Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 65: The Snike Hike

A timber rattlesnake in Worthington State Forest.

When: Saturday, July 16th, from 6:30am to 1:30pm
Where: Worthington State Forest
What: Hiking and looking for snakes with Linds and Janel, with a little fishing in Dunnefield Creek and Sunfish Pond
Weather: Perfect for a July hike.
Moon: Waning. A few days after full.

Although I got my 30 minutes of fishing, this day was not about fish.

It was about snakes.

I will tell you about the fishing though. Sunfish Pond, which lies at the end of a series of trails in Worthington State Forest, did not get its name for having a large population of huge bass. In fact, there are no bass in Sunfish Pond...or crappie, or catfish, or pickerel or, well, you get the point.

The pond has a naturally acidic composition, and only a few hardy species can survive in there, such as yellow-perch, pumpkinseed sunfish and apparently, golden shiners. I was pretty sure that fishing there was going to be pretty much uneventful, and after striking-out with the brook trout in Dunnefield Creek, I spent my time chasing the sunfish of Sunfish Pond. After catching a few of the smallest pumpkinseeds that I have ever caught, I noticed a bunch of "other" fish swimming around. Those "other" fish turned out to be wild golden shiners, which I have actually never caught.

Until now.

So, fishing in Sunfish Pond was slightly more eventful than I had anticipated.

Back to the hike.

I picked this date for the "Snike Hike" because of past experiences and dated photos that I found on the internet, I was fairly certain that the timber rattlesnakes are mating this time of year. They are normally reclusive animals, however, during mating season they are on the prowl and it's probably the best opportunity to see one.

We did.
The first five hours of the hike brought us up Mount Tammany, down Mount Tammy and up to Sunfish Pond. After having our lunch and catching a few small fish, we headed down the Appalachian Trail on our way back to the car. Along the way, a few of the hikers coming in the opposite direction told us there were some rattlesnakes on the trail. My heart raced and we were on a mission. After dodging a few bears, we all kept our eyes peeled on and off the trail in hopes of seeing a timber rattler. We listened for them rustling in the leaves, but after a long while, it just didn't seemed like we were going to go home with the photograph, we (or I) wanted. Still, we kept our eyes fixed on the ground. After a long long while of keeping my attention glued to the trail, my eyes wandered for just a second, and I heard a rattle.

I almost stepped on it. Just a foot more and I may have been tagged. The rattle was my warning.

There it was, right on the trail in front of me. It headed into the brush, and after giving it space and respect, it came back out and allowed me to take it's picture.

Snike Hike a success.

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