Okay, my friend Howe Siang calls me at 10 pm saturday night and convinces me that we should hike to cone peak, leaving from Palo Alto at 5 am on sunday morning. That sounds reasonable since this is a supposedly 15 miles roundtrip hike.
(needless to say that this will turn out to feel more like a 25 mile hike) Well, we start hiking at 8:45 am and I tell you this area is beautiful (see pics). We start from this parking lot near Lucia that has been described elsewhere on this site. The path leads through a marvellous creek and up some beautiful meadows with flowers and through the line that separates the pacific mist from the clear blue sky. We find the well maintained trail that contours north around the hills with awesome views on the pacific ocean. We silently walk for an hour or so, when I suddenly stop petrified by the view of an rattle snake lifting its head and showing its teeth right in front of me. Nothing happens, the rattler moves along continuing to rattle some more. Well, that is my first encounter with a poisonous snake and I start thinking, what was it again what you are supposed to do if you get bitten. Frankly, I had no idea.
After that incident we remembered to have heard the rattling sound before, but ignorant and unaware of any danger we just ignored it. A little shocked we move on, after all it is still a long way to the top. the trail is getting narrower and steeper after Goat Camp and the sun beats down on us. I just bought hiking poles which I was very happy to have since climbing up that hill was quite strenuous. Slowly I put one foot in front of the other, I put the pole right in front of my right foot , into the middle of a coiled rattle snake. Surprisingly the snake was more afraid than I was (and I was pretty afraid) and after uncoiling around my pole and making a lot of rattling sounds disappears under the bushes, continuing to rattle like crazy.
I guess it is obvious that we continued very carefully poking at every bush along the trail and so it continued to be a beautiful and long hike. However, I feel that the issue of rattle snakes on this standard trail to cone peak has not been stressed enough before. Accordingly, the morale of this story is: bring a hiking pole and beat around the bush.