Recently, I became a member of the BLM’s Volunteer Hiking Patrol — BLM being the Bureau of Land Management. Yesterday I went out on my very first patrol up in the Ignacio Chavez Wilderness Study Area, which is in a pretty remote area of New Mexico.

The purpose of the patrols is, among other things, to look for signs that vehicles have been driving in areas restricted to vehicles, checking springs to see if they are wet or dry, installing various types of signage, checking the integrity of archaeological and cultural sites, etc. I will write a hike description on this patrol later, as well as post some pictures and a video, but I thought you might be interested in this story first. (BTW, I am also working on the hike report for my backpacking trip. Hope to get that up soon.)

After hiking a couple of miles in, we had to make our way down below the mesa, about a 600 foot drop, in order to check a spring to see if it was wet or dry. The spring was dry, but there was some pretty good green growing further down so we hiked there to take a look. We found a couple of water holding tanks dug in the ground, one, in particular, proved more interesting than the others. I’ll let the pictures and captions tell the rest of the story.

I took this picture of the water tank, then walked around to the left to take another.

I then took this pic of the tank and left to check out the rest of the area. Take a very close look at this pic. Do you see anything… something I didn’t see, but should have seen had I been paying attention?

How about now?

Here is an enlargement of that circled area. Yes, that is a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake… in a defensive posture… all coiled up and ready to strike!!!!

Here is a closer look after our hike leader spotted the snake and called us over for a look. Impressive, don’t you think? Trust me when I say… I was VERY impressed!! ๐Ÿ™‚

After I took the first pic of the water tank, as I walked around to get the second pic, I had walked within two feet of this snake. Why he didn’t strike me in the right leg as I walked by, I really don’t know.

After taking the second pic of the tank, I went off and took pics of the rest of the area. It was only later that the leader of our hiking patrol, Ed, saw the snake and called the rest of us over to take a look, which is when I took that last pic.

And although the snake was in a defensive posture as I passed it, and as we all stood there gawking at it later, ย it didn’t seen aggressive and it didn’t really try to get away. The snake had a big bulge in its belly, which was probably a mouse he had recently eaten, and that may be the reason I lucked out — the snake was expending all its energy trying to digest its meal and didn’t have enough energy left to bite my ignorant you-know-what!!

Even though I know I am hiking in rattlesnake country, I am really bad about not paying attention to where I am walking and where I put my feet. This was my wake-up call. I won’t forget again!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

And, yes, feel free to tell me just how ignorant (or lucky) you think I am. I’m sure I will agree with you!! ๐Ÿ˜‰