Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm stubborn this time of year about going out and seeing rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus). Partly this is because it's a great time to see baby rattlers (cute!), partly because the temperatures are falling and we know that reptile time is almost over. I might be snorkeling for turtles, but August and September's repeated soakings have kept our waters high and murky.

Last Sunday I went back to the site of timbers in the mist, and (to kill any suspense) I found pretty much nothing. This was one of those trips where I cover a LOT of ground, way down a ridge, and then working back, up and down the slope. If there had been a lot of rattlers out, I am confident I would have seen them (since I always assume I see at most half the rattlers that are out, maybe I missed a few).

Back at where in June I had chilled out on a talus slope above a basking timber, I found a shed skin. Here are some shots of the shed.

Here is a shot of that snake from June (from the other side of the slope; I photographed the shed from just on the other side of where the snake was sitting in this shot).

Now, here is a shot of the outcropping where I had seen three all piled up in June...

...and where I had seen the two hanging out in the fog a few weeks ago...

...and here a different angle:

There was no way I could photograph the enormity of this cliff from the base of the slope. A jumble of furniture-sized slabs preceded the cliff as I hiked up to the first of a series of fifteen foot rock faces. I would have needed to back up a hundred yards or so, but that would have put a hundred yards of forest between me and the base of the cliff, making for a shot basically of trees with a little rock poking through.

Did I try to climb it? Of course I did! With the angel on my shoulder shouting loudly into my ear about how bad an idea this was, I tried to reach the first ledge up. I small slip later and a glance down at the multi-ton slabs scattered below convinced me to give up and keep hiking.

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