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Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: re: snakes on 05/10/2012 04:16:52 MDT Print View

They ARE beautiful!
And silky smooth too.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Overcoming a Fear of Snakes on 05/18/2012 13:44:43 MDT Print View

This is about creativity, but for those of you fearing snakes it has an interesting message.

Start at 2:50

Edited by greg23 on 05/18/2012 13:48:15 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Overcoming a Fear of Snakes on 05/18/2012 18:36:49 MDT Print View

Ah, TED. One of my all time favorite websites. Thanks for the link! The entire presentation was fabulous.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: re: snakes on 05/18/2012 18:41:02 MDT Print View

" What scares me most is just seeing a snake or being in close proximity to one."

Stay away from the Capitol......

Jason Torres
(burytherails) - F

Locale: Texas
Fear of snakes on 05/20/2012 21:32:47 MDT Print View


I know how you feel. I don't know that I have a phobia but there is no doubt seeing one terrifies me enough to paralyze me.

I almost stepped on one in spooky canyon not long ago. The walls were no more than a foot apart in the area so there was nowhere to go. I stood there for five long minutes. My buddy stepped right over it no problem. I was so terrified I chimneyed the canyon walls until I was 15 ft up then moved along. I didnt come down until I couldn't see it anymore lol.

The idea of saving weight on my shelter is great but much like you, I would not get much sleep. I believe in going light so long as it does not ruin the experience and the spirit of being in the backcountry. If i cant enjoy it then what's the point? This is my line. Everyone is different and must dial in what works best for them

Full disclosure: I sleep sound in my msr ZOID 1. This just means I really look closely at the rest of my gear for weight savings. I've slept where I could visibly see 5 or 6 deadly scorpions crawling within feet of me no problem. Ive stepped over a steaming pile of bear scat in AK in early spring while staring down a fresh tunnel 6 ft wide through a dense berry patch no prob- but snakes..nope. Hahaa.

Not allowing your fear to stop you from doing that which you love most- that's conquering your fear. Now, just dial in your system. You've got it

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
Big Sur snakes on 05/20/2012 22:24:49 MDT Print View

Hi Luke,

I just got back from the Pine Valley area of Ventana three weeks ago. We were on a Boy Scout hike.

I agree with you about the snakes there. I came across five on the overnight route, with two actively rattling at me. No doubt many more were near and just left me alone. It would have been a mess to be bitten there, as it was quite a hike back without cell access. Th bad part is the trails are narrow and the grass is tall up to the trail edge.

I'll think twice before going there with young scouts again in the spring, not sure it is worth the risk to them.

Thanks, Steve

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Big Sur snakes on 05/20/2012 22:53:33 MDT Print View

Just take along a California Mountain Kingsnake on a leash. They kill and eat rattlesnakes, yet they are harmless to humans.


Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
snake fear on 05/24/2012 07:37:27 MDT Print View

I think snakes behind glass are quite beautiful and the 'safe' ones brought out at kids’ parties are pretty amazing, but in the bush they give me shivers. As Roger pointed out, all ten of world's ten most venomous snakes live in Australia. That's a very good reason for behaving with a healthy respect for them here and staying well out their way.

My first encounter in the wild, when I was a teenager, was a huge snake dropping out of a tree between my brother and a family friend. The screams were loud, and both boys ran away from the snake and each other. The memory still gives me goosebumps.

Since then, I've been lucky and not seen a single snake in a few decades. Either that or I am a very noisy walker and I scare them away!! Anyway, I saw another snake in the wild a few months ago in Tasmania. I was walking along watching my footing when something moved. I yelped (ok, it was probably a screech!). It slid away from me pretty quickly so by the time I grabbed my camera and zoomed I couldn’t get a shot which would help identify it. It looked pretty small at the time, thin and probably 1-2 feet long. My first thought was that it was a baby snake, but then I remembered taht one of the three Tasmanian snakes only grows to that size. Irrespective, all Tasmanian snakes are venomous.

Unknown but venomous snake in Tasmania

I'll stay well away from any snake I see, but people have been bitten in some interesting places when taken by surprise. (I'll say no more, use your imagination!) I don't think my fear of them will ever go away. We ended up getting a PLB (120g=42oz) to improve our chances of getting proper treatment and reduce our fear of the consequences of being bitten.

I have wondered what it would be like to walk in a place with snakes that are not venomous. Would I still jump if I saw one?

