How a Rattlesnake Reminded Me to Be Present

One quick rattle is all it takes to stop you dead in your tracks. If the snake hadn’t warned me of its presence, I wouldn’t have even seen it.

On Sunday, April 1st, I had my first encounter with an enormous Western Diamondback while hiking out of Scissors Crossing on the Pacific Crest Trail. The funny thing is, I was totally in my head all morning. Even though it’s only a week into my hike, I was looping on fearful thoughts about what my life is going to be like after the PCT. I’m already feeling sucked back into the wonderful reality that is living outside. I’m nervous about re-acclimating to the “default world” after this hike because I had a hard time transitioning after the Appalachian Trail.

But then, the rattlesnake snapped me out of my head and into my body. I was immediately pulled back into the present when I heard the rattle and my cortisol spiked. After several minutes of negotiating with the snake, I finally managed to get around it. Once I somatically understood that everything was OK and I was safe, I yelled with relief.

As I reflect back on this encounter, I’m grateful for this enormous Western Diamondback for reminding me to pay attention to my surroundings and get out of my head. Being in your body means being present. At any moment, you could be challenged to take swift and immediate action in order to stay alive. Be here now.


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