A perilous journey to McDonalds

Day 26 We left Silverwood Lake and set off through Little Horsethief Canyon with McDonald’s on our minds. Yes, there’s a McDonald’s only .4 miles from the trail at Cajon Pass. In my naivete when I first heard about this McDonald’s I pictured the friendly golden arches perched upon a hilltop in the pristine wilderness. Ha! Cajon pass is basically a rest-stop area along the enormous rumbling I-15 freeway, which the PCT goes under.

We don’t usually frequent McDonald’s, in fact it had been years since either of us had been, but after climbing hill & vale in scorching heat the thought of enjoying cool refreshments in an air conditioned room was enough to have us forgo our “shop local” ethic. Plus it was a PCT hiker hot spot. We basically couldn’t miss it.

mcdonaldsBut don’t worry, we milked Micky D’s for all it was worth. Dan refilled his medium Dr. Pepper about 6 times and Anna’s chocolate milkshake contained a good 1/2 gallon of ice cream as we rejuvenated for an hour in our cool yellow plastic booth.

But on the way to this global fast food enterprise we had a close encounter with the powers of nature, reminding us that we were still on a wilderness hike. Chatting excitedly, our dry mouths driving our steps to refreshment, Dan’s feet came very close to an unsuspecting reptile as we rounded a bend. A rattlesnake had been enjoying a small patch of shade on the narrow path (cliff up on one side, cliff down on the other) when he was startled into coiling action complete with maraca sound effects. What do you do when encountering a snake? Well, move back slowly and calmly. What do almost all humans do? Give a surprised yelp as they stumble backwards with complete lack of co-ordination. And yes, Dan chose the latter.

With hastened heartbeat we made the most of our camera’s zoom lens and then waited for the rattler to let us pass. But minutes passed and it was still in striking mode, noisily rattling its tail. Even after a few well-aimed rocks cascaded down upon him, he stood his ground. So we opted to scramble down the rock face and then up again well clear of striking distance.

Nothing would come between us and our quest for refreshment!


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