Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Copper in the rocks

We left early, before the sun topped the ridge, and drove the temperature over the top as well. We hiked up the ridge, to see two sets of standing stones. Both Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock are all that can be seen of mountains that once scratched the stratosphere. Dense, hard rock, now sliced into sticks by eons of wind and rain. There must be copper here, some of the rocks have that characteristic green shade to them. Maryland greenstone.

Two miles in, the curtain of rocks can be seen between the trees. Reaching the top, where a few scraggly pines offer scanty shade, I take a rest. There's not much of a view, and the boys are enjoying negotiating the rocks, stepping over narrow crevices that reach twenty or more feet into the outcropping. Suddenly Crash calls out, "look at the snake skin!". As it happens, the snake is still very much inside of his (her?) skin.

It is a copperhead, a snake I've never seen outside of books and zoos (though there is a memorable scene on a book a read many years ago about the Johnstown flood in which a young boy is bitten by a copperhead). The guys are shouting for me to get my camera out. how close am I willing to get to this sleepy snake? My stomach is still doing flips after finding out that Barnacle Boy actually stepped over the snake and Crash within inches before he spotted it, yet its coiled, polished form has a compelling beauty. It glitters with a greenish cast, like oxidized copper which has been lacquered.

I took photos, glad to be able to capture this on film, and very glad of my telephoto which let me do it from a distance which didn't giver me an adrenaline rush. We gave her a wide berth and explored more of the rock formation, now careful to check before we stepped.

Should I ask what the two vultures sitting on the rocks a few yards further on were waiting for?

Photos will follow. No laptop along for this adventure!

UPDATE: Photo up!

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