Friday, June 11, 2010

Guy Smiley & the rattlesnake

A day or two out of Green Valley (Casa de Luna), Emily and I were hiking on the shoulder of a mountain.  We run into the human incarnation of Guy Smiley, dressed head to toe in khaki polypro.  He had a safari vibe--the broad brimmed hat, and coordinated shorts and shirt combination.  He saw us potential damsels in distress, and called out, "ladies, there's a snake!".  We pull up, and peer around the curve.  We see a small green rattlesnake coiled in the center of the trail.

The trail fell away steeply to the left and right.  Guy mentioned the rattlesnake had slid down the slope on to the trail, furiously rattling all the while.  He theorized that sliding down the slope had enraged the rattlesnake, who he kept calling "the little guy".  My rattlesnake experience has been limited*.  Guy Smiley decides to be gallant, and see if the rattlesnake is still angry.  The snake has been rattling the entire time we've been talking to Guy, so, yes, I think the snake is still angry.

Guy, grabs Emily's hiking pole, pokes at the snake, then jumps over it.  The snake jumps up at Guy, misses, and then falls, rattling and coiled in the trail.  Great.  We're here for another 20 minutes until the rattlesnake settles down.   I decide to walk a big circle around the snake, sliding down the hill, and I manage to pass both the snake and Guy who are locked in a mortal staredown. 

At this point, Emily still needs to pass, and Guy and the snake are still in between the both of us.  My preferred method of non-interaction definitely worked.  Emily was about to pass the snake, also by walking a big circle around it.  However, Guy decides to take matters into his own hands.

He takes Emily's hiking pole, and quickly flings the snake fifteen feet into a nearby tree.  (Emily:  It reminded me of pick up sticks).  I have never heard such rattling.  The rattlesnake was dangling from a tree, rattling its little heart out.  The sheer force of its rattling actually dislodged it from the tree, and it kept rattling.  I had a vision of the snake slithering up the hill towards us, so Emily and took off in the other direction.

Guy wanted to hike along, but we thought we were better off without his snake handling skills.

Moral of the story:  Kids, don't throw rattlesnakes into trees.  That only makes them angry. 

(Current rattlesnake training*:

- If you see a snake, walk a big circle around it
- If you get bitten, get help
- If you get bitten by a Mojave Green, pray for your loved ones; you have 30 minutes to live)

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