Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Owens Peak

I went hiking on Owens Peak recently.  I didn't summit.  I'm not a peak bagger so I often don't reach the top of the peaks I climb.  The route was very steep and one of my knees was hurting.  I decided to turn back and avoid any injury because I'm headed to Zion NP next week and I don't want to risk ruining that trip with a sore knee.  I can always return to Owens Peak later for more hiking.  The GPS data from my Garmin fenix seems to be off a bit.  I followed a clear trail up and down, and not the separate paths shown below.

It was a great day for hiking.  The Los Angeles area was experiencing a bit of a heat wave, so hiking above 7000 feet means it was much cooler.  The temps were mid 70s.  There was a slight breeze, but not in the shaded canyon where the trail lies.  That area was swarming with small flies.  They all seemed to be intent on landing on my eyeballs.  That part was very annoying.

My hike was about 6 miles total.  I didn't see any other hikers.  There were several other cars on the dirt road in Indian Wells Canyon, but none drove to the trailhead at the end.  The trail is pretty obvious.  There are plenty of small rock cairns to follow.  

On the way down, I almost stepped on this little critter.

I'm pretty good at looking out for these guys.  This time it was hard because I was focused on swatting the flies from my face.  The snake just lay there motionless.  Not even rattling.  I tossed a small rock at it to see if it was alive and maybe get it to move.  It was alive, but only moved its head to look toward me.  It was about 16-18 inches long.  A young one.  Less chance of a dry bite.  After carefully looking for other snakes in the area, I left the trail to walk around the snake.  Took a few more photos, then turned to leave.  That's when it started rattling.

When I got home, I consulted my rattlesnake book.  It appears to be a Northern Mojave rattlesnake (Crotalus Scutulatus), aka Mojave Green.  Yikes.  The book has a lot of info, and a whole section on distinguising these from the western diamondback rattlesnake that looks very similar.  Mojave Greens are very aggressive, very poisonous snakes.  Probably the most dangerous snakes we have in southern California.  

Before heading home, I stopped off at the Indian Wells Brewery and picked up a case of my favorite brew: Special Black Lobotomy Bock.

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