Close Encounter of the Scale-ly Kind (two photos) / by Dave Hileman

So the photo from yesterday was on the trail to an abandoned mine in the Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona. There were five washes we crossed and longer stretches of flat hard trail. Going down into the third wash this bright snake crossed the trail about three feet in front of us. It was not traveling fast but went under a bush at the side of the trail and then up the draw sliding between rocks until I could not see the snake any longer. We completed the hike and back at the visitor center I sought out a ranger to get help on identifying some birds. Then I said, "Could you tell me what kind of snake this was?" He looked a long time then enlisted two other rangers - one "really knows his snakes" and the one at the counter. They chatted a bit, asked me some questions about where the photo was taken. They then announced that it was a Coral Snake and they "didn't know there were any over there." Apparently it is quite deadly and the last antidote was out of date by 2012 - so no real hope if one would bite you. We were not in danger but it created a bit of unease the next trail we set off on. We certainly watched the ground more closely.