Leaving Mike’s Place we hiked up the trail and met up with some good friends that we made in the past, Nick and Amber. Nick and Amber are both married, both teachers at the same Phoenix charter school, and are both really cool people. I enjoyed their Midwest rooted conversations, having been living in Des Moines the past 15 months myself. Kelsey, myself, Nick and Amber all hiked together for a while as we descended back down to the desert floor. At one point Nick and Amber mentioned that they were still yet to see a rattle-snake, and that they were both really wanting to see one. Having already seen a handful of them I told them that if they wish to see one that they should probably stick next to me as I am a rattle-snake magnet. Literally five minutes later I see a black snake slithering on the side of the trail, and as I led the pack I pointed out the snake. Yelling, “Hey guys . . do you see this!??!” I ran up towards the snake as it entered a bush on the side of the trail. As I ran up to point out the snake I noticed at the very last second that on the other side of this trail side bush lay a good-sized rattle-snake. I screamed, “SNAAAAAAAAKE!!!” One more step and I would have surely stepped on it, I leapt back in terror and ran straight into Kelsey. All fear-talk aside Nick and Amber finally got their wish, at my dismay.
Later on that day Kelsey and I strayed off for a while and found ourselves a few miles behind Nick and Amber. We cruised around the seemingly unremarkable stretch for a while until we came upon a rather large spider in the middle of the trail. My first thoughts were that the spider wasn’t moving, and something was dancing around it. I quickly realized that it was a tarantula, and that the thing dancing around it was a big wasp. A few moments later I realized that the wasp dancing around the tarantula was none other that the infamous tarantula hawk. The tarantula hawk derives its name from how it lays its eggs – it hunts down tarantulas and stings and paralyzes the spider. It then will drag the spider away and lay a single egg in the spiders abdomen. When the egg hatches the newly hatched wasp will eat the spider from the inside, avoiding the spiders vital organs to keep it alive as long as possible. If this doesn’t scare the living bejesus out of you I honestly do not know what will. So, when I had realized exactly what I just walked up to, the only sensible thing to do was to bust out my GoPro and get to filming. The wasp had already paralyzed this victim, and I got to witness it grab the spider and eerily drag him off the side of the trail. Yes, it was a creepy/awesome/sleep-losing sight to see. “I slept like a baby after witnessing the tarantula hawk in action.” – Said nobody, ever.