Trail Creature Encounters

Snakes – I believe only Garter snakes – Lots of caterpillars – my wife likes to make sure they get safely across the trail path.  Chipmunks galore – mostly out of the corner of my eye.  Squirrels of course.. Lots of butterflies starting in the spring and especially on sunny morning runs- They will sometimes run/fly with you a little bit. 

Insect swarms end up clinging to my shirts or worse, I get them in my eyes and/or mouth.  They look like small tornados.  I think it may have to do with mating rituals – which makes it all the more unpleasant and another reason to avoid them. 

Dogs – on and off leash – for the most part they don’t present a threat but I am always aware of anything that can run faster than me and has large canine teeth.  I have gotten to know a lot of them by name.  Petie is my favorite…(more on him later). 

Canadian Geese- they can’t be trusted, especially after their goslings are born.  I wave my arms and yell when I approach them on the trail – this sometimes encourages them to clear a path and other times makes them more aggressive, which is always a little nerve racking.  Their droppings are another hazard altogether….especially with the soles of my Asics… Having said this, they sure are beautiful in flight and a treat to watch landing on the creek.   They usually announce their arrival with rhythm-less honking translated “Look out am comin in for a landing!!!”

There’s a ground hog that I see in the same place all the time.  I suspect it’s because he doesn’t venture far from his burrow.  He’ll stare at me as I pass..

Rabbits –  In the spring and summer they start to show up.  The babies are adorable and just like the groundhogs I see them in the same places along the trails…

Red Tail Hawks are a treat to see soaring or perched in a tree.  They seem to tolerate my intrusions.  Lots and lots of birds with an occasional yellow finch.  I understand there is a chicken that makes Cooper River park its home.  Would love to meet him…  One day I saw a buzzard (I think) feasting on something.  It was almost as large as the Canadian Geese.

There’s nothing like seeing the ducks and their ducklings swimming inline.  Cormorants are fun to watch too. 

It’s interesting to see the turtles on warm days sunning on top of the creek logs.  I’ve notice that the larger ones are always the 1st inline to occupy their perches.

Running shirtless one time, I was stung by, what appeared to be a giant wasp.  It had to be 5 inches in length (and if I tell this story again, it will grow another 5 inches).  It stung me in the back of my upper left arm.  Honestly, It nearly knocked me over.   My arm was swollen for a good week afterwards.. To this day, I am aware of the place on the trail where I was stung, always on the guard.

While running trails in Sedona I seen Coyote and roadrunners.  The coyote appeared to be playing with a mouse or maybe a chipmunk.  It pranced as it played with it.  That was really fun to see, but probably not much fun for the mouse…

My favorite encounter was with a deer in PennyPack Park, Cherry Hill.  I’ve seen deer in the park a number of times.  Normally they are still, blending into the brush.  They are always starring back at me, which makes be believe they see me first.  One summer day, maybe mid-morning, on my return from a regular out and back course, I was concentrating on navigating tree roots that spider onto the trails .  More than once I’ve been a victim and have learned to respect these obstacles.  Tripping is not pleasant at any age – Thank goodness for “duck and roll” training in grammar school.  Anyway, while I was alternating my vision concentrations from the ground to the trail ahead, I saw a deer barrowing down the path, full speed towards me.  I think he may have been doing the same with his/her concentrations as well.  We both stopped abruptly –the deer seemed to skid to a stop,  it was running so fast –which makes me think he was as surprised as I was.  No more than twenty yards apart, we just stared at each other.  It seemed like forever.  Eventually I looked around to see if anyone else was witnessing this encounter.  A man fishing in the nearby stream had his back to us, but I had to try to get his attention, because this was such a special treat.  So I called to him.  He didn’t hear me, but this was enough to break the spell and the deer turned and ran back up the trail from where it came.  As I continued my run, I glimpsed my friend in the brush.  Am sure he was as startled as I was, but in my case, so thankful for the encounter.

I see a lot of things on my runs.  Some become memories that I try very hard to permanently store in my memory.  They are so much fun to recall and warm as well.  I see other runners all the time – I make it a point to acknowledge them with a wave and a smile.  They surely have many creature stories as well.

PS- Well I just got back from a run and as I shuffled down the trail, I remembered one of my most memorable creature encounters…On a very cold winter morning, last year, as a light snow was falling; I went for my regular run. The trail I run is next to a stream that was pretty well frozen. With no wind , the snow made everything still and quite. In the center of the frozen stream I saw a fox, before he saw me. He was running down the center of the frozen stream. Between the light snow falling and the fox’s beautiful red coat, it was like being in a painting. The fox did not see me, nor did I think he heard me because the snow was muffling the sound of my shoes hitting the trail. I was able to run alongside him for a good quarter mile before he headed into the brush.

About Patrick

Old enough to know better
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2 Responses to Trail Creature Encounters

  1. Frank K. says:

    Thanks for checking out my blog. It appears we tread the same routes, and in fact, have come across the same animals. That chicken is elusive, though. Frank


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