I am aware that there are timber rattlesnakes in the area – my high-school girlfriend managed to grab one while climbing in the Catskills, thinking it was a root, and feeling its warm soft flesh threw it away from her before getting a bite. I’ve done a few landscaping jobs in the Shawangunks where I was warned that rattlesnakes frequented the property. But I never actually came across a rattlesnake before, not even in Arizona, and so it was quite a thrill to be hiking in Minnewaska State Park the other day and find one leisurely crossing the path. The snake’s motion was slow and stately and garnered quite a bit of attention from passing hikers. It was quite beautiful and surprisingly golden in color (my camera lies a bit when it comes to colors).
The Catskills is mostly too cold for such snakes, but the Gunks have them, and I’m told there are three rattlesnake dens – where they spend their winters – in the warmer parts of the Catskills, on Overlook Mountain, Mount Tremper, and near Vernooy Kill Falls. With all this global warming, I thought maybe a rattler or two in my garden might help with the chipmunk problem, but in the end a cat or weasel is probably a better idea.