Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 22 (6/8) RATTLESNAKE!!!

The title gives away the fact that I had my first rattlesnake encounter in over 400 miles if hiking, but I'm going to save that story for the end...

Today started fairly uneventfully. We would be crossing the burn area from the massive 2009 Station Fire, including a small detour. The majority of the trail in this area just reopened this year, but there is still one small section being repaired. After my last experience, I gladly took the detour, though once again some hikers chose not to do so for one reason or another. Due to the fires, we would go 22 miles without a reliable water source, so I carried a back-breaking 7 liters (15 lbs!) of water. While iw was filling up at the last spring, King Toot, Orbit and Positive ID came up as well. I hiked on with Positive ID as the other two took an early rest break.

The scenery today was pretty interesting as the new growing plants came up around the charred remains of the former forest. We came across a work crew clearing downed trees, but didn't stop to chat long. Apparently my observation skills are lacking as I later learned from the others that it was a prison work crew and that was why they were wearing orange. Fair enough, and I took some joking for not noticing the word 'Prisoner' written on the legs of the jumpsuits. We didn't stop for lunch until about 2:00 and that was after making a solid 15 miles. Orbit and King Toot caught up with us as we were getting ready to go, and we discussed campsites for the evening. Positive ID and I took off again, but it was only a minute of walking later when disaster was narrowly avoided.

As we were walking along chatting, suddenly Positive ID started yelling and jumping like crazy. Only then did I see the snake that had flown out of the bushes at his bare legs. It tried two strikes, one quick one as he stepped inches from its hess, and another when it was out on the trail. The second strike flipped it onto its back so that the white belly was facing up. It recovered, coiled up, and hissing, slid back into the brush. Not once did it rattle as a warning desire a prominent rattle on its tail. We were both in shock. Everything happened so quickly, and it was a miracle Positive ID wasn't bitten. I was personally thankful I'd been walking far enough back not to step on the little best after that first strike. I ran back to warn the other two, and they cautiously avoided it in the trail. Because of how it was positioned in n the bushes, you would never see it before you were in top of it. King Toot used his trekking pole to push it further into the bushes so hopefully it wouldn't be disturbed by other passing hikers.  So, now after over 400 miles, my streak is over and I got to see a rattlesnake in one of the most hair-raising ways possible. That's plenty of excitement for quite some time...

We all hiked on after that encounter, but I couldn't keep up with Positive ID's adrenaline fueled pace. In trying to do so I turned my ankle on a rock, and was forced to slow down for the rest of the afternoon. As the sun was setting I made it I in to the North Fork ranger station where we all ate and slept. Only 18 miles until Agua Dulce tomorrow where we will stay at the home of the Saufleys - a popular hiker destination before we all head into the heat of the Mojave.

Miles Today: 25
Trip Mileage: 436

Sorry, I was too shocked to get a photo of the snake. Hopefully you enjoy this shot of desert flowers instead


  1. Brian,

    Glad you survived your first rattler!

    How about posting more often so you're more up to date? I'm always curious how you're doing.

    (Noah's dad....)

  2. Good to hear from you! Half the problem is that I'm behind on writing the journals by a little bit. I think Noah is currently two days ahead - I'm going to be at 566 by this evening.

    - Brian