26, 1983 Sunday (1416.6 mtg) From
Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal
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.
Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983