It couldn’t have happened at a better time — the last night of the memorable trip. The four younger generation people had grabbed their cameras to photograph the sunset from atop a Navajo sandstone knoll adjacent to the campground. Becky and I had not stopped to ask adult-ish questions like, Do you have flashlights? What time do we expect you back? Sunset was 40 minutes away and off they went.
By 30 minutes AFTER sunset, I began scanning the outline of the knoll for shapes of humans. It was dark. I wasn’t going to get worried quite yet, but I did want them back home. Meanwhile, my sister and I enjoyed the peace and solitude for a little bit as we tidied up camp and loaded things into the cars. We laid out all six sleeping pads and bags under the stars; there would be no tent-sleeping allowed on this final night.
Shortly, the quartet of young photographers sauntered into camp by the light of Evan’s one flashlight. Stories began to emerge; they saved the best for last. Mothers’ hearts skip a beat when one child says to the other, “Is this a good time to tell her?”
A Midget Faded Rattlesnake, nocturnal in nature, had decided to warm itself on the paved road leading to Willow Flats campground. Marta was in the lead and walked right alongside it, about a foot away; it rattled, she sped up her steps and quickly got ahead of it, and then as it rattled again they all pulled out their cameras to photograph it.
Although shy, this snake has a potent neurotoxin in its venom that makes a bite very nasty. I am glad it didn’t have an inclination to strike at my dear daughter. That would have ruined the trip a bit.
It gives me a warm satisfaction that I’ve raised children who don’t throw rocks at snakes, or squeal, or run, but document the event instead. Way to go, offspring!!!
(Photo courtesy of Google images — said reptile’s portrait is not on my camera or computer.)