Climbing Black Mesa, Oklahoma

Charlie and Diane Winger’s book, Highpoint Adventures: The Complete Guide to the 50 State Highpoints, warns hikers to “watch out for rattlesnakes” on Black Mesa, and this notice at the entrance to the Black Mesa Nature Preserve certainly underlined the seriousness of their warning by pointing out that “prairie rattlesnakes have the most toxic venom of all the poisonous snakes in Oklahoma and are found in this area.” For the climb up Black Mesa, therefore, I deliberately wore my gaiters and used my trekking pole, hoping that the tap, tap, tap of it on the ground would keep snakes away.