Wall-sign frequently seen across Mexico, but it’s not a national mantra. Avoid excess! Yeah, right.

Today, after I got in a modest increase to the word count by 8:30 am, we played hooky and scooted up to Neel’s Gap to head east/right/toward Maine on the AT, not walking it ’cause it was the AT, but ’cause it was easy access and a good, shady route for a hot day.

No doubt about it, the highlight of the trip was Sr. No-Shoulders, stretched across the path, on the move. Never saw his head, but saw the rest of him from not far below. Down at the end of his tail? About eight buttons. I give him about three feet, at least 32-33 inches. Coloration? Dark, almost black towards the tail, but diamondy closer to the head. Overall, darker rather than sandier. His Linnean name? I’m not sure. Crotalus spp. for sure, but Crotalus horridus (Timber or Canebrake) or C. adamanteus (Eastern Diamondback)? I’ll have to ask F&D….

BTW, No-Shoulders is the generic name for snakes I learned from country people living inland on the South Carolina coastal plain, way back in the 80s when I was working near St. Stephens. I always thought the term extremely evocative. I learned it when well-meaning heavily-accented fisherman kept screaming at me as I was sitting in the water at the edge of a reservoir (water-screening soil samples, of course), and a sinuous beastie, a cottonmouth as I recall, was swimming toward me and my tripod, curious I’m sure, rather than hungry.

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