Day 3 to Sespe Hot Springs: Rattle Snakes and Horny Toads

I woke up on day three with little rest from the windstorm. I was tired as I walked out of camp, but the rattle snake I’d seen the day before woke me up. The rattler was headed toward the group of four Millenials in the campground, so I wanted to stop it in its track. I zoomed in with my iPhone and captured him relaxing in the grass until I got too close. Then he coiled up and started rattling. I made him retreat to the cactus, but he decided to go down into a deep hole. Quite a few ground squirrels live in the area, so he might have wanted an early lunch.

Here’s a video capture of the snake as he started to coil up. He had at least 11 rattles and was over 4′ long.

I can remember every time I’ve been rattled, it’s something I can’t forget:

  1. 1986 – Kings Canyon National Park when I was scrambling up a rock slide and it rattled right in my face. I couldn’t run away and it slid into the rocks before I did anything.
  2. 1992 – Buckhorn Road above Santa Barbara when I was riding a bike. I stopped and took his picture. I was impressed that he wouldn’t strike a stick that I poked at him. He knew the difference between my flesh and a stick.
  3. 2005 – Colorado Hills Open Space across near my house in Westminster, CO. I killed that rattler since a lot of hikers and dogs were out there. I threw rocks at it until I crushed it to death.
  4. April 21, 2020 – This rattler on the way into camp.
  5. April 22, 2020 – This rattler on the way out of camp.
  6. April 28, 2020 – Another rattler on the trail near Nira Campground. I walked right by it and then it jumped down on the trail in front of Amy rattling both of us. She ran down the trail and it scared her pretty good, but she did hike on.

I don’t like this trend. I hadn’t been rattled in 15 years and now three times in the last week. I hadn’t thought of rattlers in a while until my nephew Corey sent me a pic of a big one he just saw and heard. He said he’s been rattled 7 times in the last few months near Phoenix. I’m not in a competition with him and I hope neither of us see anymore.

After that, I ran into some horny toads and some frogs on an 8 mile hike. I crossed the streams multiple times, but took my boots off to cross in my light camp shoes. After the snake, it was an uneventful day of walking peacefully along the river. I could have spent the night at Willett hot springs, but I decided to have a peaceful night on the water by myself.

I set up camp in front of a lake on the river and sat back and watched the river and wildlife go by. It was very relaxing and I watched a mallard search for food on at least a half an hour. Bats and swifts flew by and ate many insects. Then the frogs came out to serenade me to sleep.

This little horny toad wouldn’t move until I poked him.
Ready to strike.
These succulents sprout flowers after a few years.
I haven’t seen these plants before.
Some interesting shale.
The Sespe River made easy work of carving through this sedimentary rock.

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