i woke up early this sunday morning to go naturing because i wanted to be back at home by 1pm for the final red sox yankees game in the bronx series. i went to rock narrows in sherborn, revisiting the place renata and i had gone on thursday. i biked down route 16, passing miles of people doing the jimmy fund charity walk along the boston marathon route. having learned my lesson from last time, i wore pants (natch) and had a jacket on, as well as spraying down with repellent as soon as i got to the reservation parking lot. i walked into the woods until i hit the train tracks, passing several groups of people walking their dogs. i crossed the tracks and climbed a slippery hill onto the red trail (later i'd find out there was an unmarked path leading to this trail, i didn't have to climb anything). from there on i didn't see anybody for quite some time, and i relished in the remoteness of the location, imagining myself to be an explorer, discovering uncharted territory. i made my way to king philip's overlook, which was a rocky summit overlooking the snaking southern portion of the charles river. the description is a lot better than the actual view, not quite as high as i had hoped, with most of the river concealed behind and beneath treetops.

grassy field

charles river

king philip's overlook

red trail southeast


rocky narrows overlook

there was a second scenic vista, the eponymous rocky narrows overlook, further into the woods. i followed the trail but got slightly lost and went on a detour to the marsh edge of the river. i got a sense nobody had been down here because the trail was more overgrown with vegetation and occasionally i'd have to walk through cobwebs. it was here, walking down this path, that i got the crap scared out of me when a casual glance downwards to my left revealed not just one but several snakes sunning themselves on a sunlit spot on the forest floor. i immediately fell backwards and scrambled away in the opposite direction, as if out of instinct. from a safe distance i was able to survey the situation: one large garter snake, followed by a much smaller garter snake behind it. i started taking photos, inching closer and closer to the snakes. the larger snake wasn't moving, but the smaller snake lifted up its head and sniffed the air with its tongue. i've seen more snakes this season than i've ever seen in my entire life. they've mostly been garter snakes, with the exception of that one water snake i encountered in lunenburg. snakes both repulse and attract me. i admit, they scare me, but after the initial fear, i'm curiously drawn to them, they just seem so different, and a rarity (as least for me) to see them in the wild. the larger snake was a female from the obvious bulge in her midsection. the smaller snake i wasn't so sure, too large to be an offspring (where were its other siblings?), but seemingly too small to be her mate. i watched the snakes for a while, then slowly backed away and walked down the rest of the trail, making sure not to disturb them.

besides snakes, some mushrooms caught my eyes. with the recent rain, i figured there'd be lots of mushrooms. i saw a lot of russulas, but there weren't a lot of other interesting fungi. the forest here seems almost a little too dry to sustain abundant mushroom gardens.

chicken mushroom

polypore underside

pinkish mycena

unknown orange (marasmius?)

unknown jelly club

orange earth tongue

coming back up the trail, i slowed down as i approached the spot where the snakes were. i was disappointed when i saw they were gone, but then caught sight of them a few feet away from their original location. once again, the female was more still, while the "male" was more active, and even slithered towards me with flicking tongue to investigate. my movements seemed to make it nervous and it sort of slipped away amongst the leaf litter. the female was so still that i mustered enough courage to touch its tail end. it felt scaly and cold. my heart was beating fast as i slowly moved away again, having just touched a snake!

further up the trail i encountered three young people, spending a sunday afternoon hiking in the woods as well, the first people i've seen since i crossed the train tracks. they were lost and were trying to find the red trail. they left to go explore some more, and i told them about the snakes i saw. "yeah, we saw them too," one of them said. "he even touched it," the girl added regarding one of the boys. so that'd explain why the snakes moved! and i guess touching a snake isn't anything particularly difficult if these college-aged kids can do it. i left them, found the rocky narrows overlook (not particularly exciting, can't even see the river from this point), then started to head out back in a race against time to get back to the parking lot so i can ride home to catch the game. one thing i want to mention: there was absolutely no mosquitoes. the whole time i was there i only saw one mosquito, and only when i was standing right next to the river. maybe because it was windy, mosquitoes don't like that very much, or maybe it was the combination of jacket-jeans-bug spray.

i made it back to the parking lot around 1:20pm (the game had already started!), then took the 40 minute ride back to cambridge. in hindsight i should've taken my time, because the red sox ended up losing behind pedro's pitching, not only losing but losing big, trounced by 10 runs, just like yesterday's game.

in the evening i went over to belmont to have dinner with my parents, then came back to cambridge around 7pm. rob was home, watching pimp my ride on MTV. later, we finished watching the rest of band of outsiders.