Arriving at the trail head on Averlon Road, I readied myself and began hiking. Although not today's destination, the awesome Finger Rock was clearly visible so I took a couple of pics, looked down and my foot was....
...next to this guy, a Gila Monster. Although not quick, if they bite they don't let go until they have slowly input their poison. Sightings of them are rare yet here it was, about 100 yards from the road. It is the largest specimen I have seen, of the 4-5 that I have encountered.
My destination was Pontatoc Ridge and at about the halfway point I strode through this garden of Jumping Cholla. Nasty should you brush against them.
I reached a saddle with fine views to the south and then had a good view of my destination....
,,,cool, yes? No trail at this point, just picking out a route among the boulders aided by cairns to show the way. At the base of that rock wall are a couple old mines where prospectors long ago thought they might find gold.
Now I'm closing on the end of the ridge and reaching it, paused but needed to head back as I had a lot to do to be ready for tomorrow morning's flight. I was walking and began to hear what sounded like a car or truck traveling over rough pavement. The sound was coming below where I could see the suddenly the air overhead was filled with a swarm of bees. If you can run about a 1/4 of a mile you can escape but the terrain did not offer the option and I thought running may provoke so I squatted. I was scared as bee sting attacks are not all that rare and many times deadly.
I thought the swarm was hovering but instead they were moving up hill. It was so large I could not initially detect the movement. I briefed a sigh of relief and my very shaky legs began moving. About 10 more steps, a large brown snake shot across the path in front of me. I began to think it is probably a good time for me to get out of here.
I'll miss the mountains, the views, the blue skies, sun and abundant opportunity for hiking and cycling but the cycling season in Ohio is fun too so not a bad trade-off.