PS. Franco, I think I would have preferred not to have known about brown snakes swimming in a place I like walking :-( We went there last summer.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
The Mojave Green Rattlesnake on 05/25/2012 13:35:56 MDT Print View

Out here in the Mojave Desert I worry mainly about the Mojave Green Rattlesnake because not only does it have BOTH hemotoxin and neurotoxin venom (umlike other rattlers with only hemotoxin)but it is an aggressive snake that may decide to chase you.
(Must have some South American Fer de Lance aggressive genes in it.)

jacko vanderbijl

Locale: Shelley Western Australia
Snakes on 05/25/2012 16:40:32 MDT Print View

Here in Western Australia snakes are just part of the experience. I saw only 8 snakes (all tiger snakes) on my Bibbulmun end to end last year. This guy was the fattest. The upper body was very olive green near Pemberton while I am used to them being more black.
I am very cautious with snakes but my only fear is treading on them unseen, especially on a midnight toilet call as they are active on warm nights.
Like Franco I will always use a tent that is fully enclosed because of bugs (our spiders and ants are nasty too) but snakes alone would still keep in a fully screened tent as I have heard too many stories of them seeking body heat during the night.Tiger snake approaching Blackwood hut

David K
(aviddk) - F

Locale: SW Oregon
It happened to me. on 05/25/2012 17:14:20 MDT Print View

Believe me, awakening to a snake on your chest is a shocking experience. It happened to me while fighting a wildland fire in Eastern Montana. Cowboy camping was always the plan, that is if we slept at all.

I woke up grabbed the darn thing and chucked it as hard as I could while 90% asleep. The next morning I asked the guys bedded down near me if I had thrown the snake on them. Much to my relief I hadn't.

I have seen countless rattlesnakes and Copperheads and was even unsuccessfully (for the Copperhead anyhow) struck by a copperhead. It left fang marks but didn't inject venom. I respect snakes but don't fear them. Then on the other hand, living in Australia would be a whole different story. Of course, my only experience with snakes in Australia came courtesy of the late Steve Irwin.

Edited by aviddk on 05/25/2012 17:16:00 MDT.

Alister R Barnes
(ARB) - F

Locale: Piha
Re snakes on 05/25/2012 20:53:28 MDT Print View

If you don't like snakes, tramp New Zealand :-)

We've swum with sea snakes in Fiji, (poisonous, but don't bite) and even seen a snake in the wilds of Turkey.
We tramped in Australia seven times now and seen multiple snakes each time, but as Roger says, if you leave them alone.... (Possibly with the exception of the Tiger snake).

Mind you, a red belly black did take exception to me taking his photo.

Funniest thing I ever say was in a beach car park south of Perth. A Brown, about two metres long was being hassled by two magpies. He had his head down, and was running away, (well- slithering), as fast as he could go. We certainly did not get in his way!

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Snakes on 05/31/2012 18:06:07 MDT Print View

I thought about this thread while I was hiking this past weekend near my house.

As I was heading up a narrow steep ridge I could look ahead and see a couple hacking away at low plants next to the trail. Even though I knew what they were doing I had to ask anyway. The woman said they were clearing the trail where it was a bit too thick (as is her Korean accent). I have seen them over the years. She always goes through the story that she was on the trail and saw a snake on the trail and had stepped right over it without even knowing. Her son saw it. Then she motioned up above where the ridge was about 8 feet above the trail. She said she saw snakes up there too. She said it as if there were a whole cluster of them and they were going to drop on them. They carry golf clubs and hack away as they hike.

They do recognize me but she almost always tells the story. Now that I think about it, I heard that story for the first time maybe 4 years ago. That snake has really got a lot out of that encounter.

I have seen snakes up there so I know they are there. Last summer I had a rattler move away from me when it "heard" me coming. It was winding through a bush rattling all the way. Actually, if I were more comfortable with venomous snakes I could have grabbed it from behind since it was in a vulnerable position moving that way. I left it where it was.

I am ambivalent about snakes coupled with a healthy respect for them.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Snakes on 05/31/2012 18:29:52 MDT Print View

All snakes are VERY beneficial to the ecosystem.

Barry Cuthbert
(nzbazza) - MLife

Locale: New Zealand
If you don't like snakes, tramp New Zealand :-) on 05/31/2012 19:54:32 MDT Print View


HElinTexas C
(Helintexas) - MLife
Snakes on 06/11/2012 20:43:34 MDT Print View

I live in Fla and in the past year and a half I have been trying to get outdoors and hike and bike ride . I have seen a wide variety of snakes. I give them a wide breath. But do stop to admire them from afar. I have seen a moccasin, black snakes, water snakes, green snakes, a Pygmy rattler, a coral snake, several regular rattlers, ring necked snakes, and others that scurried off before I could tell what they were. I bought a snake I'D chart to carry with me after I started seeing so many. All I can say is that I would NEVER go hiking off trail here in central Fla. The thought scares me. I just envision stepping right on one.

I lived in florida for 6 years and never saw an alligator out of captivity. In the past year and half, I have seen over one hundred in the wild. One of the bike trails goes over a bridge over a swampy river....I always see a large alligator there. The only one that has ever reacted to me was a small one...I scared it. There is a preserve near town that has a ton of them....along with a lot of beautiful birds.

Actually, I think snakes scare me more than alligators. I do think snakes are beautiful and are unfairly maligned.....but the do scare me. Lol!

