A few months ago I was mountain biking at the Lakes with Mark, Glenn, and Mikey.  I was riding in front of the group and then, a quarter of a mile into the ride, I suddenly stopped.  When Glenn asked me what was wrong I told him that I was skittish.  I wasn't riding...I was looking for snakes.  Only three weeks into my summer and I had already seen four snakes along the trail (Mark and I would encounter the fifth...and largest snake of the summer...a couple weeks later in Tuscarora State Forest).  It's surprising to some people that, as much time as I spend in the woods, I'm seriously afraid of snakes.  When I see one I tend to do that "Scooby jumping into Shaggy's arms" thing.  For the rest of that particular ride I let Mark (the man who fears no animal) take the lead.

My good friend, Mark Lentz, admiring a rattlesnake.  WHAT A DAY WE HAD in Tuscarora State Forest! -- July 6, 2017

Rattlesnake in Tuscarora State Forest. -- July 6, 2017

I could call summer of 2017 my "summer of snakes."  Altogether I saw two copperheads (in Ohiopyle State Park), two black snakes (one in Michaux State Forest and one at Rocky Ridge County Park), and one Rattlesnake (in Tuscarora State Forest).  Snakes, however, weren't the only wildlife that I shared the trails with this summer.  I'm not sure why...but this summer I came across more wildlife than I ever remember in such a short timespan!  Yes, I crossed paths with snakes...but I also shared the trails with squirrels, turkey vultures, turtles, deer, hornets, and a black bear (and that's still not the entire list!)

On our first ride of the summer, Mark took me to Stony Valley.  We saw this snapping turtle near the trailhead. -- June 5, 2017

Sharing the trail at Swatara State Park with this turtle.  He matched my bike. -- June 6, 2017

Sharing the trails with a chipmunk at Rocky Ridge. -- June 8,  2017

Not sharing the trail...but sharing my campsite in Ohiopyle State Park with a racoon. -- June 14, 2017

Grudgingly, I shared a shower with these guys while camping in Ohiopyle. -- June 15, 2017

I'm 99% sure that this is an Osprey that I saw while hiking at Rocky Ridge County Park with Robin, Alex, Jackie, Sophie, and Isaac. -- July 2, 2017

Hiking along Sheffield Light Island in Connecticutt, Robin and I shared the beach with multiple horseshoe crabs. -- July 17, 2017

Matt, Glenn and I shared the road with these Turkey Vultures having lunch along Route 233 in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017

Definitely not the only deer I crossed paths with this summer...but the only one I managed to get a picture of.  This particular doe was running the fence line near the trails where Glenn, Mark, and I were mountain biking on the Green Belt in Harrisburg, PA. -- July 26, 2017

It's been a while since I've seen a black bear while mountain biking...Mark and I shared the trail with this black bear while mountain biking in Michaux State Forest.  We were approximately one hundred feet away when I took this picture. -- July 31, 2017

Just a few days after Glenn, Matt, and Tim were bombarded with hornets while we were mountain biking in Michaux (I was in the front of the pack and must have stirred them up), I saw this hornets nest hanging from a tree while I was hiking the trails around the Bedford Springs. -- August 6, 2017

Alex launched his drone (on the left) after we hiked to the top of Tumbling Run.  He captured super cool footage of a hawk flying over Michaux State Forest.  Check out the video below. -- August 17, 2017

On a road ride with my son, Alex, we ended up sharing the road with this snapping turtle trying to cross the pavement. -- August 20,  2017

This past week, I was riding at the Lakes when I began thinking about about all the animals I had shared the trail with over the summer.  Glancing ahead, there was a groundhog standing in the middle of the trail...just staring at me.  Last thing I wanted was to play chicken with this furry guy and his razor sharp claws.  He darted towards me and then passed under my left pedal. With my heart still racing (and no more than fifty feet further down the trail) I looked up and found myself staring at a six point buck no more than one hundred feet away!  Incredible!  I interpreted this  little episode as a gentle reminder that I'm the visitor in their home...not the other way around.  I'm glad that they don't mind sharing the trails.

Unfortunately, I was forced to start my summer by sharing the road with a buck while driving in southern Bedford County on the way to my summer kick-off camping trip at Rocky Gap State Park.  My truck was completely repaired.  Can't say it ended quite as well for the buck. -- May 26, 2017

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- September 3, 2017

Why do they even make signs like this?!  I know there are snakes in the woods!  Nothing like raising my blood pressure before the hike.  Lakeside Loop is in Rocky Gap State Park, Maryland. -- May 28, 2017

Here's the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...

Interested in mountain biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

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