When summer comes to this unforgiving land, the wary and wise adjust their sojourning accordingly. Even the wildlife does so, and they know their challenging environment better than any man. They lay up during the day more, and those who are wanderers themselves begin to prowl the comparatively cooler elevations.

Even the rattlesnake, the traditional boogeyman of this desert, adjusts. When someone hears of one of my upcoming journeys, their first words of warning usually concerns the rattling bug.

But rattlers and all other serpents are cold blooded creatures, meaning they have no real way of regulating their inner body temperature. A snake will die from heat exposure faster than any mammal, same as they will freeze. When the mercury crawls much past about eighty degrees on a sunny day, you won’t see many snakes in exposed areas.

That is, unless you make it a point to go looking for one. Doing so has never been high on my list, save for on occasion the two legged variety.

With that being said, likely less than one out of a hundred people visiting my native home are aware of these facts. Their lack of knowledge leads to trouble, either with the wildlife or the environment itself.

Or both, and so we come to the photograph enclosed with this missive.

This was taken up Pine Canyon, in the middle of July some years back. In it a mere glimmer of the sheer magnificence of the Chisos Range shines forth. Looking low and to the right you can see the mark of man, likely hundreds of years old or more.

Some cagey fellow lost to history made a shelter here, which has endured both time and the elements. It was such a good spot that men from latter eras and different cultures came along and left their own marks nearby. This is the way of the desert when such a spot is found.

It makes for a nice, shady, comfortable location desirable in several manners for man and beast alike. But with that attraction comes the accompanying problem.

Many folks who see such a spot automatically make all haste to get there, then step over the crumbling wall without a care in the world and start poking around like a four year old kid. This is oftentimes followed by sticking a body limb into some obscured hole, ledge or over a large stone.

Let me tell you something: Nothing breaks up the festive mood of a desert vacation faster than in extracting said limb with a mad critter attached to it. So, let’s be careful out there folks, because you are stranger in a strange land..

God bless to all,

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas

USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
HS Teacher: 2008-2010
Author 2016-Present

Facebook: Ben H. English

‘Graying but still game’