Marietta College Biology Environmental Science


New Mexico / Texas Field Trip

Summer, 2010


We left Marietta the day after graduation - a total of 16 students and 4 faculty members. The students were from Biology, Environmental Science, Physics, Geology and Petroleum Engineering; the faculty from Biology/Environmental Science and Geology.

Dr. Dave Jeffery of the Geology department checks out the egg supply - looks good! Glad we saved them from the Utah trip in 2008! Below - Picnic on the road - no eggs.

Rice Fields in Arkansas

Our first "real" camp was in Texas - we stayed in a motel the night before as there were severe storms in Arkansas.

Fortunately the camp had plenty of wildlife.

This Western Diamondback Rattlesnake was curled up in a prickly pine across the lane from our campsite. It was not aggressive, and didn't rattle; apparently fewer and fewer rattlesnakes in Texas actually rattle when disturbed. In Texas, at least, a rattlesnake noticed is a rattlesnake killed.


Our next stop was at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, where we stayed several days. Dr. Jeffery had been a naturalist at this park.

Stream in McKittrick Canyon


Our campsite at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.




It was a tight fit for the tents!



Every night, a star would appear and come to rest over Derek. Fortunately, he didn't get a big head about it.

Roadside Geology. Will was our mobile traffic cone.

Roadside Botany.

Selenite, a clear mineral being quarried at a site we visited.

With more an more minerals and biological specimens being collected, space began to be a premium in the vans and trailer....


Next up was Carlsbad Caverns National Park. In addition to the caves, there were a lot of interesting plants to observe. We also watched the bats emerge from the cave at dusk, but photography is not permitted there.


Above: Stretching is important before spelunking!

Also a good idea to keep your shades on in the cave.

Lunch - it got a bit windy after this...

Parking Lot Tag.



After Guadalupe Mountains, we moved to the White Sands area, where we set up camp at the Valley of Fires. This was a great campsite maintained by the BLM. It is located on an old lava flow, visible in the background right behind the tents.


On one morning in July, 1945, these mountains would have been lit up by the light from the world's first atomic bomb instead of a wonderful sunset.



Hemostats - they're not just for surgery anymore.



As any faithful follower of our field trips know, we ALWAYS take along UV lights to look for scorpions:

This scorpion was one of many on the lava rocks near the campsite at Valley of Fires. The neat thing came up while looking for scorpions - we found out that the lichens on the rocks:

Also glowed under UV:


From Valley of Fires, we took several side trips, including one to White Sands.


Bleached Earless Lizards, adapted to the white sands.


We also took a leisurely stroll up Muleshoe Mound, outside Alamogordo on a cool May morning.


Looking towards White Sands from Muleshoe Mound.

Cactus spine through sole of boot = ouch!


Other pictures from the Alamogordo area:

Pistachio plantation.

Laundry day in Alamogordo

We take our food security seriously. All shopping carts were guarded from the stores to the vans.

From Valley of Fires we headed to Bandelier National Monument via Socorro, the VLA, and Santa Fe:

The Trinity site where the first atomic bomb was detonated.

Socorro, where this fragment from the Trinity site is on display. We ate lunch in the park in the town center.


The VLA - Very Large Array - a set of radio telescopes in a basin in the New Mexico desert. Did not see Jody Foster.

They get HBO in HD with this rig.

Derek stalking a jackrabbit.

Machine that moves the telescopes.

The IBA. The Itty-bitty Array.

Below: Santa Fe:


Our last camp was at Bandelier National Monument - site of cliff dwellings. We camped up on the same plateau as the Los Alamos lab, and at one point hiked down to the Rio Grande River.

Valle Grande - near our campsite, the site of a giant volcanic caldera, and a Subaru with a flat tire.

Forest fire near Los Alamos.

Looking over the Los Alamos Mesa to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Our camp was in the forest to the right of the road.


Darkling Beetle in defensive posture, releasing irritating chemicals.


Cottonwoods releasing seeds.


Hike to Rio Grande

Rio Grande

Above: An approximate profile of this hike. Basically, we hiked 5 miles in about 2 hours going down 1,000 feet in elevation (then coming back up)! Considering the amount of time I took taking pictures, the time I was walking I must have been doing a lot better than 2.5 mph. Not quite Rincon de la Vieja (4.6 miles up 2895 feet to 5386 feet (then back down), 3 hours, 40 minutes up, 6 hrs 25 minutes total.

Mule Deer near camp.


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