Today I was able to witness one of the coolest things I have seen in nature.
I went out for a run during lunch at Hall Ranch. Typically on these short lunchtime runs, I complete the climb at the 2 mile mark and head back. I actually run just past the bench to the 2 mile marker, then jog back to the bench, where I take in the views before descending. Today's run did not disappoint. It was a spectacular day, with temperatures in the low 60's, sun shining and I actually felt good. My ankle was only minimally tight and I felt zero knee pain. I also took it easy up the 1 mile climb.
Just before I headed down the hill, a mountain biker told me to watch out for the snake! Yes, me and another snake encounter.....and what a snake it was. I've seen a lot of prairie rattlers, but this was by far the largest I've ever seen. I think saying it was 4 feet long is probably on the light side. It also had sizable girth. But what seemed funny was the fact that a prairie dog was in the middle of the trail, watching the snake, only a few feet away. Of course, I had to stay and watch because I was thinking the worse (I'll let your mind wander)!
This is where it got interesting. The rattlesnake actually backed away and went around the prairie dog, who appeared to be standing it's ground. Then I noticed the snake was heading toward the prairie dogs den. At this time, the prairie dog stood up, let out an insane amount of noise, which assembled it's allies. Three to four other prairie dogs surrounded the perimeter of the den, while two others stayed close to the snake.
And again, the snake backed away and headed toward another den. This lead to more noise, another team assembly, and the standing of these little prairie dog's territory. These guys were basically saying to the snake, "you'll have to go through us before you enter our home!"
This process continued with about 4 or 5 prairie dog dens before the snake made it through the entire prairie dog area. And even more amazing, some of these guys were within a foot or so of the rattlesnake and it never attempted to strike. It was almost as it the snake was afraid of the prairie dog. It was definitely an unbelievable thing to witness. My only regret is not having a camera to document it. I was really impressed with the fortitude of the prairie dog, protecting their territory and, I'm assuming, their young.
Seeing something this ridiculous can only be found by leaving the desk, the computer, and car behind, and by getting out in midst of nature.