It’s been a very long time since I posted something here that is not technical, nothing to do with Azure/BizTalk/SOA/ESB, etc. However, I had a rather unusual adventure today that relates back to a long-ago post I did (one of my 5 “favorite posts” I’ve ever done, you can read it here), and as it was so unusual, I felt inspired to write about it.

For most people on the planet, I’ll bet if you were hiking and a rattlesnake dropped right in front of you, you’d probably say “What the .????”. However, I on the other hand, I can actually say “Oh no, not AGAIN!”.

I have now had 3 really-close incidents (in addition to numerous not-so-close encounters, but that’s not the topic here), and the pattern is always the same. It’s always near the end of a hike. The first time was a pretty grueling hike while I was “in training” for trekking in Thailand, there was one last year when I was backpacking with my daughter in the Cascades in Washington state (both of those were 10 mile-ish hikes before “The Incident”). The latest was earlier today. I was at the Olivenhain Water District recreation preserve near Elfin Forest, pretty close to home, and a place I like to go to get in a quick hike, or when I am “in training” for backpacking.

In case this is something you want to try for yourself, here’s how I do it:

  1. Hike fast and hard, get tired and hot. If you can get close to exhaustion, it really enhances the experience!
  2. Have a rattlesnake fall UNEPECTEDLY out of a bush directly in front of you and within striking distance, close enough that you’re about to step on it (this is that hard part, but I seem to be able to do it!)
  3. Deeply rooted ancient species memory going back to Neanderthal days triggers an immediate adrenaline rush. Before my eyes fully realize what I am seeing and have time to tell my brain, I find myself already propelled backwards by reflex action, arcing through the air. Then comes the pain of landing in some contorted position. I figure the time to get air-born is only about 200 milliseconds

There were SOOOO many ironies around today:

  • There was a group of 5 people behind me, that had been out since 4:30am, who were looking for snakes, and had hiked 10 miles without seeing one
  • They had cameras (I didn’t, because this is such a “routine” hike for me). THANK YOU Tamara for these awesome pictures
  • Minutes before the snake “dropped”, I had been scanning side-to-side on the trail, looking for snakes, but had stopped and let my guard down. Not that it would have made much difference!
  • I had my Zune cranking with some heavy jazz-rock fusion, a highly-modulated continuous wall of sound playing on high-end ear buds through which I should NOT have been able to hear ANYTHING external. Somehow, that faded into the background and I heard a rattle, although I’m not 100% certain if it was real or imagined (everything happened VERY quickly)
  • Apparently my contorted arc through the air was an impressive/amusing thing to watch, unfortunately there is no video! I’d love to see what my body did. All I know is I hurt my arm a bit absorbing the impact of re-entry



From Tamara:

“My official title is "field herper."  Field herping is a hobby that involves viewing "herps" (reptiles and amphibians) in their native environment.  Some field herpers collect the herps as pets, but most (like me) just take photos.  And to prove that I’m not alone, I’m a member of the North American Field Herping Association (NAFHA).  NAFHA members document their herp finds and enter the information into a database.  Researchers and professional herpetologists can then request to use that information relating to certain species or geographic areas.  So our rattlesnake from today will end up as an entry in that database, in case anyone is ever interested. ”

[HERP stands for Herpetological Educational and Research Project ]

Given what seems to be my natural ability to have wildlife encounters (snakes, sharks, bears in remote regions, mountain goats, still looking for cougars/mountain lions), I will consider joining this group. It’s a cool idea, the public becomes the field eyes accumulating data that could not effectively be gathered otherwise.

And hey, if snakes keep seemingly dropping from the sky in front of me, seems to me I should mention it to someone