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wowarizona.com
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Another spectacular ride, yesterday afternoon/evening. Couple of ride shots and "Critter of the Day".

Fun trail/rock/ riding yesterday.Two pictures from the ride, below. Additional ride shots are posted under the PUSH thread.
http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?p=296996#post296996

The critter of the day presented itself on the ride. About four feet in length, and quite photogenic.

I showed Louis how, if you're not afraid of them, (REALLY, TRULY, NOT AFRAID!), you can calm them down by blowing on them, lightly and steadily. If they don't sense a threat, they calm down. They tend to watch you or just amble off into the shrubs. If REALLY PISSED BECAUSE YOU RUN THEM OVER OR NOSE-WHEELIE ON THEM, they don't ease back so quickly. They are known to be aggressive if messed with and will stand their ground. He , (the snake), was a bit upset when we encountered him, but calmed quickly. I stay out of striking distance, because after all, he is a snake. More people are bitten by this type than any other rattlesnake.

If you look at the pictures, you'll see his tongue flicking and two 'black holes' on the snout. Theses holes are the 'pits' that give a 'pit viper' it's name. Viper head shape is evident in the photos, also. Between it's tongue tasting the air and the pits' infrared sensing/heat sensing abilities, it is quite the hunter. It is also eaten by about everything walking/flying the desert. Rough life…
Note: not all snakes sans viper head are innocuous. Coral snake, (quite deadly) is one example

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Crotalus atrox
family Viperidae
subfamily Crotalinae
genus Crotalus
 

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i have a great deal of respect for snakes, poisonous or not. that one looks like a beaut. whenever i encounter a rattler it seems my heart skips a beat, probably because i approach them rather quickly on the bike and therefore see them when i am too dang close for my own good! thanks for the pics, C.J.

Rita
p.s. hey, C.J. do you ever see the Gila Monsters? i have not seen one in the wild myself.
 

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zer0 said:
i have a great deal of respect for snakes, poisonous or not. that one looks like a beaut. whenever i encounter a rattler it seems my heart skips a beat, probably because i approach them rather quickly on the bike and therefore see them when i am too dang close for my own good! thanks for the pics, C.J.

Rita
p.s. hey, C.J. do you ever see the Gila Monsters? i have not seen one in the wild myself.
Those are indeed beautiful shots of the snake. It cracks me up that from the way CJ posted the images, the first pic of Louis looks to me like he is booking like crazy to get away from the rattler!

I also laughed because it reminded me of once upon a time down in Mexico (really!). My wife and I have done a lot of wildlife photography, and I was shooting a big rattler we found on a sand dune in Sonora. As I worked to keep out of striking distance my wife was behind me urging "get in TIGHT, John, get in TIGHT!".

Rita, about six weeks ago I saw three Gila Monsters on the trail in the span of about ten days, and two weeks ago saw two desert tortoises (sp?) in three days, when I hadn't seen one in the wild in more than 15 years.

John
 

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caninus xerophilous
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Snake encounters of the close kind! (Classic Doggy Drivel)

Nothing of the near bite encounter is really reflected by CJ's pictures of the rattle snake due to his calm demeanor and suppression of his fear pheromones as he knows well how to calm a rattle snake. CJ kept a good three feet of distance while charming the snake into a state of mutual curiosity with his good will. The rattler knew we ment him no harm and calmly though a bit cautiously hung out with us for ten or so minutes, a remarkable situation which, like my nearly being bitten by that very same snake just moments before, I had never experienced. Usually the snake slithers off in fear for its life or the rider vacates the area for the same reason, or worse one of the riders is a wannabe snake handlers who feel that they have to assault the snake for some manly reasons.

Anyhow, we were riding down Sutherland wash in the late afternoon following a light rain. I was chugging along about 25 meters or so ahead of CJ and eyeing a challenging rock out cropping that Curly from Rage had demonstrated some sweet free riding skillz upon previously. I looked over my shoulder to see where CJ was so that I could show him the rock when something sinister and primal caught my eye.

It was like being in a near accident, time slowed. I'm unsure if I ran him over or just grazed him with my front tire but I hit the front brake hard in an effort not to run the poor guy over. Time was painfully lethargic as I rode a nose wheelie over the snake which was just as startled as I was having its mid trail nap/thermal session abruptly interrupted by something alien apparently bent on killing or maiming it.

I momentarily arced gracefully as the rear wheel rose lifting the bike up in mid nose wheelie over the poor snake which felt compelled to defend itself with a hasty defensive strike. I had a grand overhead view looking down at the startled serpent directly below the bottom bracket, cranks and my legs. It was at this point that I had time in my adrenaline accelerated mode of thought to realize that I may be bitten by a rattle snake which was instinctively striking in fear of its life mere inches from my leg.

I instinctively shouted an expletive reference to feces as I neared the apex of the nose wheelie's arc with the snake striking beneath the bottom bracket and so very, very close to my legs. I was sure I was going to be bitten. All sorts of thoughts were flashing through my head from how we would get me to a hospital to what I would tell my wife.

Fortunately for me my nose wheelie had lifted the bottom bracket high enough to allow just enough clearance between my legs and the startled serpent to allow me to escape injury. Exhilarated in my accelerated state of reality I unclipped in mid flight and dismounted, landing on my feet holding the bike just clear of the danger area.

CJ rode up with a smile of amusement already knowing that I had a close encounter with a rattler though he had not seen the event having only heard my shrilled curse of excitement. I writhed trailside in traumatic stress watching as the snake gathered itself up and vacated the trail heading for the very outcrop that had distracted me in the first place.

I was still shaking when CJ began lobbying for me to get his camera out of his pack before the snake could get away. He was saying something excitedly about getting his next critter of the day shot. I obliged and CJ's efforts to calm the snake began to calm myself down as well. He successfully calmed the agitated critter with his no fear but un-aggressive behavior. The snake halted its retreat then greatly reduced its defensive posture allowing us to admire it for some time.

I run into snakes frequently here in Catalina and have even been struck at once while descending the Baby Jesus trail lightless in a summer evening twilight after grazing and startling a large rattle snake hidden in the apex of a turn. On that particular descent I saw five rattle snakes and three Gila Monsters. But this encounter was the only one in which I felt for my health due to my close proximity to the dangerous varmint and my inability to control the outcome. I was genuinely shaken, much like my cliff diving episode in the Chiracauhuas last year.

Fortunately the Gods were smiling upon me yet again and the falling elevator in which I was trapped slowed down to a gentle landing allowing CJ and I to continue on in search of sweet outlaw cow trails and rocks.

Louis
 
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