We recently traveled to Tehachapi where the southern Sierra Nevada tip meets the Mohave Desert. There we stayed in a home on a high windy peak with desert views and access to hiking trails. Our Weimaraner, Zso Zso, and I went out to explore. Granite boulders dotted sage-covered slopes, creating labyrinths of caves and dens that Zso Zso nuzzled. Later that day my husband and I met a woman eager to share her knowledge of the area. She warned of a particular Japanese restaurant and rattlesnakes.
“Rattlesnakes?” Although I am watchful of them in the desert, I hadn’t associated rattlesnakes with this terrain.
The woman who had fine curly hair and a wiry build nodded vigorously. “And they’re mean ones. My friend’s dog just got bit. She called vet after vet and finally found one who would come for $800. He worked all night and saved the dog.”
The following afternoon as a I set out on a hike with Zso Zso, voices drifted up from a couple of joggers beneath us on the trail. “There’s a lizard, ” a man said.
“When the lizards are out, the snakes are out,” his companion sang in a single breath.
As Zso Zso and I began our hike I admonished her to avoid anything that resembled a den, advice she disregarded. I let her run until the cinching in my stomach warned I might be tempting fate. Then I called her back. Kept her close to me. Pointed my lens at her. Captured her like a boulder ’round Tehachapi.