This was the most strenuous hike I have done to date. The views are beautiful. The flowers are in bloom. The sun is relentless. The trails are steep. And there are rattle snakes. The day of the hike the temperature was only 64º F but it was still really hot. The sun beat down upon us but since we took the trail counter-clockwise so we enjoyed the shade in the first part of the hike. Reaching the summit was very challenging and I am in fairly good shape. Take your time and pack plenty of food and water. And then take some more water. I was naive in thinking that the second half of our journey was going to be easy. I was greatly mistaken. Within the first mile of the decent I encountered my first rattlesnake, both in the wild and on this hike. There were plenty of people stressing its location so it never took me by surprise. It was just off to the side of the trail so avoiding it was not all that big of an issue. Next challenge, getting down the extremely steep loose gravel trail. At first sight these grade changes didn't seem too bad but they got worse. Thankfully I was had trek poles and I used them to help navigate the declines. Getting down these steep trails definitely fatigued my quads. After getting down the last big grade change, I came across a couple that were stuck in the trail because there was another rattle snake laying in the middle of the trail. They helped me by identifying its exact location. Once I saw it I realized that it was stretched out perpendicular to the trail. I also noticed it wasn't moving. I went as far away from its head as possible while positioning my poles to be some sort of an insurance policy. As I got closer I noticed the snake still wasn't moving and was definitely not rattling. Now I am thinking its probably dead but I am not taking any chances so I quickly move around it poles in hand and heart pounding in my chest. Cool, just about 3.5 miles left. Then I ran out of water. At first I didn't really think it was too big of deal. Now with 2 miles remaining and going 1.5 miles with no water, my exhaustion was really setting in my lips are sticking together and I am starting to really want a drink of water. The last part of the hike was through a big field with some pretty views but at this point I did not care too much as I was ready for this hike to be behind me. I realize that it sounds like it was a miserable hike and it was but I enjoyed doing it because it challenged my mind and body. I learned a lot from this hike.