Monday, August 11, 2008

Say Hello to my Little Friend!

Grumpy By the Side of the Road

While driving Highway 93 from Wells, Nevada to Idaho Falls, Idaho, on my way to Glacier National Park in Montana, I saw a rattlesnake about 2.5 to 3 feet long on the side of the road.  He was coiled up, confused by the passing cars.

I pulled over, crouched down a few feet way, snapped a few pictures, then I carefully picked him up with a hiking stick.

Free Ride

He completely ignored the hiking stick as I picked him up. As a pit viper with heat-seeking pits in his face, his attention was completely focused on the scary warm-blooded creature a few feet away. Apparently the pits are used more than his eyes, or sense of touch. Nothing else caught his attention.

Although he remained on guard the entire time, he never struck at me or the hiking stick, his interest in me was purely defensive.

My interest was in my camera, its settings, the composition, the hiking stick in my hand, and the agitated rattlesnake on the far end of it, while keeping it all steady. It was quite a handful, or two hands full!

I put him in some grass out in the sagebrush about 100 yards away from the road.  Hopefully he wouldn't head back in that direction, or if he did, it was late at night without the traffic.

You can see how well these snakes blend in with the grass and mixed sun and shade. The babies don't even have working rattles to warn you, which is why it's a good idea to wear boots and not place your hands and feet in places you can't see when travelling in snake country.

Dawn in Nevada, maybe 150 miles into the trip. By the time I stopped driving that night I was near the Idaho/Montana border, nearly 1000 miles from where I started the night before.

Along the way, I stopped to do a little fly fishing at the Nature Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve in Picabo, Idaho. It was a great way to stretch my legs on the long drive.