Kayaking with snake(s)

Look at those kayak feet!  Now, would you think there might be a snake in your kayak?

Look at those kayak feet! Now, would you think there might be a snake (or snakes) in your kayak?

OK, friends, I have a story to tell.

It’s Memorial Day weekend, 2018, and my friend Sherry messages.  Would I like to go kayaking with her on Monday?

Oh yes.  Kayaking with Sherry has proven fun in the past!  I would love to go again.  Especially since our weather has been so warm, so sunny, so lovely.

Sherry...blithely kayaking...not yet aware of the snake accompanying her...

Sherry…blithely kayaking…not yet aware of the snake accompanying her…

Except within the hour she posts a Facebook update.  She’s found a snake in her kayak.  Oh no!  (I have a strange relationship with snakes.  Sometimes they scare me to death.  At other times I feel a snaky kinship and connection.  The snaky kinship side must have been prevalent because I bravely responded something like “I am not afraid–I will dump it out!” or something equally carefree.)

Awoke in the middle of the night shivering thinking “Oh no–snake in kayak–do I have to go kayaking??”

Fast forward to today.

We arrived at said kayak, tipped it over, shook it vigorously, and announced it snake-free. Obviously, no snake would survive that erstwhile shaking.  We jumped it our kayaks and headed out onto the beautiful Huron Bay.

Our beautiful Huron Bay

Our beautiful Huron Bay

Oh, how beautiful are our bays!  It was nearly 80 degrees (26C) with the skies turning from cloudy into blue.  We paddled lazily, chatting away.  I worried about keeping up with a more experienced paddler, but we easily stayed together admiring reeds, birds, hammocks, and old underwater posts from a long-ago pier.

Old underwater posts near the Slate River

Old underwater posts near the Slate River

We munched our apple-lunch and aimed back homewards when suddenly–

You know what’s coming, don’t you?  Sherry glanced downward and noticed at least a three-foot garter snake wriggling toward her feet.

Now what would your reaction be?  Would you panic?  Would you calmly pick up the snake and toss it overboard?  Pray, what would you do?

Sherry notices this guy beneath her feet

Sherry notices this guy beneath her feet

I, of course, from the accompanying kayak, calmly spoke in a monotone urging her courage onward.  “Stay calm,” I monotoned, “it’s only a snake.  You’re doing great.  You’re doing fine.  Just ease your legs out on top of your kayak.  Stay calm…”

It’s easy to speak from a kayak six feet away.  I had no snake slithering beneath my trapped feet. In her shoes I might have jumped in the lake and swam toward home.

Sherry placed her legs, one at a time, almost tipping her kayak, almost falling into the cold waters of the beautiful Huron Bay, but keeping it upright.  I praised her skill, her fortitude!  “Deep breathing,” said Kathy from her faraway perch, “You’re doing great!”

We then proceeded to paddle fast than a speeding bullet toward shore.  We probably paddled 90 miles per hour!  (OK, I am exaggerating, but only because it seemed that fast.)

OK, I admit, I lost all photographic ability in the midst of our crisis.  The photo is over-exposed.  But that's because Sherry was over-exposed!

OK, I admit, I lost all photographic ability in the midst of our crisis. The photo is over-exposed. But that’s because Sherry was over-exposed!

The Ravine River Bridge awaited our kayaks.  We zoomed beneath.  It was Rescue Time.  We needed to save Sherry and the hapless snake.  How to do this?

I tossed the Canon camera onto the rocks (in its padded camera bag).  Then proceeded to attempt disembarking without her holding my kayak steady.

Please do not laugh in advance.  You are so right–I am not kayak seaworthy–and proceeded to fall over into the cold waters of the Ravine River!

Dripping wet, I uprighted and proceeded to rescue my friend from the poor scared garter snake (whom we were sure had babies in the kayak).

Sherry retreats to safe stump

Sherry retreats to safe stump

I helped Sherry disembark with the help of the kayak paddle.  She retreated to a nearby stump to supervise.  Now…how to get the snake out of the kayak?  How to determine where the baby snakes hid?

Your blogger suddenly grabbed the paddle and proceed to Snake Talk.  You know:  “Hey, good snake, you’re OK, now climb onto this paddle and we’ll save you from Death by Sherry’s Feet!”


Fortunately, the snake decided to listen.  He climbed upon the paddle and I gently place him upon the rocky shore.  Off he slithered, all those long snake-like feet of him, his red tongue expressing disapproval and shock.

Our new "friend" slithers away

Our new “friend” slithers away

We still didn’t know if the snake babies existed.  Sherry thought about walking home, getting her car, and collecting the kayak.  But this woman is courageous!  She garnered her wits about her, plopped back in the kayak, and paddled home!  She was a bit hesitant, but pulled it together to earn my utmost respect and admiration.  Way to go, Sherry!

