glyphs that suggest astrological significance.

Early settlers rolled through a section of the Timpas Unit on the Santa Fe Trail. There's a marked 3 mile hike along the trail, where you can still see some old wagon ruts, by the Timpas Picnic Area. If you have a strong interest in the trail, definitely take a drive north to visit Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site up by La Junta.

Landscape

Grassland conjures up the image of endless seas of unbroken, flat prairie, with rarely an antelope to break the 360° panoramas of the earth's curvature. The Comanche offers plenty such landscapes, but that's not all there is to see. Big canyons cut across the Colorado southeast, especially near the New Mexican border. The popular canyon hikes run by interesting collections of mesas, spires, and hoodoo, with plenty of rock scrambling and even rock face climbing opportunities.

Flora and fauna

The principle game animals on Comanche include elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, dove, quail, and turkey. Bird watchers have about 235 different species to look for. Threatened species include the burrowing owl, massasauga, northern harrier, ferruginous hawk, mountain plover, long-billed curlew, loggerhead shrike, grasshopper sparrow, swift fox, black-tailed prairie dog, plains leopard frog, whooping crane, and the American bald eagle. And watch your step for rattlers!

Sensitive flora species include the Andean prairie clover, Colorado Springs evening-primrose, Colorado frasera, Raven Ridge false goldenweed, sandhill goosefoot, and wheel milkweed. Prickly pear and cholla cactus are all over the place, so watch where you're going and consider wearing tough foot and leg wear.

Climate

Because this area has sandy land and dry air, people are advised to have plenty of water with them at all times.


Comanche National Grassland in any form of transport other than a personal car, which will also be pretty necessary to get around to the various trailheads. The main route from Denver takes you through La Junta to the lonely and beautiful route CO-109 South.

Do not forget to load up on gas before coming out here! There are almost no commercial gas stations in the area (Springfield is probably the only option), and it is not unreasonable to expect go through more than a full tank of gas on a Comanche trip. Bringing spare gas is a basic safety measure.

Fees/Permits

There are not a lot of fees or permits required out in these parts. Despite this, however, the camping sites and hiking trails are clean and remarkably well looked after. No admissions, no camping fees.  

Get around

The dirt roads throughout Comanche are surprisingly well maintained, and should be perfectly accessible to low-clearance vehicles. You could get stuck in the mud during rain, though—it's a good idea to bring a shovel in your trunk just in case. The roads are unbelievably well marked with road signs too, so if you have good directions, you should be able to find your destination.

It's definitely worthwhile, in any case, to get an official grasslands map before heading out. The Grasslands are not solid blocks of territory, they are patchworks of public lands interspersed with private ranchlands, and it is best to stay aware of your location to avoid wandering on to someone's property. The official map is incredibly detailed, down to every last windmill and abandoned shack (although it stupidly leaves off the county road names), and is available for $10 from the US National Forest Store.

The canyon hikes are all well marked, so you shouldn't worry too much about getting lost on the trail, but if you plan to do serious off the trail wandering, a GPS (plus the official map) is a good idea. The grasslands can suddenly seem endless and they really are empty—you definitely will not run into people whom you can ask for directions.

Comanche isn't so much a sight-seeing destination, and the few "attractions" are right on the main hikes. Some of the most interesting things to see include the long set of dinosaur tracks on the Picket Canyon trail and the (sadly defaced) prehistoric rock drawings along the Picture Canyon and Vogel trails. Perhaps the most interesting attraction is Crack Cave, a small cave off the Picture Canyon trail full of prehistoric rock drawings and carvings of possible astronomical significance. But Crack Cave is fully sealed off unless you are on a guided tour during the equinox in March or September (call ahead for details).


Carrizo trails :Carrizo Canyon & Picture Canyon

Timpas trails : Apishapa Canyon & Picketwire Canyon

Vogel Canyon  Sierra Vista Trail   Withers Canyon

.  

Tarantulas on the crawl

Posted: Sep 26,[masked]:30 PM by Nicole Vandeputte 
9NEWS

This story will probably make your skin crawl. Tarantulas are on the prowl. If you live in Pueblo, Southeast Colorado, or Fremont County, you might have already seen one.

The males are looking for females to mate. So last week, we went out to find them. It only took a few minutes of driving around CSU Pueblo to spot one of the large hairy spiders. We spotted one just after 7 p.m. making his way across the road near the soccer field.

These male tarantulas are on an incredible journey right now in Southern Colorado. Moussa Diawara is a Biology Professor at CSU Pueblo. He says, "From late August to early October is the time when the males are out seeking the female to mate."

Diawara says these males have waited up to a decade for their one, and only, journey outside. He says, "They die a few weeks after they mate, for reasons we don't know exactly."

So, where can you find them? The prairie lands surrounding CSU Pueblo is a good start. They've been spotted on the football, soccer, and baseball fields. Baseball coach Stan Sanchez says they've even stopped games to let those guys cross the field. He says no one wanted to pick it up.

They even slowed construction of the football and baseball stadiums. In 2007, we were told they were coming out of the woodworks during the construction of the football stadium. Sanchez says it was the same in 1993 when they built the baseball field. He says, "We saw nothing but tarantulas coming down from moving dirt and laying cement, putting up lights, building a field, building a stadium. They're everywhere."

They'll make a tough man scream. James Vickers plays offensive tackle for the Thunderwolves. He's a junior, and a pretty big guy. He says, "Tarantulas, I'm running, I'm running."

Vickers has reason to be spooked. A senior used a tarantula to prank him last year. Vickers says the senior put the tarantula on his shoulder during practice. He says, "I don't even notice it's there so I go to put my helmet on and it pokes it's legs right through there and touches my ear and I threw it off. I thought it was fake so I went to touch it and it moved. I just took off, ran down the field and screamed."

So, don't feel too bad if the sight of it makes you scream like a 5 year old girl. But, Diawara says they're harmless. They generally don't bite, and if it does the venom won't hurt you. He says, "They don't hurt anybody. When you see one you should help him find his way around.

Yea, these poor guys days are numbered. You might as well help make their one outing a pleasant one.

If you weren't creeped out before here's a little note. Tarantulas like to come out at night when it's cooler, and they will go indoors to find a cool spot.


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