There Ain't Nobody Here But Us Rattlesnakes

May 23, 2017
Holcomb Creek to Rainbow Bridge (Mile 310)
Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike: Day 19

I'm camping at the Rainbow Bridge, my third night camping totally alone as a woman in the wilderness. I barely found a spot big enough to fit Mark's tent, and just in time for sunset. I wanted to push a few miles past the hot springs, which put me on a ridge. Two miles in my eyes started darting every which way possible looking for a flat spot, but nothing to be found. I came down switchbacks from the ridge to the Rainbow Bridge, hoping for some luck. There was a flat spot just north across the bridge, nearly beneath it and surrounded by rocks to anchor the tent stakes. It was a little lumpy, but I'm a good sleeper and managed to make it work. 

Today was exceptionally hot, so I spent several relaxing hours at Deep Creek, first with Silver Fox, Hershey, Max, Ben, Justin, Tyler, Alex, and Sam. Lightning Rod, a guy we met the second day in, sat nearby. An hour into my shady rest, Lightning Rod stood up with a rattlesnake dangling off his trekking pole. It felt like a good time to head out, and I left everyone else expecting to be passed just down the trail. I planned on hiking without further rest breaks until it was time to camp. Four miles later, after a stifling ridge walk overlooking Deep Creek, there was a short path off-trail to a beach. Jumping in the water sounded too good to pass, up so I walked the dusty trail and found a small swimming area with Sam and Alex sleeping under a tree. I guess I wasn't the only one who had the idea to get out of the sun again! Sure enough, one by one, everyone from the previous resting spot showed up at the beach, ready to jump in the water. Max and Hershey even had folding fishing poles, whipped them out and stood in the water for some trailside fishing.

I got a pretty good view of the Deep Creek Hot Springs as I walked by, feeling the pull of having a solitary night. It's hard to keep walking once you stop and see all your trail friends, but I have been trying to force myself to have alone time while I still can—Alex and I will be sharing a tent once we get to Tehachapi, and then I will be out of opportunities to experience solo camping on the trail. As I passed the hot springs I saw several of my trail friends and a bonus view of a naked man's backside. 

Before today, I was one of the only people I was hiking with who hadn't seen a rattlesnake in the desert yet. Today, I've seen three, almost four. First, at the creek. Then, talking to Hershey, who killed one and ate it because it struck out and bit his shoe without rattling. I was surprised by another sunning near the trail just before the ridge to Deep Creek. Three was enough for one day but, as it turns out, the rocks I camped near are just the kind rattlesnakes like to live under. Turns out Hershey passed that campsite just hours before because a giant rattlesnake had been sitting on the flat spot where I put my tent.

My shoes are falling apart, and I'm looking forward to getting a new pair shipped to me in Wrightwood. I met a guy  named Whistler this morning who is attempting a yoyo of the PCT. I'd like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but he picked one hell of a year to go for a yoyo thru-hike.