Your wet and laughing blogger!

Your wet and laughing blogger!

I was dripping wet, yet felt strangely elated.  Grinned from ear to ear.  We kayaked with SNAKES! We were so cool, weren’t we?  Not a bit afraid, were we?  (OK, it was probably just one snake.  There were probably no babies.  And it wasn’t even in my kayak.  But it was fun–and we’re gonna talk about this for years to come.  Aren’t we, Sherry?)

Now you, dear readers.  Would YOU be scared?



About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in May 2018 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Kayaking with snake(s)

  1. Barb says:

    I hope I don’t dream about your snake ( or I should say Sherry’s snake) encounter tonight. I only like encountering snakes on my own terms. At my feet is not to my liking! I did have to chuckle about wet Kathy. Brrrr – I bet that was a cold dip. A great story with a happy ending for both you and the snake! Happy Memorial Day Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, I am glad you enjoyed our little story. It was fun–and I was surprised how refreshing that cold-water dip was! I would have thought it would have been awful. Instead it was–exhilarating. 🙂

  2. Once, driving the seven and a half miles from home to town, a garter snake slithered out of the heat vent onto the dashboard before I’d gone a mile. First I hollered (though no one was near enough to hear me) but when he started to retreat back into the vent, I was afraid he’d drop onto my feet. I stopped at the end of my road, to try to get him out, but he held his position, retreating into the vent if I got too close. I was on my way to work, so on a deadline. I finally got back in the car. When I cracked my window, he wound his way out onto the ledge outside. When all but a few inches of tail had exited, I tried to quickly roll up the window. Instead of getting him out, he slithered back IN. After a few tries at that…while driving down the road, mind you…we finally reached a compromise of sorts: I left the window cracked; the snake rode to town on my dashboard, with his head out the window, like a dog! So, I can tell you pretty precisely that the snake and I would have come to some sort of workable agreement…THROUGH my nervousness! Great story, Kathy!

    • sherrysescape says:

      What a hilarious story! I’m not sure I would have survived the car ride 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Oh my, Cindy, that IS some story! Our adventures with snakes can be quite…entertaining…would that be the word? LOL. It almost sounds like you and the snake were friends by the end of that car ride. How funny!

  3. Val says:

    Are garter snakes venomous? If not, I wouldn’t be scared as I’m not bothered by snakes unless they’re likely to harm me. I’d be more worried about kayaking!

    My sister used to have a pet python (called, not surprisingly, ‘Monty’), and it liked curling up behind me in the armchair. If I moved, stood up, it’d spit at me because I’d removed its warmth! I only sat with it after it’d been fed, mind you…

    • Kathy says:

      Val, fortunately garter snakes are not venomous. They will stick out their tongue at you (and Barry said they will sometimes try to bite if they’re afraid–but they won’t even break skin.) As for cuddling up with a python: oh my! I cannot imagine it. That would take more bravery than I have!

  4. JoAnn Mleko says:

    Great story and memory to have made. Three plus feet away for the snake, I’m fine. In a kayak with me, no thanks. I’d be in the water, no matter how cold.

    • Kathy says:

      JoAnn, I am still laughing about our little adventure yesterday. You are right–that snake was a little too close for comfort. But I must tell you–the water was strangely refreshing. You couldn’t have convinced me to take a voluntary swim, but that involuntary one wasn’t so bad… Nice to see you at the party on Saturday!

  5. sherrysescape says:

    Kathy, you told the story so very well! Thanks for not calling me (to quote my sister) ‘lily-livered’!! She was teasing me when she said it though. I love the picture of me on the stump.

    • Kathy says:

      Sherry, I would never ever call you “lily-livered”! OK, maybe if you had jumped in the water the minute you saw it. Tee hee. Except…what the heck would we have done if you jumped in the water? How would we have got the snake out? I am SO glad you stayed put and showed the bravest side possible. We’ll be talking about this story longer than Jesus Christ Superstar, if you get my drift. 😉

  6. sherrysescape says:

    Reblogged this on sherrysescape.

  7. Eek! I would have probably swam for shore.

  8. Thankyou/


    मंगल, 29 मई 2018, 3:35 am को Lake Superior Spirit ने लिखा:

    > Kathy posted: ” OK, friends, I have a story to tell. It’s Memorial Day > weekend, 2018, and my friend Sherry messages. Would I like to go kayaking > with her on Monday? Oh yes. Kayaking with Sherry has proven fun in the > past! I would love to go again. Especially sinc” >

  9. Robert Thompson says:

    Cool story

  10. Bonnie says:

    So funny. When you are 94, sitting in your rocking chair, you will say to all who will listen, “I remember the time I went kayaking with snakes…….. then chuckle a bit and proceed to tell the amazing story about how you and your friend survived the invasion of snakes. Amazing tale.

