I love nature. I love how everything is always changing–how the same field looks entirely different within a few weeks. I love how the colors change, how flowers open up, how beautiful and wild things seem. However, I don’t think nature likes me.
I’m not talking about the living organisms we call plants. I’m talking about the animals out there. I don’t think they like me. In fact, I’m vaguely thinking that A) I either have very bad luck, or B) It’s all out to get me. Either way, It’s a bad thing.
Last year, I was charged by a bear (see here: http://folphotography.com/blog/?p=112), and two weeks ago, I had another encounter with wildlife. A near-death experience. It was pretty hard-core, if I do say so myself.
I was backpacking in the mountains of Virginia. Super beautiful scenery, and overall a good time. A lot of the hike, tree’s obstructed the view, so when we could, we tried to take breaks when we could see everything.
At one point, we found a rock outcropping on the mountain. It seemed an excellent spot to eat lunch, so we decided to take advantage of it. I sat down, took my shoes off, and started pulling things out to make lunch, when I heard a noise. At first, I thought it was the cap on our water making some sort of strange hissing sound, although I had never heard it make a sound quite that loud before. So I checked the water. Then I thought that perhaps something weird was going on with our stove, but that would be impossible since I hadn’t taken it out yet. Then for some reason, I looked behind me, and sitting A FOOT AWAY was a rattlesnake, all curled up.
“Oh my god. It’s a rattlesnake.” And I said it just like that, without really raising my voice.
I proceeded to tell the girls to get off the rock, “NOW,” since they started questioning and getting closer to look at the snake. I thought they were going to make it more agitated and likely to bite me, if they made it feel trapped. I got up very slowly, grabbed my stuff, and walked away. Oh, and right before I started walking away, one of the girls was like, “Let me kill it. Let me kill it with my hiking pole. I know I can kill it!”
“You cannot kill a rattlesnake with a hiking pole. Get off the rock, now”
“No, I know I can kill it! Let me at it”
“No. You cannot kill a rattlesnake with a hiking pole. It will definitely bite you.” I was also thinking it would bite me, while she tried her mad jedi-skills on the snake.
Below is a photo of the snake. Yes, we stopped long enough (at a safe distance) to take a photo.
So, it was the largest specie of rattlensake in North America, a Timber Rattlesnake. They don’t bite often, as they are a timid snake, but by the time I knew what the noise was, it had been a few minutes. When I was finally was able to leave the rock, it was a very angry, agitated snake. It was even moving around to look at us when we left. I am sure I would have died if I had been bitten. I looked up some Timber snake bite incidents on google and it looked like, at the most, you have about ten hours. It’s very unlikely that I would have gotten help within ten hours, with our placement on the mountain. I was glad none of the other girls were bitten, obviously, but they might have had even less time than me. They are smaller girls. And I didn’t know what to do with a snake bite–I would have tried to walk for help, which you’re not supposed to do.
Like I said, I have had a bear charge me and now I have had a snake encounter. I don’t know if I ever want to go scuba diving or snorkeling. A shark seems next on the list. I know the odds of a shark attack are astronomical, but hey! What are the chances I would have these other encounters? Overall, I think it was a good thing. Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating a little. However, I did see two good outcomes from it.
First outcome: I tend to complain a lot while backpacking. I mean, the backpack is freakin’ heavy and the hills are really big. It’s just a lot of work. I feel like complaining is part of the experience, you know? Somehow, it makes it more fun for me. “Oh my god, why am I DOING THIS…” As I vow to never climb another hill in my life. Having a near-death experience on this trip helped me complain in a more unique way. Instead of just murmuring complaints up the hills, I would say things like, “This hill is REALLY big. BUT I LOVE CLIMBING HILLS! THEY ARE THE BEST!”
Second outcome: I feel like I’m going to be the worlds greatest grandmother. “Sonny, when I was your age, I climbed mountains, backed down bears, had encounters with rattlesnakes…don’t you complain to me!”