THAT’S NOT A STICK! THAT’S A RATTLESNAKE!

BOMMER RIDGE-OLD EMERALD AND OLD EMERALD CANYON TRAILS LOOP

LAGUNA COAST WILDERNESS

Activity: Day Hike

7 miles, 912’ elevation gain, 3.5 hour duration, rated Moderate

Date: 8-17-20

I was enjoying a lovely Summer hike in the South Coast Wilderness, which is made up of multiple County and State Parks. This is my go to area that is close to where I live and a splendid place to hike.

I was walking along looking at my phone and reviewing the course that I was taking on my Hiking APP. Yes, I know that is a good way to trip, fall, walk of a cliff, into quicksand, a bear trap, a ravine or any number of bad predicaments. Add another to that list… I look down, half paying attention and I am about to step on what looks like a stick stretched out across my path. Suddenly I realize THAT’S NOT A STICK! THAT’S A RATTLESNAKE!  I alerted some approaching mountain bikers and we watched the poisonous viper slither off into the underbrush. 

Being an Adventure Blogger I have now run into numerous venomous vipers and this was a big’n! Thank goodness I looked down when I did and that I was at least paying half attention.

I have learned from some research that Rattlesnakes maybe vicious mindless killers, but that is towards their prey, and they want nothing to do with man. They aren’t lying in wait to attack you and they don’t hunt or chase after you. What you do not want to do with any wild animal is corner or threaten it, because that is when you might find that you have more on your hands then you bargained for. Most snakebites happen when a person is going after the snake, which could include a snake handler. Also snakebites can occur when a person has accidentally stepped on it. The snake I saw was big, but actually the younger, smaller rattlesnakes are the most deadly. This might seem surprising, but the truth of the matter is the juveniles do not know how much venom to use so they use it all. The adult snake has learned to use just enough to get the job done and not waste it’s resources. 

The rattlesnake may or may not alert you to it’s presence with that famous rattle. If you hear that rattle then it is probably in a coiled, striking position. But like I said it may not even rattle. A seminar I attended said that this trait of rattling maybe getting engineered out of their bein. A snake rattling maybe attacked and killed by a farmer where if it did not rattle then they may never know that they are in the area.  The rattler gets killed, but the silent snake lives on and reproduces. That is called natural selection. It hardly seems fair, that the snake doesn’t warn you.

The first big rattlesnake I saw was in Las Vegas. I had a pretty good idea where on the trail it was after I heard screams and I could see up on the mountain where the hikers were fleeing. Even after the report from the hikers as well as tossing stones into the brush did not get the snake to rattle. Plus it blended in perfectly with the bush it was under which was basically right on the tiny trail. I did not see it until it was within striking distance and it scared the living daylights out of me, no rattle, no warning, but thankfully no strike.

If you are wondering if it might be snake season a rule of thumb to whether snakes maybe out is if you see lizards on the trail then the snakes are active as well. Snakes are cold blooded so at temperatures below 60 degrees they are slow and temperatures above 95 could kill them. They are most active in Spring and Fall and during the morning and evening. In the Summer during the heat of the day they would rather find a cool spot such as underground. So pay attention, watch where you step, where you sit, and where you put your hands. 

Back to the hike. As I have said in the past, the great thing about hiking this area is there are a lot of trails so that you can piece together the type of hike that you are up for that day. Today’s hike was moderate in length, elevation gain, and exercise. It provided great views of the surrounding terrain that included the hills and canyons of Laguna Coast Wilderness as well as Crystal Cove State Park, the mountains off in the distance and the blue tranquil Pacific down below. Great place to hike, keep an eye peeled for snakes.

Besides almost becoming a victim the other thing that stood out about this adventure was I met a young mountain biker and his Dad on a steep section of the trail. They were enjoying their day together out tackling the rolling hills of Laguna Coast Wilderness. The 10 year old boy was doing a great job. This was his last hoorah before having to buckle down and hit the books again as he began the 5th Grade. Good stuff! Good day.

Checkout the video of the Rattler that I almost stepped on.
Look how when it is not moving it resembles the nearby stick. But “That is No Stick! That’s a Rattlesnake!
“Everyone knew that you should never provoke a Rattlesnake, must less tie it in a bow. But that didn’t stop Judd. What did stop him was the rattlesnake.” – Demetri Martin

When I said that ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ was about profound experiences in nature having a close call with a deadly rattlesnake is not exactly what I had in mind. This is just a reminder that no matter how much we love nature, it does not mean that nature is going to love us back. When you are out in the wilderness, just like navigating life, you need to be aware, and with that awareness you can enjoy your experience in nature more safely and find that balance between our busy, crazy, hurry up existence and offset that with the beauty and adventure of nature. For more adventure and profound experiences join me right here by leaving a LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. For more spots to choose from please check out the menu above for many more outings throughout the West. Each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Why not pick up some top quality Adventure Wear with the PBTA logo at SHOP APPAREL?

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

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