By request from my 100th post: The day I met the Biggest God-Damned Spider Ever.
I rock climbed a lot during and right after college. It was a good adrenaline buzz and it helped me overcome my fear of heights. There is a challenging route in Huntingdon (in PA) that had an outcropping. The climb up to the outcropping was easy, but then it was all finger and arm strength to get past it.
I was on belay and had climbed just about to the point where it got difficult. I reached up for a nice handhold and had to dig out some moss to get a good grip. I tossed the moss over my shoulder and yelled out, "rock," so my partner didn't get a face full. We always called out "rock;" it made sure that you didn't look up. No one looks up when there's a rock coming. Well, at least the people who don't require reconstructive surgery.
I reached back into the hole I had dug out and felt a tickle. No biggie, there are all kinds of roots and stuff that were coming through the rock. I found a foothold and pulled up to the point where the hole was.
...and there he sat.
...on my hand.
...a big spider. Quite possibly the largest ever recorded in the history of spider kind. The kind of size that would have made Beowulf say, "Shit."
Okay, it was a little over an inch long but as far as I was concerned it may as well have been a Great Dane with six eyes and fangs dripping acid.
I froze. I hate spiders. Not that "run from a room, screaming like a little girl" kinda fear, but too close to that kind of fear for my testosterone to handle comfortably.
I thought briefly of trying to blow it off my hand but visions of it jumping into my mouth (there are perils to having a pretty good imagination) when I opened it to blow filled me with a distinct unease. That and I would have had to have resumed breathing; yet another hurdle.
I wiggled my fingers as much as my death grip on the rock would allow. It raised two front legs in defense.
I considered chewing through my rope and plunging to quadriplegicy but I figured Gargantua (I had named him by now) would have merely clung to my hand to enjoy the ride and then bit me just for kicks.
Because spiders are calculatingly sadistic like that. Just ask Kelley.
The legs went back down.
On an educational note: A funny thing happens when you cling to a rock in the same position for too long no matter how good of shape you are in. Your muscles get tired. First they feel tired...evidently fear and adrenalin let this stage pass without notice. The next stage basically amounts to a slight quiver which moves into a noticeable quiver which heralds something known as 'muscle failure.'
I was at noticeable quiverosity.
I took a breath and blew gently. The dreadlocks that Gargantua was sporting blew lightly back and he again lifted up his front legs.
week a few seconds, his legs came back down and he sauntered off my hand. Thankfully this was not in the direction of my face. I would have had to have scrubbed my face vigorously on the rock had this happened.
I told my partner I was coming down. No actual climbing was involved in this process, I was lowered.
When I got to the base, my buddy looked at me and said, "Dude, why'd you stop?"
"Spider," I replied.
I haven't been scared of spiders since the incident, so at least I can thank Gargantua for that. If I ever see him again though, I'm smashing him with a hammer.