Rattler number one, poised to strike (or so us city slickers imagined.)

Catie and I spent Saturday hiking in Minnewaska State Park with a couple of good friends.  Aside from enjoying the pretty trails and beautiful vistas (and wild blueberries,) we had a couple of really remarkable wildlife encounters, at least from our city slicker perspective.

First, rattlesnakes!  One was coiled up at the edge of our path near the park entrance, rattling away menacingly.  We gave it a wide berth by circling around into the brush on the opposite side of the trail.  Then, later in the day, we encountered another rattlesnake, this one in a more leisurely mood, slithering along a carriage road.

Rattler number two, a little more leisurely.

I have been hiking in the Hudson Valley for more than 20 years and never knew that rattlesnakes even existed in the region, let alone seen one.  To come across two in a single day was pretty gobsmacking . . . and very, very neat.  (It turns out that these are timber rattlers, which are threatened in New York State.)

Our new friends. This is NOT a close-up.

But the snakes weren’t even the top highlight.  While dipping our toes in Lake Awosting, we were surrounded by a group of curious and friendly ducks with no apparent fear of humans.  The swam around our dangling feet and then hopped out of the water to waddle up to us on our our rock ledge, happily quacking and chirping.  This went on for a good fifteen minutes, at least, before they lost interest — or realized we had no food to share.  One mama duck even brought her impossibly cute brood of five ducklings.

I would post the video of our duck/duckling encounter, except the accompanying audio is filled with curse words, uttered in tones of delighted disbelief.

Next time: lions, tigers, and bears.  (The last being at least remotely plausible.)