It started as any day on campus, just slightly cooler in the morning thanks to a weather front that had moved through the Owyhee region the night before. I began my day walking towards the West on the path right by the road and then over the ridge to the main Western track. Nothing to report there, good crunchy miles before crossing the creek and heading towards the buddha with plans for coffee.
My mind had been wandering most of the morning, still filled with lingering and trivial matters of the world of man – foolish and meaningless things, petty demons, that I come to this desert to expel like the filth they are. My mind wandered so much that I nearly passed the rattlesnake laying in the left side of the track I was walking on! It was one of those stop and step back moments, you know, like when you see a shiny coin laying on the sidewalk…except with fangs and venom.
Not to worry gentle reader, there was no danger! I saw this particular spicy noodle in plenty of time, which is good because it really wasn’t interested in rattling very much to let me know it was there!
After my last encounter I told myself that I wouldn’t be so hasty this time and actually spend some time observing the animal – which I did. And I’ve got to be honest, not only was it a longer conversation than I had with most humans this week – it was more enjoyable!
Please remember, these animals just want to be left alone and to survive. Most times that there are injuries from these creatures it’s due to carelessness or foolishness on a humans part for not watching where they were stepping or purposely antagonizing them.
In the meantime here are three good tips for rattlesnake safety:
Keep An Eye Out
It’s just that simple. LOOK where you are going to step, put your hand, sit down, or squat. Do not depend on the rattlesnake to tell you it’s there – usually they will if they feel threatened – but sometimes they are asleep or just don’t rattle!
Avoid Active Times/Places
Rattlesnakes in Idaho are most active in early Spring/Summer and late Summer. While they are out during the day they are often most active at night. Generally in the day time they will be in the sun getting warm, or in hotter temperatures most likely near the edge of shade.
Go Slow and Do Not Provoke
Take your time on the trail, especially if it’s bushy or you can’t see the ground very well. If you encounter a rattlesnake remain calm! They are just as frightened of the giant that crashed into their living room as you are of them. Do not try to handle the snake! Do not provoke or antagonize the animal! If you need to pass near it you can use your trekking poles or a handy (LONG) stick to gently move the animal off the trail.
Are you afraid of rattlesnakes?! Would you like to learn how to avoid them and how to be safer on the trail in Idaho? I can help!
Spending years out in the Owyhee I’ve had many encounters with rattlesnakes and have become familiar with many of their habits and behaviors. There is no need to let fear of the wilderness keep you from enjoying the outdoors!
Conquer your fear! Be at home in the wild – reserve your class at the Ersity of Was today!