Travel Magazine

Snakes and Stones

By Travelspot06 @travelspot06
I love running on trails. However, I have started to avoid a few nearby ones due to the fact that there are massive poison oak bushes. I don't mind when it's on the sides, but on some of the smaller trails, its up over the trail and it's unavoidable. Usually I try to find trails where it's not so prevalent. That's one thing I try to avoid.
The other thing is snakes. Unfortunately, I guess Spring has Sprung (!) because they are everywhere. All of the below incidences were in the last two weeks.
Case 1: I decide to go on a 6 mile trail run at my parent's house on the Pacific Crest Trail. I guess spring maintenance hasn't happened yet, because it was so overgrown and the trail was covered with grass and I saw 2 rattle snakes and in trying to avoid them was running into poison oak. So I quit early.
Case 2: The next day, my Dad and I find a clearer trail (brush wise) but see a rattle snake, a racer snake and a gopher snake. Whew. On our drive home, we see THREE (!!) King snakes. However, the King Snake is a good snake, since it is immune to rattlesnake venom and it preys on rattlers as well. I don't know what happened with these three, but they were all run over on the highway about 100 ft apart. I guess they were all trying to cross at once?

Snakes and Stones

California Kingsnake

Case 3: On the American River Bike Trail, in the middle of Sacramento, I almost stepped on the head of a fairly large rattlesnake. I gave a VERY girly scream and jumped out of the way.
Case 4: A few days ago in Oakland, I was doing some trail running and saw a rattle snake and another black snake with long (lengthwise) yellow stripes. I think it's a racer? I did not poke either with a stick. This would not be prudent. Did you know that approximately 72% of rattlesnake bites are due to someone (usually intoxicated males in their 20s) handling them? Less than 30% of bites are from accidental contact.
Case 5: On my volunteer run in the Ohlone Wilderness, we came across a baby rattler. Did you know that they are more dangerous than the adults because they don't filter how much venom they inject? They may empty out all their venom into you in one go. This would have been especially bad that day, since I was approximately 8 miles away from any help.
(that's 12 total folks!) 
I am not sure why there are so many snakes out right now. Perhaps the dry winter spawned a few more babies (did you know rattlesnakes give birth to live young?) this year! Whatever the reason, be on the lookout! My problem is that every stick I see, every root, every tree a snake!
Just so you are aware, if you are bitten, remain calm. Only 5 out of approximately 7000 bites are fatal. If you can get the anti-venom within 2 hours, you have a 99% chance of survival. The more calm you are, the lower your heart rate, which also slows the spread of the venom. Also, don't handle a rattlesnake, even if you think it's dead. They can inject venom even after their head has been chopped off for several hours.
Just for fun, I made a collage of some of the other animals I have come across on my runs/hikes lately.
Snakes and Stones
Middle:  Rattlesnake 
Clockwise from top left corner:  Racer Snake, Goat, Bison, Mule Deer, Weird lizard with stumpy tail, possible Western Fence Lizard, Banana Slug, Black snake in KS (huge!)
Not Pictured:  Cow, Coyote, Quail, Turkey, Bluebird, Rabbit, Squirrel
Do you see a lot of animals on your runs/walks/outdoor adventures? Do you know anyone who has been bitten by a rattlesnake?

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