Mountain marshes and garter snakes

Went for a hike today, on the hill behind cedar grove. It’s a beautiful area, with some huge boulders and 100+ year old firs and cedars.

Today, I discovered a pretty big (about 0.5-0.75  acres) swamp/pond on the other side of the hill:

A marsh/pond in the forests of the Selkirk Mountains of N. Idaho - there be ducks here!

A marsh/pond in the forests of the Selkirk Mountains of N. Idaho - there be ducks here!

I was crawling around on a game trail on the shore, and not really paying attention, and suddenly scared a female duck up and didn’t have time to snap a photograph of her. But just as I was cursing myself for not having the camera ready, this guy popped up right in front of my face:

Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), full body shot

Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), full body shot

He’s a common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), and they tend to live near ponds and eat salamanders and frogs and insects, and whatnot. He was really calm, and let me sit there shooting pictures of him for about 4 minutes — fortunately the dogs were too busy mucking around in the swamp to notice me oddly staring at the ground for so long. Here’s a closeup:

Common Garter Snake, closeup of head, from left side

Common Garter Snake, closeup of head, from left side