One of the best parts of San Francisco is the ease of escaping to places that are so near yet can feel so far away. Tennessee Valley is one of those places. I’ve been hiking there for years. It’s a simple, easy hike, just under 4 miles roundtrip to the beach and back. It’s less than 15 minutes to drive from the Golden Gate Bridge. But once you arrive, you feel much further away. Tennessee Valley is contained and hidden away over Wolf Ridge on the other side of the Marin Headlands. There is no sense of the nearby city and suburbs.
Tennessee Valley is always familiar to me, but it changes from season to season. After a wet winter and a very wet spring, the grass, wild carrot and pretty much everything else seems twice as tall as normal. It’s a perfect year for snakes and they’re plenty of them up there. That’s why it’s best to stick to the trail and not go clomping through the grass.
As long as I can see them and they can see me — snakes crossing the trail and out where there are no surprises are perfectly fine. This weekend we saw the “scariest” snake in California. The Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer) was out looking for lunch, namely gophers. The Gopher Snake is the scariest snake as it is the one everyone mistakes for a Rattlesnake. It’s pretty easy to identify, it looks like a Rattlesnake but it does not have a rattle on the end of its tale. So unless you’re a gopher, just watch it g along its way.
This piece is also featured on a print/poster available from Society6.