Hiking matters #114: My personal encounters with snakes

Growing up in the College of Forestry housing in UP Los Banos, our house was my jumpoff when I would climb Mt. Makiling – something I have done yearly without fail since I was 9 years old. My neighbors and I would play hide-in-seek in the vast forests and brooks of Makiling, and there was even a time when we tried to discover the source of the river that fed into the flat rocks of Flatrocks.

Sometimes we would also encounter snakes. As a child I knew that they loved to snuggle inside jeepneys at night. Or they would just appear in the street, dead, surrounded with flies. Then there would be the occasional rumor of a big snake being spotted. Usually, it is accompanied by a warning for us kids not to wander too far in the forest.

When I was in high school, while my mom and I were climbing Mt. Makiling, we saw a cobra that emitted a shrill sound “Ik-ik-ik!!” and we were immobilized by the sight of the powerful creature, its head elevated just like in Discovery channel. Fortunately, it crossed the trail peacefully. we could not forget, until now, how dangerously close we were in this encounter.

My next encounters with snakes were also in Mt. Makiling. They were usually color brown, but once, I did see a snake with red bands and was supposedly a poisonous snake (the professors in UPLB all tell me however that non-poisonous snakes far outnumber poisonous ones in the Philippines). When I climbed with Kiko Rustia and the rest of the Born to be Wild crew in Pico de Loro on May 5, 2009, we saw a green viper at the side of the Parrot’s Beak, while we attempted to erase some of the vandalism. We also saw a snake in Mt. Madjaas, and since it was a big one, we were forced to take a brief detour lest we have an unfortunate encounter with it.

Most recently, while climbing Mt. Tres Marias in Biliran, I saw at least three snakes, and was able to take a photo of a beautiful green snake, as well as a black one crossing the trail as we nighttrekked. My hosts, the Nalda family, tell me that Mt. Tres Marias is really a mountain with a lot of snakes; and everytime they go up there they would always see at least one.

 

Snakes are part of the great outdoors; they represent the dangers that we face whenever we go out of our way. But snakes, too, are afraid of us, and this is the reason why we rarely get to see them. And in this regard, one may say that nature is afraid of human beings too, because we have the capability to destroy it. I always enjoy seeing snakes up close (but not very close!) and although I know they pose a danger, I do hope that they will still be around for our children and grandchildren.

 

Share your snake encounters as well by commenting!


PinoyMountaineer thanks Prof. Ray Lucero, and my father, Dr. Rodel Lasco, of UP Los Banos for sharing their knowledge about snakes and other forest fauna in the Philippines.

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10 Comments on "Hiking matters #114: My personal encounters with snakes"


Guest
Anonymous
8 years 2 months ago

nakakita kami ng sawa (di namn kalakihan) sa campsite ng romelo while washing our plates…lumangoy lang siya palayo samen..

Guest
8 years 10 months ago

(Puting-Bato, Antipolo 2004)

Gathered my Freshmens first-sem classmates to

hike at Antipolo ok nmn ang mood ng isat isa

i cooked mongo soup for dinner with Kikiam

ang sahog. After dinner socials ofcourse then

napag trippan namin maglakad lakad sabi kasi

ng friend ko n taga dun merong malapit na

cave so we went there after 10 mins of walk in

a grassy area lagpas tao yung damo eh, and

our only light is posporo at kandila and 1

lighter n my LED light sa dulo si ryan ang nakita sabi nia wag daw maglalakad my ahas daw sa ulohan namin sabi ko saan? sabi ni ryan ayan oh i looked at 10 o'clocked degrees nkita ko nga mga 3 dangkal siguro yun haba nun color green at galaw ng galaw un ulo nakapulupot sa taas ng damo sobrang takot ko kunyari kukuha ako ng kahoy pero pumupunta ako sa likod damn nanginginig tlga ako takot tlga ko sa ahas. si ryan ginawa nia hinuli nia tinakluban ng jacket then nilagay sa bote ng coke poor snake we did not kill him pinakawalan then nmin nun pag uwi nmin..

Guest
Anonymous
8 years 10 months ago

Yung kasama ko sa halcon may nakursunadahang halaman, nung kukunin nya na may napansin daw syang patpat sa tabi. Nung dinampot nya biglang pumormang patuklaw, yon napatalon ang loko, karma mag balak ba namang dumompet ng halaman sa gubat.

Dodong Hetfield, RPMF(Registered Pinoy Mountaineer Forumer)

Guest
Anonymous
8 years 10 months ago

Tarak Ridge (September 2007) – As a newbie climber, I have no regard for the wildlife in the mountain. Upon seeing this sleeping green snake on the trail one cold and raining afternoon during our descent, my initial action was to step on it and kill the snake. Good thing a fellow climber who is much experienced than I am managed to stop me before I can do anything to it.

Mt. Mayon (November 2007) – A small brown cobra snake found its way to our campsite. The snake approached a climbmate, I was surprised that it was standing and seemed smelling the legs of that climbmate who was not moving even a hair. I was horrified because I remembered that I have an open wound on my foot, and I got scared that a venom will enter it if licked by the snake so I ran to nowhere despite the warnings of the team lead to stay stationary. Luckily the porter managed to run for the bolo as the snake was chasing me. He had no choice but to cut its head off. Afterwards we were cautious not to leave our tent doors open during the whole climb.

Mt. Talamitam (October 2008) – A newbie officemate and I were resting on trail, sitting on the inclined ground. It was the last shady part before the trek on open trail. I sneezed twice, and felt that someone was watching me. I turned to my left, and found two eyes on a small head glaring at me. It was on a face level, less than a feet distance. I informed my companion not to move as there was a snake ready to attack my face, and I slowly turned the sole of my shoes to the face of the snake to push it back to the hole it came from. It might’ve felt threatened by my sneeze.

Mt. Manabu (August 2010) – It was a solo dayhike climb, and I was on my way to Mang Pirying’s place. A small brown snake was on the trail, and I caught it looking at me as it slithered away, disturbed by my footsteps.

These days I try to tell my local guides not to kill snakes that are not aggressive. I also try to wear protective footwear (in contrast to sandals or any open-toed footwear) on trails with possible occurrence of snake encounter.

BPS

Guest
8 years 10 months ago

I grew up in the rural areas of Iloilo, and I had my sightings of snakes also.
It may not be very nice to tell, but the most unique encounter I had with them was in our old outhouse, when i was in grade school. I was midway through with what needs to be done when I noticed a green snake, maybe two feet long, in the wall. Fortunately, no one witnessed what had happened in the next few seconds.