Sunday, July 31, 2011
Saturday was the first day in a long time that I could sleep in without an alarm. Not that I typically have to get up on a Saturday, but I always feel like I'm wasting the day if I sleep in. So, I went to bed without an alarm clock *gasp*. No worries though, my kind elderly neighbors were up and making plenty of noise by 8am. I don't have a clue what they do that early in the morning, but the pounding sure doesn't make for quiet rest.
I finally rolled out of bed around 9am. Pretty good for a girl typically on the go. E was spending the day at home cleaning and I had nothing that had to be done. So, I decided to take a hike up to Scottsbluff Monument. I scoped it out Friday night with a two mile walk along the perimeter and located the perfect place to park. You know, the kind where you don't have to pay to enter the park.
I began my excursion around 9:45. I actually was just planning to head to the visitor's center and back-1.2 miles each way. I started my trek in 85 degree weather and was moving along at a pretty decent pace. The grasshoppers rustled the brush nearby every now and then and I was reminded of the snake sightings I'd heard of out there. So, I basically jumped a bit every time one made some noise. Eventually, I got used to them. I was in a pretty open prairie like setting and really starting to notice the sun. It was getting warmer.
Fortunately, the path was headed past a small grouping of pine trees. As I passed the trees I started thinking about the fact that this was probably one of the few areas that wildlife would have a safer place to hang out. I walked slowly to peek into the trees and brush to see if I could see any deer. Suddenly, I heard a hiss, rattle, and a snap...I turned to my left and about a step behind me was a snake coiled up with his head and part of his neck (not sure if that's technically what that area on a snake is called) was sticking straight up in the air. I picked up my pace. For a brief moment, I considered turning around to take a photo. Probably best that I decided against it. A biker came up beside me a few moments later and inquired as to whether or not I saw the RATTLE snake. You bet I did! Good thing I didn't get that photo.
Eventually, I made it to the visitors center. I saw a path heading up towards the monument and figured I could make it another 1.6 miles (each way) and off I went... On my way I passed a couple about my age with a woman that looked to be in her 70's. I figured the path couldn't be to hard if she could handle it. I kept going even when the sweat started dripping down my face and it seemed like I was walking at a 90 degree angle. I may be exaggerating a bit, but it was definitely going uphill. I got to where I thought was about the 1.6 mile mark when I saw it. The climb that led to a really neat looking cave. I pushed on. By the time I made it to the cave I was hot and exhausted. I paused in the shade before making it through the cave to the most beautiful view of the city of Scottsbluff and Gering. I decided I'd gone far enough and started heading back to the visitor's center. Then, I saw it...a pretty blond girl RUNNING up the path. Talk about feeling out of shape...
The descent down was a lot easier. I actually jogged part of it. Partially because it was such a steep incline that my body wanted to and partially because I was inspired by the blond girl. I made it back to the visitor's center and spent some time cooling off and getting several drinks from the bubbler (that's a water fountain for you nonWisconsinite's). I vowed that the next time I take this hike I'll bring water. Oh! E received a few text photos of my hike and my plan worked-he said he'll go with sometime. :)
I was very cautious on my way back past the snake sighting, but of course I had my cell phone camera ready to go. Figures-this time no snake. I made it back to my car safe and sound. It was 95 degrees. I plan to hike it again tomorrow.