Fri 18 May 2007

Today I saw (and nearly stepped on) my first rattlesnake ever. Then I saw my second. Then I saw my third. I went out hiking after work with one of the people I’m currently staying with, who told me that before hiking with me he had only seen one rattlesnake in the three years he had lived in Yakima. And he has hiked a fair bit, so I guess I’m just lucky.

The first snake really caught me off guard because it began rattling at me about three feet in front of where I was headed. I’m glad the snake was paying attention or I very likely would’ve stepped right in the middle of its back. I yelped, jumped back, and frantically scrambled for the camera in my backpack while the snake slithered under a rock. Only got one mostly obscured shot, so I was a little bummed about that, until a few minutes later when we stumbled across another rattlesnake with a little more leeway this time.

The second snake was the biggest of the trio and didn’t seem too perturbed by our presence. He didn’t rattle much and slowly slithered into a bushy area that didn’t provide him with much cover. We snapped a few pictures here before continuing on up the slope a little more cautiously than when we started.

The third snake absolutely scared the living daylights out of me. This one was by far the most active of the three and gave a robust shake as we walked by just a few feet to the right. The snake actually was behind the guy I was hiking with and he jumped about six feet in the air while trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. I let out some choice words while also scanning the underbrush and scrambling backwards. We didn’t stay long with this snake, figuring we were starting to press our luck.

At this point I was getting awfully paranoid. I mean three rattlesnake sightings in one hike sure seems like a lot. I was reacting to moving twigs and giving wide berth to any potential snake cover.

As is well though. And in the end it made for animated conversation on the ride home.

Other than the repeat snake sighting it was a really neat hiking spot. Lots of outcroppings and fun ledges to climb. The air was smoky though, saturated by some nearby fire. Check out the haziness in the pictures to follow.

And the pictures you’ve all been waiting for I’m sure. Kind of blurry, I know. My low battery light on my camera was flashing and the snakes were moving and, hey, you try taking pictures of a poisonous snake from only a couple feet away.

I always like it when other people post pictures of their going-ons so thought I’d return the favor while I have pictures to post. Don’t know how long this trend will continue, but I’ll do my best while our transition period continues.

7 thoughts on “Fri 18 May 2007

  1. katohater

    three?! i’m never lucky enough to see even one. what time of day was it? looks like the sun was going down, which is when they usually go searching for little creature snacks.

  2. Josh Post author

    Three, yes, crazy and disconcerting. I always pictured rattlesnakes in the middle of some Arizonian desert, baking in the sun in plain view, not popping out from behind bushes on a rocky hillside in Washington. We hiked for a couple of hours until about 30 minutes before sunset, I’d guess.

    Mary, I found the nicest picnic spot. Figured we could lay out a blanket, relax, maybe take a little nap in the sun. So, does this mean I can buy a kayak? No rattlesnakes in the water.

  3. Jordan

    I’ve got you beat. I was hiking down a canyon last summer and was rattled at by at least 5 snakes. The person I was hiking with literally tripped over a rattlesnake and had it strike at her. Then we ran into a marijuana grove with fresh footprints around it (these are often booby-trapped or have armed guards). We were pretty happy to get out of there unscathed.

  4. Josh Post author

    That’s ridiculous. Why have I not heard this story before? These are things you should be writing about.

  5. joz

    Yikes! I’m with Mary on this one. What else lies in those hills? Is it bear country too? Can’t say you don’t lead an exciting life! (You either, Jord!) Like your photos–keep posting them.

  6. Josh Post author

    Actually, I think it’s cougar country out here, though I’m sure once you get inside the larger national parks there are some fun animals.

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