Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rattlesnake No-No's in Corner Canyon

So, finally a warm day this month on my day off. Utah is famous for delayed spring or intermittent spring. I got up just after sunrise and started to get ready for the hike. My son woke up and wanted to come with me. He is seven. I usually don't take anyone with me because I can get into some crazy stuff sometimes. Taking one of my kids allows me to spend time with them and that is fun, but it does limit the hike. When my son and I got to the starting point of the hike, we looked around before just taking off. There is a creek that comes cascading out of granite rock formations that is totally awesome. The first part of the hike is through the rock formations. The horizontal morning sunlight was incredible the way it detailed the terrain (this happens nearly every day while I'm stuck at work). No artist could completely capture the way the vegetation just grows off ledges. The grain and angles of the rocks are pure sculpture. Most people that have lived in Utah for a while quit noticing this kind of beauty. I try not to let this happen.

We started up the canyon on the west side of the creek and within 15 minutes we came across a young Rattlesnake. It was about 17 inches long and probably 1.5 years old. This was a pretty little snake, but still a venomous snake. Also, all pit vipers are illegal to collect in Utah. We left it in the same spot and continued up the creek. About five minutes later we found another Great Basin Rattlesnake that was at the base of a huge boulder.

It was about 4 feet long and was thick. Just looking at the snake made us uncomfortable, because we were in an area where we had to place our hands and feet over and around rocks that could easily hide numerous snakes. I wanted to hear the snake's rattle so I got a stick and started to move the snake with it (note: this is stupid-never do it). It took a few minutes to get the snake irritated enough to rattle. When it did begin rattling, it sounded more like a buzz. At this point my son told me he wanted to go home. I told him to never go near a rattle snake. I know that I'm a bad example, but at least I didn't pick the snake up. My son told me that he was really scared and wanted to get out of there and I didn't realize that I was also a little scared until I took a couple steps back from the boulder and a sharp scrub brush stuck the back of my leg. I nearly jumped out of my pants. We left the area. On the way back, I caught a couple of Western Fence Lizards and Side-Blotched Lizards for my son. This made him feel a little better about the outing because he loves to hold lizards (we have had lizards as pets). When you turn the male lizards over on their backs, their bright blue bellies can be seen. I have no idea why so much color is hidden in a spot that is almost never seen. Fence lizards' backs are just gray or brown with arrow shaped patterns. One of the lizards was attempting to catch flies when I caught it, so I thought I would help it out and catch it a fly. It had its mouth open to bite me and I put the fly in it but it spit it out (ungrateful reptile). After messing around by the lower creek area and rolling logs over (my son loves to see the large ants, beetles, etc.) we headed home. While we didn't have the greatest success finding the target snakes this time, the outing was a great success. This was the most that I had talked to my son one-on-one in some time and we will probably remember this for a long while. Time spent with family can be very precious.