August 14th


Cody and I took our dogs for a hike this weekend, climbing in the front range for a couple hours. On the way back, about a half mile from the car, we heard a notorious rattle in the bushes. In time, thankfully, we saw the rattler. We backed away just as a woman stopped and asked what we were looking at. We pointed to the snake, both dogs now growling and acting completely freaked. Her home, within 100 yards of the trail, held several dogs and a large garden. She asked my brother to please kill the snake. It was the seventh one this summer she’d killed.

Hiking M Mountain

To know me is to know my most irrational deathly fear of snakes. Any shape. Any form. Any size. I dislike snakes. But there I stood trying to talk these two out of killing the animal. Wasn’t it only doing it’s job? Wouldn’t it keep rodents out of her house and garden?

Unfortunately, my voice didn’t win. I teared up when the shovel came down on the glorious beast. I am no fan, but nature works. We mess with nature, by, say, building a house on a mountain and not expecting creatures on “our” territory. That snake had a role. It was doing it’s job by rattling, letting us know to get out of its way. Instead, it met a quick death.

We stood there afterward for a few minutes on the trail, watching the body twitch — the nerves still working after death. The scales shimmered. And I’d be lying just a little bit if I didn’t think in that moment, “Huh. I’d like a snakeskin purse or boots one day. That’s real purdy.”

Cody + Raj
And this is yet another sign I’m becoming a giant, tree-hugging crazy Colorado hippie. I’m now rooting for the snake. This was the second one I saw this weekend hiking, but my first time ever seeing a rattle snake. I’ve always heard you’d hear a rattler before you see one; now I know it for truth. I also know I should turn down my iPod when hiking alone, otherwise I’ll miss the telltale siren.


P.S. The snake did not go to waste. Its head was buried to prevent an animal from later becoming sick from the venom. Cody put the snake on ice, hiked it out and is planning on using the skin and rattler for some project, and eating the meat. Seriously. You may call him Davy Crockett. I call him brave, plucky and in great need of a haircut.


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Colorado, Happy Hippie
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6 Responses

  1. Glad to hear that no one got bit! Snake skin is beautiful, but I must admit I like seeing it OFF its original owner best. In the last year we’ve had 4 run-ins with snakes, but they all lived since they were the “harmless” variety, including the one in our basement. Eewww.

  2. I would have been rooting for the snake, too. It’s not that I like these slithering or creeping creatures or want them in my house but I do feel bad we move in and take their land. I’m just glad that this part of Phoenix, where I am, doesn’t really have those sorts of critters. I guess it’s too hot for all of them here, too, and they like the cooler climates.

  3. It’s a place to be torn for sure. Risk the bite or save the snake. Not too many people would think twice like you did.

  4. I’m right there with you on the not killing the snake. If you don’t want snakes in your backyard then don’t live in their’s! Without even seeing this woman I’m sure she’s got money and walks around with a sense of entitlement (Yup! I’m generalizing and I don’t give a damn!). The dead give away is that she lived 100ft away from the trailhead, there is not a lot of low income housing near trailheads.

  5. Brittany August 15, 2011

    See, I love snakes and think they’re pretty and have always wanted one as a pet. The only reason I never got one is I don’t think I could feed it live mice! Guess I have your same soft spot! 🙂 But, I’m glad no one was hurt, and glad you heard it’s warning. I wish there was a good way to describe what it sounded like. Eric and I have both stopped mid-hike thinking we heard a rattler only to have it turn out to be wind rustling the creosote or something similar.

    Looking forward to seeing your brothers finished ‘product’!

  6. No, his hair are just fine, they fit with the beard…..