We've read where this happened and have felt so badly for you. You're out having a good time doing something you enjoy and rotten snakes come out from under the rocks to attack innocent people. So we felt compelled to respond.
Since I'm in "the system" I'm never totally unaware of the surroundings and admit that I'm more cynical than most cachers. But I usually carry my small handheld pepper spray (easily available) in case of any problems.
We wouldn't be comfortable with a weapon - but something for self defense only makes sense. You never know what todays deviant misfits will do! And you need to be prepared to protect yourself.
We're so glad that everything ended up ok for you - but it has definately hightened our personal "security level".
"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."