Encounter with a rattler

Encounter with a rattler

Encounter with a rattler, taste of mud

By Kayla Webre
2014 Wilderness Corps Crew Member
The rain. It has been drizzling for hours, the kind of rain that is just enough to make life a little bit more miserable. It soaks me to the bone. “This work is even more fun when you’re drenched,” I say to myself.

But luckily for me, today is my turn as camp cook, meaning after just six hours of labor I get to leave the rest of those sorry suckers behind and head on down to camp early, with two whole hours of alone time.

Perhaps I’ll go finish my Stephen King novel, take a nap, or clean my clothes. With a smug look on my face, I drop my muddy pulaski and began the long trek down to camp over a trail that days ago was filled with piles of downed logs, impenetrable brush, and impossible to walk through.

I’m impressed with the sheer amount of work five determined kids could do when we put our minds to it, and I feel a pang of pride shoot through me as I walk back through the restored trail.

I approach the last switch back before camp and decide to take my time. I let my mind wander, consider how to dry my clothes in this perpetual rain, and think about how much salami I’ve eaten. How many miles have I walked in the last month? What am I doing out here?

Then I hear it, an eerie rattle. It’s faint but sharp sounding, stopping me in my tracks. It sends a shiver down my spine. Holding my breath and standing frozen still, I look down and see it’s closer than I thought. It’s two feet long and right next to my left boot, slowly making its way across our trail. I let out a blood-curdling shrill and run back up the trail in the opposite direction from camp.

I grab my loppers and prepare for battle. I inch my way back down to where I last saw it. There it is, quietly curling itself into a tight coil, staring straight into my soul. I look into those black beady eyes and catch a moment of clarity.

I realize that it’s not in my way. I’m in its way. I respect its right to be there, that’s until it rattles its tail again. I run away again, screaming, slip, and find myself horizontal, hugging the mud. A downed soldier, completely vulnerable to attack.

I never would have pictured myself here. No socks are getting washed today.