RATTLESNAKE!

On Tuesday, July 22nd I to continue to work on the Shawangunk Ridge Trail. I decided to go to Minnewaska to hike the Jenny Lane Trail to the Rainbow falls Trail and over Litchfield Ledge. I lknew that I could reverse the route to get back or decide to try a loop. Sheila and I left Livingston Manor and drove through Grahamsville on Route 55. We took a shortcut to Route 209 and then took Route 44/55 over the mountain to the Jenny Lane Parking area just before the Minnewaska State Park entrance. We started our hike along the road at about 9:00 AM and I missed the faint paint blaze and blue disk on the other side of the road the first time. We crossed the road and were soon on the trail which is less used than many in the park. Soon we came across a tree hanging in the middle of the trail and I knew we were on the Shawangunk Ridge Trail. We gained a little elevation and passed over some open rocks before coming to an area where the trail is deeply eroded and lined by laurel. I was watching my foot placement as many of the rocks were slippery. Just before a mile I looked ahead to see that some brush blocked the trail and that Sheila was simply sitting on the trail waiting for me. I thought this strange as she normally would just go around the obstruction but she does sometimes wait for me. When I got to her, I decided to walk around the brush to the left as it seemed others had gone that way. I took half a step into the brush and hear the unmistakable “zingggg” of an Eastern timber rattlesnake. I looked down and saw a four foot snake coiled and rattling as loudly as it could. Sheila never moved! I thought about going around. I thought about taking a picture! I finally did the right thing and turned around to hike back to the car! I had not expected to see a rattlesnake on the east side of Route 44/55 although I have seen them by the Peters Kill on the west side. I decided that if there was one there might be more and I did not want to take a chance with the Sheila. If I had been alone, which I seldom am, I might have walked around and continued the hike. I was disappointed that I had to cut the hike short but I feel it was the right choice. I decided that the rest of the SRT near Port Jervis and Minnewaska and wait until after the first snow as I now have seen rattlesnakes recently in both areas. Seeing the snake raised questions in my mind about rattlesnake bites and emergency medical care and I will be investigating the answers.