Clarence and the Rattlesnake

There are a lot of God's creatures that call the Georgia mountains home and I hope to see most of them... next time I visit the zoo.  Meeting up with them in their natural habitat sure sounds thrilling, but I can now honestly say that coming face to face with a creature that can kill you isn't my idea of fun... and I love animals.  The trail is usually very narrow so you have to follow behind one another and I had been leading the way for most of the day.  Around the 7 mile point in our hike, Bruce asked if he could lead the way for awhile and I gladly obliged.  Heck, I had been getting hit with all kinds of webs that spiders had made across the trail the night before, so why should I have all the fun.  Less than one minute after Bruce takes the trail lead from me he jumps back knocking me backwards in the process.  Stretched across the trial in front of us is a 5 foot long Timber Rattlesnake. 

It isn't moving and its so long we can't even see its head that is covered by the brush on the right side of the trail.  It is the biggest snake I have ever seen.  Not really wanting to walk around it by going through the thick brush that surrounded both sides of the trail (it might have friends out there), I decided to grab a very long branch and see if I could get it to move along.  Apparently he wasn't ready to move and it proceeded to curl up into the strike position and sounded off with a rather loud and continuous rattle.  I grabbed my camera for a few pictures and even caught a little of it on video.  Eventually we were able to jump around the left side of the trail and keep hiking... with all eyes wide open.

Some of you reading this may already know this about me, but I am red-green color blind.  Its hard to explain but the best I can tell you is that sometimes I have trouble distinguishing between certain colors or shades of colors.  Usually the worst case situation for a disadvantaged guy like me is getting laughed at for wearing two different colors of socks.  I was about to see that wasn't the worst thing that can happen...with the heavily shaded forest floor, that Timber Rattler looked just like a log in the trail to me.  I even had a difficult time finding it as I looked through my camera to take a picture.  I have no doubt that if I had been leading the way when we met that snake, I would have either stepped on or directly over it and our hike could have turned out differently than it did.  Do I have a guardian angel or was it just random luck that Bruce took the trail lead when he did?  In the famous movie, It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey had Clarence looking after him... so why not me? All I know is I am enjoying my own "Wonderful Life" and I'm thankful I get to experience a little more of it.