My flight into Dallas was early so I had 2 hours to kill...what to do, what to do, good thing they do not give you a breathalyzer test prior to boarding the next flight (I exaggerate of course). Landed in what some refer to as "The Detroit of the Southwest", Tucson, but quickly made my way northwest to Oro Valley, up against the Catalinas. First stop of course was Fry's, a division of Kroger's. Then washed the car which had been sitting for 3 months so was kind of dirty, finished reading "The Martian" (very good read) and watched "Mad Max, Thunder Road" pretty good movie.
....unfortunately, I mistook the cactus for the snake and missed all but the bottom of the coil as you can see at the top of the image. I resumed the march....
My routine is to hit Sabino Canyon on my first day and do the hike to Blackett's Ridge, not quite in the image with Thimble Peak on the left. Lots of people keep track of their times, as do I, to see how out of shape or fit one is. A time from the parking lot under 60 minutes, just walking, is considered very good. So, on Sunday morning on an unusually partly cloudy day, I shove off. There are three climbing sections separated by false flats. I reach the top of the first climber in 37 minutes, pretty good and then hit the 2nd.....
....I went past a group of adults and kids, some of whom were scrambling off trail! I warned an adult two snakes had been seen and the children should stay on the trail. Well, got some cleaning to do so that's it for today.
The clouds add to the image of the surrounding mountains. On the way back down, going very slowly as I picked through the part of the trail where earlier I had seen the vipers.....
....climbing I hear a quick rattle, look down and dang, a black tail rattler is on the right within easy striking distance. I am a happy camper that it chose not to waste venom. They blend in so well with the surroundings and I was focusing too much on my goal and not nearly enough on the surroundings. Getting tagged by that would ruin the entire trip. By the time I get my camera out the snake is retreating into the rocks. I continue and within 30 yards, I encounter 4 people talking about a snake. I assume they are talking about the one I saw but no.....
....there was another! Of course, I had to get close to get a good pick, I had rolled a few rocks at it, trying to get it to move farther off trail and then it turned, coiled and I took a great image.....
...and reached the ridge in 55 minutes, a very good time but having stopped the clock at both snake encounters, I was allowed brief rests so can't really make it an official time.
Mark is a long-time cyclist who enjoys poking fun at himself but most especially at his friends. No nicknames or comments are intended to offend, accept them in the humor they are intended.