Would have liked to have started at first light, or about 0515, but because I figured my wife might like visiting nearby Boyce Thompson while I hiked, out of consideration for her, we started later. We actually departed the Rainbow Donuts at 0515, meaning we did not make it to the trailhead until 0630.
I started hiking at 0645, counterclockwise so that the early morning would be shadow, while my planned return route up Arnett Creek would be in late morning canyon shadows. (The “official” loop instead passes by the airport, then along the north side of Hwy 60.) I was also under a time constraint to depart the trailhead no later than 1000, in order to get my wife to her hairdo by 1130. I could maybe do the distance in 3h 15m on a flat surface, but did not think I would have time in the sort of boonies.
About an hour in, I had done 2.5 miles. (Really nice little canyon is Alamo Canyon.) Doing the math, there was no way I could do the whole loop by 1000. I figured I would go another mile, then turn around. Keep in mind, I walk with my eyes down, scanning left & right, near and far, for patterns. (After last week, adding circles to lines in my list of snake-like patterns.) A half mile later, looking up trail around a left hand corner … BZZZZZZZZZT!!! … Holy schneikees! Right by my right calf. I instantly leaped left, off trail, in mid-air thinking, “Crap, I hope I’m not jumping into a nest of the ******s on the other side.” After ensuring my footing was danger-free, I looked 15 feet back across the trail at a very annoyed Western Diamondback. He stayed in mid-hover, testing the air, while I snapped off a few photos. They must have really bad eye-sight (?), and he knew I was still there, but not sure where. I figure I must have hit him, or come very close, with my right hiking pole.
Decision made for me, I turned around and headed back to the trailhead, arriving 0915. Headed into town for a Mayor Bloomberg-size Big Gulp, and a Powerball ticket at my lucky Circle K. (I won $7 there once, my personal best.)
Distance: 5.80 miles
AEG: 660 ft.
Time: 1h 56m