On Sunday, I decided to go for a hike in Topanga State Park. I hadn’t hiked there in awhile, and I was anxious to get onto the trails. Being my usual slow weekend self, I didn’t get hiking until around two.
I started up the Santa Ynez Trail in a green shady forest. I spotted a huge female deer walking along and eating some leaves. She went about her business methodically and soon disappeared into the forest.
As I continued on, the trail turned and climbed up the side of the canyon. This section of trail was hard mentally because you’re going up, then you turn a corner only to find more up. Some of the trail got rocky, so it made for some tricky stepping.
There were a lot of people on the trail since it was warm and sunny, but everyone was just puttering around nature at their own pace.
About a quarter mile from the fire road, I spotted a baby rattlesnake sunbathing on a rock. I stopped right where I was and took a few steps back. It wasn’t as big as the last rattlesnake I encountered. In fact, it didn’t seem to register that I was there. It was just lounging on a rock on a hot summer day.
Even though I was not in a state of paralyzed fear, I do hate snakes. Sure the snake only cares about me when I step on it, but it can move so darn fast. I tried jumping up and down to let the snake know that a very big thing was coming, but the snake just moved off the rock onto the ground.
Meanwhile, two young ladies were coming down the path toward me. They were gabbing away.
Hello! Hello! Hey! I shouted toward them, but they didn’t hear me. They were a few feet away from the snake when they saw me.
Hey! There’s a snake right there! I said pointing to where the snake was moving toward a bush.
Snake! Ugh! One of the ladies said.
Snake? Where? The other lady asked with what sounded like an Australian Accent.
I pointed to the bush where the snake was slowly disappearing. The Aussie lady went up to it and stomped her foot. The snake was definitely gone thanks to the Australian stomp.
I walked past the bush and was ready to go on my merry way when I noticed that the Aussie woman’s friend having a freak out moment. She was absolutely petrified and just the thought that she would step where the snake was made her freeze up in panic.
I felt bad for her. Her reaction is exactly what has kept us alive as humans. She was scared and everything in her was telling her to stay away. She tried to talk herself through it, but trembling, she could not take that one step past the snake.
Her Aussie friend was cool and said, It’s all right, we can just go back, no worries.
So I hiked up the path with them as the Aussie friend regaled us with stories of pythons that look like tree stumps with eyes. Yep, there are kick ass snakes in Australia.
I said goodbye and walked on. I went down to Trippett Ranch then took the Munsch Trail which I figured would be shadier than the fire roads. Even though I had hiked for only an hour, my T-shirt was sweated through and I was drinking a lot of water. I figured a nice mellow hike under some trees would be good.
As I was walking through the trees, sure enough, there was kingsnake crossing the path. It was also about a foot long and moved like it had a mission.
Oh great! Another snake. I said aloud to no one around me except the snake. I did the Aussie stomp and the snake moved quickly across the path. It slithered into some grass as I walked past.
Okay, so I was having a snake day, but I was surprised that the snakes were coming up on the paths with so many people around. Maybe they were evolving into a more sophisticated animal unafraid of humans and one day capable of taking over the planet.
Or maybe the hot weather was just making them more active than usual.
I continued on the path and a few minutes later spotted a guy standing and staring into the grass. He gestured for me to stop then waved me forward.
There’s a snake. He said in a stage whisper.
At this point, I had to laugh. My hike was becoming a snake comedy.
Third one today. I said as I caught sight of a little snake head as it slithered back into the grass. The guy looked at me with shock. Yep, I was the snake lady.
As we walked on, I did the Aussie Stomp while the guy whistled, clapped, and shuffled on the ground. Personally, I preferred the Aussie Stomp for snake repulsion noise. But hey, whatever gets the job done.
I hiked on and got back to the fire road. Half my water was sweated onto my t-shirt. I had a choice. I could take the fire roads all the way back around to the car. It would take an extra hour and would most likely be really hot and uncomfortable. Or I could go back down the Santa Ynez trail where I had met the first snake. It was a faster way back to the car and it was shaded for most of the way.
I decided to put all irrational fears aside and go back the way I came. Surely the snake wouldn’t still be there. As I got to the place where I had encountered the first snake, I did pause and throw a rock or two ahead of me, but the hike back to the car was pretty uneventful except for the little grey bunny that crossed my path.
All of these snake adventures remind me of something that happened on Saturday. I was drinking coffee in my favorite coffee shop when I overheard a dorky guy talk about how he could never go to Ireland or Australia. He could never go to Ireland because it was so muddy and grey, and he could never go to Australia because of all the fierce animals.
Part of me wanted to tell him that not all of Ireland is covered with mud and not all of Australia is filled with fierce animals, but I realized that such dorkage was not worth my time and I turned back to the play I was writing. There are fierce creatures everywhere. From the snake’s point of view, humans are pretty fierce.