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Crotalus lutosus | by Chad M. Lane
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Crotalus lutosus

"Defeating the elements."

A nemesis defeated, after several failed attempts at locating a Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus lutosus) in California, I was rewarded with my lifer.

The Eastern Sierra Nevada, and Eastern California has given myself a challenge. Every trip has either ended early, or simply slim pickings due to weather either it be a massive rainstorms, thunderstorms, or dramatic sudden cold spell sweeping the area. This trip was absolutely no exception, while this area may very well hate me, it's an intriguing area that I'm enjoying and planning on returning often.

A friend had told me a new area to check out for C. lutosus, upon arriving to the location, I was unable to locate any of the features associated with C. lutosus, having a second goal of the trip. Wandering Gartersnakes (Thamnophis vagrans) I headed towards another locale in search of them. With it being a holiday weekend, and having the winds pick up with scattering rainstorms coming in. I was also unable to turn one up.

I then headed to an area where I had been to various time in search for C. lutosus, the rains hit on my trek towards my destination. Passing some grey volcanic rock, I noticed it was it bit paler than I had previously recalled knocking it off as not noticing. Upon arriving to an area I had scouted, I discovered the true reason why the rocky mountain side was "paler" than I had recalled. There was 1.5-3" of hail pockets everywhere, and the temperatures had dropped 20F.

I parked my truck, and started hiking towards where I thought I had scouted on previous trips, regardless that my optimism had disappeared due to the hail and temperature drop. I shortly found that I wasn't at where I had previously scouted, feeling defeated and enthusiasm nearly dissipated, I drove further up the road, and spotted the location I intended to visit. Getting out of my truck I immediately noticed it was 10-15F warmer here, less hail pockets as well. While checking some cracks I seen Desert Striped Whipsnake (Coluber taeniatus) and C. lutosus sheds, I slowly lifted two rock, hoping a young of either species was stuck out underneath one of them. Both rocks were vacant, as I stood back up, 3' in front of me, my lifer Crotalus lutosus was half stretched out, coming from a crack.

My first California lifer in years.

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Taken on July 2, 2016