Day 47 – Snakes On A Trail

Today I saw three black rat snakes on the trail out of Damascus. It was my mistake what happened next. I looked up the most common types of snakes in Virginia. While the Eastern Rat snake is the most common there are also cottonmouths, timber rattlesnakes, and more. Nightmare fuel for sure because every single stick, root, and twig out here looks like it could also be a snake.

I damn near stepped on two of the ones I saw today because, like I said, everything looks like one and you get desensitized after a couple hundred miles. I felt like Samuel L Jackson out here, “I’m tired of these mother effing snakes, on this mother effing trail.” As we all know, Snakes on a Plane was loosely based on Jackson’s own thru-hike.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. We woke up around 8:00 at our tent site and took our time getting ready. Sip stayed in town at a hostel and planned to catch up with us today. I got started slowly around 9:00 and had a leisurely pace all day. I wasn’t sore, or lacking energy. It just felt like I was out of it all morning.

Our first opportunity for water was about four miles in and I was close to empty when I started. I drank my fill when I got there. Rabbit and I had lunch at the trail head towards Saunders Shelter. The shelter was another 1/4 mile off trail and we’re lazy so another 1/2 mile added onto the day was not in the cards.

We left our options open for camping tonight. Either the next shelter or a tent site by the water not far from Laurel Creek Bridge. Rabbit found a nice spot by the water and Hatcher and I set our bags down to wait for Sip. We figured there’s no way he doesn’t see us right off trail. As I was collecting firewood, Rabbit thought he spotted Sip walk by us. We peer through the woods and catch a glimpse of his maroon pack and lime green tent and start yelling his name.

He eventually heard us when he took his headphones out and headed back to our location. We settled down to eat with the fire going. Dinner was ramen noodles I found in a hiker box and I yogi’d hot water to cook it with. It paired well with a little olive oil poured into my insulated cup.

We stay up until the fire dies down around 9:00 PM. The sound of the creek nearby provides a nice white noise in the background. Almost loud enough to drown out the snores of my tramily members. Earplugs again tonight.

With that we’re 22% complete. Stow away in my pack for Day 48 on the Appalachian trail.


As we head into Virginia, I think of my VA friends and you’re the first one who comes to mind. I don’t think we pass that close to Richmond, but I’d love to see you if you can make it out near the trail one day. Hope you and the family are doing well. Take care buddy.

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Comments 6

  • Tommy : Jun 1st

    There are no cotton mouths in Damascus

    • Derek Witteman : Jun 2nd

      I was referring to the state of Virginia, but good to know 🙂

  • thetentman : Jun 2nd

    Timberwood Rattlesnake? Never heard of that. Are you sure it was not an Eastern Diamondback?

    Love the update, thx.


    • Derek Witteman : Jun 2nd

      Timber* rattlesnake. My bad on the typo

  • Jordan : Jun 2nd

    Derek, I’m thoroughly enjoying following your journey on the AT.

    This is easily one of the best backpacking blogs I’ve followed, keep up the good work!

    • Derek Witteman : Jun 2nd

      Hey Jordan, thanks for following! I appreciate the kind words, we’re having a blast out here


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