Chapter 14-3: How to Enjoy Life - Summer

When I first went snake hunting with Bob, I was extremely skittish walking along dry streambeds and between bushes with only a flashlight to guide my way, knowing there were some extremely dangerous creatures lurking nearby. I stayed close by the truck, or close to Bob, but over time I overcame my fears and ventured further afield; I still like to stay to open ground and never get too close to bushes and shrubs, where a snake may be lurking. There's still a thrill though, a sense of danger, excitement and anticipation, at finding a handsome rattler or pretty kingsnake.

On one of our first camping trips in the Gila National Forest, an incredible outdoor playground encompassing 3.3 million acres of rugged mountain ranges, including the Black Range and Mogollon Mountains we spotted the most beautiful snake I had ever seen, a Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake.

Holding my first snake: A Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake

Bob stopped the car, jumped out and picked up the small two-and-a-half-foot long snake with vibrant orange, black and white stripes. The orange stripes were bordered by thinner black stripes. Separating the black stripes were white stripes slightly broader than the black stripes. There's an old snake saying, red against yellow a dangerous fellow, red against black an alright Jack. If you come across a brilliantly striped snake with yellow rings bordered by bright red or orange, then leave well enough alone as it's a venomous coral snake. All the other species are simply mimicking the coral snake's colors to deter enemies from killing and eating them.

Kingsnakes are generally mellow snakes, and people commonly raise them as pets. I held this beauty, letting it crawl over my arms, around my neck and up the sleeve of my T-shirt, and from that moment was hooked on snakes! And to this day will happily rescue and relocate any snake for anyone in Socorro.