(Keep in mind these parts are rough drafts)
As I began to follow that creek towards it’s point of origin I began to realize something. Something which I am sure most people who read this probably already know. It was something I should have known myself. Yes, I suppose I knew this too, but when the idea of adventure grabs us we seem to forget little things. You know what kind of things I am talking about; like how adventure often entails some kind of risk or how nothing ever goes as planned or even what you hope to find may be something you do not really want. I guess it is a good thing that adventure grabs us like it does and makes us forget those things. I guess, it really is a good thing, because if it did not we would never venture outside our front door. We would be held back by all the things that could go wrong instead of looking forward to all the possibilities that lie before us.
Making my way upstream was at first what I expected. But then the things changed. Not instantly or anything like that. A gradual change as I moved further and further away from the area that people seemed to use the most. As I did that, I began to notice that growth of weeds, bushes, and such, began to get thicker. I felt rather silly for not having thought about this before I set out that day. No, It was not like I set out for this adventure completely unprepared for what might lie ahead. I had brought water, matches, paper, food, a pocket knife, a compass, first aid kit, a couple of small towels, twine, mini chopping axe, some paper plates, and some plastic cups in a backpack. I even brought a sleeping bag and a small one man tent just in case I somehow got myself lost or simply lost track of time and did not have enough time to return today. I hoped that would not happen because my parents would get worried if I did not return today. I thought I was plenty prepared for task at hand.
But I was not as prepared as I thought I was. Not even close. About a half mile upstream I ran into a large thicket of thorn bushes. I’d considered venturing around them but it looked like I could end up losing sight of the creek and that idea made me decide to try and wade through them. If I had planned for this, I would have worn some jeans for this adventure, however, that I had not done. I chose shorts this morning thinking they would be cooler. They were cooler but offered no protection against thorns. This I discovered that hard way. Five foot into the thicket and I was forced to retreat. After cleaning and bandaging my thorn cuts I was forced into re-thinking the whole idea of finding out where the water leads.
Not being a quitter by nature I came up with a new plan of action. I thought about what I would need to get through those thorn bushes safely. Of course, I could go back home and change clothes but that did not really seem the best idea. Jeans would offer some protection but would completely protect me. I decided what I really needed was a machete, however, I did not have one on me or at home. The answer seemed rather apparent then. I had to make one. I looked around until I found a new tree, one about 2 ” in diameter and used my axe to chop it down and then, after chopping of its few branches, began to whiddle down its sides to form a blade. Two hours later and a lot of sweat, I managed to make a crude wooden machete. I was thankful, at that moment, for the time I’d spent in cubs scouts learning things like this. That time spent there had saved my adventure.
Now with wooden machete in hand I began once more to make progress upstream, however, my movement was basically half speed or less. I began to worry that I might not make it to the point of origin and will have wasted this day. But I did not turn back. No way. I did not make this machete to turn back. Come heck or high water I was going forward.
It was about a mile upstream when I encountered that next thing I had not planned for. I had just wacked a bunch of bushes out of my way when I noticed it. I was just lying there on the ground, unmoving and that is probably why I nearly missed it before stepping forward. It was a snake. Not a small baby snake either. It was a mom or dad snake. I’ve never have been able to tell which is which and at that moment it did not really matter, I guess. All that mattered was what to do next.
The snake was large, tan, with blackish chevrons on its back. I knew from books this was a Timber Rattlesnake. This was the first time I ever saw one of them for real and was so startled at the sight of it I think I jumped backwards nearly 6 foot and almost fell over upon seeing it. Apparently, that sudden movement was enough to scare the snake also. It began to rattle its tale. The sound sent a shiver up my spine and it took all the will power I possessed to not drop my wooden machete and run as fast as I could. But I managed to stay still and wait to see if it would calm down some, while I considered my options. I could go around it but that meant I could end up losing sight of the creek and therefore, it seemed like a last resort decision. I considered trying to kill the snake but that seemed far too dangerous. This snake, I knew was poisonous and my mini chopping axe did not have a long each handle on it. The only real option was to try to get the snake to move or to move it.
to be continued…
© 2011- J.B. Thomas