Scariest snake for me was a huge puff adder in Serengeti National park last year that crossed the rd in front of our truck. It seemed like it was 1/2 the width of the rd. kind of cured my desire to hike in the Serengeti!!!!

Edited by Helintexas on 06/11/2012 20:44:49 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: If you don't like snakes, tramp New Zealand :-) on 06/12/2012 02:19:04 MDT Print View

Or Ireland.

Or Alaska (one garter snake in far SE Alaska near Ketchikan).

Or Hawaii (one worm-like, non-poisonous snake).

Or Antarcticia.

Will Webster
Snake phobia on 06/12/2012 06:22:05 MDT Print View

When you think about it, irrational fear of snakes makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Our ancestors who jumped away at the first sight of a snake had a marginally better chance of becoming our ancestors than those who waited to figure out whether it was dangerous. I admire snakes and like to watch and photograph them, but when I unexpectedly see one up close it's always very startling.

Funny story: Several years ago, on what turned out to be our last "heavy" backpacking trip, my wife and I walked around a smallish bog after making camp for the night. With about half a mile left to go and dusk setting I saw something odd in the shadows just off the trail. It looked black and perfectly round, maybe 8" - 12" diameter - almost like the end of a well pipe sticking just above the ground. I stepped closer and prodded it with my trekking pole; it was resilient. My wife caught up: "What did you find?" "I don't know, but it's pokey." She turned on her flashlight and it was a coiled rattlesnake. My immediate reaction was denial: No way I just poked a rattlesnake with a sharp stick. The rest of the way back to camp I had my flashlight on continuously, and was jumping at every noise and shadow.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
snakes are nice on 06/12/2012 20:42:26 MDT Print View

Luke, keep in mind a few things about rattlers: number one, if you hear them rattling they are aware of you, and are simply asking you to leave them alone, and to note their presence. It is not a threat, it's an alert. Though they probably have different intensity of rattling which someone more clued in than me could probably understand in terms of fear and warning levels.

This would be one of the top reasons no hiker should ever hike with music player attached to their ears, you just lost the friendly warning seconds and might step right on the little guy, even though he really wanted to tell you not to do that. So if anyone ever gets bit by a rattler while using their mp3 player, blame yourself, not the snake, in nature creatures don't ignore their environment and tune it out with fake sounds.

I did talk to someone last year who noted that she'd seen some rattlers on the overgrown trails she'd been bushwhacking on up high in Big Sur, under the chaparral, but on the trail. So it pays to pay attention at all times.

One way to get to like snakes is to stop when you see a garter snake, they are small, friendly, and shy, and certainly aren't going to try biting you, and even if they did, it would probably just be sort of funny. Just watch them move, watch how their bodies create the motion, watch how elegant their forms are, how they can vanish into the underbrush. Those snakes are out now on the trails, I'm seeing them all the time hiking, and they are a great one to get used to the notion of a snake in the wild.

Also, as a mental exercise, and this is easy to do in Big Sur/Ventana, try to remember that the lizards you see doing their little pushups when you pass by them looking cool are the cousins of the snakes, well, maybe second cousins. Snakes just don't have the little legs, at least not visibly. Same for the salamanders and newts you might run across.

There's some good tips in this thread, using trekking poles is I think probably going to alert the snake you are coming, that sharp sort of tap is probably enough to either shake the ground or to let them hear you. I'd only move a snake out of the way if it was sunning itself right on the trail, and then only after asking it to move, which they will almost always do, they don't really want to deal with you either, shocking as that might be to our egos... But they might take a minute or two to decide to leave that prime sunning spot that they had discovered. Like Roger said, take some pictures, or just watch it, see how it moves and reacts, might learn something. Maybe if it's stubborn carefully suggest to it that it really needs to move, by moving the trekking pole tip closer to it.

Very cool shots of snake handling, but of course, most people shouldn't try that, but nice to see snakes get some love here, all the creatures should.

Edited by hhope on 06/12/2012 20:47:33 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: snakes are nice on 06/12/2012 22:55:56 MDT Print View

Nice thread. Like anything else, fear is often rooted in a lack of knowledge. However over time, most hikers who encounter snakes on numerous occasions learn that they are not to be feared, but just respected. The trick is to enter the realm of numerous occasions without freaking out. Read as much as you can about snakes and it may help, but seeing them without incident and learning about them works wonders.

For an alternative method, you may want to consider this one, which is how I got over my fear of snakes quickly. When I was in the Air Force, some genius decided I needed to be trained by the Army. So one of the schools I was forced to go to was at Fort Carson, CO. I think it was a Recon course. Anyway, we had to work our way through a field with live machine gun fire over our heads, and as I moved from ditch to ditch, hole to hole, the place was invested with rattlers. My fear of snakes became insignificant compared to my fear of .50 caliber ammunition :)