Hiking The Pacific Crest Trail: Day 27
Our favorite times of the day are early mornings and evenings. There is something magical about those hours. Waking up with the first bird song when everything else is still quiet. Getting out of camp first ones to hit the trail, we can see foot prints of animals who walked the trail at night – deer, coyotes or occasional mountain lion. You get to witness beautiful sunrises and watch mountain ranges in the distance standing in the morning fog. The evenings are especially nice when we do cowboy-camping and watch the sky turn colors before sunset. Birds sing their last songs and the night life comes out. Bats fly around trying to catch insects, owls howl in the trees and coyotes crying in the distance. Slowly the first and the brightest stars begin to appear (with planet Mars being amongst of them in a bright orange color).
Since we are hiking the trail in spring, we get to see many wild flowers in bloom. We have seen over 20 different flowers, and some of them smell devine. The best part about wild flowers is that they usually grow in batches of large quantities (like entire alleys of blooming flowers) and we get to walk through entire meadows. We have also been crossing some pine forests that hit hard with memories of home. Especially when the sun heats up the needles and pine cones which have a strong smell of pine wax.
We have not had many wild animal encounters which actually could be a good thing. In Southern California, it’s mostly rattle snakes. Luckily, I have had only 2 times when both neither the rattle snake or myself saw each other until the last minute (coming close within several inches of each other). Luckily, both times rattle snake did not go for a bite but just rattled it’s tail and we were able to safely go around it. ]
However, not all rattle snake encounters have happy endings. A hiker told us a story how he was hiking with another female hiker who was extremely cautious and always watched out for rattle snakes on the trail. One day as they were hiking, they both heard a rattle in the bushes on the side of the trail, and the girl felt something on her ankle. At first, she thought it was just a spike from the bush scratching her leg. When she pulled down her sock, there was a punctured whole with blood sipping out of it. They knew she got bitten, and luckily they were very close to a major road intersection where they could go to a hospital. Older rattle snakes tend to release their venom only 50% of the times they bite. Younger snakes however, release venom 100% of the bites. Venom does not immediately start effecting your body. After hiking for about 1/4 of the mile, the girl started feeling numbness in her lips & the tip of her tongue. Since they were close to a major highway, her friend already had cell service and was able to look up symptoms and was on the phone with poison control in no time. Shortly after, the girl was helicoptered off the trail to the nearest hospital where she had to get 86 doses of anti venom. After spending a few days in the hospital and some additional weeks recovering, she was able to get back on the trail.