Park Ranger’s Orientation Gets My Attention At The Prime Desert Woodland Preserve In Lancaster, CA
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Travel Blogger
As Breeanna Cason, Park Ranger at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, CA, gave her pre-trail talk, I could not get my eyes off a wildlife tip glued to a cardboard display on a table.
It showed a drawing of a rattlesnake and stated: “STOP. LOOK. SLOWLY BACK AWAY. Watch Your Step.”
I could not help but think that if I encountered a rattlesnake on this 3-mile trail of a preserved desert in, well, the high desert that has native plants and animals, I would follow some of these instructions. But not all of them.
I would definitely stop. And I would indeed look and watch my step.
But I most certainly would not “slowly back away,” of course. Instead, I would do something more along these lines: scream “Oh my gosh – SNAKE!!!! It’s a RATTLESNAKE! RUN!!!”
Then I would high-tail it in the opposite direction, high-stepping to hopefully avoid any snips at my feet and leap into the arms of the first person I encountered on my retreat.
Rattlesnakes are, of course, just one of many dangerous and poisonous creatures that inhabit the high desert of the Antelope Valley and adjacent Mojave Desert.
Breeanna pointed out that at the preserve there are also coyotes and mentioned that baby snakes are more dangerous than the adults because they have the restlessness of a human 2-year-old and can’t do a “dry bite,” which is a bite without the venom.
Then the Cason went rolling along, explaining if you did get bitten by a snake that it’s important to not breath heavily because that speeds up affect the of the venom and to note the snake’s features so you can explain them to the doctor in order to get the correct anti-venom.
I believe all I would be able to tell a doctor would be “I don’t know – it was long, slithered, had fangs and struck with the speed of a freshman bolting to the keg at his first frat party!”
But that’s not all, for as Breeanna spoke, I noticed photos on a wall behind her of killer spiders, including a very menacing-looking Black Widow.
I began to wonder if I would get out the place alive!
Breeanna, in typical park ranger fashion, was simply telling her guests to be observant and to respect and not bother nature. As well as to stay on the trail (that’s one piece of instruction I was most definitely going to follow, and when we hit the trial, I made sure Breeanna went first, of course).
Frankly, there’s little danger of anything happening to anyone here. After all, people go to the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve all the time without incident. Locals frequently use it as a scenic and well-manicured walking and running trail.
The place even holds so-called moon walks, evening strolls which must be a spectacular site with all the stars one can see in the desert at night (these occur on Saturdays once a month from March thru December; the next ones are July 23, Aug. 27, Sept 17, Oct 22, Nov. 19 and Dec. 3).
As it turns out, the only wildlife we saw wasn’t too wild – just a couple of bunny rabbits. Not even a jackrabbit.
In a way, I was kind of hoping to see a spiderweb hanging in a tree with a huge Black Widow in the center looking at me as if to say “don’t even think of taking another step in this direction!” Or a rattlesnake off in the distance (a very safe distance) ready to lurch if one of us (hopefully my co-blogger) stuck one toe off the trail.
You know, close enough to feel being in danger without actually being in danger.
Still, I was happy to enjoy a pleasant walk among the scenic Joshua trees – which I learned are actually flowers and not trees – and other desert vegetation on a sunny and pleasant Saturday.
Then I went for lunch and craft beers on The BLVD. That was a far better way to spend the afternoon rather than racing to the hospital trying to frantically explain the detailed features of a snake to a doctor.
Prime Desert Woodland Preserve Location & Hours
Address: 43201 35th Street West (K-8 & 35th Street West)
Hours: 6 a.m.-sunset, 7 days a week. Intrepretive Center: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays.
Phone: (661) 723-6230
E-mail: [email protected]