I am miles from anywhere, tired and so dirty the bugs won’t land on me. Shawn and I rolled out early this morning and headed into the Nantahala National Forest via Gorges State Park. Our goal was to reach a series of 3 waterfalls on the Horsepasture River in Jackson County, NC – Rainbow Falls, Turtle Back Falls, and Bust Your Butt Falls. It has rained constantly for 2 days with spotty showers expected today. The trail in Nantahala was unidirectional – up. It was also covered in thick banks of red clay. If you know anything about clay you know wet clay is slick and I nearly busted my butt long before we reached the falls. But we made it to Rainbow and Shawn captured many pictures to remember the event. Then the bottom fell out of the clouds and we became devout Methodists getting sprinkled from head to foot. At that point we decide to forgo Turtle Back and Bust Your Butt to haul ourselves back to the car.
Shawn impresses me with her desire to take on a challenge like a big hike and she does not complain when the weather brings adversity. We could have stayed inside all day but we are on vacation and darn it, we are going to have some fun. But what really impressed me was her hang time. Shawn did not grow up in the woods so she talks while she walks and enjoys having my full attention. I, on the other hand, am scanning the point and six, checking for critters, and watching for trail markers. When my brain is so heavily engaged I do not say much. Talking uses energy I need to conserve. My eyes noticed an anomaly in the trail, my brain recognized it as a copperhead and my body took evasive action. No time to warn Shawn verbally so I applied the “Snake Brake” – my fully extended left arm in a clothesline maneuver which stopped her cold and even pushed her backwards. Continuing on her set course would have brought her right or left boot down about midway on the snake’s back and we would have had an emergency. Being stopped so abruptly on the trail is not a normal experience so Shawn opened her mouth to say something. By then I was able to utter one word – “SNAKE!” Shawn went vertical, 3 feet up and hung there in the air like a cartoon character for at least 5 seconds. Really impressive!
I prodded Mr. Snake gently with my walking sticky and he coiled up to strike but the image of a floating woman was not one he had previously encountered so he calmed down then slithered slowly into the brush. And we moved on. Tomorrow we are going into a black bear sanctuary. I sure know how to show a lady a good time.