Mojave baby Rattler – Almost Snake bit

I’m home now but, since it’s all starting to look like a blur, here’s the rest of the story as best as I can now recall it. Where to begin? Let’s see, if I start rewinding from NOW maybe, most of it will start to make sense.

Subject: Almost Snake -bit by Mr. Rattler

I remember coming off the trail – my second time since starting the PCT trail Easter Sunday. The first time was Memorial Day weekend; Loggi picks me up from the Starbucks on Vermont and Vine – Hollywood, CA.

Loggi (AKA: The Logistician; AKA Trawler Kitty) drops me back on the trail at Mojave, California.

When Loggi and I arrive at Mojave one of the places we stop at was the local Carl’s Junior.

While placing an order I asked Carl’s Junior Hamburgers Associate Debra if she ever heard of the PCT – a trail from Mexico to Canada that passes nearby.

Debra stated she had not. I then made some conversation about the sign I saw on the way in to Mojave saying how this was the gate-way to space.

She said that no one had yet tried to launch her anywhere but, with working and running a household she didn’t quite have the energy to do much more.

Too bad I thought. Unlike other associates nearby, Debra looked like she could hike and chew gum at the same time.

Loggi and I then find three hitchhiking thru-hikers from NY who say they waited almost an hour for this ride.

I catch up on some trail Intel and learn that it is probably best for me to jump on the PCT where they start rather than 13 miles back as originally intended.

As luck would have it; arriving a day later I also now dodged a furious 75 mph wind storm the night before.

Later on in my hike I find out from Structure (oldest hiker on the PCT at age 73) that he got caught in that storm while bivving.

Seeing that the night before was clear he chose not to set up a tent. Bad mistake as everything he owned got soaking wet from the sleet, hail and snow.

The worst part is that he was now hypothermic. Structure managed to hike down to Tehachapi to thaw out and was able to dry all his gear before coming back on the trail. Structures story about the storm was also confirmed by one of the three NY hitchhikers.

Prior to Mojave are two of my resupply points (Lancaster & Mojave) we then visit a local grocery store to resupply me for the next 100 miles of hiking. Hiking 20 mile a day equates to five days worth of food. Store bought food is way heavier than dehydrated food so I now have way more respect for those resupplying at local trail towns.

(Later on in the trail I encounter one of those three hikers we picked up and gave a ride to)

The strongest looking one I recall told me he was carrying 14 days worth of food in his pack and he equipped to make it to Kennedy Meadows.

At this point on his hike it appears he has giardia. A stomach parasite gotten by drinking bad untreated water. He has now had the runs for the past three days. His two buddies from NY left him far behind to nurse himself. The poor guy was also now covered in psyhorriosis as well. I offered to stay with him but he insisted that I go on as all he needed was rest from the heat.

After walking through, around and possibly hundreds if not thousands of these FANS; at the time I couldn’t remember the word wind-mills; I run across Structure, Popeye & Olive-Oil.

It was to be the start of a great friendship similar to when I start hiking with the Kiwi’s and Jack and Barb.

The four of us (Popeye, Olive Oil and Structure) come off the wind mill farm and down onto what we see as the highway towards Lake Isabella.

We get real lucky by catching Trail Angel Rebecca on her day off and somehow talk her into a ride into Lake Isabella. Structure fills her gas tank and I give her $40.00 for her troubles – she is delighted and says she will be catching up on our trail journals.

Shortly after picking up my resupply box at the local post office in Lake Isabella I spot the Kern Sun newspaper offices. I stop in to let them know how this hiker and others like me did not feel the “love” as we had on all our previous trail towns.

Bottom line is I sold the economic benefits of the PCT to her and in the future Susan Barr, the newspaper reporter should be writing quite the story to inform town citizens that are unaware of the PCT and economic impact of PCT thru-hikers.

Susan Barr drives me to Nelda’s Diner and introduces me to Frank the owner.

Due to late night partying by my next door hotel guests I did not sleep well so when I inform the hotel owners they offer up a free extra night at Lake Isabella.

Somehow this extra zero day causes me to catch up to Barb & Jack, thru-hikers from Escondido, CA.

The three of us end up on a bus to the much depressed city of Onyx where even the local gas station has shut down. From Onyx there is a 13 mile hitch. Barb & Jack unbeknownst to them end up with a five mile hitch and are now on the side of the road.

Earlier I offered up a $20 spot to an 80 year old agrees to drive me to Walker Pass. Of course, I told him to stop and pick up poor Barb & Jack.

