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Hikers beware: Rattlesnakes lurking in trailside shadows

April 20, 2009 |  8:25 am

Rattlesnake coils in trailside shadow at Charmlee Wilderness Park.

If you're hiking at Charmlee Wilderness Park in the Santa Monicas this week and find a pair of brown New Balance trail shoes, they're mine. I leaped from them Friday afternoon the moment  the viper in the photograph coiled and rattled like a maraca when I passed too closely.

I could easily have been bitten. I violated many of the Department of Fish and Game's rules against hiking during rattlesnake season: I was alone without cellphone service, and was not wearing ankle-high boots or long pants.

But I discovered that I possess springlike reflexes; sideways broad-jumping is a specialty.

The Southern Pacific rattlesnake had been resting at the shadowy base of a small tree on the northern trail above the nature center, after the trail loops and begins to descend. It was almost imperceptible but the camera's flash shed enough light to capture an image.

It's not a very good photo but it's proof that rattlesnake season has arrived. Please watch your step.

-- Pete Thomas

A young California towhee surveys its surroundings.

Photos: (top) Rattlesnake coils in trailside shadow at Charmlee Wilderness Park. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

(bottom) A young California towhee surveys its surroundings. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times


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