Tag Archives: Pets

The Snook’s Nose Saga

In June of 2017, Nicole, Amos and I stayed a couple of nights at Curtis Creek Campground in Pisgah National Forest, outside of Asheville, NC. On the morning of our first night, we decided to attempt to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway via Snook’s Nose Trail, which, reportedly, was about 1.5 miles to the ridge of Snook’s Nose and another 1.5 miles to the parkway.

About 1.6 miles in, we gave up. The trail, while marked as “more difficult” was quite strenuous and when we reviewed the topographic map, we realized that we had made little progress. We vowed to attempt again.

This May (2019), we attempted again. And succeeded. But it wasn’t without some struggle.

We arrived Monday afternoon from Savannah, set up camp and enjoyed some freshly made buttery mash potatoes and a sautéed mix of tuna, carrot, and onion. In the cool morning, we took some selfies to document our expected decline.

We pushed through the cardiovascularly intensive first 2 miles of the trail, ascending from 2,000 ft to about 4,000 ft, to arrive at a bald on the ridge and stopped a moment to celebrate and enjoy the view. We were all tired and a bit hot—Amos pursued some man-made shade.

A moment after documenting our success with another selfie, Nicole pointed to the ground to my left—a large, curled, timber rattlesnake glared back at us. Presumably, this was Snook’s Nose reminding us to stay humble.

Three miles later and another 700 ft, we reached the Blue Ridge Parkway, noting that the Snook’s Nose Trailhead claimed a total length of 3.9 miles and that my GPS track reported 5 miles. We took a breath, a selfie, had some lunch, and discussed what to do next. Nicole had developed a pretty nasty blister, and the map suggested we were about half way to our original goal—Black Mountain Campground north of the parkway back down to 3,000 ft, which required another 500 ft of climbing (300 ft to the peak of Green Knob at about 5,075 ft then a few ascents along the ridge). The other option was to go back down Snook’s Nose Trail—descending 3,000 ft back to the original site but having access to the vehicle.

I convinced Nicole (and probably forced Amos) to head on to Black Mountain Campground; they have showers (and we later found that they also have ice cream) and the map suggested there was an alternative, less steep route along some forest service roads. We arrive 3.5 miles later and Amos collapsed on the picnic table.

We hiked around the campground and enjoyed some relaxing riverside reading and napping the next day. After the second night, on Thursday Morning, we set out along Neal’s Creek Road for the Blue Ridge Parkway, crossed, and headed down Curtis Creek Road. While the return was certainly less impactful on the joints and cut out about 1,000 ft from the highest point, it was likely a little longer at about 9.5 miles. The last mile was quite sunny, hot, and the road was covered in sharp gravel, giving Amos a hard time. We also saw a black bear along the way!

We arrived back at Curtis Creek Campground in the late afternoon on Thursday, ate, and relaxed in some comfortable seats/hammocks. We congratulated ourselves for conquering Snook’s Nose and took a final selfie… but, in the end, Snook’s Nose had one last thing to say: don’t forget to shut your damn car door—it’ll kill your battery and you’ll need to be towed to Marion for a change.


Murph is a yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) that I discovered in Tom Triplett Community Park in the Fall of 2016. At the time, she was about the size of a quarter and being attack by fire ants as she dispersed across the forest. I removed the ants, and started a 10-g aquarium for her, feeding her mealworms, some Gambusia, and, eventually, pellets until last summer as she approached a more robust size.

Barzini and Monstrego are two other pet turtles of the same species but a different sub-species: Trachemys scripta elegans. Both escaped in the Summer of 2015, but I recovered Barzini about a year and a half later.

Here, Nicole and I pose for Murph’s release.

New camera, more Amos

I have thousands of digital photographs that I’ve taken since my first digital camera purchase in 2000 (maybe 1999). That was an Olympus D-150Z, which sported a whole 1-megapixel sensor, a 3x optical zoom lens, and an 8 Mb storage card. Not a lot of photographs (if any) from those days have made it to Montegraphia, nor have many from the next in line, a Canon PowerShot A530, but my Lightroom database reports over 9,000 photos between these two devices. Lots of great memories are tied to the photographs that I took with those devices, and some were shared through other means, such as Google Photos (Picasa at the time). A set of parody films that I made in college, a cold, snowy day collecting leaves for crayfish processing, or a foggy morning spent at Magee Marsh with lab mates and my advisor where we saw 99 bird species (I think that was the frustratingly close-to-centennial number) popped up when I did a quick look through.

The vast majority of photographs here were taken using my first DSLR—an Olympus E-420 with just a handful of lenses. That device is still around, but a loose memory draw and an increasingly frustrating inconsistency in single-autofocus function in my Sigma-made macro lens, followed by a recommendation for a waterproof device, led me to purchase an Olympus Tough TG-4. That’s been my go-to for the last two or three years.

The accumulated backlog of photographs is one of the reasons I have inconsistent postings here. I have a workflow and process I like to use prior to “archiving” onto Montegraphia—the photos should have meaningful tags, some image processing effects, and often a geo-location, and that’s time-consuming; and, it’s overwhelming at times. So, my solution: buy a new digital camera.

I recently purchased a Canon EOS M6 with a 18-150 mm kit lens and a separate 28 mm macro. Maybe I’ll keep this up, maybe I won’t, and I suspect most of the focus will be on Amos.