TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spotting Snakes

I didn't want to run this morning, especially not hills. I did anyway. Why? Because, I ran flat easy miles on Tuesday, and I'm planning on runs Saturday and Sunday. So, today was the only day to fit it in -- I don't want to run Friday, because that would make runs three days in a row. I'm a two-day-max-in-a row-runner (so fearful I am of injury.)

Aliso/Wood Canyons wilderness park has five trails that lead directly to the top. 1) Meadows, 2) Mathis, 3) Rock-It, 4) Lynx and 5) Cholla. It's difficult to say which is hardest to run. Different days I'd give you different answers. Today, I didn't want to run up Cholla, because that meant a 4 1/2 mile run to even get to Cholla. And I wasn't much in the mood for Meadows and its steep, steep switchback. Rock-It didn't sound too bad -- less mileage than Cholla to arrive at. But Rock-It actually leads away from Top of the World, which means some back tracking. I WAS NOT INTERESTED IN BACK TRACKING.  And Lynx was out of the question, first because I might as well run all the way to Cholla (which is easier to run up), and secondly it leads in the wrong direction too! The run from the ranger station to Mathis is approximately 2 1/2 miles.  And so Mathis it was. And tough it was. Sunny, hot, sweaty tough. 

As I ran up Mathis, not having a good time at all, I simply thought to myself, "It'll be over, it'll be over." And QUITE SOME TIME LATER . . . it was.

And then the fun began. Overlooking a brilliantly blue Pacific, I ran along Top of the World, still a little sluggish. But things were beginning to look beautiful. I headed down Meadows feeling a lot better than when I started off. And pretty much right away, I spotted a Rattler slowly slithering his way across the trail. He didn't even seem to notice me as I stopped abruptly in my tracks. I got a good look at that rattle as it disappeared into the mustard seed plants, and I was off running again.

By now everything was definately beautiful. The hills were green. Mustard seed added a colorful zing. And I had spotted a rattlesnake before he spotted me! I'm not too fearful of rattlers -- just as long as I see it FIRST. I also have a game plan, which lessens my fear a bit. My plan, should I have the misfortune of getting bit by a rattler is to stay put. I read that exerting energy makes the poison travel faster through your body. My plan is to calmy sit, preferably in the shade. I have the Ranger's station number programmed into my phone, so I will call them first because I figure they can help me fastest. Then I can call 911. Hopefully I never have to use this plan. I'll just keep my eyes open and keep looking so that I'll see the rattlers first.

I met another snake at the base of Meadows.  I stopped in my tracks to watch it slither across the road.  It had the same rich, deep brown colorings of the rattler.  But this one wasn't fat like the one up the hill.  And its tailend went to a small point, no rattler.  It was a gopher snake.  And he too slithered off into the mustard -- that is first after looking at me, sticking his head into a gopher hole, and then basking in the hot sun for just a bit.

Miles logged this morning:  9.08

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