As a treat for myself, I made the time to head up the mountain on a strenuous hike.
This trail is the one that traverses steeply, gaining more than 1,000 feet just in the last section. My previous time, mid-June, was 45 minutes going up, but after two months away I wasn’t hoping to match that.
It was important just to do it.
I’m trying to maintain little bits and pieces of my old life, the one before July 7, when I was still focused on becoming as healthy as I could in the final stage of my recovery from brain surgery.
This hike, like the playfield track running, is a marker of my progress. I was doing it every week before vacation, and intended to continue it when I got home.
The trail is rocky and the mountainside is rocky. There are rattlers and copperheads and they are on the move now, looking around for hibernation spots already. I watch my step.
I’m not sure why I spotted the little garter snake, though, so small and well off the trail.
Can you see him, in the featured image above?
Here’s a closer crop:
There’s people who think that the only good snake is a dead snake, and if I was one of them I would’ve killed this harmless little guy. I wouldn’t dream of it, though. He was hardly bigger than a shrub branch.
Plus, I saw this snake as a good omen. Part of the mountain, as I am part of the mountain when I hike it. I said hello and moved on.
Then I heard a couple birds calling out, up on the steep bank to my left. Something about the call made me think it was an alarm call – an unusual pattern.
I looked up and saw a bear walking across. Silently – how do they manage that?
Pretty big, but not huge. Same spot where I saw two cubs, back in June, but never saw the mother bear.
This one saw me, and I yelled at the top of my lungs, “GIT! GIT OUTTA HERE!”
The bear ambled on.
The rest of the hike, I was yelling at nothing into the trees and whacking my hiking poles against tree trunks. I wasn’t actually afraid, just wanted to be sure the bears and snakes heard me well in advance. I knew they would steer clear then.
I guess that’s what I’m doing these days, all the time. Yelling at trouble. GIT! GIT OUTTA HERE!
I’m coming up the mountain. I don’t want nothing else to get in my way. No snakes, no bears are gonna stop me.
Made it in 42 minutes up, 30 minutes down. My best time ever.
Today’s penny is a 2011, which is I believe the first time I went up this mountainside – before the trail was even blazed.