On Sunday morning, we escaped from the bee hive, but not until after one bee stung Raj on the leg. Less than an hour later, we'd completed our out and back of the Skyway Trail and we stopped to take this (somewhat crooked) photo.
Then we got back in the car and listened to some more Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which Raj had downloaded for the trip (we'd left Lisbeth Salander in an extremely bad situation when we got out on Friday), while driving to our next hike, the Nubbin Creek Trail.
We hiked uphill for about an hour before we came to water, a stream where we ate lunch. The whole trail thus far had been narrow, with a steep incline on one side and drop off on the other. There was a small flat spot next to the stream that wouldn't be a great place to camp, but was looking like our only option. Raj thought we should take our packs to the next stream crossing. We'd see if there was space to camp there and if not, come back. I read in the book that it was a steep drop off from that stream, so I talked him into leaving the packs where we were.
Of course you see where this is going. There was not, in fact, space to camp near the next stream, but there was a great campsite another half-mile past it. So I, the one who'd requested just a one or two mile hike that day, was the reason we had to hike all the way back to the first stream to get our stuff, then all the way back to the end of the trail to camp. Which brought us up to four or five miles for the day.
It was still only about three when we made camp and the bees began to descend. Not as many as the day before, but enough to be disconcerting, so I made Raj make a fire in order to see if that had been what had driven them off the day before. No such luck. It did, however, maybe kill the rather large scorpion I uncovered when I went to move the rocks off the firepit. (I say "went to" because after that discovery, we decided to just make the fire on top of the rocks.) And it boiled the water for our chicken quinoa dinner and toasted some marshmallows for us. That'll do, fire.
The next morning, we were having a fairly quick and easy hike back when Raj suddenly stopped. He said something along the lines of "Whoa." which is not what would likely have come out of my mouth upon discovering this on the trail:
That is not one, but TWO RATTLESNAKES.
Steep drop off to the left, steep uphill to the right. There was no going around them. I asked Raj what we should do. He wasn't sure and asked if I had any ideas. My idea would have been to retreat an extremely respectable distance back up the trail and wait, in hopes that they would move before Raj and I ran out of food.
Raj had a different idea, which I did not photograph because I was far too busy fearing for his life.
Poke the snakes with a stick! Well, ok, it was more of a branch and probably about eight feet long. STILL. They started doing a lot of rattling. This went on for several minutes. One slithered off, but the other one held its ground for quite some time. Once it moved, Raj stood where they had been with the branch so I could go around behind him and then followed me down the trail. I was making pretty good time by then.
It had rained the night before and Raj thought there might be more snakes out on the trail sunning themselves. Which is why I made him switch me places so he went first. I'm not observant in most situations and less so when I'm focusing all of my attention on my next step to avoid tripping. I could be practically stepping on a snake before I'd see it. Now that this has come to my attention, I'm pretty sure I'll be letting Raj lead on hiking expeditions at all times, forever and always, amen.
You should know that not only did Raj again put his body between me and danger and quite possibly save my life, he also remained perfectly calm throughout. He's unflappable. The man can't be flapped. Even now, he'll just shrug and say the snakes were just trying to get some sun.
Fortunately, we reached the car less than half an hour later. Raj stopped to use the forest facilities before leaving, but I informed him that I intended to use a snake-free toilet. So we stopped at a McDonalds down the road, where I also got a milkshake. Because chocolate is just the thing when you've been good and flapped.