Friday, March 18, 2011

Brave Girl

I usually spend my birthday with my Mom. After all we began my birth day that way so it just seems appropriate. This year I wanted to take a long hike on this trail we’d recently discovered only this time I wanted to make it all the way to the end. The day before the weather was a balmy 68 and there was some nice cloud cover when we left the house. So it should have been enjoyable. Half a mile out the clouds blew away and it got hot. But I was determined and as my tummy hurt because my heart was pounding (I don’t like aerobic exercise) I kept telling myself that this was good for me. At a stream crossing we saw a mountain lion paw print in the mud. Honestly, it didn’t freak me out at all. Finally, we hit the point in the trail that was new to us

and here it got really tough: switchbacks with a steep incline that clearly hadn’t been groomed in a while.

The run off from winter storms had etched deep gullies in the trail, sometimes on either side, at others down the middle. But still we keep marching. The plan was to have a peanut butter picnic at some point and then come home. I hear a whirring noise, look up and quickly shout a warning to my mom while clearing the way for a mountain biker racing downhill. I spot a point that may not be the end but looks like a nice stopping place about 15 feet or so above us. I turn the corner, determinedly climbing, when I hear it, the noise I have dreaded ever since my parents moved to this neighborhood 12 years ago. The fierce rattle of a rattlesnake ricochets off of the hard mountain walls like gun fire. Instinct kicks in and I run, screaming, up hill. Then I stop and look back to see that the snake is now coiled under a bush between my Mom and I and I just want to cry.

Now please understand I’m not just squeamish. From the age of 5 until I was 23 I had recurring nightmares featuring snakes. I really, really don’t like snakes. Especially snakes that I know are poisonous and are a little hacked off at me. You can tell me that it was more frightened of me than I was of it. I just don’t buy it. In my case at least, that’s not true.

So here I am 2 miles up a mountain with my worst nightmare sitting in between me and my mom and the way home. My mom’s carrying a walking stick so she feels some sense of protection and she offers to walk past the rattlesnake to come to me, because that ladies and gentlemen, is my mom: the woman who will brave deadly creatures to come to her little girl’s aid. But my rational side has not completely shut down. I still have to get home. I don’t have enough cell service to call 911 and ask the rangers to send a helicopter to fly me out. I’m also not sure they would actually come. (The fire department would but that is a story for another day.) I’m trying to figure a way out and it’s not easy. One way or another I have to get past where that snake is coiled in order to get down the mountain. At least now I can tell where he is. Through all of this the snake is frantically shaking a tail that sounds like a rain bird sprinkler in a microphone. And it doesn’t help that my mom who is still offering to hop on over is telling me how huge this snake is.

I can only see one way out. I fix my eyes on the bush where it is hiding until I spot the whirring tale. Keeping my eye on the rattle, fighting back tears and desperately praying for protection I slowly come down the path. As soon as I am safely past the snake, I dash down the hill. Half a mile I run gullies or no. We come to flat corner with some shade and stop to recover.

I try to eat but it turns out that adrenaline and appetite don’t mix for me.

Actually, I think I already knew that. But we do catch our breath

before hiking the next mile and a half out which was fairly uneventful although the lizards made me a little jumpy. And I love lizards.

Anyway, that is my brave girl birthday moment. I think that was seriously the biggest pair of big girl panties I have ever had to pull on. Am I grateful God protected me?  Absolutely.  Am I a little proud of myself? Yeah. Have I conquered my fear of snakes? Uhhhm…no. Will I hike that trail again? That would be a no…at least not until, say, November, when all good snakes go to sleep.

Have you pulled on your big girl panties and faced any fears lately?

I wanna know,
Blog Med Sig 4


SuzyQ said...

WE used to have a pet snake, a californian corn snake, so I can't say they are something I fear :)
But I do get squeamish about spiders!
I think you did really well. Facing a fear head on is no easy thing!

happygirl said...

I LOVE your hikes. I've told you I'm a hiker wannabe. I think a healthy fear of rattlers is a GOOD thing. Happy Birthday Joybird. I'm so glad your mom is near enough to have special times like this with you. Thanks for the pics. That looked like a massive hike.

David N. said...

Happy birthday! And Lyndie is TERRIFIED of snakes, so she would definitely sympathize with you on this one.

Jodi said...

I have not yet conquered my fear of driving on an interstate highway. Just can't seem to do it. Happy birthday, by the way. :)

Cathy said...

At the moment, my novel in progress is my fear and I'm trying to avoid it. I've written 2 of my characters into a cave (literally) and don't know how to write them out of it!

Lisa notes... said...

I'm buying a new pair of big girl panties for a trip to El Salvador this summer. I've never done anything like that and I have a lot of fears that the Lord will have to push me through.

Thanks for sharing your snake story. I thought when I went up in the St. Louis Arch that I would conquer my fear of heights. Didn't work. But we're survivors anyway, right?


Tamara @ Living Palm said...


mountain mama said...

good for you brave girl!!! happy birthday!

when we lived in GA last year i always wondered what i would do if our crazy big bull got out and mountain man wasn't home.

well, it happened one day. i rounded the kids up, grabbed a rake and took off after it in the truck. i had him cornered by the gate but someone had to get out and open it to let him in.

girl...i prayed and then i just kicked into action. he walked right in while staring at me with his beady eyes. and then he used his huge horns to try to shut the gate!

anyway, i had my cell in case i needed to call an ambulance or anything but praise the Lord that he protected me from "hamburger" the bull.


mountain mama said...


i passed the stylish blogger award on to you if you wish to accept it! :)

happy weekend!

becky said...

I'm afraid of the dogs I meet while out I walk in the early morning, pre-dawn before they let the dogs out...hopefully, I won't run into a stray. I'm a scaredy big girl panties here...just avoidance.

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