Snakes in the trail… I expect to see them on the rocky sections of the trail sunning themselves in the afternoon. It seems, however, that the snakes in the trail are the morning surprises that are testing whether or not I’m actually awake. The snake in the photo above I came across in the middle of the trail (before 8 am). It startled me, but wasn’t moving. After I got over the shock of the size of it, I looked at it a bit more closely. It’s head was buried in the dirt and it clearly had some injuries. I figured it was probably a copperhead and either dead or almost dead. In case it was almost dead, and very angry about it, I stepped around it carefully and kept walking.
Talking to folks on the trail later that day I got the full story of that particular snake in the trail. Apparently it was a timber rattler that had crawled under a hikers pack and coiled there. All coiled and rattling away, it wasn’t going to move. The hiker decided his only choice was to spear it with his hiking poles and kill it. He succeeded and survived and took the rattlers 11 rattles as a souvenir.
This morning when I was talking to the guy that I shared the shelter with he assured me he wasn’t the one that killed it. “Them snakes make good eatin’. If I’da killed it, there’d a been nothin’ left there ceptin’ the head.” I have to admit when I walked by it my second or maybe third thought was that if it were dead it was an awful waste of meat and a pretty snakeskin someone could have made boots out of.
This morning at around 8, I met another snake on the trail. It was very much alive and stretched across the entire trail. I looked at it and made some noise hoping it would move along. It looked at me… And didn’t move. That snake was quite sure that it owned the trail. There wasn’t anything I could do to change it’s mind. The trail there was on a fairly steep slope. I looked at the snake again… Probably not poisonous I thought… It kept staring at me. Fine! It won, I gave in and trudged onto the slope below the snake and gave it it’s space. It was there first after all.
I’ve seen a total of six snakes on the trail now, most of which have scurried along as I approached.