Monday, May 17, 2010

Black Rat Snakes and Mt Laurel

MAY 15&16 2010


!!! A RECORD!!!

Even though dogs are not allowed on either the Ridge Trail or the Saddle Trail I find myself reminding two to three parties of the rule every weekend. Almost all the trails in the SNP allow dogs but there are a few that do not. Check out SNP's web site's page titled PETS.

For some reason the Black Rat Snakes were out in large numbers on Saturday and members of our group saw three. I saw two of them, one on a tree and one on the trail. The snake in the tree was about four feet long and the one on the trail was at least five feet long. Other members of our team saw a third black snake in the Old Rag Shelter. Check out Silver Spring Wanderer's blog for a picture of the third black snake peeking its head out from the Old Rag Shelter rafters along with a whole bunch of other great pictures.

The second Black Rat Snake I saw started to cross the trail but thought better of it after sensing a large group of hikers approaching. I was able to point him out to about 50 passing hikers.

The Mountain Laurel were starting to bloom.

Saturday was a little bit warm and mostly sunny. Sunday was mostly cloudy and a little cooler.

Most pictures offer higher resolution if click on them. Click on the next one in order to better pick out hikers on the summit.

There were no significant problems on the Mountain so we got in lots of training on litter tie-ins and natural anchors.


  1. Great photos. The black rat snake is a great climber and can be aggressive - but is non-venomous. Not to fear - but fascinating photos! Thanks for sharing. Cabin Jim

  2. Ugh! Snakes. Two weeks ago a member of my group put his hand on a tree without looking at it first. He was startled to find himself touching a black rat snake instead. Luckily, he likes snakes and used to work at a pet store ringing up customers with a boa constrictor wrapped around himself. *shudder*

  3. Anita -- look on the bright side: snakes help to keep the rodent populations in check. I'd much rather have a plethora of snakes than mice and rats.

  4. Hi Bob,

    Is anyone allowed to do night hikes? Or do we have to have a backcountry permit and camp? Thanks.

  5. Chris,

    While the roads and park facilities can have hours of operation the SNP lands are available 24X7. The permit you are speaking about is a camping permit and is not needed if all you are doing is hiking. Like travelling in the SNP during times of deep snow it is best to assume that night time is a self rescue time. With the venomous snakes out I would probably use a light even under bright moonlight.

    Going back to Anita's comment about her friend touching the Black Snake on the tree trunk. On rare occasions I have seen some humongous Wolf Spiders on tree trunks.