Today you could say that I shat my pants and for good reason. The warm feel of something down below probably occurred at about the precise moment that my right foot made full contact with the rattler and at the time that my left trekking pole made firm contact with the sandy loam trail. At that moment the juvenile rattler came to full life, striking out at the now predator – me!

SUBJECT: Almost Rattler-Bit (originally written and unedited on day of event

The head of the rattler made full contact with the back of my REI spandex hiking pants. As the head of the rattler miraculously glanced off I must’ve simultaneously pushed off with my left hiking pole vaulting up and over the trail and coming down the trail embankment.

Fortunately for me it was not such a steep embankment. Can you imagine dodging a snake but, killing or impaling oneself on the way down of say a 1,000 foot drop?

Four letter words became my chosen language as I rose from the trail embankment and easily observed the much alive rattler still sitting on the trail all coiled up in what still appeared to be an extremely menacing posture.

He or she now looked down on me as I emerged dirty, sweaty and dusty climbing myself back up. Perhaps I was in shock but, I recall laughing out loud at the site of my large Australian style hat staying on my head.

It took me a little while to figure out that I was not actually snake venom bit. The obscenities continued to pour out at the poor creature.

Next, I threw my hiking poles at him one at a time but, instead of slithering off he just stood his ground.

Not to worry – he quickly recovered. Last I recall was me talking a picture of him slithering down the hill.

I continued hiking as if the next mile was littered with a minefield of rattlers.

I now caught up once again to Popeye, Olive Oil and Structure, the 73 year old section hiker.

I showed them the photo and video evidence and in an animated way described my recent encounter.

What if that rattler had made full on contact with my now beefy but rather strong calf muscle? Earlier I was all alone. What would I have done. Activate my SPOT and hope for the best. And remain as calm as possible.

Before that memory became history and the adrenaline charge wore off I stopped pee for a long time and oh, to wipe something else.

To be continued:

25.2 mile personal best mileage so far as a direct result of this powdered drink (See Barb & Jack’s journal for ingredients) 

Tom’s Place – My contribution $20.00 for pancakes and $11.00 for tacos – no cell coverage but he has an internet café set up. Tom you are my top trail angel!! Those hot pancakes came at just the right time. (Cool thing is they have this rule that the newest hikers arriving get to go to the head of the line) Some hikers have been there for over 9 days!!! 

Alpaca Socks from Steve & Donna Lynton’s Alpaca Farm – Kennedy Meadows two pairs; his and hers $24.00 – or 97020 Kennedy Meadows Road, Inyokern, CA 93527

Kennedy Meadows General Store; laundry; shower; six pack of Corona; cheeseburger; peanuts; t-shirt; $75.00

Structure ride to Ridgecrest – Bought Breakfast at the Comfort Inn – $20.00; 

Hotel $77.00

Ridgecrest Taxi to Inyo – $20.00

Regional Bus to Mojave – $5.00

Resupply at Mojave – $75.00

AMTRAX Train to LA Union Station – $12.50

AMTRAX Bus Home – $12.75

Two hour full acupressure & foot massage – Alhambra, CA Foot & Sole; $50.00 + $20.00 tip to Lee (Priceless) Today I’m peeing like a race horse but know that the lactic acid in me is almost all out. Also, all my tendons, muscles and fiber got a good stretching; at times it was like sheer pain but then ecstasy stretching out both of these hiking now size 12 feet.   
Spoke to Ned Tibbits and signed up for his 17-20 Jun 11 Snow Course. If you have any questions about the class, please feel free to email or call Ned at

Seriously folks, I signed up to thru-hike the PCT not to climb mountains so the best way that I know to get to Canada in one piece is to get myself trained. Course info follows:   

SIC-1, For 2011: Echo Lake Resort to Barker Pass, Lake Tahoe, Ca 

Date: June 17th to 20th (Friday thru Monday) 

Cost: $100/person/day (TRTA Guides excepted) 

Time, Distance, Elevations, and Rating: 

Time: Four (4) days moving 

Distance Travelled: Approximately 35.4 miles (less when route-finding over snow). 

Elevations: This Intermediate-level Snow Skills Training Course starts out from Echo Lake Chalet, elevation 7,414 and climbs almost 2,000 feet over the next 12 miles to Dick’s Pass, elevation 9,380. For the remaining 23 miles, the route undulates past picturesque lakes and through forest while dropping 1730 feet to Barker Pass Trailhead at 7,650. 

Rating: Moderately strenuous

Attend Mike & Lisa’s wedding in Tacoma, WA – 24-27 Jun 11

See you on the trail