Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rattlesnake Tonto National Forest

On the hike to find the entrance to the Jug for our canyoneering trip inside Tonto National Forest we ran into a rattlesnake. The path was pretty good though the rattlesnake was hiding in some brush and rocks in the middle of the trail. The darn thing blended into the ground perfectly and scared the life out of me when I almost stepped on it. Yes, I was the lucky one who got to almost step on it. After reviewing the photos we took of it, the snake was a diamondback rattlesnake. You can tell this by the black and white stripes before the rattle.

After jumping back a few feet, the rattlesnake slithered over to the edge of the trail, and I thought he would just move on. He didn't. The diamondback coiled up in a defense posture ready to strike if we messed with him. I read after the event that this is common for diamondback rattlesnakes to defend their position. Lucky for us there hardly any room on the trail between the snake and the edge. Over the edge was exceptionally steep though I didn't want to fall off the edge about as much as I didn't want to get bitten. We got as far away from the rattlesnake as we could without falling off the ledge and scampered by. I have to admit I was quite nervous moving by him as I couldn't give as wide of a berth as I would like.

It isn't common to see diamondback rattlesnakes on groomed trails though it was early in the morning and we wanted to beat the heat. Which is what the rattlesnake was doing before going for shelter as the day would get to 105 degrees. The temperature felt great in the canyon.

After making our way through the Jug, having to walk back by the spot where we saw the rattlesnake was nerve racking. Your mind may know that at 105 degrees the snake should be long gone for cover and shake though that doesn't stop the emotion of still remembering on stepping on him fresh in your mind.

If you are in rattlesnake county I highly recommend always carrying a snake bite kit as you never know. Most snake bites come when people attempt to play with them or pick them up. So give them a wide berth and though your heart may skip a beat you should be fine to continue your trip.
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