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We took our son, visiting here from New York City, for an early morning hike at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park the other day. We brought cameras and binoculars and cell phones; lots of water; hats, sunglasses, and sunblock to protect us from the sun, and hiking sticks.
When Ben wondered if he really needed to carry a stick, we just smiled and said, "Snakes." We said snakes in the way that people will who are real desert amateurs and have never seen a rattlesnake outside of a zoo and who wonder to themselves about the efficacy of hiking sticks in snake country.
He believed us and brought the stick along. Good thing, too.
Now he really believes in walking loudly and carrying a big stick. The stick preceded him by a step and startled a rattlesnake, who politely rattled to let Ben know he should stop and look around. Note that the sound was the first indication of the snake--this guy was so well camouflaged that I found it hard to see him, even when I knew he was right in front of me.
Ben came back down the trail to get us and we approached cautiously to take photos. The sun was glaring on the camera screen and I wasn't sure what I was getting, but I snapped away blindly and hoped for the best.
He was such a polite and patient snake.
Tomorrow: What happened next...