Along the North Yuba River lies an emerald green pool, a small waterfall flowing into it. Plants with wide leaves hang over the water, their roots grabbing onto the granite rocks. I sit between the rocks, watching for movement in the clear water below. I glance over and see two bright orange eyes staring at me from just above the waterline.
It is a Sierra Gartersnakes, Thamnophis couchii. There are dozens of these snakes living in this perfect habitat of rocky crevices. They pull themselves up out of the water and perch on rocks just above the waterline. They swim against the currents with ease, catching fish and amphibians.
It is during this hot month of July that females give live birth to their young. Nestled in the warm rocks is a small female with a huge lump in her belly. Her belly weighs her down, so she just watches me.