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[ft-l] Looking Out on the Trail



Concerning snakes: I have encountered many snakes on the trail. Usually
they are no big deal, even the poisonous ones. I have come across coral
snakes at least 3 times in the past 15 years - they move slow and are
easy to see on the trail. If you leave them alone they will slowly
slither away. Rattlesnakes are also common, and I have seen a few.
Again, they only want to get away and are usually easy to see along the
trail. I agree, though, that Pygmy rattlers are a different story. They
are much smaller and harder to see and they are more agressive than
their larger bretheren. In Pine Log Stste Forest, I saw three in one day
and easily got photos of one of them since he (she?) would not move. I
have a photo of this snake striking toward the lens of my camera. I was
holding the camera  on the end of a 4 foot tripod and used a time delay
to get the picture. (S)he was not at all intimidated by me, my size, or
the camera. Cottonmouth moccascins are generally the most aggressive of
the big snakes. They stand their ground and give way only reluctantly.
However, they also give warning when they detect you by raising their
head/front end up and displaying the open mouth/throat with the vividly
white interior. It is an impressive display. The only time I encountered
a copperhead was scary though. In that case, it blended in with the leaf
litter and I was way too close when I finally spotted it. I probably
looked very funny as I scuttled backwards in high gear! It also would
not leave the trail and I eventually circled around it to continue my
walk. You do need to be aware of what is around you, but I don't think
you need to look down all the time.

Airboats: Most of my encounters with airboats have been in Potts
Preserve (near Inverness). That is where they often take their vessel(?)
off the water and go across the land. Potts borders the Withlacoochee
River to the east and the Tsala Apopka basin to the west. The preserve
itself could be described as a watery area with a multitude of islands
and manmade and natural causeways connecting them, so it is easy to
travel around via airboat. I have seen airboats up on the land at
various places along the northern and western sides of the preserve and
in the group camping field (near the river) on the east side. The guy
who almost hit me was coming along the trail in a low area with lots of
brush close to the trail. The trail was probably the most convenient
open path for him to follow, except that I was also walking along it.
This was in the north portion of Potts approaching the long footbridge.
As soon as he saw me he veered off to one side as I went the other way
and we passed without injury. He quickly disappeared around the next
bend and was gone except for the roar of the engine which went on for a
while. There are several places in Potts where airboat tracks cross the
hiking trail in the woods. You can see where the earth has been smoothed
out as if a sheet of plywood had been dragged across it and sometimes
you will see some coloring on exposed rocks or tree roots where the
fiberglass resin gel-coat has been scraped off of the hull.

- Carl

Holly wrote:
>
>  . . .  Watching your step on the trail. I am wondering
> whether you or anyone else on the list has encountered snakes, and if so,
> what you do about it. Two weeks ago in Kissimmee Prairie SP, I nearly stepped
> on a pygmy rattlesnake. The ranger confirmed there were a lot of those snakes
> there. After that, the next day I was almost afraid to look up in case I
> stepped on another snake. Especially when you're on long hikes, just how much
> can you keep looking down at your feet?
>
>  . . .  It's incredible to think you've almost been run over by an airboat
> while on a hiking trail. It's just one of those things I can't imagine
> happening. Airboats really going across the land -- ? Do you remember where
> you were? Amazing.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Holly