Christina over at Lazy Bones just posted about interesting things she has seen while running. This obviously lead me to recall some of my highlights on the trail and roads. While I enjoy being alongside a river and the peaceful wisps of a spring day, and let's not forget the now distant (hopefully for now) tracks in freshly fallen snow... I do welcome the chance encounters with wildlife. These times stick out in my mind.
Florida, Gulf Coast
In 2004 I while on the outskirts of Hurlburt Field in Florida I had an action packed run. First I came across a small coral snake in the trail. With great caution I hopped around the little fella. it was a HOT and dry day out in the grassy area about 5 miles north of the Gulf Coast. Thinking "that was neat" I moved down the trail. Within two miles I came across another creature. This time... a rattlesnake. I DID NOT see this guy though. He sat at the edge of a puddle in the trail and as I leaped over the water, the startled reptile leaped at me, actually striking at my heel. I was fortunate and he missed and I did not stick around to work things out with him. We agreed to disagree.
So on I went down the trail. Not another mile passed when I turned left and came across a large animal in the trail. This time, a baby alligator. Only about 3.5 feet long but the northerner in me thinks this is exactly long enough for such a creature. I grabbed a long stick and tried to urge him out of the trail but he just laid there hissing at me. Eventually I figured he just wanted to lay there and have me leave so I move at a wide birth around the lazy dude. Soon it was time to make my turnaround. I was a bit apprehensive about trekking through the gauntlet again. But things are always new on the return trip and this was no exception. All creatures had gone on their way and the second half was much less eventful and I was grateful.
While running Heflin Creek Trail outside Durango I had a bit of a surprise. I was returning home from 14 miles up the 'backside' of Missionary Ridge. The trail required a steep ascent from the creek bed to return to the front porch of the cabin. As I reached the crest of the climb I slowed to take in the sunset to the west. Just as I reached the resting point I came upon a small black bear. He was startled and bolted away. Initially we were no more than 10 feet from one another. From a safe distance we studied each other and eventually wandered our separate ways.
New River St Park, NC 2009
One of the strangest things I have witnessed was just last fall. This nighttime run on the trails required a headlamp and occasionally I was noticing a sparkle in the trail. After seeing this a time or two I stopped to investigate this glimmering diamond phenomena. Looking closely I saw that I was seeing a good sized spider. So, curiosity satisfied I moved on. As the trail took me further in and the night took a firmer hold these spiders became more active. The result in grassy meadows was one of a vast sky of stars at my feet. Just as the night sky was glittering its beauty, the spiders were shimmering in the glow of my headlamp. It was such a surreal setting to get in a leisurely night on the trails.