Saturday, April 3, 2004

I can see my house from here! I can't feel my legs! Aargh, snake!

I've been meaning to start biking. A few years ago, Melissa bought us nice mountain bikes, but we've only used them a handful of times--and never offroad. The other day I wondered out loud if there were any biking trails near us. Melissa said there was one in Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve, which actually abuts the development we live in. Go figure!

Today I donned my Bike Nerd Wannabe costume and hopped on my bike. Then I hopped off and hosed down the bike to remove the layer of dust. Hard to look studly with little dust-bunny streamers wisping from your spokes.

Turns out dust was to be the least of my worries, studliness-wise. The ride from my house to the trailhead had me gasping for air. (Our neighborhood is very hilly.) Then I couldn't make it up the first hundred feet of trail in the highest gear. I walked the bike up that stretch, but at least my spokes were clean.
Up a bit from the trailhead was a water tower. (Upper center of the first image, as seen from my driveway.) That spot afforded a complete view of our neighborhood. Then up more hill, including a little more sheepish bike-walking, to yield a view of the water tower from above (second image).
By this point (all of a quarter mile into the trail) I was exhausted, but I pretended not to notice. Luckily, things leveled out for a while, and turned into what I had originally expected from the outing: bumpy but managable trail amidst the Splendor of Nature (third image).
Soon I was on the other side of the hills, and could see past the city of Richmond to Mount Tamalpais, all the way across the bay (fourth image).
Then the trail delved into valleys for a bit, until I skidded to a halt a few feet short of a very large snake. (It was maybe three and a half feet long, and an inch in diameter. It's my story, so I get to call it "very large".) It lay across the path, sunning, and leaving only a few inches clear on either side. It looked like one of those strips that lay across the road to count cars as they pass. One of those, but with an air of reptilian menace.
Three thoughts occured to me:

  1. If I get bit by a venemous snake, though only a couple miles from home, the exertion of riding on the hills will surely circulate the venom to my brain and kill me.

  2. Maybe mountain biking is one of those "buddy system" sports. I should have researched this more.

  3. Hey! I can use this as an excuse to turn around early!

So I turned around. The snake, sluggish from his nap (and probably not venomous, for all I know) spared my life. The hills on the way back also spared my life, but only barely.
Next time I'll bring a buddy. Preferably one that I can outrun. A snake's gotta eat, after all.


  1. Let me show you how a real Lokovic does it...
    April 11, 2000
    Tuesday morning the pups and I are playing out in the back yard. PJ brings me her favorite tennis ball and I throw it. She chases the ball and Buster chases her. I between tosses I am picking up branches and twigs that the previous weeks storms had shaken loose from the trees.
    "dom-dom dom" (Impending doom sound effect, please play along)
    I am leaning over picking up a twig, when out of the corner of my eye I see a pattern of color that makes me catch my breath and freeze.
    "dom-dom dom"(still playing along I hope.)
    It was a rattle snake. (I will give you a moment to catch your breath, Sorry to frighten you so.)
    When I told my co-workers this tale, the women all squirmed in their seats, and all the men wanted to know how long it was. So for those of you squirming : Relax, it all turned out all right. And for the others in the crowd, I was only two feet long, but who cares, It was a snake.
    I stood up and backed away slowly. I scooted the pups inside and closed the door. I ran around to the garage and grabbed the sharpest and longest tool I could find. I set out to kill me a snake with a how with a rounded blade.
    "Mission Impossible Theme"
    I slowly moved in behind the snake. I think I was behind it. I raised my hoe and brought it down on the back of the snakes head. My intention was to cut the head off with the blade of the hoe, but its body was coiled around the head, so my hoe was pressing down on its head and on the sides of its body. And to add to my frustration, the ground was soggy because of last weeks rain, and I was not cutting the snake, but squishing him in to the mud.
    "Ahh... the famous combat move...A swift and blinding squish"
    So here I am holding down a really mad snake with his snout full of mud. Meanwhile, his body is slithering and spinning and the little four nubbed rattle it rattling. Going over my options in my head. 1) Turn and run 2) Yell for help 3) Wait him out and hope he suffocates in the mud.
    It has been so long since Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, so I do not remember how fast a mad and muddy snake can move. So being the girly-girl I am, I tried calling to the roofers, who were working on a house down the way. They heard me, but just waved and continued working. So much for chivalry.
    So I continued pressing and rocking the hoe back and forth.
    The pups sat patiently at the back window watching me.
    After 15 minutes of pressing and rocking the hoe, the snake is still wiggling (but I know that they do this even after they are dead, but they do that when they are alive too). I am a little scared and tired and getting bit by mosquitoes. So I slowly lifted the hoe up to see if I had done any damage.
    I had managed to flatten the neck, but I could not tell if it was dead or just stunned. Not wanting to take any chances, I pushed it to firmer ground and gave it a few good whacks to take the head mostly off. Mostly off was good enough for me at that point.
    I picked him up with the hoe and dropped him in the alley.
    So as this awesome tale is passed on from generation to generation (and I know it will) please get the facts right.
    - The snake was I mean 5 feet long
    - I captured the snake by lowering my self from a tree with a pulley system and grabbing it with my bare hands
    - I gave the snake a Vulcan shoulder pinch to render it unconscious
    - I then flung the snake onto a nearby roof, much to the dismay of a bunch of girly roofers.
    Well that is my story. It was an interesting morning. Hope yours was better.

  2. Oh, I see how it is. You stand and fight with a garden implement, I high-tail it in my sissy bike pants, and suddenly I'm the wimp?
    Fair enough.

  3. There actually aren't very many venemous snakes in North America. Four, I'm pretty sure. The rattlesnake, of course, is one. The cottonmouth is another, but you're unlikely to see one of those. Copperhead, which you may or may not recognize. It's one of the few I've stumbled on in the wild, so I *do* recognize it. And then the coral snake, a bitty little thing, whose can only poison you if it can get its back fangs into you. That pretty much requires it to gnaw you into submission first. It is, however, very poisonous once you've been appropriately gnawed.
    So: you'd know if it was a rattler, it sounds bigger than a copperhead or cottonmouth is likely to be around here (and the wrong color, yeah?), and it's *way* too big to be a coral snake. You're in luck.
    See the things you miss by not spending more time growing up in Texas?