Tales From the Trail: The Rope Snake by Noah Burke

While Wilderness Trio has only been operating for a few years, our adventure guides have been friends and hiking with each other for many years! Over the course of many outdoor adventures, they’ve picked up plenty of funny, exciting, and even scary stories to share! If you’ve been on one of our guided tours, chances are you’ve heard a few yourself! As part of our monthly emails, we want to share some of those stories with you.

So Chris and I have been hiking with each other for awhile, and if there’s one thing I know about him, its that he’s deadly afraid of snakes. We’re talking like a poor mans version of Indiana Jones here. I mean Chris is probably the most traveled adventurer of all of us, but if he sees or hears a snake on the trail he turns into a cat right after its seen a surprise cucumber (you gotta look these up)!

So, naturally I take advantage of his giddy reaction around snakes. I’m always sure to point them out, or pick them up so Chris can really get to know them on a personal level. One particular time takes the absolute cake in terms of snakes encounters though, and thats when Chris and I stumbled across the legendary “rope snake.”

We were with a group in Little Yosemite Valley on our last night of an adventure. It was getting late so Chris and I said goodnight to everyone and we were cleaning up the campsite when we saw it… Coiled under a tree, perfectly patterned and reflecting the glow of our head lamps was what we were sure was a snake. 

Right about now, Chris’ hairs started standing up on the back of his neck, but he knew it was too close to camp to just leave it sitting there. I knew what had to be done, so I took the lead in assessing the snake, knowing Chris wouldn’t come anywhere near it. As I moved in, I could hear Chris’ concern rising, he was getting really nervous. As I inched closer, it became clear to me that what we were looking at wasn’t a snake, it was a small coil of someone’s climbing rope, but I knew I couldn’t waste the opportunity to mess with Chris.

I turned back to Chris and said, “Man, its a snake, but it looks asleep. I think I can grab it and get it out of here.” “Don’t touch it man,” he said shakily. “Just leave it alone,” but it was too late, my plan was about to strike.

I grabbed the rope and started wrangling it around like a snake, making lots of noise and wave it around as if it was struggling to bite me. Chris was terrified, before I even came near him he was already screaming “get it away from me! Get it away!” I ran his direction with the vicious rope snake in my hands. Chris immediately bolted through camp in the dark, dodging tree stumps and rocks like a spartan race champion. His hands shot up over his head and his voice kept cracking in fear as he ran from the snake. 

I only ran after him maybe 20 feet before the hysterics of his reaction caught up to me and I started dying of laughter. Our camp members didn’t even know what happened but started laughing as well, listening to the ridiculous scene take place outside!

It took Chris a moment for the panic to settle down and as long I’ve known Chris he’s never been one for curse words, but he made sure to share some of his favorites with me at that moment. I showed him the legendary rope snake and immediately began teasing him that they aren’t poisonous. He didn’t think it was funny. After he calmed down we shared the rope snake with the rest of the group and told them what happened. It quickly became the running joke of the trip. I even took the rope snake home with me and hope to put a plastic snake head on it so I can scare Chris again someday!”

-Noah Burke