It started out as a beautiful day. I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to go on a hike a lot later than I normally do. It had been awhile since I had been due to my health. I was starting to feel down and knew I needed this. I just needed to get back on the hiking trails at Dana Peak Park here in Central Texas.
My hike started out uneventful other than I made the mistake of drinking about 4 cups of coffee before leaving. About 1 mile in, I already had a full bladder and was still on the main part of the trail that stayed pretty busy. I knew it would be at least another mile before I could find somewhere to squat and water the ground.
I decided to make the twin peaks loop because I knew there would be several areas I could use that were off the beaten path. As I came to the path that leads to the tallest of the 2 “mountains”, I said “Bridget” (sometimes I talk to myself) “you’ve always wanted to climb to the top of this one, let’s do it! Lets prove to ourselves that we still can”. So I turned onto that trail which lead up to the top and made a beeline for the trees. After I checked the area thoroughly for snakes (after all who wants to get bit in the butt by a snake as they are peeing) I did my thing and continued up the “mountain”.
It’s a steep climb and I am loving every minute of it. Finally, I am at the top. All that’s in my way are several very large/high boulders to climb. I scout the area and decide that where I’m at is the best place to go up. I climbed those boulders like a pro (my legs the next day reminded me I am no rock climber). I finally made it to the top, where all the bees apparently are. The overlook I wanted to go to meant I would have to travel through a swarm of bees, something I was NOT going to do. So, I made my own path and went to another overlook. I took my camelbak off, and took some pictures. The view was beyond amazing. I moved from overlook to overlook to take pictures, then went to an overlook opposite the side I came up on. I passed by some thick bushes and heard a real loud rustling noise. It startled me, but I didn’t see anything so I kept moving. I went to the next overlook and decided to sit down, eat a snack, and enjoy the view. Here was my view from the first overlook. It was taken with my iPhone and at some point, I do plan on hiking with my professional camera and gear to really capture the beauty of this park.
After about an hour on top of this mountain, I realized I really need to finish up my hike and head back home. I got up, grabbed my camelbak and went back to where I came up and realized I never did make it to that overlook (because of the bee’s). I decided that if I ducked down enough (they were at the top of the tree) that maybe I could make it through. So I duck down and start walking quickly and catch myself just before I step on a 7-8 foot massive rattlesnake!
It is laid across the boulders. This thing was almost as big as a freaking python! Scared the crap out of me and made me really happy that I peed before climbing! At this point in time, I am scared out of my mind. I am holding my camelbak (I had taken it off to rest) in one hand and my phone in the other. The top of that mountain is not very large, so there is nowhere to run, and the only way down is to climb down massive boulders that I climbed up. One thing is for sure, as I am standing there about to die from a heart attack, I must take a picture. Now this picture does not do this bad boy justice. I know I have been known to exaggerate, but I promise you this time, I am not. He was 7-8 foot long and it his widest about 14″ around.
I quickly snap the picture as my hands are shaking and I am trying not to make a sound, because at this point he is looking away from me. I really don’t want him to know that I am there, because I really want to get off this mountain alive. After I take a horrible picture (see above) from my hands shaking so bad, I put my phone back in my armband, never allowing my eyes to leave this snake. I then try to quickly and quietly but my camelback back on. As I sling it over my shoulder, the snake turns it head and is now directly looking at me.
My hands start shaking even more as my heart starts beating faster. My legs are now shaking as I try to finish putting on my camelbak. I finally get it snapped around my chest. I quickly look at the boulders below to scan them for any more snakes that may have popped up out of nowhere, and to make a quick mental note on how to climb down them as fast as humanly possible.
The darn rattlesnake is still staring right at me. If I had to guess by the look on its face, he seemed confused and maybe happy to have some company. He didn’t seem bothered or irritated I was there. He was just kind of chilling and hanging out (I am sure probably digesting his food which is why he could have cared less about me). If he had a fridge up there, I am almost positive he would have asked if I had wanted a beer. I, however, had no interest in enjoying his company. Sorry dude, but I don’t hang out with guys that have fangs, unless they are Damon from the Vampire Diaries!
I made my move and made it down the boulders in what would have probably been record time. I had no time to climb, I just jumped from boulder to boulder. The thought that I could break my leg or even my neck never passed my mind until I hit solid ground and said to myself “Bridget you’re an idiot, you could have broken your neck”.
I start running down the mountain so fast I lose my footing on the loose dirt, and fall flat on my tush. I have finally made it back to the trail. I hike down a little more until I have reached what I believe to be a safe enough distance from the snake (which was about .5 mile). I then whipped out my phone to update my Facebook status with the picture, because no one is going to believe this crap!
I am still shaking, but I keep trying to calm my nerves. I continue on the trail continually looking behind me to make sure the snake has not grown wings to fly down and follow me. Thankfully it didn’t, and I finished my 6 mile hike.
Moral of the story…wear hiking boots when hiking, don’t hike alone, learn how to grow wings and fly =)
P.S. Again sorry about the quality of the picture, I was shaking pretty bad, hence the reason it is blurry. I cannot stress enough how this picture just doesn’t do him justice. I have been to several rattlesnake round-ups and he was as big as most of the big boys I see out at those!