Huggorm i Hemlingby

Huggorm, picture borrowed from WWF

Today was a nice sunny day, so we went to Hemlingby to see how the forest was doing.  Hemlingby has lots of great trails, and also little gazebos and mini-cabins for picnics.  We skied there a time or two when it was snowy, but haven’t been there in weeks. Graham has run a lot on the treadmill but me not so much, so we compromised on a 10km run.  It was a bit windy but not to bad in the trees. However, not a lot of sunlight had penetrated to some densely forested parts, so we ran over snow in a few places and saw residual snowpiles in other places.  It rained cats and dogs yesterday, and that along with the snow melt made for a boggy run with lots of detours around puddles and streams.  Unfortunately the lake had flooded out the trail at about 6km in, so we had to turn around and do an out-and-back (a little longer than I set out for, but I survived).

The awesome highlight of my run was the huggorm (viper) I saw on the trail.  He was sunning himself sleepily and I almost stepped on him, he was not so quick to get out of my way.  He was as long as a big garter snake but much thicker, and he had an awesome light blue-gray on black zigzag pattern.  He also had a big head, so it didn’t look like he just ate worms and grasshoppers.  I didn’t actually find out he was a huggorm until I got home to google it, turns out he is a protected species who eats rodents and birds.  I am amazed a cold-blooded animal can live so far north, and be awake and slithering between snowpiles.


  1. Vipers are scarey! Katja and I watched a video at a nature park in Oz that showed how carpet vipers intentionally park themselves on trails, hiding under leaves, waiting to ambush some unsuspecting rodent or bird. The hike we did the next day started out super slow as we were so paranoid that we were going to step on a viper…the video showed a hiker stepping right over a hidden viper…of course we figured our sandal covered feet would step right on one. Our pace finally picked up when some mountain bikers went by…figured they would clear away any nasties from the trail ahead of us!

  2. That snake looks really cool! I don’t think I would be as calm or inquisitive if I ran across a viper in the woods or knew they were in the woods… I’m thinking I would probably be super paranoid and trying to figure a way to get out as fast as possible i.e. via piggyback :p.

  3. I probably would have crapped my pants if I knew what it was… but I was blissfully naive until I came home to google.

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