Rattlesnake near Bobletts Gap Shelter

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June 26, 1983 Sunday (1416.6 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

This morning, a short distance from Bobblets Gap shelter, I ran across a rather large rattlesnake sitting in the middle of the trail. I sat my pack down to observe the reptile for a while. Whether it was the adventure in dining on something exotic I had never before tasted, or a craving for protein I was lacking, I killed the rattlesnake using a stick with the intention of eating it. I had heard stories about how the snakes will bite themselves thus injecting their flesh with toxin so the meat would be inedible. I thought that was a load of crap, but it lingered in the back of my mind as I removed my trusty scissors from my first aid kit to cut off it's head and prepare the snake for eating. I slid the scissors down its ventral side and inserting my finger into the body cavity, disemboweling the snake with ease. I then just as easily pealed off the skin being careful to keep the 12 rattles attached to the skin. I put both skin and meat in separate plastic bags, left George a note indicating that I had killed a rattler, and was going to prepare it at Jenkins Creek. If he would supply the squeeze Parkay that I knew he carried, I would share the delicacy with him.

Upon reaching the creek, I also ran into some local folks. I asked if they happened to have some butter or margarine that I could use to fry up my freshly killed snake. When they learned that I would share the meat with them their curiosity was peaked. Even though they had lived in snake country for years, most went out of their way to not make contact with the beasts. They did have some margarine, so I washed the meat in the creek and began stove preparations to fry it up. The two foot long snake was cut into many smaller pieces in order to fit it into the top of my cook kit, which serves as a fry pan as well as lid. Each of us was able to sample some of the meat and most commented that it was "kind of like chicken." I agree, the texture was much like chicken, but the taste was much like the margarine that it was swimming in as it fried. There was not much meat on the many bones, only the area near the spine contained any amount worth while. They supplied a quart of milk as a refreshing drink to go along with the snake. George finally did arrive, but unfortunately the snake had been consumed by the curious crowd. I spent the remainder of my break with George, and then continued up the trail. I would need the energy provided by the snake to traverse the next bit of trail since during the next twelve miles the trail was mainly uphill with an overall rise of about 3,000 feet.

I moved on toward Cornelius Creek Lean-to. I arrived there after seventeen miles and made a fateful decision to continue on even farther to Thunder Hill Lean-to, another five miles down the trail. The miles were whizzing by today for some reason. At the shelter I met a man from Missouri, but even the temptation to spend the night with someone from basically the same geographical area as I was not enough to keep me there for the night. At this point I decided to move on even further, perhaps another six miles since I had plenty of light left now that the long days of summer had arrived. This decision meant that I probably would not be spending the night with George. Unfortunately, it also meant that I would never see him during the rest of the journey.

I traveled about a mile and a half before arriving at Thunder Hill Overlook situated next to a pull-off along the skyline drive. There was a nice breeze blowing, and the area seemed appealing so I decided to make camp there for the night. Somewhere near 7:30 pm, a group pulled into the parking area and set up a picnic close to where I was intending on staying. At a public place like this I would not set up my sleeping arrangements until dark in hopes that no one would bother me after that. I struck up a conversation with one of the guys and managed to get myself invited to their bar-b-que. They packed plenty of food, and I ate three grilled cheeseburgers, potato salad, ambrosia, noodle salad, and Dr. Pepper. They were all very nice people, as most I have met along the way have been. After they had all driven away, another guy named Geoff drove up, and after hearing of my plans, decided to spend the night with me at the overlook. That suited me fine, I was not looking forward to spending the night alone. He was on his way down to Hendersonville. We enjoyed the cool breeze, and watched the red sunset from the overlook before camping out without setting up a tent. The breeze was not enough to keep all the bugs at bay, but that's life on the trail at this time of year.

Sixty-six percent today (2 for 3) for Yogi.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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