Another Michigander, eh! I graduated from Cros-Lex High, in the Thumb, oh, about a million years ago!
Snakes - no worries. And this comes from someone who does not like them / is afraid of them. You are not on their food list. I rarely see a snake, and of the few I have seen, I bet I've walked right past at least half of them and only knew it when someone else, who was paying attention, pointed it out. Just pay attention to where you sit / put your hands / check your shoes and bag if you leave anything out over night. If by some stroke of very bad luck, you were to get bit, the best and ONLY thing to do is get yourself to cell service and get medical attention. Do NOT try to address the bite yourself. Remove any tight jewelry, remain calm and get yourself to professional help. The most defensive (not aggressive) snake you may see it the Mojave - crabby little bugger but will definitely let you know he's around! Personally, I keep my shoes and bag in my tent. That way I don't have to think about scorpions or snakes using any pockets or spaces as good hideouts. If you do keep anything out side of your tent, just give it a good shake, look everything over, before putting your hand or foot in. Seriously, snake bites are not an issue.
Same is true when picking up a rock to pound in stakes - roll it over 1st. Almost always it's someone's home. Oh, and after you're done with it, give them their home back.
Salt - you need it in the warmer areas. Salty foods are important as are some type of electrolyte supplement, but just take salt and don't be afraid to use it. I carry a small container and whenever I feel "off", I just put some on my ever-so-clean hand, lick it off, and within a few minutes I'm good to go. Hyponatremia can be a real issue, so don't disregard your need for salt.
Shade - use it when you find it and carry your own. An umbrella is going to make your hike so much better. Use it for rain and most importantly, use it to keep the sun off of you. Allows to you hike without a hat, letting heat escape and shades your entire body.
When you come to a water source - camel up (with salt!) and carry a little more than you think you'll need - especially in the warmer / dryer sections. You may find the next water source is dry or you may find that you're moving slower than anticipated due to the heat. Better to have water and not need it than the other way around.
Personally, I keep covered up and do not use sunscreen, even though I'm ghastly white. I don't want to get it into my eyes, I know residue will be on my hands and therefore in my food, and I can't wash it off daily. So, I just wear long sleeves, sun gloves, big hat and long pants. But, that's not for everyone. If you do use sunscreen, a contact lens container works great. Small, water-tight and holds enough to use between resupplies.
Hm, that's what I can think of for now. I'm sure others will chime in with something I forgot to share about our beautiful desert!