Canyon hikes are some of the best adventures in the desert southwest. Some of these have year round water, and in those cases, no trail. Much of the time will be spent hiking in the water, which is quite refreshing on hot days. I always felt safe in the water with my guard down, and looked more alertly for the dangers along the rocky canyon bottoms. That all changed at the moment of this photograph.
I was standing in the waters of the San Francisco River in eastern Arizona. I had my large camera on a tripod in a spot about a foot deep in the river. I was talking with my hiking partner when we both heard the disruption in the water behind me as though a fish had jumped up. We both stood in disbelief as this rattlesnake slowly raised itself up on the ledge on the opposing bank. We were on the shallow side of the river, but the snake had come out of a pool that was at least three feet deep. We watched our steps everywhere after that!
The San Francisco River from a safer distance: