Exploring the harsh beauty in the desert southwest US is not only fun and exciting, but it can also bring its share of challenges, as well as hazards which aren’t always in plain sight. Monsoonal rains and flash floods are a given, during the latter part of the year, however, it’s what lies on the ground that isn’t always obvious. Anything from cactus needles protruding from a dead plant, to snakes and scorpions. Unfortunately, the latter is a little harder to spot. Most scorpions tend to be a bit small, and blend in with their surroundings. Also, they don’t make any sound while scurrying about. Rattlesnakes are a little more noticeable. They will more than likely let you know they are there, when you start to get a little too close by rattling their tails. Your best bet would be to slowly back away from it, and find another path to follow. Scorpions are a bit easier to get away from, when you spot one. Just simply walk walk on by. If, however, you are bitten or stung by either of these creatures, seek immediate medical attention. Like most remote areas, cellphone service is spotty, at best. If you are close to a town of any size, and no medical services are available, head to the local police or fire department and they will get help for you. One of the other hazards of the desert is the heat. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be deadly, if not treated quickly. Always make sure you carry plenty of water with you, when exploring the open spaces. Also, make sure you have at least a minimal first aid kit with you, in case you get a little scratched-up or scraped by anything. This is by no means professional medical advice, but just some guidelines to go by when you’re investigating new territory. Most experienced hikers are usually prepared for most of the little things that they may encounter. That being said, go out…have fun…go exploring places you’ve never been. Oh, make sure you have your camera with you! Happy trails!