Trails, like rules, are there for a reason

“Trails are there for a reason; my husband always told me when we were hiking.  The high grass and wooded areas can be dangerous”. His warnings were usually confirmed by the posted signs that instructed people to stay on the trails.

The problem was that I had a hard time staying on the trail.  My curiosity about what I couldn’t see compelled me to follow sounds that I couldn’t identify.  Often I went off the trails to get photos of birds, such as the Painted Bunting and the Scarlet Tanager soaring out of my camera’s view into the thickets of trees and bushes.

In South Texas, where we lived, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge was home to hundreds of bird species plus ocelots, deer, javelina, squirrels, long-tail weasels, alligators, and mountain lions.

We spent a lot of time driving or walking the trails surrounded by thick brush and cactus with Mesquite trees serving as umbrellas against the hot sun.

Sometimes I didn’t always look where I was going when aiming my camera.  Once when I started down a hill toward a muddy puddle to get a shot of a Black-Bellied Whistling duck, my husband stopped me and pointed to an Alligator lying in the thick, wet sludge, watching my every step.

My careless days of going off designated trails changed the day I saw something huge and dangerous that generally lived off the trails.

We were on our way to one of our favorite trails. About 100 yards ahead of our car, I saw what looked like a dip in the road from a distance. It seemed to reach from one side of the road to the other, so I warned my husband to be careful.

However, as we got closer, we realized that the dark line was not a dip in the road.  It seemed to be moving. A few moments after we saw it move, we recognized what it was.  It was a seven-foot rattlesnake with a large bulge in its stomach.

The sun was warm and bright. The large bulge in the snake’s belly looked like he had just had a big lunch and decided to stretch out across the cold, wet road for a siesta. I was so excited.  I grabbed my digital camera from the seat and started to open the door.

Thankfully, my husband grabbed the handle and stopped me from stepping out into danger. He did, however, turn the car sideways, so we were parallel with the massive creature and let me roll the window down and take photos.

He laid there while I filled my disc with its image. Then the big snake lifted his head and his tail, gave me a look, shook his rattlers, and slithered off into the brush?the brush where my husband was always warning me of danger.

When we reported the huge reptile to the park service, the ranger patiently explained why the park posted signs to stay on the trail. “It isn’t just the fact that there are wild animals and poisonous snakes out there, but when people veer off the trails, they also trample wildflowers and cause erosion problems.”

I got the message loud and clear.  Of course, when I tell this story to my grandchildren, I point out the fact that rules are there for a reason, too.

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Deana Landers
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I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

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Story Comments

  1. Aunt Ladita I always enjoy reading your stories especially the ones back when you were growing up. Please continue to write as it is a joy to read as well my clients enjoy them too. Love you

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Teresa, for sharing them with your clients. That helps my numbers so I can continue to write online. Love you,

  2. I'm so glad you didn't show a photo of that rattlesnake. I'm abnormally afraid of any snake; no matter the size. I also wish you would have run over it and killed it. I know I'll get backlash for that comment but in my mind, there are no good snakes. Alligators, no biggie. Great story though for those who don't like to follow the rules. ;)

    • Deana Landers -

      Ha ha, Cindy, it was a really big snake. I'm not sure our car would have killed it. I don't like snakes either. I am glad my husband kept me in the car, though. Thank you so much for you comment.Deana

  3. Diane Briwn -

    I always wanted to go into the part of the woods where there are no trails! Always curious as to what I would find that no one else had seen!!I love your stories Aunt Deana!

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Diane. It is always the unknown that is so interesting for me, too. I am glad that my stories mean so much to you.Love you

  4. Deana,I love outdoor adventures too and nothing pleases me quite as much as "investigating," off the beaten path! Thank you for sharing your story of the alligator in the distance and the rattlesnake that was way too close. I'll share this story with my grands who live in Florida!Jemma

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Jemma. It is amazing that before that event I truly never thought of any danger with my wanderings. I still wander, but I am aware of what is around me, now:)Deana

  5. Lynn Spencer -

    Oh my...I have a strong fear of snakes and that would have done me in. Enough reason for me to always stay on the trails!

    • Deana Landers -

      I do too, Lynn. That's why I won't be wandering off the trails anymore. Thank you so much for reading my story.Deana Landers

  6. Great post. Yes, it's so important to be aware of your surroundings. I am a big hiker and that's the #1 thing to focus on.

    • Deana Landers -

      Sometimes it takes the scary things to make us pay attention to our surroundings, Maria. Your comments mean a lot to me.Deana

  7. That's so true and wow imagine seeing that rattlesnake. It must have been fascinatingly scary. A one-of-a-kind sighting for sure.

    • Deana Landers -

      I love to hike, too, Michelle. Thank you for reading my story and commenting.Deana Landers

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