My first California Mountain Kingsnake! I heard it crawling off the trail as I passed. Totally unexpected.
I came around a corner on the Backbone Trail to meet another biker heading up the trail. He said to be careful of the coral snake in the trail, which he had just ridden around. I looked down to see an absolutely stunning adult Mtn. King. I jumped off my bike in hopes of getting a photo but the snake had been spooked by the first biker, had already made a U-turn, and was heading for cover. There must have been a hole in the ground amongst the dense vegetation because the snake disappeared as soon as it got off the trail and I was only about 2 seconds behind it.
On road after dark. Luckily I did not hit it. Took photos.
Didn't find any actual snakes but did flip this juvenile mountain king shed, I realized I didn't take close up pics of the shed but you can clearly see the banded pattern on it.
My first Mountain Kingsnake didn't exactly yield great pics, but it was still a great experience of expectation fulfillment. We were told they were up there, and sure enough, there was one in the middle of the road between our moth lights.
Ken-ichi found this beauty in between moth lights...
Lampropeltis zonata, or the California mountain kingsnake, is a species of nonvenomous colubrid snake, which is endemic to North America. It is a coral snake mimic, having a similar pattern consisting of red, black, and yellow on its body, but the snake is completely harmless. Five subspecies are recognized, including the nominotypical subspecies.