Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blue Hell (Sunday, April 21st)

Cold, windy and sunny. We went to the Blue Hills. You know what we went to look for. I figured it would be warm enough atop the mountains. And it was.

It was friggin' cold on the ground though, with a bone-freezing wind, but upon our arrival at about 11 AM, the Painted Turtles seemed to be enjoying the rays.
Check out these next 2 little guys... we didn't know they both had adults right behind them until we looked at the pics at home!
Nor did we have any idea that there was 6 in this shot!

We then saw a few Redbacks. I was actually photographing them with a photo collage in mind. Yes, I am that sad.

We then got to our first goal, the area we call Bullfrog Pond. There was indeed a massive Bullfrog right near the edge of the pool, but he submerged without a photo. A welcome sight, though... oddly enough, our first one of the year so far. But, no pic...

Unfortunately, there were also two unattended children there and they were throwing sand and rocks into the water. I suggested that they shouldn't as there were things living in there, to which one replied "I know" and I heard her say I was stupid. Oh well, we decided to move along before one fell in and it would become my responsibility to haul them out.

While we were carefully climbing off trail and searching every crevice, Andrea said she was sure we'd find something special! But she said that because our good camera had just shit the bed. I tried to calm her and say no problem... we still had my shitbox one just in case. Don't let it bring you down, girl!

Well, for 2 1/2 hours, we ascended one mountain and ascended the next, checking every sunny spot and nook and cranny for snakes. Nothing turned up. This is the only copper head I saw...

But don't let that smile fool you... on the way down the second mountain, Andrea said what was in my head (and we've both said before)... specific-species-searching sucks! But what also sucked was the fact that we didn't even see a Garter Snake or anything! In fact, maybe a Redback or two was all we saw in almost 3 hours! Shit, we hadn't seen any snakes and, despite the chilly wind, there was plenty of sun!

Right around here, I started getting grumpy about the camera and the herpless walk and had to heed my own advice: Don't let it bring you down, girl!

Well, we found our "dome", a place where we'd seen interesting eggs before and searched that, to no avail. But we were happy to have found it again. On the way back, we repeated the same thing we'd said at Rocky Gutter a couple of weeks ago... treks without standing bodies of water just aren't interesting to us.

No sooner did we say that, than we saw a pond! Miss Relaxey McRelaxington was hogging much of it, so we snuck to the edge a dozen yards away. Andrea noticed some Northern Water Snakes basking nearby. Worried about my shitty camera, I tried to sneak closer...

For a minute, I thought the smaller guy in the back was a Racer, but no... two Water Snakes. I got closer still and the big fatty (the one I might have had a chance to catch) suddenly struck into the air, practically flipped over and streaked toward the water- right over the smaller guy! Oddly enough, the smaller guy didn't move, enabling me to grab him.
Black and thin, thus my original confusion! He was a biter... he got his teeth stuck in my sleeve, but then he calmed down a bit.

I let him go before letting Andrea hold him and felt really bad for a while after. She wanted to get bitten by him. I am a bad husband.

So, those are the first two snakes we'd ever seen at this hike... in three tries. Not a good record.

On the way back to the car, the ponds almost made up for missing the massive Bullfrog earlier... this guy was large (enough for my crappy camera to capture), but not monstrous!

There were loads of Painteds trying to catch the last little bit of sun, but the camera just couldn't get them. I did get to enjoy seeing some slip into the water and swim away as I tried to get closer, though.

So, the good camera is in the shop and we decided that we will indeed come back, but not do the silly, useless mountain hikes, alongside yuppie hikers with $400 hiking sticks and immense backpacks filled with filet mignon, a tea service and a butler. I'm far happier being an old man chasing Garter Snakes and actually seeing animals. Bear in mind that we complained about Cutler a few years ago, cut out an extraneous portion of it, and it has become one of our favorite herping spots since then!

By the way, we were so burnt by the end of this grueling 5 1/2 hour climb/ hike that we were hallucinating! Pretty cool, really.

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