I began the morning briskly. I put in my headphones to start my hike with music. I was passionately against listening to music in the beginning. But after spending days with Sam and friends singing Queen and running along to quick beats, I learned to appreciate how much happiness music brought to life.
I dearly missed my dancing friends in San Francisco, so I stomped my way up Chestnut Mountain to some Deathguild compilations. At the top of the mountain was a nice shelter that was once a fire warden’s cabin. It was completely enclosed and had windows and bunks. I remember thinking “Yeah, I could live here.”
The view from the top of the mountain was spectacular. Some friendly locals had driven up on four wheelers and were cooking food over a morning fire. They were playing guitar and singing while lazing in the grass. I could look out and see for miles. I sat on the mountain enjoying the view and gave Mother Earth a call for Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother Earth Day!
Sam and I walked together down the mountain. It was getting extremely warm and we had missed our water source somehow. We meandered up and down over rolling ridgelines. I drank the last of my water and began to worry about dehydration. Sam was out of water too, so we agreed to stop at the next source, no matter how far out of the way it was, to get some water.
I was slightly spaced out, sweating and thinking about my body more than hiking when I heard that noise that no hiker really wants to hear unexpectedly. That shaking, rattling, tich tich tich tich. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked for the source. About three feet from me, directly on trail, was a well grown timber rattler.
My heart dropped and I felt my feet turn my body around and head South. I ran down the ridge and sat down. I was shaking and crying from the shock. Sam came along soon after and was more excited than afraid of the snake. We waited awhile and followed it as it moved along the trail and eventually slipped off into the grey rocky cliffs.
This was the first time on trail that I thought I might die. After awhile, I began to count what I was calling existential crises.
Sam and I walked a little further to a spur trail. We dropped our packs and walked about a mile straight downhill to see if we could find something to drink. First we encountered a beautiful campsite with a sprawling view of the farms in the valley. As we explored further we found a crystal clear stream gushing with cold spring water. We drank water for awhile, admiring the view, and refilled our bottles for the long trek up and then onward to Jenkin’s shelter.
We were hiking in a large bubble towards a rumored pancake breakfast trail magic. When we finally arrived at the shelter, as the sun was setting, everyone wondered where we had been all day.