Spent Thursday morning/afternoon with my dad hiking Hemp Top Trail in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The weather was gorgeous! Hot of course, but the cover of the trees helped keep us cooled off. The majority of the trail was an old forest service road, which was nice.
About a mile up the mountain we just-so-happened to wander upon a rather large, defensive Timber Rattlesnake! I LOVE snakes, but she spooked me. However, I was so glad to finally see one! I was watching 9my step (like usual), but I was only looking about 3 feet ahead. We saw each other at about the same exact time. I froze in my tracks and threw my arms out to keep Dad from running over top of us both. I might have even let an expletive or two slip out.
Anyway, she immediately let out a loud puff of air (I don’t know how else to explain it) and went into a defensive coiled position in the middle of the trail. Once the initial shock wore off after a few seconds, I immediately turned on my camera and started taking pictures and making videos. She never offered to move until Dad attempted to get her to strike the walking stick I had. She had no interest. She tried to hide in the weeds on the edge of the trail against the bank. (The video I will attach below this post is her trying to hide in the weeds and us moving her across the trail and off the bank.)
She continuously rattled the entire time. We were with her at least 10 minutes and she never once stopped. If you’re interested, check out the video to see what happens. Pay extra close attention to the last few seconds. As she crosses the trail and disappears off the bank, watch how FAST she darts through the leaves. It amazed me. It is very clear to me that had she wanted to bite us when we first encountered her she could have easily.
I guess you’re wondering why I keep referring to it as “her” and “she.” Maybe you haven’t thought anything about it… but to answer the question anyway, I spoke with a somewhat local snake expert who is very experienced with most all snakes, especially venomous snakes. According to her, the Timber Rattlesnake we encountered was a gravid (pregnant) female! I knew she was really thick but didn’t realize she was going to be a mom!
I’m just thankful it was my dad and I that came up on her and not some asshole or coward whose philosophy is “the only good snake is a dead snake.” (Those people drive me INSANE.) I posted a picture and video to the local Facebook page and had a few “why didn’t you kill it?” “Shoot it!” “A dead snake is good snake!” responses… If your first response is that I will automatically assume you’re an idiot. Don’t try to justify your feelings on the matter. You’re WRONG. Plain and simple. I was respectful, but made sure to point out I was in HER home, she was not in my home. Also, I don’t believe in the senseless killing of anything. If you hunt and eat what you kill, I have no issue with that. BUT if you’re one of those people that kill creatures just because you’re a coward and scared of them, we will not get along.
Going to get off my snake/critter soapbox now. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Be sure to check out the video. The rattling sound is pretty amazing to see/hear if you’re like me and never experienced it before now.
Also, I was curious as to why the mountain was named Hemp Top. I asked Dad and he didn’t know (but he did know why they called Penitentiary Branch its name.. that’s for another time though!). I did a little research and found this little bit of info I thought was interesting.
– Translation of Cherokee word “gatun-lti-yiy,” or literally “hemp place.” This community in Fannin County was probably so named because of wild hemp (Apocyunum cannabinum), which apparently grew there. This species of hemp was used for bow strings.
Oh and here is the snake video: 🐍🐍🐍
(I originally wrote this post at the end of July/first of August 2017… But for some reason I didn’t publish it?! So, I’m publishing it now… Almost a year later. Enjoy!)