Three Guys, Two Snakes and One Cooler

Three Guys, Two Snakes and One Cooler”, that’s what Charlotte Caplin of the Asheville Mushroom Club (AMC) says will be the title of a video chronicling part of my recent adventure on a club foray to the Cosby Campround in the Great Smoky Mtn National Park – July 28th. The eminent amateur mycologist, Jay Justice was on hand to video one event and threatens to put in on You Tube. Not sure about that, but I’ve been given no edit/veto power.

After a lot of milling that Saturday, we set off in two groups and I tagged along with Jay and Charlotte up the Low Gap trail. The trailhead left off from a paved road that wound  through the campsite near our set up. It only took a few hundred yards before I decided to go back to the trail area since we weren’t finding any mushroom anyway. I began to wander through the woods in that area – lots of old stone fence lines and second groth vegetation. As usual I was focused on fungi and not paying a lot of attention to the terainn, when I head the noise – Bzzzzzz. Turning around, I saw the yellow jackets powering out of the hole I must have just put my walking stick in and into the filtered sunlight. Bomm!!!! Off I went pell mell through the briars, vines, or whatever. Fight was not an option, flight was the only answer. Got in a little physiology lesson here.

A number of years ago, I fell into a yellow jacket nest foraging for antique beers can in a roadside dump – but tant’s another story in itself. Anyway, I developed a sever allergy to insect stings and arried an anakit from then on. Well, the years passed; anakits gave was to Epi-pens, and my memory cave in to amnesia. So, I did not carry my Epi-pen this day. Will in the future!!! After running and swatting, I stopped to self examne, and I had 8-10 stings. Afraid of anaphylactic shots I headed startight back to our picnic area, took some Clariten and Benedryl and waited for the group to return.

Upon return of the group, my cousin’s husband, Ken and his grandson Lucas and I wandered around the immediate area scouring some a few ‘shrroms. Found a good one too – three specimens of Gloeocantherellus puppurascens, it’s in Aurora’s key on page 660. I was still a little woozy though which may have affected my reaction when we picked a couple Amanita right off the asphalt,followed by a slithering in front of my feet. Oh, a black snake I thought —–

Timber rattlesnake at Cosby

Black snake,Shoo snake!! It was a beautiful 3-foot minimum timber rattler! I poked at it with my walking stick and it curled up near a rock lining the pavement. “Come over and get a picture, “ I told Ken and as he came over  he casually commented, “Oh, there’s another one”. It too was slithering in front of me, so I used my stick to flip into the road. The I flipped the first one into the road too. So, what are we going to do with two timber rattlers in a populated campground? Capture and relocate of course!

What followed was a 20-minute, I guess, effort to flip the snakes into a coller that refused to cooperate. We put Lucas in charge of the cooler lid, while Ken stayed on his camera. Now when you wrangle snakes with a ½ diameter dogwood walking stick it’s not like you see on reality “snake guys” TV with snake hooks or “grabbers”. They just crawl over it, so you have to continually keep flipping them. Target practice like the bean bag toss game called corn hole.

We caught the first one by getting it to curl up in respone to our directions with the stick – sort of like a lion tamer at the circus pointing commands. Once coiled we got a plastic storage container over it, slide the lid under and then dumped the snake into the cooler, top closed, deal done??? Huh?

How do you keep snake one in the cooler while flipping snake #2 into it? No way. One guy with an official looking trekking stick monitored #1 while I flipped #2 – a number of time. Once we had both in with a head sticking out each side. Oh well, you’ll have to see the video. I post the lnk here if it gets on You Tube.

Rangers finally came, took the cooler and relocated the snakes. The cooler smelled so awful when I got it back, I dumped all our rotten mushrooms in it to cover the stench. Two for one I suppose. With all that excitement, I had to stop and take a nap on the way home, itching like crazy. All in all, it was a hoot and we found an uncommon mushroom. Good foray I should say. . . . . . .