Author Topic: September temperatures in the southwestern low desert, Southern Tier  (Read 1951 times)

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Offline Glamis Sand Dunes support

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Finally! After brutal heat May, June, July, August and the first 2 weeks of September, I can report that we are projected to have our early morning cool hours of travel for cyclists passing on the Southern Tier between El Centro and Phoenix.
September 15th is a good average estimate to pass through the Arizona/California border without unbearable conditions.
Dawn is just before 5 am.
Traveling from 4 am to 11am is comfortable enough. The rest of the day will heat up until 7 pm.
The early morning temperatures have been in the high 70's.
By 10 am it is hot, upper 90's, possibly slipping into the low 100's until the end of the month or even
early October.
The monsoons are over. Perfect clear skies.
Rattlesnakes are still active and out on the roads especially in the dusk and nights.

See you in Palo Verde on the Colorado River.
Nancy's Bike Camp

Offline Glamis Sand Dunes support

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correction to dawn hour and more details about low desert Brawley / Palo Verde
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2013, 02:03:30 pm »
The actual sunrise is around 6:30 am.
Most cyclists who cross the long desolate 68 mile stretch of the ST low desert between Brawley and Palo Verde depart as early as 4 am to arrive in Palo Verde before noon.
September 18 still seeing 102 temperatures by noon continuing all afternoon to sunset.

27 miles traveling east on Hwy 78 from Brawley you will find Glamis at the end of a 5 mile crossing of immense sand dune desert.
Glamis  is not a town, it is a convenience store that opens at 7 am and closes at 1 pm during summer hours.
It begins to stay open later to 5 pm in mid October.
There is a large front porch with picnic tables and a shading roof. But no water available after closing hours.

AVOID Hwy 78 between Brawley and Palo Verde on any 3 day weekend or holiday weekend as you will be "sharing" a narrow 2 lane road with no shoulders with thousands of Recreational Vehicles hauling sand dune buggies. Plus the usual semi truck traffic. Forget this passage on weekends in the winter.

West of Glamis on Hwy 78 is a roller coaster, 2 lane with no shoulders with low visibility due to the deep dips and sharply rising hills. Your Adventure Cycling map illustration does not aptly reveal this 30 mile roller coaster.

Further down Hwy 78 about 15 miles or so is the border patrol station that offers a bit of shade. If you are not a US citizen they may ask for your passport. In an emergency, they can provide water.

I have seen many a cyclist huddling under a creosote bush, overcome with the sun and heat between the months of May to mid October. It is a challenging passage and very easy to underestimate the amount of water and electrolytes needed to stay alert. About half of the cyclists that I stop to inquire their status or those who I host have run out of water during the summer months ( May 1 to October 15).

The desert is vast and mesmerizing, peaceful and quieting. Cross during the early morning hours from May to October.

See you in Palo Verde on the Colorado River!
Nancy

Offline cheesehawk

Re: September temperatures in the southwestern low desert, Southern Tier
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 01:29:34 pm »
Hate to be a wimpy mid-westerner, but I'd appreciate a little education on the snake issue.

1) If I'm riding in your area between November and March, are they hibernating?
2) I'm likely to see them on the road when the temperature is over/under X?
3) I see a snake on or beside the road that is not moving. There is a car coming in my lane behind me. Do I: (a) hold my line and ride as fast as I can, either it is dead or it won't realize I'm there until I'm gone; (b) stop my bike, wait for the car to pass, and then ride as far away from the snake as safely possible; or (c) carry a pistol loaded with snake shot.
4) I'm camping at night in your area. I should always do X and I should never do Y.

Thanks for playing along with me.  ;D

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snakes on the road
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 11:48:01 pm »
Dear wimpy mid-westerner, here is a little education on the snake issue.
This covers California to Texas. Any desert, high or low.
1) If I'm riding in your area between November and March, are they hibernating?
Cool weather slows the reptiles responses but they still get mad.  Hibernating is most likely but never a 100 percent guarantee. If it rains in hibernating time, the snakes can be flooded for a few days out of their holes.
In the cool weather, they are looking for a warm spot, like you. Sleep in a tent with the zippers closed.
Rattlesnakes swim across the water if they need to.

