Went up to Kerby Peak the other day, a 2,000 foot elevation gain climb not far from my house. I march up there when I can for the exercise, and tried to make the seven mile there and back trail in under four hours. (Did I mention the trail was steep?)
When I got to the top I ate and drank and watered the dogs. Then I started back down the steep switchbacks through the rocky manzanita scrub on the north side.
"There's an old rattlesnake that guards the peak" some guy down at the brew and pizza pub told me once. "Watch out for him."
"Guards the peak? Yeah OK. Have another beer, dude..."
"Titititititititiititititititititititittttttttt" said the very large snake as I called my dogs back to me and worked out where the hell the snake was as I was coming down off the peak.
Right next to the trail, in a thick bush, right on a very steep switchback turn.
Crap. That meant that if I got by the snake the first time, I'd have to immediately get by him again once I made the switchback turn...
And the trail there was only about two feet wide.
And the snake, from what I could see of him, was very pissed off and very big. I could see his rattle- about the size and attitude of my middle finger- and I could see a few sections of his girth- about the size of a woman's wrist- but I couldn't find his head.
From where could he strike? I couldn't be sure. And I had three gleeful and blissfully ignorant dogs with me who wouldn't hesitate to stick a curious nose into the bush as we passed...
Crap. And I didn't bring any leashes...
I tried tossing pebbles into the bush to get him to move on. They just made him angrier.
And there I was, out of water and food, three dogs and I, stuck up on Kerby Peak with a giant rattlesnake holding me hostage...
Crap. I would have to go back up the trail and scramble over scrubby bushes to circumvent the situation, making my dogs climb over bushes as tall as they were WHERE ALL THE SNAKES WERE.
Which is how I got home...