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.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:18am PT
Haven been bitten by baby rattler and a scorpion. The scorp hurt far worse.

Had crawled into me shirt when it was laying on the ground. Got me right between the manories, thus creating a third , rather weird looking one. I was slapping myself like some manner of a spastic in mid attack.

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"
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:46am PT
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Jamie Coots, 42, male Feb 15, 2014 rattlesnake Coots was bitten on the right hand during a service at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, Kentucky. After the bite, Coots dropped the snakes, but then picked them back up and continued the ceremony. Later, he was driven to his home. When paramedics arrived, his relatives refused medical treatment for him, saying it was inconsistent with his religion. He died at home.
Mark Randall Wolford, 44, male May 28, 2012 Timber Rattlesnake Wolford was bitten on the thigh while handling a timber rattlesnake as part of an outdoor religious service at Panther State Forest in McDowell County, West Virginia.[4] Wolford did not initially seek medical treatment for his injury, but was taken to Bluefield Regional Medical Center when his condition began to deteriorate some eight hours later.[4] Wolford was a pastor and often handled his pet snake during church services.[4] Wolford's father, Mack Wolford, died in 1983 under similar circumstances.[5]
Wade Westbrook, 26, male January 29, 2011 Copperhead Westbrook was bitten just above the right elbow while handling a copperhead; he had been attempting to determine the snake's sex.[6] According to witnesses, Westbrook "tried to extract the venom with a tool after he was bitten, then he began coughing and vomiting before he collapsed."[7] Westbrook was pronounced dead on arrival at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[7] The cause of death was determined to be "anaphylactic shock as a result of the snake bite."[7]
William Price, 67, male October 13, 2010 rattlesnake, probably a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake Price was bitten above the right ankle while wading across a stream near Cuyamaca Reservoir in Cuyamaca, California.[8] Price had been taking part in a study of steelhead trout that was funded by a state Department of Fish and Game grant.[8] According to witnesses, Price "stopped breathing within minutes" of being bitten. The bite marks on his foot were reportedly "an inch and a half across."[8] Price was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center, but later died.
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Richard Rupert, 68, male October 10, 2009 Timber rattlesnake Hunting with grandson in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.[9]
Jackie Ledwell, 63, female October, 2007 Mojave Rattlesnake Bitten while taking a walk in Paulden, Arizona.[10]
Inocenio Hernandez-Hernandez, 29, male June 10, 2006 Eastern Coral Snake Hernandez-Hernandez became the first person to die in the United States from a fatal coral snake bite since 1967. He and Jesus Moreida, both of Bonita Springs, Florida, were bitten by a coral snake they tried to kill.[11]
Former police officer from Madison County, Texas 2006 Copperhead [12]
Joe Guidry, 54, male October 2005 Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Guidry, the Putnam County, Florida fire marshall, went to help a neighbor who had spotted a rattlesnake while mowing grass. He shot at the snake; it went under a shed and Guidry was bitten when he reached for it.
Margaret Wilson White, 54, female July 2005 rattlesnake Hays County, Texas near Wimberley along Ranch Road 12, about a quarter mile west of County Road 213.[13][14]
Trent Leprette, 31, male June 2004 Copperhead Bitten on each hand while swimming in Saugahatchee Creek near Lochapoka, Alabama. Leprette was admitted to East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika; he developed complications and died after several days of treatment.[15]
Professor Chavez, 34, male May 2003 rattlesnake Killed in Riverside County, California.
Pat Hughes, 45, male August 2002 rattlesnake Bitten on finger by a small snake in his own garage, admitted to Sierra Vista Regional Health Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona and treated with antivenom but died of "complications associated with the bite".[16]
Derek Lema, 2, male September 16, 2000 Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Bitten in the thigh by rattlesnake while helping his dad Victor Lema in their Lakewood, Florida backyard.
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Anita Finch, 33, female Reported December 17, 1999 Gaboon Viper or Hog-nosed Sand Viper Bitten by either of these snakes she kept as pets in her Van Nuys, California home.[17]
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Adult male 1980s rattlesnake A single fatal rattlesnake bite was reported in Utah during this decade.
Mack Ray Wolford, 39, male August 28, 1983 Timber Rattlesnake Wolford was bitten on the arm by a timber rattlesnake during religious services at the Lord Jesus Temple in Mile Branch, near Iaeger, West Virginia.[5] Wolford did not initially seek medical treatment. An ambulance was summoned eight hours after Wolford had been bitten, but he died during transport to Stevens Clinic in Welch, West Virginia.[5] Wolford's son, Mark Wolford, died in 2012 under similar circumstances.[4]
John Holbrook, 38, male August 1982 rattlesnake Reverend Holbrook was bitten while handling a rattlesnake during religious services in Oceana, West Virginia.[5][18] Holbrook reportedly refused medical assistance because his religion did not permit it.[5][18]
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Gordon D. Ball, 34, male August 5, 1973 rattlesnake Ball was presumably bitten by a snake, possibly a Massasauga, while traveling alone through Bergen-Byron Swamp on a "picture-taking expedition".[19] A five-day police search recovered Ball's body from a small clearing "near Warboys Road, on the swamp's northern perimeter."[19] An autopsy report listed snakebite as the presumptive cause of death.[19]
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
George Went Hensley, 74, male July 25, 1955 unknown Died from a bite sustained while handling snakes during a religious service in Virginia.
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Jerry Frier, 7, male June 22, 1943 rattlesnake Died from rattlesnake bite in Lafayette County, Florida.
Mrs. Floyd Butterbaugh, 22, Female July 18, 1947 timber rattler Was bitten by a timber rattler at her home on Piney Creek, 12 miles east of Chillicothe, Ohio near the Tar Hollow State Forest. Mrs. Butterbaugh was picking beans in her garden when she was bitten. She died the next day. This is the last known fatality from a wild snake bite in the State of Ohio. [20]

Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Rebecca Nimmons, 19, female July 1928 rattlesnake Killed by a rattlesnake in Pickens County, South Carolina.
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Jane Lancaster, 66, female August 21, 1921 probably a Timber Rattlesnake Ross County, Ohio The bite occurred in Franklin Township at Snake Hollow, near the present day Scioto Trails State Forest, southeast of Chillicothe, Ohio. The article in the Chillicothe Gazette explains that it could not be confirmed if the bite Mrs. Lancaster suffered was from a copperhead or rattlesnake. Given the severity of the wounds, it was likely a timber rattlesnake that bit her.[21]
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Helen Moomey, 4, female 1915 rattlesnake Died from a rattlesnake bite she received while playing with friends near her house in Billings County, North Dakota.
two Wilson children June 1913 Prairie Rattlesnake Bitten and died while family was sleeping on the North Dakota prairie.
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Mary Bull, 12, female July 9, 1907 rattlesnake Died from a rattlesnake bite in Shenandoah County, Virginia.
Frank Benham, 2, male September 25, 1903 prairie rattlesnake Died from rattlesnake bite in Adams County, Colorado, 17 miles north of Deer Trail.
Edward Comstock, 39, male September 25, 1900 rattlesnake Died as result of a bite from a rattlesnake during a snake handling exhibition on Water Street in Chillicothe, Ohio. Newspaper article: Edward Comstock, manager of a snake show, was bitten by a rattlesnake at Chilll- cothe, O., last week and died, in terrible agony. His hand and arm swelled to an enormous size. Every known antidote was tried without avail. He was changing the snakes and put bis hand into a box, when the rattler bit him. He had handled snakes for years.[22]
Before 1900[edit]
Name, age, gender Date Species Location, comments
Rebecca O. Andrews, approximately 28, female c. 1890 rattlesnake Died from rattlesnake bite in Kansas.
James Ananias Brannon, 2, male July 1882 rattlesnake Died from a rattlesnake bite received while lying on a blanket in Texas.
George Sides, 6, male May 30, 1873 rattlesnake Died in Texas of a rattlesnake bite.
Frederick Louis Niemann, male 1873 rattlesnake Died in Saline County, Kansas, from a rattlesnake bite.
William A. Perrin, male 1859 rattlesnake Killed by a rattlesnake at Stribling Springs in Augusta County, Virginia.
Maggie Lee, female October 24, 1854 rattlesnake She was the first child to die of a snakebite in Parker County, Texas.
H. M. Pettigrew, 31, male 1841 rattlesnake He died from a rattlesnake bite while clearing land in Fannin County, Texas.
See also[edit]

I dont go out of the way to kill one- unless im hungry for chicken. But i wont tolerate surly snakes in camp..
'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
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Aug 10, 2014 - 10:59am PT
What attempts to bite me ,, dies. Cept for my parrot Max, cuz she always tells me she "aint in the mood" before i press her buttons..

The little young fekker rattler that bit me was turned into a snake skin strap for my black powder bag. I only got a trace of poison from him luckily. Just enough to provide sweats and spontaneous hurling after the fact. It didnt bode well for the boomtown buffet for a customer to be hanging over the rails of the front door loosing a plate full. The TINY fang marks are still visible on my wrist to this day.

edit: Ed,, this explains much as to why you ended up as far west as you could get LMAO! ;-)
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.
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