2) I'm likely to see them on the road when the temperature is over/under X?
Daytimes, 80 degrees to 108 degrees- hungry and irritated from April to June,
Daytimes, 106 to 126 degrees - lazy and fed  June to October.
Nighttimes, 70 to 110 degrees - hunting from dusk to dawn from April to October anywhere and everywhere.
Always! look at the ground and use a flashlight 4 to 12 feet ahead of where you are walking from dusk to dawn
Don't leave your hotel door or tent open for fresh air.

3) I see a snake on or beside the road that is not moving.
 There is a car coming in my lane behind me.
Do I:
 (a) hold my line and ride as fast as I can, either it is dead or it won't realize I'm there until I'm gone;
Snakes like to stretch out on the warmth of the asphalt in the evening,
they are not likely to be dead unless obviously squashed.
During the day they are on their way to cross the road.
Do not ride over them or next to them. Although you could probably get away with zooming by in a quick last minute desperation if they are not coiled. If they are coiled, they strike lightening quick more than once, the distance of the length of their body but you don't have time to figure that out. 
It is unlikely you will see a snake on the side of the road due to their camouflage. Give it a 7 foot space if you do see one on the side of the road. Give it space and time as they exit slowly. Usually with their rattles up in the air. Don't mess with em.

(b) stop my bike, wait for the car to pass, and then ride as far away from the snake as safely possible.
Pull over and let the car run over it first. A dead snake can still strike and deliver poison for 12 hours after death. Never approach a dead rattlesnake. Even a decapitated rattlesnake can strike. Seen it with my own eyes.

(c) carry a pistol loaded with snake shot.
Use a pistol only if a rattlesnake invades your camping area.
There is no reason to shoot one on a road as you pass by, cowboy.
 
4) I'm camping at night in your area.
I should always
Stay out of the dry washes for camping.
Listen for the snake's warning.....it sounds like a loud water pipe bursting with water. Shhshshshshhsh!!!
Always have a strong flashlight to observe the ground from dusk to dawn.
Always keep your eyes on the ground scanning back and forth 3 to 12 feet ahead of your feet.
Have a back up plan for emergency exits to a hospital in case someone is bit. Anti venom treatment is very very expensive.
In September, the newly hatched baby rattlesnakes around 5 inches long are active. Their bite delivers massive amounts of poison into you. Go to a hospital. Empty your bank account if you don't have health insurance.
Zip up your tent.
Keep your stuff off the ground so a scorpion doesn't crawl in or a snake under it.

I should never do
Don't poke around under logs or rocks or heavy brush.
Don't climb up steep terrain where a rattlesnake is the same level as your face or hands.
They like to hide in the cool shade under a rock ledge in the heat
or lay on top of a rock for sun on a cooling day. They will strike your hand or face as you climb up to their level.
Never leave a door or tent open.
Never camp without a tent.
Never forget to look at the ground day and night from April to November.
Cyclists normally travel without children or pets. They are more susceptible to approach a snake.
Never be afraid of the desert just be smart and sensible.

See you on the Colorado River in Palo Verde!
Nancy

Offline cheesehawk

Re: September temperatures in the southwestern low desert, Southern Tier
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2013, 07:46:05 pm »
Thanks for the solid reply! So much of the advice on this topic is directed at hikers or campers. Also, so many people say, "just use common sense" and stop there. Common sense works better with a little information. BTW I was joking about the pistol, but it's interesting that you said to save it for the campground. When I did the UGRR a few years ago I rode past/over numerous dead snakes, but only saw a few live ones. None were poisonous, all were moving away from me as fast as they could. I take it from the "mad" comment and the comments about seeking warmth and "invading" my campsite that I can assume that at least some rattlesnakes in your area will not be looking to just flee.

Offline Glamis Sand Dunes support

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mad snakes
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2013, 10:04:48 pm »
Thank you for suggesting such a real life discussion of life in the desert.
I live in a very remote location on Hwy 78 on the Colorado River bisecting California and Arizona, hosting cyclists on the ST several times a week. Passing through the desert is sort of a blissful ignorance for most.
The unknowns are far greater than the knowns.
Thus hosts for ACA cyclists are great sources of the "knowns" beyond the map.

Mad snakes are the ones like any hibernating mammal or reptile, they emerge groggy, hungry and easily irritated. Ready to coil, ready to strike, ask questions later.

