We are sharing two posts today so please read both this story and the post about Virginia’s History.
As a protective measure, Chief usually walks ahead of me while we hike the Appalachian Trail. He says he watches for animals and any other trail danger, but on Day 56 Chief unknowingly walked right past a hazard. It didn’t make a movement or a sound as I hiked merrily along with a carefree spirit. When I approached, the rattling sound was unmistakable and I knew immediately it was an Eastern rattlesnake. I froze in my tracks, heart pounding, and visually took a quick scan to the left side of the trail to see where the rattlesnake was located. My fear was heightened when I saw the rattlesnake was positioned less than two feet from my left leg and its head was poised in a strike position. In a split second the following thoughts went through my mind: This isn’t good. Chief hasn’t heard the snake. He’s moving on. How do I get his attention? That snake is a big sucker. 3 feet or longer. It’s darker colored and fatter than I expected a rattler to be. The rattling sound is SO loud. I could very likely get bit and die. Lord, I need some help here… I mentally jerked back and very slowly took one step to the right. The rattlesnake didn’t move except for that loud tail. I took a second step to the right, then a third. I then yelled to Chief that there was a rattlesnake. He came running back up the trail telling me to keep moving slowly. I made a wide circle and came in behind him on the trail. He then saw the rattlesnake and exclaimed, “Wow that’s a big one! I need to get a picture of that!” Meanwhile I am on the verge of a mini stroke and trying to breathe again, only to watch Chief get closer to the rattlesnake I thought might kill me! I can only say that I am grateful for all the prayers from family, friends and blog followers for our protection.
On Day 58, Chief and I hiked one of the most challenging areas on the Appalachian Trail. Dragons Tooth is a particularly dangerous outcrop of rocks and boulders that required more rock climbing skills than we’ve had to use in hiking 695 miles to this point. The high point resembles a dragon’s tooth and was named by Tom Campbell who was active during the 1930s-1950s on the A.T. After receiving advance warning of this hiking challenge, we contacted 4 Pines Hostel about picking up our backpacks early that morning so that we could slackpack this section. That decision turned out to be a lifesaver as we spent a portion of the day climbing up and down some very high and steep rock faces. Doing so with a pack would have been nearly impossible for us.
There were other snares that we have experienced recently on the A.T. Chief was hiking through one very rocky area of the trail when his trekking pole got stuck and snapped in half. That action caused him to lose balance under the weight of a 40-pound backpack and he fell backwards onto the rocks. No such luck that he would come down on his backpack, rather he hit his tailbone. Having survived that incident, the next day we were hiking on the top of Bushy Mountain when the sky turned dark and it began to thunder and lightning. We were traversing some steep rock faces and tried to get through before it rained. The downpour came so quickly and forcefully and the wind was so strong that we put on our raincoats and hunkered down for fifteen minutes to keep from being blown down the rocky side. Storms seem to be a reoccurring theme with us while on mountain summits! This storm was thankfully short-lived and we continued hiking, dripping wet, but otherwise unscathed.
Although there are obvious dangers on the Appalachian Trail, God is always our protector and the source of our strength. By His grace, we have hiked 725 miles in the past two months, which is about 1/3 of the A.T.’s total miles. Our adventure has brought us all the way to Daleville, Virginia and we are taking a couple days off the trail to visit our daughter’s family in the northern part of the state. We sincerely thank you for your continued encouragement and prayers! On Saturday we continue hiking northbound in Virginia. We remain…
Securely in God’s Grip, Chief and Toad
Toad and Chief- I am thoroughly enjoying your stories. Toad, you are such an excellent writer. You could easily have a career as a writer. Thanks too for blending in your genuine faith in God and examples of how He is protecting and keeping you. THANKS!!
This posting is a good reminder to pray very fervently for health and safety! I would hope that the further north you go that there would be less chance of rattlers?!? What about bears in the north? Praying for Achilles, blisters, tailbones, shoulders and more! Enjoy Bre and fam! Love you, John and Jill
J M Gurney
Glad you are safe, minus a few scares and aches. I am amazed at the number of hikers you meet on the trail and in hostels. I tease Aunt R about her hallway freeway, and now when I think of you, I think of the A.T. freeway! I’m sure you don’t see all the hikers till you rest. Enjoy your time with Bre. Thanks for the update on miles! Love and prayers, D & D
Rattle snake!!! Mark says he was all set to do the last half with you, but now he has decided against it! Disney here we come! No snakes, just mice!!
Hope Mike’s “tail” is better soon. Can you find a stick the same length as the hiking stick?!?!?!
(Mark says Eagles and Wings has a new hiking section in their stores. We were getting our gears there!!)