When I returned to the trail I found out that Crawford and The Mommas Boys were just ahead of me and it looked like they were going to be the all day. I was motivated, ready to catch them, my day off was desperately needed but it has put me on behind in my mind. Setting out and saying good bye to our new trail angel and Hendo and Hendo, I pushed hard down the trail. Making my way along the rocky terrain wasn’t bad, by that it wasn’t easy either. New Jersey had started to become well groomed and smooth in this section which allowed me to take off and really push. Making the first 3 miles of the day I passed a wonderful view of a resort on the water before coming to my first water source.
Filling up I sat there and thought of how far I wanted to go, if the guys had left I didn’t want to push it not to catch them. The I received a text message from Crawford, he was waiting in town and I told him I would catch up. Here I kicked into his gear and pushed to town, another 12 miles. My goal was to get there before 8, with it being around 4 already I would have to move. Fortunately for me the terrain remained some what clear and clean S I walked along the ridgeline. Coming to a turn in the trail I heard that ever one sound we all have apprehensions about. Rttttttttttttt, there was a large female rattlesnake just a few feet from me in the trail. Looking more like a misplaced root than a snake, I backed up. I’m by myself and there isn’t a place to go around I thought. How was I going to get it off the trail.
Luck was on my side, while I was thinking she slithered into the brush, giving me just enough space to go by her. Carefully I passed and picked up speed again, this time with one eye fixed on the ground and the other looking ahead. Coming across one you can’t see is unbelievably different than one you can see, there is an innate sense of fear when you can’t see them from a far. That unknown of being bit and being stranded miles from nowhere without help. Maybe you have cell signal maybe you don’t, either way you’d have to hike to your rescuer while being in severe pain. I’d much rather fight 3 bears than get bit by a rattlesnaek, let alone an infant one. That’s all I thought of as I crested Rattlesnake Mountain, I know right what a wonderful name for a mountain I thought.
I hoped it wasn’t aptly named, nope it was, as I crossed another snake just off the trail. Two rattlesnakes in one day I was definitely done with them emotionally and mentally. I tried to think of other things while I walked to the last shelter before town. There was no getting away from it for me, I thought of what I could and would do if I was bit. What if the snake was a baby snake, could I get help before the full ride of venom it had injected took me down. You see out here they are the worst, a thing of nightmares. The juveniles and baby’s do not have control over their venom glands yet and you get a full dose no matter what. Even better they are inherently more aggressive and unpredictable due to their size and age.
Uh I hate it when they occupy my thiughts, it’s not that I am afraid of them, it’s just unnerving when you can’t see them. The last shelter was just a short trip away and I was now changing my thinking. Water and quick ten minute break and I would be off. Coming down the side trail I was instantly hit by mosquitos and many of them. It was almost impossible to filter my water while being attacked, there would be no break for me as I hauled as away from the shelter. In my hate I ended up going the wrong way and following a different trail around the lake. I was so hounded that I ran for miles to get away for them. There was no escape, I was surrounded and a giant food source. Each smack of my hand would kill anywhere between 2 and 5 of them at once. True horror, what a trap day as I ran all the way to the main road. 3 miles with all lol my gear on, chased by mosquitos, such a small thing. I was quite relieved to see the guys and I knew we’d stay there for the night.