Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coyotes, Deer, Pteranodons and Fear

Not long into a five-mile trail run last night did there appear the first warning signs. Yes, it was hot, and the water was going fast. Yes, the blue skies had turned to ominous clouds. But the warning signs were in fact actual warning signs: for coyotes.

The first one was on the sign post for the first time the Plateau Trail forks off from the Oak Hill Trail, which was the setting for the Dirty Dash 10K in March. The sign read, "Warning. Coyote Denning Activities in the Area. Beware of Aggressive Behavior. If you encounter aggressive behavior, leave the area immediately and call 1-800-EEK-GTFO!"

At the next fork, where the Plateau Trail splits off to that huge hill, there was another sign. This time it wasn't taped to the trail marker, but planted on its own stick in the middle of the trail. Was this meant to say, "We're serious. If you go this way, you'll be eaten by coyotes"?

I hoped not, because that's where I was headed.

The paranoia crept in. Every sound in the woods was a coyote advancing to attack. The pups had to be protected from bearded intruders. Visions of gnashed teeth and severed Achilles tendons plagued my thoughts.

My eyes darted from side to side at each rustle of leaves. Those cursed squirrels were toying with me. Then, a broken twig. Something much larger. Oh lord, this is it. My end.

Thank goodness! It was just a deer. Ahead, a young buck galloped away from the trail. But wait! Was he fleeing from a rabid coyote?
Source: Wiki Prehistorica
The trail started its descent. Suddenly, my head was a target for a dive-bombing, winged bug the size of a Pteranodon, swooping around my noggin, and buzzing the tower mercilessly.

"I don't know karate, you fiend, but I know crazy," I mumbled to the flying beast. Thankfully, no one was around to see me stumbling and swatting like a mental defective.

Where the trail makes a hairpin turn and the big downhill becomes a big uphill, there was another warning sign planted on a stick in the middle of the trail instead of the marker post, confirming my fear that I probably should have been eaten by coyotes.

The Pteranodon left me alone for a while, but returned periodically to make sure I knew who's boss.

My legs dropped into Granny Gear for the long incline, allowing me to trudge on without succumbing to a walk.

My continued focus on running easy allowed me to feel strong throughout the run, and my lack of walk breaks helped me break out of my 13-minute mile pace slump with an average of 11:58 per mile.

As it turned out my fears were unwarranted. My water supply lasted throughout the run. Those clouds never broke. And I never did see a coyote. The bugs and squirrels were more menacing than anything else.


derscott said...

Great post! Reminds me of the running around here in NC, with the blood sucking, meat chewing deer flies.

Anonymous said...

I see coyotes every now and again on my early morning runs, but they always leave me alone. Then again, they look like they are eating pretty well, so that may have something to do with it.

B.o.B. said...

I guess this is a good thing for you, but a coyote AND a pteradon would have made a way cooler story.

C said...

Ah, so those were pteranodons I saw in the sky whilst flying by your state the other day. Good to know.

Carolina John said...

I don't know karate but I know crazy..... You know you're not a newlywed anymore when...

I hate getting bugs on the trail. So annoying.

B. Jarosz said...

I know exactly what you mean about getting spooked by totally normal noises. I used to hike solo in So Cal... Then there was a mountain lion attack reported (very rare, but still!) and for months afterward, I jumped every time I heard a twig snap! (Stupid lizards were messing with me.)

The last big critter I saw too-close-for-comfort was a brown bear sauntering along the trail in Yosemite (2010). I got the hell out of there as fast as I could! My hiking buddy, on the other hand, stopped to take pictures! (Some of my stories about "vacation brain" are firsthand accounts.) ;)

And the last horrible critter I tangled with was a jellyfish that attacked me during an evening walk at the beach.

Hmm... all of my scary animal stories involve walking or hiking.

Maybe if I ran more I'd keep away from the critters? You seem to have outrun the coyotes. Maybe there's a lesson here!