I am scared of snakes, I have a ????


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Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 10, 2014 - 09:49am PT
So, like many other people in the valley and other places, we sleep on the ground ALOT! No tent, no bivy, a foam pad and a sleeping bag. thats it, no protection from a slithery friend to creep in and say hi at 1AM or what ever!

I am FREAKED out of snakes, like really freaked! I HATE them and they are just not cool! I have slept on the ground in yosemite and the dessert and other areas a lot, and have been a little stressed about a snake wanting in on my body heat when its cold out.

So what I am asking my fellow supertopian's for is this, some comments that give me the confidence I really want that this is a stupid thought and snakes stay away. your own stories or just facts of, "I have been sleeping in the woods with no tent for years and never have had a problem."

Thanks folks!

O god, I hate these things!
Credit: whitemeat
not ok!!!
not ok!!!
Credit: whitemeat

Nor Cal
Aug 10, 2014 - 09:53am PT
due to those guys and scorpions, i use a tent and the back of my truck when not forced to bivy in the woods.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:00am PT
You been watching too many John Wayne movies. Besides, no matter how attractive you
think you are snakes just ain't gonna willingly canoodle with you. Now, scorpions, that's a
different story. They aren't gonna try and spoon with something a million times bigger but
they sure might take a liking to yer shoes. ALWAYS shake yer shoes and socks out in the
morning. And if you really want to fuel yer paranoia get a black light and check around in the
dark. Scorpions luminesce under black light. You may never bivy again.

Aug 10, 2014 - 10:08am PT
The cuddling rattlesnake (rattlesnake in the foot of your sleeping bag, blah blah) is, for the most part, a wive's tail.

The biggest danger is stepping on or near them. Evening, when they are out absorbing ground heat (like, say, on the trail) and the light is lower is the time to really keep your eyes peeled. They are very well camouflaged and, contrary to popular belief, do not often move out of your way or rattle when you approach.

Western rattlers can become a bit aggressive during the spring mating season. They won't actually come after you, but their attack radius increases a bit during that time.

Rattlers inject poison only about 30% of the time. Most bites are purely defensive. I know one guy who was bitten without being injected. He didn't even know it - he thought the snake had just latched onto his Teva until I showed him the fang marks.

I also know a guy who was bitten on the ankle and injected. Trust me, you don't want that. His entire lower leg looked like a red stove pipe.

It goes without saying - please don't kill them. We don't tear mountains down (unless they're filled with coal perhaps) because they're dangerous - same rules apply.

All that scorpion stuff is spot on. Check yer undies!

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:12am PT
When I was a kid in Texas, we were taught to shake out our shoes out every morning even in the house. I can remember driving out in west Texas with the roads absolutely crawling with tarantulas. And there was the occasional rattler or water mocassin or copperhead. My family coped by moving back to Colorado and camping above 8,000 feet. Better to be eaten by a bear or a mountain lion than a creepy crawlie was our motto.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:14am PT
I grew up in Alaska and Hawaii. No snakes. Whenever I see any snake these days I get pretty excited. Only seen a couple rattlers and one of my little bucket list things to do is catch one. I should probably go out looking for em sometime. I know a lot of folks really dislike snakes. I suspect it's a genetic embedded behavior pattern.

I sure don't worry sleeping in Rattlesnake territory. But hiking around I try to keep my eyes open. Considering how few I've seen I'm probably missing em..

edit... shoes seem like a hazzard area for critters from what folks are saying.

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:15am PT
In forty years of climbing, my closest call was one morning in Joshua Tree, having slept on the ground next to my truck.

As I went to grab a shoe and put it on, I fortunately spotted a baby rattler mingled amongst the shoe laces.

Since then, I never leave my shoes on the ground when I am camped in snake country.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:18am PT
I sleep outside the tent 90% of the time. No snake issues. I was stung by a scorpion 3 years ago walking barefoot on my back deck. That was slightly less painful than a bee sting.

Chicken tastes a lot like rattle snake.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:19am PT
climbski, please, leave the rattlers alone for the two of your sakes. It is very stressful for them.
How would you like it if Paul Bunyan picked you up by yer neck and choked you? Something like 85% of snake bites are to males 18-29 trying to pick one up. And, yes, alcohol is often involved.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:21am PT
What are you dude? Some kind of ....

Hang on, I have to sneeze ............... {Pussy!}
Excuse me.

Base of the Captain, before we climbed Wyoming Sheep Ranch.

I've never had issues with poisonous ones at El Cap, either.

Here's my 1980's porn star look, with the moustache, which took me six months to grow. Nice long rattle on this guy.


Social climber
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:31am PT
Don't be a dick, Pete. Very unCanadian of you. Young whitemeat here hasza phobia of the legless and, according to Stephen Pinker in The Language Instinct , a fear of snakes is universal amongst people.

Whitemeat you need to get your fine self to Squamish where there are no scorpions and the snakes are of the "I'm so outta here" type and non-poisonous to boot.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:38am PT
...you have an ophidiophobia

go to your local library and borrow this book:

Landscape with Reptile: Rattlesnakes in an Urban World
by Thomas Palmer

of course, this assumes you can be rational about it, which is likely very difficult.

However, this might help:

how many people do you know that just freakout, totally, irrationally, about heights... just loss control and let fear take over completely?

you must know people who cannot step up on a ladder.

And then compare that to your own relaxed attitudes... in fact, how many climbers do you know that have soloed Mungenella? I admit to doing it... and I know many who have, but I also know most have not...

