PCT Day 10: Day of the Rattlesnake

​April 20, 2017

Mile 124.89 – Nance Canyon (124.89-140.14)

15.25 miles

The stars were gorgeous last night. Definitely the best star show yet out of the three nights of cowboy camping. The only issue was there was a ton of condensation after the sun went down, and my sleeping bag got a bit soaked. 

I tried to get up super early, but there was a cold wind blowing in the morning and I couldn’t convince myself to leave my sleeping bag. I finally managed to get up and ready and Gummies and I were hiking by about 6:45. 

We had only hiked a couple of miles before signs started leading us to “Mike’s Place”. Mike is a trail angel who lets hikers stay at his house and provides water, food, beer, etc. There were a few other hikers there who had stayed the night, including one guy that had been there for 16 days. We got water, and were given a delicious breakfast of eggs, potatoes, and veggies in a tortilla. And there was hot coffee. Heaven. 

We didn’t stay long, and were soon back out on the trail. We came around a corner and found Jo (now possibly trail-named Cougar) and Mick! We hiked with them for a bit, which was fun. We rounded another corner and suddenly had an amazing view of snow-capped Mount San Jacinto, which we will likely be trying to summit within the next week. 

Pointing toward San Jacinto! 

Cougar and Mick stopped for a bit, and Gummies and I hiked on. There had been a bit of climbing in the morning, and then the rest of the day was one long downhill, where we lost almost 2500 feet of elevation. The miles really do pass by quicker with someone to talk to. 

We stopped for a snack/shade break, and I had to pee. There wasn’t really anywhere to go, so I scrambled down the slope beside the trail a bit to where I saw a small sandy patch of ground. It wasn’t until my foot was literally on top of it that I noticed there was a rattlesnake curled up there. I screamed and ran back up the hill, yelling “I JUST STEPPED ON A RATTLESNAKE!”. Once I was safely back on trail, with no snake bites acquired, it was pretty funny. I almost peed on a rattlesnake. 

After that, it was a long, hot 5 miles to Tule Spring, our next water source. We had to go down a steep quarter mile side trail to reach the spring, but once we got there, we saw an abundance of glorious shade. 

I laid under an aspen tree for almost two hours, cleaning and airing out my feet and eating lunch. I tried a new creation for lunch, that I’m calling a “trail crunchwrap supreme”. It’s a tortilla with laughing cow cheese, crushed pringles, and sriracha. It was actually pretty delicious. 

When I finally convinced myself to leave my shade patch, I only had a little over three miles to hike to my planned camp spot in Nance Canyon. I hiked the the last few miles of the day alone. There were some pretty awesome views of the surrounding mountains and boulder fields.

 Suddenly, I was shaken out of my thoughts by a loud rattling sound. Another rattlesnake! This one was on the side of the trail, and out of the 5 rattlesnakes I’ve seen so far, was the only one to actually rattle at me. I tried to go around by climbing along the rocks on the other side of the trail, but every time I moved it rattled loudly and hissed at me. It was coiled in a strike position, and I knew it could make it across the trail to where I was pretty quickly if it wanted to, so I was nervous. I moved back and waited a while, but it wouldn’t move. I back tracked until I was out of sight, waited a few minutes, and advanced again. It was still there, but seemed slightly less pissed off now. I slowly picked my way across the rocks, as it watched me and slowly rattled. It was really cool to finally hear one rattle, but I was definitely glad to be passed it. 

It didn’t take long to reach Nance Canyon after that. There is a strip of sandy ground alongside the dry creek bed that makes a good campsite. Gummies was already there, along with another man we had passed earlier in the day. I tried to set up my tent, but the stakes didn’t want to hold in the sandy ground so I just gave up and set up for cowboy camping again. 

As we were getting ready for the evening, tons of hikers started showing up, and we now have a tent city formed along the bank of the canyon. There’s me, Gummies, Cougar and Mick, Emily, Lauren, Adam, Stephanie, John, Roi, and the other man who was here when I arrived. I think the app said there was room for 3 tents here, so it’s pretty impressive that we managed to cram everyone in. 

I’m excited for tomorrow, because it’s only 11 miles until the famous Paradise Valley Cafe, where we’ll get to have lunch. The stars are coming out now, and I think I’m going to read a chapter or two of my book before bed. 

4 thoughts on “PCT Day 10: Day of the Rattlesnake

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