On The Run With Wild Animals (Redux)

Running outdoors beats hammering out miles on the treadmill hands down. But if you want some open space and get out of the range of a wayward automobile you might have to go off the beaten path. But just because you’re off the beaten path doesn’t necessarily mean you’re alone.

There is a bike path near where I work, and during the summer months the days are long enough to where I can get in some running mileage after hours. I’ve come across an assortment of small wildlife in the two years I had been using the path. Semi-exotic birds frequent the area, spillover from a park pond up the road. There are many squirrels as well, but not the cute bushy tailed ones that climb trees. These are apparently ground squirrels, but I call them rat squirrels because they look like a cross between a rat and a squirrel. There are plenty of lizards too, who like to play chicken as you run by. All these critters are there for the water in the wash that runs alongside the bike path. There usually isn’t much water in there, but enough for the small animals that live there. On the other side of the wash is a bank of hills. It is rattlesnake country, but I had yet to see one over the course of the last two years…

It was a hot summer day, still distressingly hot despite being very late in the afternoon. It was a six miler for me that day, a three mile loop that I would run twice in that particular area. I was past the halfway mark of the first loop and was making my way back when I spotted something on the road up ahead. Did somebody drop a shirt, is that a stick? As I drew closer I saw that it was moving, and it was no stick. It was a rattlesnake. My guess is that it was in the 4+ foot snakerange, and was snaking its way across the bike path. There was no way around it. The wash-where it came from, was on one side, and a fenced in apartment complex was on the other. My only choice was to wait for him-or her to get out of the way. I pulled my small video camera out and began recording. I always carry the camera with me in case I want to film my stride and make any necessary adjustments. Another post. At the moment, a rather long and thick rattler was in my way. As he got to the other side of the road he kind of turned and headed my way. I backed off, not knowing how fast or how aggressive this thing might be. As it turned out, he ignored me, and just wanted to head in to the apartment area. Too bad there was noone outside there. He was headed straight for the carport. Probably to get some shade under somebody’s car. That would be quite a surprise for some unsuspecting sap, because this thing was kind of intimidating. Being surprised by it at close range would be something else.

It finally got out of my way and I continued on, avoiding that stretch of road the rest of the run. I haven’t been back there since, but I always knew there were snakes in the area, so this should have been no surprise. The surprise was that it took so long to finally see one. I don’t know what would repel a snake, but I’ll take some pepper spray next time just in case. Ideally, I just want to steer clear of any poisonous wildlife. I have to admit though, it was kind of exciting to come face to face with a rattler. Okay, not literally face to face, but close enough. I’ll just be more aware of my surroundings going forward.

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