  11. Lori says:

    I’d have been in those icy waters swimming home. 😛 At the risk of sounding like Yoda . . . two brave women, you are.

  12. Carol says:

    Although I know a garter snake is not going to hurt me, I would not be happy with the possibility of it slithering up my leg/legs. Not sure what I would do, but I would hope I would grin and bear it. I like your over-exposed photo – I think it has a dramatic artistic quality.

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, I know, Carol. I think that was probably Sherry’s concern. And what if there were babies and they all decided to slither up, too? Yikes! And thanks for liking the over-exposed photo. I had several more over-exposed action shots and sent them over to Sherry so she could get a better view of what she looked like. 🙂

  13. RubyCardinal says:

    I would have been terrified! I love kayaking, but I hate snakes!. I’m glad it all worked out though. Check out/ follow our blog at rubycardinal.blog and let us know what you think.

    • Kathy says:

      I have heard some pretty avid kayakers say they wouldn’t have survived this “excitement”. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  14. plamondon says:

    You had me at “Your blogger suddenly grabbed the paddle and proceed to Snake Talk.”!!! Parseltongue, shall we? 😎
    Please feel free to call, same number as 2007, lol.

  15. Oh my gosh! We have garter snakes out here my husband caught one and said “Let’s take it home and put it in the garden!” I said sure! We were riding on a four wheeler so I grabbed a pair of gloves and was holding it behind the head while sitting on the back of a four wheeler with my husband driving…about halfway home the snake finally wiggles enough to turn his head and bite me. They dont break the skin but it freaked me out and I flung the poor thing off the four wheeler and screamed.

    • Kathy says:

      I am smiling, countrymama. Those snakes are very good for gardens, they say. You just don’t want them to bite you, whether they break the skin or not. I wouldn’t have liked that!

  16. Oh my! What an adventure you and Sherry had! Makes me wonder where in the kayak the snake was hiding and why it didn’t budge during the vigorous pre-launch shaking…

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, we debated that several times. Maybe up under the seat, in a position that allowed Mr. Snake to hold on tight during that shaking? We’re not sure. We’re still not even sure if there were babies under there as well.

  17. c2justice says:

    I wouldn’t have stayed in the kayak lol. I like your stories. Cheer me up.

  18. No matter how much it doesn’t make sense, I’d be senselessly scared so much that I would have tipped over into the water and refused to re-enter…ever….again. You two were fearless and fearsome and if I ever kayak (which, after reading this post, I never will) I would only kayak with you and Sherry.

    • Kathy says:

      I just keep thinking–what if that had happened? What if she jumped into the lake and refused to get in her kayak again? How would we have gotten her safely home? She couldn’t have swam back. She would have wrecked her phone so we couldn’t have called anyone. Would the Coast Guard have rescued us? Would we have rubbed two sticks together on this tiny little island and waited for our husbands to miss us (and hers wasn’t home!)?? I am really really glad she stayed in that kayak!

  19. middy1607 says:

    Such fun story. I don’t know what species a garter snake is, since I’m not from your region (I’m on a completely different continent on Earth). I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have anything to do with stockings though. Will Google it later 😀

    • Kathy says:

      My husband and I laughed out loud about your comment, Middy! You are so right. Garter snakes have nothing to do with stockings or the things they throw around at weddings around here. 🙂

  20. Reggie says:

    You girls are soooo brave! Well done on keeping your wits about you, Kathy! Very relieved that no one was bitten! p.s. are garter snakes poisonous? We don’t have them here, so I don’t know.

  21. I Wilkerson says:

    Oh too funny Kathy. I’m not sure what I would have done!

  22. Karen says:

    While I’m not afraid of a snake slithering on the grass in front of me, I wouldn’t want one sharing a kayak or a car with me. Congratulations to both of you for keeping your cool. I especially liked the photo of Sherry on the stump after bravely sitting in such close proximity to the snake. 😀

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, Karen, that IS a precious photo of Sherry on the stump! And there is something creepy about sharing a kayak with a snake…quite confining. Glad you enjoyed our story.

  23. MrJPeck says:

    Wow… I’m not going to lie, I would have dumped out of my kayak as fast as I could. But this does make for a great memory. I started sharing my experiences with kayaking, https://mrjpeck.com/2018/07/18/kayaking-adventure-begins/ Take a look if you like.

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