A rattlesnake in camp is a threat to life and limb. So one could depart and camp elsewhere, or ask a ranger to dispense with it or if you are in the outback, a pistol with snake shot can be a choice. A pistol always comes along with its own risks, perhaps risks more common than a rattlesnake encounter.

It always important to study up to identify any reptile encounter. In addition to 4 different marked and colored rattlesnakes, there are gopher snakes and king snakes which are keep the rattlesnakes out of the immediate area, so those are not to be harmed or driven out.

Hope this helpful to all.
See you in Palo Verde on the Colorado River!
Nancy

Offline cheesehawk

Re: September temperatures in the southwestern low desert, Southern Tier
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2013, 03:03:06 pm »
Let me throw out two more questions.

1) I'm biking and see a snake streched across my lane. Do I just sit there and wait for it to get tired of sunbathing, or do I do anything to encourage movement (e.g. roll a rock), or do I pass it on the non-biting end, or none of the above?

2) I'm in camp and  I hear the buzz. I look down and see a coiled snake three feet away. Do I freeze until it backs away, or do I leap backwards as quick as I can, or none of the above?

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Snake across the road, ect.
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2013, 11:17:15 am »
Hey Cheesehawk, more good questions.

1) I'm biking and see a snake streched across my lane. Do I just sit there and wait for it to get tired of sunbathing, or do I do anything to encourage movement (e.g. roll a rock), or do I pass it on the non-biting end, or none of the above?

Most snakes are on their way somewhere. So generally, slow down and stop 10 feet away and let them cross.
There are racers which will quickly be on their way, or the king snakes, rattlers or gophers will will move along at a slow pace sort of watching you as they head across the road. A rattler, long and low to the ground, has his tail up as he moves away.

If you need to pass quickly, say on a downhill at the last minute, yeah, head to pass at the tail end if you have enough space.  3 to 4 feet. A rattler must coil to lift to strike. 

In the cooling nights, snakes do like to stretch across an asphalt pavement to warm their body in the dusk and dawn hours. Generally as you approach they will move along, give them a minute to see what their plans are. A rattler is most likely to respond with coiling if you disturb it. This is the perfect opportunity to cool your jets, observe the rattler in their magnificence, note the markings for looking up in your snake book later to identify it.  Get out your flashlight, the light may be enough to move them off the road.
Rather than rolling a rock towards them, roll a rock or drop a rock next to you to make noise that is not directly pushing their buttons.
If it is a green racer, some may surprise the heck out of you and respond aggressively by coming after you!
It has been told of two legged quick exits!

2) I'm in camp and  I hear the buzz. I look down and see a coiled snake three feet away. Do I freeze until it backs away, or do I leap backwards as quick as I can, or none of the above?

If you are in rattlesnake country, get into the habit of carrying a long 5 to 6 feet light weight thin stick.
Carried out in front of you low to the ground.  Around corners where you can't see, you can lower the stick to the ground to make a scratching sound.
This stick has two functions. One, it will cause a nearby rattler that you may not or cannot see, to warn you of their presence before you step on it.  Second, if the rattler is coiled and you are within range of striking, the end of the stick can be played in front of the snake's head and it will strike at the stick while you back away. Even better if you paint the end of the stick white. Or stick a little something on the end.
Most ratters strike two or three times, and they are worn out from their own response to fear.

If you must to kill it, let it strike the end of your stick a few times, then kill it with a shovel whack to the head. Easier said than done, as our responses to snakes are deeply engrained. You will also be in fear mode.

No need to kill any snake in the wild unless it is the midst of your camp.
A rattler dead can still strike and deliver poison. Pin the head down with a forked stick or shovel, cut the head off. Move the head with the shovel into a place where no one can have contact with it.
The body will still be moving, have "hiding" responses and will strike without the head. Wierd, eh?

All my information is from living in the desert in a remote region. Nothing official or scientific.
Truth is stranger than fiction or facts.

Offline Glamis Sand Dunes support

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End of September temperatures in the southwestern low desert, Southern Tier
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2013, 11:21:09 am »
It has cooled considerably at night to the mid 60's in the early morning hours.
With the cooling trend after our monsoons, have come the winds. Changing directions unpredictably.
Best to travel in the morning 6 to 11:30 am, as the winds, for sure, are up and at 'em by noon.
Mid 90's in the day from noon to 6 pm.