Week 11: Never lost a toenail

A blue feather caught my eye, so I stooped to pick it up and continued down the trail, twirling it between my fingers. I was temporarily entranced by its simple beauty, which is how I came within striking distance of one extremely unsociable rattlesnake. The hissing of a hyperactive rattle burst into my consciousness, and I jumped back when I saw the diamond-shaped head cocked and ready to strike. As usual, that was too close. The intolerant creature glared balefully at me from the side of the trail, then turned and slinked down into the brush, giving its tail one last violent shake before it disappeared. Well, I didnít know there were rattlesnakes in Yosemite National Park, but I do now.

I paused near a bend in the trail to collect my wits and take a sip of water. As I rested, a new animal poked its head around the corner to take a look at the backcountry visitor Ė a baby black bear. The curious cub lifted its nose in my direction a few times before becoming brave enough to venture forward a few steps on its oversized paws. Eventually, it thought better of itself and retreated around the bend. I set down my water bottle and swiftly tip-toed to the corner with my camera, but the cub had already vanished!

Searching failed to determine where the baby bear could have hidden so quickly, but it made me aware of the many features along the trail that could conceal an angry mother. In the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, nearly every tree and boulder was large enough for a bear to hide behind, and there were other cubs I encountered that day which probably had parents foraging nearby.

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