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Sixty degrees in NY today. No client meetings and nine days ’till departure to Nepal. A good day for a practice hike. Make that a great day for a hike. I invited my friend Andy at the last minute but he was busy.

Went online to find a hike to get my heart rate up – Mt. Taurus in Bear Mountain State Park. Perfect, given that my zodiac sign is Taurus. Hopped in the car, headed up the Palisades and over the Bear Mountain bridge. The drive was joyous – sun, music and thoughts of how fortunate I am to be on this adventure. Reached the trail head in just over an hour.

After loading my day pack with water, food, clothing and some other emergency-related essentials, I grabbed a map and headed up the trail. After a 25 minute ascent I removed an outer layer, zipped off my pant legs, took a swig of water and kept going up. I’m thinking that Mt. Everest will surely be more difficult but I feel pretty solid with all of the preparation I’ve done over the past six months.

The next thing I know I am walking on a small foot path next to the cliff edge. I need to focus on my footing as the drop is steep. I get through the tight part after about 20 minutes and look up to see what’s next. I’m in a dense wooded area. I look for a trail marker but there is none in sight. I took out the map which says to go north through a wooded area. I knew I was headed north because the Hudson river remained on my left. So I kept going. That was my mistake. I went deeper into the woods and made my way up the mountain to try to reach the peak and rejoin the trail. The trail never materialized. I kept bushwhacking my way up…

As I stepped over a pile of leaves onto some large boulders, a thick black snake squirmed under my foot. “AHHHHHHHH!” I let out a continuous yell and jumped down the rocks a good 50 feet below. I’m not sure who was more startled the snake or me.

I decided that this is a good place to turn around and head back down. My heart rate certainly got past peak! I put on my pant legs, unfolded the walking stick my Aunt Dale lent to me and headed down to safety.

As Mike Tyson once said, “Game plans are good until you get hit in the f*#king mouth!” Similarly, as a “Jewish-Sherpa” from NYC, hikes in the woods are good until you step on a snake!

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