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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Virginia: Rocks and snakes.

We are still hiking through Virginia, and are now at mile 723.5, just shy of completing one third of the trail. Whoever told us that Virginia is flat clearly has not hiked this portion. We were also surprised to encounter some very rocky terrain, which, aside from being tiring and slow going, presents a new issue of being on the lookout for snakes. We have seen a few king snakes, garden snakes, a rattlesnake, and a copperhead.  I have never before encountered a poisonous snake on such up close and personal terms. Call me crazy, but I want to give them very wide berth; Keith is more adventurous. The other day, we were hiking along in the late afternoon, when I saw the rattler a few feet in front of me. I stopped dead in my tracks. Keith had somehow hiked right past without noticing. I'm not sure how, since it was right in the trail, which was fairly narrow, but it's easy to daydream a bit while hiking, so I'll cut him some slack. 
I called Keith back to look at it. The snake wasn't rattling, but was hissing his tongue a bit. I thought it prudent to go off trail and around. Keith threw a small stick right on top of it trying to move if off trail so those coming behind wouldn't accidentally step on it. The snake didn't move. What does Keith do? He grabs his hiking pole and proceeds to pick it up to move it off the trail, while I watch with horror envisioning some super-powered snake move where the rattler darts forward with lightning speed to sink large fangs in Keith's chest. Thankfully, the rattler simply curled up on the pole and allowed itself to be moved off trail. We later learned from a hiker ahead of us that the snake was probably so docile because it had just devoured a chipmunk and was full. Keith has agreed to not use his hiking pole anymore to move poisonous snakes. :-)

Virginia has been quite beautiful and we've enjoyed many scenic views of green valleys and farms below. We're looking forward to hitting Shenandoah National Park in about ten days. 

Until the next post, Canadian Bacon out. 

 Keith lounging on a hillside at lunchtime. 

Keiffer oak. The largest tree in the south on the AT. 
Us on top of McAfee knob. Awesome views. 

The rattlesnake Keith moved off trail. 
Copperhead on the trail. 

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