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Sierra Rattlesnakes

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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby mokelumnekid » Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:55 pm

Hmmm... probably at a place called Meadow Lake, at 7700 feet in El Dorado National Forest. Meadow Lake drains into the north fork Mokelumne and is accessed by driving south off Hwy. 88 on the Blue Lakes road. But I'm not surprised to see them higher and wouldn't be too surprised by variability that has decadal time scales (just a caution about the differences between highly variable weather on decadal time scales and real climate change which is a statistical representation over much longer averages- there can be significant changes in weather and precip over many years without climate change.) The BIGGEST ones I've ever seen were in the 2,000-4,000 foot belts where I have encountered some real monsters...



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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby Bad Man From Bodie » Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:44 pm

I once saw a Sierra Snow Snake up Mono Pass 11,000 ft in the dead of winter. Lil guy would of killed me dead if it wernt for the little beady read eyes of his poking out of the snow, gave him away they did. My dog and I excaped with our lives that day. As for rattlers....Mt Dana :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby gdurkee » Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:55 pm

The sighting on Mt. Dana was reported by Dr. Carl Sharsmith, Yosemite ranger-naturalist for 50 years and alpine botany expert. He didn't mention the down jacket, I just assumed it.

g.
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby rlown » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:59 pm

This wasn't really high, but i recommend you never go into the Mokulumne wilderness from the Salt Springs Reservoir end in June/July. My friends and I when in college spent most of our summers at the NE end of Mokulumne near Round Top, Forth of July Lks and the upper canyon. No snakes there.

Salt springs was another matter.. we were fine until about 5000' where i was blindly walking the trail and stepped right over a coiled 2.5' rattler. We slowed our pace, and discovered snakes everywhere. We all had poles with us so we were using them for snake duty rather than walking. We saw a few really pretty milk snakes as well, coiled up on tree stumps of all things.

Once we got up about two miles, we settled down by the river, and we kept hearing this buzzing (ok, rattling) sound. There were little rattlers up in this 8' rock face next to the creek, each one in it's own little crack/crevice. There must have been 20 snakes there. I didn't sleep well that night.

Russ
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby Baffman » Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:13 pm

I saw one last year at the Sphinx Creek junction of Bubbs Creek. I almost stepped on it. Probably the biggest rattlesnake I've ever seen. I kid you not, it was at least 3 feet long. Not a big surprise since it is about 6300 feet there. I simply wasn't paying enough attention to the ground.

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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby gdurkee » Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:19 pm

Speaking of rattlesnakes, last summer one of the trail crew heard a rattle, looked up, and there was a rattlesnake 10 feet up a tree! Junction Meadow. Never heard anything like that before.

g.
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby ERIC » Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:47 pm

Saw one a few years back just below Selden Pass between Sally Keyes Lakes and Heart Lake (~10,200ft). Not very big, but was surprised to see one there.

I often spot them just up the trail from Florence Lake (~7,600ft), and in the rocks near the potholes up from Muir Trail Ranch (~8,000ft). Last year, I came close to getting nailed by one coming down the big rock to Florence Lake. Stepped over a groove in the rock when my wife, who was following close behind me, let out a yelp. The medium sized rattler was coiled facing downhill and had a clear shot at my Achilles' heel only inches away as I stepped over him. He poked his head up as I walked over and my wife spotted him. No rattle to warn me. No strike. Happy Eric.
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby Buck Forester » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:20 pm

I've encountered a lot of rattlers and I'm not sure the 'highest' elevation encounter, but for me the highest concentration I've ever seen of them is from multiple trips into Tehipite Valley. That place is infested with them, at least in early season. I've had them strike my hiking pole with venom dripping off the cup. It's not uncommon to see a half dozen in a few hours. I go back there right after snowmelt so I don't know about the rest of the hot summer and fall. They're quite docile in the early and late hours due to the cold. I remember one morning waking up, still in my sleeping bag on the open sand, and seeing a big rattler slithering along about 10 feet from me, completely uninterested in my presence. It was pretty cool. I love that place. The bear poop per sq. ft. area is the highest I've ever encountered anywhere too.
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby gcj » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:55 pm

Hi, I've also encountered many rattle snakes in the Sierra and elsewhere. Usually when I'm least expecting them. When I'm looking out for them, I almost never see any. Go figure... My highest encounter was at about 9000 feet which seems to agree with many other posters.

I was coming down from Mt. Hooper via the Tombstone heading for the Double Meadow area to pick up the trail back to Florence Dam. I'd stopped to eyeball the steep slope ahead and plan a route through the dry brush on the south facing slope high above the San Joaquin River. A moment after I'd stopped, I heard a loud hissss coming from the ground near my feet. With my skin crawling and the hair on my neck sticking up, my muscles froze and tried to look down at my feet by just moving my eyes. At that moment another hissss came- louder than before. I flexed my knees and pushed off in a world record-breaking broad jump. I landed about 5 or 6 feet down hill from my previous stance and whorled around to see what had been at my feet. It was shockingly huge. I don't remember the dimensions, but it was far larger that nearly every other snake I'd ever seen... very fat with dark coloring that almost matched the ground. I watched as it moved slowly into a hole in the ground upon which I'd been standing. As it moved, it's rattle wagged slowly back and forth in the air- too slowly to make a sound. This was in July or August, so I don't think it was in a hibernation state; I got the impression from looking at it that it was just very old. "Sorry about standing on your house. Thanks for not biting me," I muttered under my breath. When it finally disappeared into the ground, I continued my journey. Getting back to my car at Florence Dam took much longer than I'd originally planned, since I was now checking and double checking every rock, branch and shadow that were within 4 or 5 feet of my path for snakes. Of course, now that I was checking for them, I didn't see a single one for the rest of the day. :)
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby gdurkee » Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:17 pm

Ahoy:

I just posted a map with all rattlesnake observations for Sequoia Kings up to 2003. The data is derived from actual sightings reported by visitors (a few), rangers & NPS workers (the majority) and historical references from the archives (a few). I didn't do an analysis/labeling by elevation because, originally, the data was just projected in grids not necessarily related to where the original observation was from. This has since been corrected but I don't think it would give an accurate elevation for the sighting from all the accumulated error. I also just projected it onto the Sequoia Kings Brochure map, so obviously this is just a general idea of where rattlesnakes are.

As near as I can tell, the maximum elevation of sightings seem to be upper Woods Creek, Rae Lakes and Finger Peak area -- all around 10,500 feet or maybe a little more.

I might do this for Yosemite soon, though there's not as many recorded sightings from there.

http://ostranderhut.com/RattlesnakeObsSEKI.html

If you click on the map, you'll get a bigger one.

George
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:47 pm

Wow, those high ones are indeed really high. Upper Blue Canyon at10.5 . Like most people I walked around there never even considering the possibility of seeing one. On the other hand, I may be a tad more vigilant than before, but even when I do work at low elevations I tend to worry about it quite a bit more before I leave the road, but once off trail I concentrate on the task at hand. I think when one is worrying about one's footing (or on the geology underfoot) one's senses are in pretty good shape to ID a snake before stepping on it (I hope).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Sierra Rattlesnakes

Postby gdurkee » Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:02 pm

Good to have perspective from Giantbrookie. I know of only one rattlesnake bite with venom injected in Yosemite and Sequoia Kings in the last couple of decades (three more in the foothills < 2,000 feet). If I remember right, I think a majority of snake bitten people that present in an ER are drunk... .

A quiet night here in the rain so, at not extra charge, here's a snake map for Yosemite:

http://ostranderhut.com/YOSE_Rattlesnake_Sightings_To2000.html

Neither of these, incidentally, are great examples of the data mapper's art... .

g.
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