OK, so you have a common human fear: of dark, of creatures, of being defenseless, and of snakes.

But you'll learn in reading that book above that there hasn't been a fatality in the Northeast part of the country from snake bite in the recorded history of european occupation, not one... yet the rattlesnake had been nearly extirpated (...look it up) by those occupants, their fears overtaking their rationality.

In the Valley, and many other places I have gone, I have probably approached many many more rattlesnakes than I have ever seen. If you think about it, rattlesnakes that are quick to be perturbed by your presence often end up dead...

I remember one quietly slithering into the rocks on the approach up to the trail on the Southeast base of El Cap, a snake, or it's family, that has probably encountered you on your approaches, though you may not have encountered them. I did not announce it to Debbie as she probably wouldn't have appreciated knowing it at that particular moment, and besides, the snake was gone before I reached it.

Debbie and I were admiring some desert plant, with a rattle seed pod, thinking that somehow in the breathless desert twilight that the rattling sound originated from the flora... only to have our eyes focus to the root of the plant and see it was from the disturbed fauna, who had been minding its own business there, only to be approached by two large mammals. It was indicating its presence respectfully... we backed off and it grouched off away from us up the trail.

If you walk with the eyes and the mind of someone looking at the world, you will find them everywhere. This may not help your particular phobia, but it is mostly true.

And learning to live in such a world is something we have to do, as those lessons have long been forgotten. We tend to kill off all such "dangerous" animals, fearing them.

Knowing that they are there, you will find them... welcome the fact that we haven't eliminated all that is wild from the wilderness.

Crotalus viridis, Western rattlesnake

spied on trailside on a hike in the "Mt. Diablo wilderness"
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:48am PT
Aw dude,

You really need to get up off the ground and go climb El Cap. It's fairly snake free up there.

Except this one time on Native Son, when I reached into a crack to place a cam, and almost got bit by this big ass rattlesnake.

Or the time at the base of Tangerine Trip where I was walking along and put my hand against the wall for balance, and there was this rattler coiled up in a ball.

Or the time on Excalibur when I was reaching into the offwidths, and found a nest of snakes. Baby ones, just little guys, all kind of curling and coiling and stuff.

And be super careful around the P.O. - Sea of Dreams area. Millions of rattlesnakes there. You can hear their rattles as you're walking up the trail. They're mean and nasty, with venom dripping on their fangs as they lie in wait for you!!!111111111111

Yer gonna die!!!!!!!!!!11111111111
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:52am PT
you do know where the Northeast is, don't you Ron?

it is the place where the intellectual elite of our country resides, for the most part, and is underrepresented on your list...

however, your list would seem to indicate a particular difficulty in westerners negotiating co-existence with a species whose brain size is orders of magnitude less than the humans it encounters, yet has bested them...

which would indicate the relative intellectual power of many westerners is less than that of a herpetile.

This conclusion would be consistent with my own observations. And at least the herptiles tend to be honest.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:56am PT
Dude, learn to relax. The odds of getting bit are very low.

Good on you for no tent. No need for them in California unless it's going to rain. In that case I prefer a fly so I can enjoy the rainy landscape.

It's my understanding that old John Muir walked around the Sierra in a gaberdine wool jacket and slept in a big pile of leaves. Maybe a wool blanket sometimes.

Modern men are whimps. No tent men are better. (chest thump here)
Rest day.
Rest day.
Credit: Spider Savage
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 10, 2014 - 11:02am PT
had you a different reaction, Ron, you might not have been struck at all...
but that probably would have been difficult to do, restrain your natural reaction. You are a man of action, after all.
Crazy Bat

Sport climber
Birmingham, AL & Seweanee, TN
Aug 10, 2014 - 11:11am PT
Relax. My professor, Dr. Ken Marion, when I got my masters in biology studied rattlesnakes out west. They were focused on migration patterns. They used an old military amory bunker that was a wintering site. They literally waded into the nest. He told me that a good pair of denim jeans are dense enough to keep the those fine little fangs from penetrating.

The thing they discovered is that when they are on the move they follow heat, not hot spots like you would generate laying on the ground, but a heat gradient based on average ground temperature.

Most of the time you are in a sleeping bag which not only keeps you warm but keeps the majority of the mass of your body from showing up as a heat source.

As a scientist I wills state that the empirical evidence of all the people you and I know who have slept on the ground and not awakened with a snake in their sleeping bag shows that it just don't happen. LOL S

Sleep well my friend.

Myrna from the long rope last year.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Aug 10, 2014 - 11:11am PT
A common fear is fear of loud noises.

Another is fear of the dark.

Another is FALLINg.

Bases pretty much covered. You are normal.

Speaking of loud noises,
Did you ever hear about Pete's busted hammer? Cheers, "Petie-Oh!"
Crank the vol knob! It will scare off any snakes.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Aug 10, 2014 - 11:25am PT

It's my understanding that old John Muir walked around the Sierra in a gaberdine wool jacket and slept in a big pile of leaves. Maybe a wool blanket sometimes.

Modern men are whimps. No tent men are better. (chest thump here)

We are from the same tribe.

Somewhere out there
Aug 10, 2014 - 11:30am PT
To the OP whitemeat:

The only advice I can offer is review Ed's post.. Learn what you can about the snakes in the ares that you may be going to to prepare and know what to do in the event that you should cross paths in the woods...

Snakes are not bad (they are hooked into this survival mode thing all the way), you just have to change your perspective on the fear...
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