I’ve always enjoyed walking, but I didn’t develop an interest in hiking until a road trip my daughter and I took back in 2007 to the Black Hills in South Dakota. I’m not sure what possessed me to agree to the almost four hour round trip hike with a 2,000 foot elevation gain up to Harney Peak, but Ashton had me convinced we could do it.
It turned out to be a fabulous hike – my knees may have disagreed, but Ashton and I both agreed it was extremely enjoyable even though we arrived back at our vehicle tired and sore.
Although the hike challenged me, I found it invigorating. It made me feel so alive. I couldn’t remember the last time, if ever, experiencing that kind of feeling, and couldn’t wait to plan our next hike.
I should probably mention that at the time, I was an out of shape workaholic carrying an extra twenty pounds more than I currently carry. The day after the hike, my legs and feet hurt so much I had trouble walking, but I felt awesome.
Fast forward to today, hiking has become a regular part of my life. Granted, I don’t embark on any epic all day hikes like some of my RVing pals (you know who you are 😉 ) but I thoroughly enjoy those one to three-hour hikes amongst beautiful scenery.
This time of year is particularly pretty in the desert southwest with the trails lined with wildflowers. The cactuses are budding and some are starting to bloom. Up until two weeks ago, I could be found in the morning hiking three to four days a week for an hour or two somewhere in the Phoenix metro area. There are so many fabulous parks in Phoenix to hike and explore that getting bored would be difficult.
And then the weather started getting hot …. hotter than normal for this time of year, which required I get out on the trail a little earlier. On that fateful morning two weeks ago, I knew I was running late, temps were already in the 80’s (Fahrenheit) and I would need to be vigilant in keeping an eye out for snakes.
I left the camera at home wanting to focus on exercise and not allow myself to get distracted. Yeah, good luck on that! I always carry my cell phone with me for emergency purposes and it just so happens it takes photographs, which works in a pinch.
I was clipping along, making good time on my morning hike. In spite of the heat, I kept my pace quick all the while keeping my eyes peeled on the trail in front of me and scanning the vegetation from side to side. I’m not freaked out by snakes, but I’m also not a fan of the slithery creatures.I was on a trail leading me back to the truck with maybe fifteen minutes left to go and that’s when the movement in the brush stopped me in my tracks. Mr. rattle snake was coiled in strike position and his head was bobbing back and forth as if he was dancing. His tongue was flickering while our eyes met.
I stood there frozen for a split second then gently backed away. Once I retreated, he slowly lowered himself and starting slithering first toward me (I walked backwards some more) and then toward the other side of the trail.
I stopped a women and her dog from passing me. She was grateful that I had seen the snake first or she might have walked right by it. We watched the snake cross the trail and counted five rings on his rattle.
This was not my first snake sighting on a trail. I almost stepped on a bull snake in southern Colorado. He was crossing the trail and I wasn’t paying attention. Fortunately, I looked down before stepping on him. Although a little started initially, I continued on my hike without concern.This encounter with the rattle snake rattled me …. rattled me to my core…. to the point it took me nearly ten days just to get out on the trail again. Even then, I couldn’t enjoy that hike. I’m afraid I’ve turned into a nervous hiker, but am hopeful in time my fears will ease.
All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone 5, and thus, not the best quality. From now on, I won’t leave home without my Sony DSCWX350 18 MP Digital Camera (Black) Since this was my first rattle snake encounter in the wild, I wish I had gotten better photos of the snake, especially considering its my goal not to come face to face with another snake!
Less time on the trails, means more time in the kitchen…… much to Al’s delight. Click here for my Lemon Shrimp recipe.