This month on flying by and I’m running a little behind on my posts. This of course is nothing new around here at LifeIntrigued but things have definitely been hectic as of late. We did just get back from a quick vacation out east to see hurricane Arthur. Well, not exactly to SEE Arthur but sure enough as soon as we picked our vacation destination the weather gods decide to throw us one of the few hurricanes that has hit the US in some time (a slap in the face to the current administration that keeps claiming Globull Warming is going to produce horrendous hurricanes, frog plagues and whatever else they can try to claim to push their hidden agendas). For the record, Arthur hit us with a category two and based on observations at the NC Outer Banks did relatively minor damage. It did manage to get us half off our camp site for a night since the pool wasn’t open yet. This being kinda ironic since our site was 20 feet from a sand dune that stood between us and the OCEAN!
In light of being behind and almost giving up any hope of ever being caught up on photo shoots, I’m going to break from tradition and jump right to the new stuff. I know, I know crazy talk. Going all out here and bringing you something that hasn’t been featured yet on the blog (at least I can’t recall) and that is partly due to the risk of having to sleep in the shed…..
I can only imagine the “talk” I’m going to get as soon as Linda sees this post. My only out (and why I chose this time) is that today is our Anniversary and I made her something special to celebrate the occasion. There might be a future post on that but trying to figure out if it is worth revealing that at the risk of losing my mancard.
So, we found this nice specimen while coming back through the Smokey Mountains on our way home. Going out was all about the birds so on the reverse we were trying to find as many waterfalls as possible for Linda. One of the reasons for heading through Ashford NC was due to the fact they had a lot of waterfalls. One of these that Linda tracked down on Google was located in Gorges State Park (link here). For starters, that park has one of the nicest visitor centers we have ever seen – even tops most of the national park visitor centers we have been in. A quick trip in there confirmed the waterfall location and what later figured out was incorrect trail mileage. The ranger gave us twice the distance not knowing the distance he had was round trip. This meant the 1 mile trip to the selected waterfall was only a quarter mile down and back. As we were heading out of the center to the designated parking area Mr. Slither was basking in the sun on the other side of the road. Based on how bad the birding was that week I jumped out of the car and went to work – Linda actually thought the snake was dead which is the only reason she stopped the RV at all.
On the contrary it was quite alive but relatively subdued to my presence. Thanks to The Beast a safe distance could be maintained. All of the snakes that I’ve come into contact with the exception of the Water Moccasin (or Cottonmouth) have been non-venomous. The tell-tale round shape of the head was always the standard safety checkoff. This particular snake didn’t seem to fit that profile so went to check out the head. Sure enough, this one was flat and diamond profiled which means keep the ‘F’ away (think there is probably a common rhyme to help remember that like poison ivy but that is my memory jogger hehehe). Okay, so there will be no picking it up. Again, due to The Beast a proper safety zone could be maintained. Thankfully there were no other cars on the road.
Hit the jump to see and read more about this slithery encounter
For a more dramatic effect I got down on the ground for the first shot and the following. This being after picking up two ankles full of chiggers the week before at Clinton Lake trying to do a similar thing with a bird. This time I could stay on the concrete which limited the danger to mostly oncoming cars. When you are bummed about the lack of birds over the week something like this quickly becomes the prize shoot. Most of all I wanted a shot with the tongue out, but this was a no go. Not once did that forked tongue make it out to taste the air. It did keep its eyes on me, but for the most part just kept the head off the ground and remained motionless – a perfect combination for a photographer.
There was no way in hell you were getting a size reference shot. Not sure what would be more dangerous, getting in the snake’s striking distance or dealing with the wraith of Linda. Speaking of which, by this time she was quite agitated being on the same road with this devil spawn. Anyway, here is a full shot so you can get a feel for the markings – and maybe if you are familiar with the head of typical snakes you can kinda get a ratio. The reference site I went to specifically warned that most people overestimate the length of a snake. I’m putting this one at 3 feet and as mentioned there is was no accurate measurement taken.
That shot does give a good view of the markings. Eventually the stress was too much for Linda and she gave the ultimatum to high tale it back to the car. This was basically ignored until all of the sudden the RV started in motion. Linda means business…so with Beast in hand I had to chase after the vehicle – yes, it was as funny as you probably just imagined. Once in the car it was time to get on the Internet and figure out what this thing was. Taking the first identification site that Google provided gave a list of attributes to choose from – tan/brown coloring, banded and a fairly stocky body – may not have mentioned, this snake didn’t have the typical round body of our local snakes but rather a more flattened oval with a small peak running down the center. Added the region discovered and then gasped when the results came back. Appears this snake is in fact venomous and commonly called a Copperhead. This site has a lot of detail on them (link here) including some nasty shots of what might happen when you get bit (eesh). Note, the Copperhead has a more yellowish tail when it is a juvenile – this one was no juvenile and yes, I did get a close up of the tail – at the time didn’t think much of it because it didn’t have a rattle – Copperheads do not have rattles.
Basically they will pretty much leave you alone compared to the Water Moccasins which are supposedly more aggressive. This latter fact has never been witnessed in the wild by me – we used to see them while fishing in the back waters of the Springfield IL Lake. They’d come swimming by without any care for us – guess it was a good thing we were in a boat! The most common catalyst for bites from the Copperhead is stepping on them accidentally as they blend in quite well with the dead leaves of the forest flo0r. Sure glad we located this snake at the END of our vacation. Guessing Linda would have been more apprehensive walking in the woods had we she been privy to the likelihood of coming across one of these (poisonous or not).
Just to close out this post, this snake sighting ended up being the highlight of that park – we walked all the way down to the waterfall viewing area an turns out you can barely see any of it thanks to trees that have grown up in front of the deck. If you are going to tout a waterfall as a key attraction you best make sure people can actually SEE the waterfall. Total bust for photo taking making the painful trek back up the hill even more frustrating.
Slither you later.