Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not for the faint of heart


(From "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 1")

On Sunday before heading home from our camping weekend in Shenandoah National Park, we wanted to squeeze in a short hike. We drove about a half mile north from Matthews Arm Campground to an overlook called Rattlesnake Point, where Curly and I could pick up the Appalachian Trail. Joe then drove a couple miles south to a wayside called Elkwallow, and he, Larry, and Curly hiked along the AT as well, and we would all meet in the middle. (Click here to see a map.)

A little way down the trail we came upon one of several places where the trail intersects with a fire road. Just past the crossing point, I spotted a HUGE snake in the middle of the trail. We immediately froze, and Curly exclaimed, "It's a copperhead!" I got out my phone and texted Joe: "Copperhead on trail." Of course, there is no cell phone coverage in Shenandoah--at least not where we were--and I got a "Message Not Sent" alert. Great.

Then the snake began to move, and I could see its diamond-shaped head, and a distinct rattle on the end of its tail. I texted Joe again (as if he would get it this time): "Not copperhead. Rattlesnake. Thinking of turning back."

"Message not sent."

So we waited. The snake moved some more, wrapping its jaws more securely around the little rabbit it had most certainly just killed. It slowly dragged its prize off the trail, into the shadows under the base of a tree. Finally we heard voices down the path that we recognized. "RATTLESNAKE!" I yelled. The voices got closer. "RATTLESNAKE!" When Joe and the boys rounded a bend, they were walking more quickly toward us than I would have liked.


Finally they stopped, and of course Moe wanted to come closer to get a better look at it. (Fortunately he listened to reason.) I asked Joe if he thought we should all just walk back the way we came from and he could pick us up again at Rattlesnake Point (fitting title, don't you think?) He said the snake wouldn't bother us since it was busy eating. Reluctantly I tiptoed across the intersection and skirted our friend, keeping as much distance as I could, and Curly followed. Joe was right, the rattler didn't seem to notice us. We stood and looked at it for a minute or two longer, and went on our way. We met a few hikers coming the other direction and warned them about what we had seen. Fortunately I haven't heard anything on the news about anyone suffering any fatal snake bites in Shenandoah National Park this past weekend.

Look what Moe found along the trail.

I found it by the sink in the bathroom yesterday. Apparently he's been carrying it around with him.

And do you see what he found in the backyard on Thursday?

I had just picked the boys up from nature camp, and five minutes after we returned home he came running in the house with it hollering, "I caught a worm snake!! Quick, Mom! Get me a container!!"

"GET THAT OUT OF MY HOUSE!! Go outside and I'll bring you one."

"OK, but make sure you poke some breathing holes in it!!"

The things I'm willing to do for my kids. He eventually found a bigger container, put a couple of rocks and sticks in it, and took it to camp to show his friends on Friday.

And guess what Curly and Moe studied at their nature camp last week.

(Worm Snake)
Snakes are kinda cool in a creepy sort of way, I have to admit.

Check Small Things to see what Ginny's kids found in THEIR backyard last week.

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