As I stood before the snake, trembling like a baby about to take her first step, I couldn’t help but wonder why my family wasn’t coming to my aid. The minutes multiplied as sweat dripped down my back. Didn’t my family realize that I wasn’t behind them anymore? Still, I was glad it was me and not the children whom the snake chose to glare at. At least I was a little more patient. I hoped.
Forgetting that a snake’s sense of hearing is not that of a human’s, snakes taste and feel vibrations more than they hear, I remained mum, panting as if I had just scaled Mt. Everest. The snake continued to taste my fear with its tongue as we eyed each other warily. I studied my options, the cliff ledge or the mountainside. The trail pinched in by the snake’s rocks leaving no place else to step but on his pile of rocks. No one came around the side of the mountain on the trail, not my family or other hikers. It was just me and the snake. And I was in his rocky kingdom. I was the intruder.
As my breathing slowed, the snake flicked its tongue less. I began to hear the birds singing in the trees once again. Was it my imagination? Did the snake shrink in height, even if only an inch or two. I decided to take a chance as it didn’t look like anyone would be coming to my rescue. Time and stillness had been my best allies. Scraping my back against the mountainside, keeping my eyes on the snake, I approached his rock. He watched me closely, his tongue flicking more quickly the nearer I came. Stepping ever so carefully over his particular rock, sweat dripping down my face, I slunk away from his domain, or at least his rock. I must have brushed the mountainside with my back for about fifteen feet, keeping an eye on the snake, who had settled back down once I was out of his eyesight. Then I raced down the trail, tears in my eyes, screaming at the top of my lungs for my family.
I found the family where the trail widened, sitting on rocks and having a snack. My husband asked, in a matter-of-fact tone, why I was screaming and crying. He thought I had just stopped off to use the “trees,” so they were waiting for me to join them. It was only later in the trailer, as we all got ready for bed and my husband noticed the scrapes on my back that I told him about the snake encounter. Such is one of the adventures of camping with the family.