Running Through Mud, Possums and Copperhead Snakes
I've been remiss in writing about any of our regular group trail runs, of late; (we have 4 or 5 per week). We had an exciting and fun group trail run, last night. Ten Trail Nerds showed up for our regular Tuesday night jaunt through the woods (after dark). It had rained about 4 inches since last week, so the trails were fairly muddy in some areas. It was warm, and the humidity was at about 80%. The foliage here is now totally fleshed-out, so it's just like we're running through a lush jungle. This jungle will be with us through the Spring & Summer months. Our trail loop has gotten a little longer, because of a local MTB club's trail-building efforts. We run about 5 miles per loop now, instead of 4.6.
On the first loop, I led for about 1/2 of the loop. We wanted to keep a steady and slower pace for some of the newbies that just run one loop. On the second half of the loop we were led by Good Ben. Within about a half-mile of the end of the first loop, we encountered one of nature's most beautiful creatures...a copperhead snake. In fact, one of us may have stepped on it, because it was in the middle of the trail (but we didn't see it at first), and it struck at Greg. It missed biting Greg, but scared the crap out of the last 3 runners in our group. The rest of us went back to check it out. The poor, scared creature moved off-trail and found a nice rock to crawl under and hide. (Not Greg...the snake).
We finished the first 5-mile loop soon after the incident. One of the newbies decided not to run a 2nd loop, (and may never be back again). A couple of others had to leave, also. So six of us stayed to run a 2nd loop. We traditionally run the 2nd loop in reverse direction, so we had to run by the snake area within a half mile of the start of the loop. (We didn't encounter the snake again). We did encounter a lot of deer, a rabbit, and one possum that wouldn't move off-trail, though. The final count: 20 mud-covered legs, no snake bites or any other nastiness' with animals, no ticks, no poison ivy, and no spider webs encountered (yet). I've found one safety tip that applies to living here and running on trails: Don't get in the way of the Food Chain!
Special Note: Copperhead snakes don't normally strike unless stepped upon, (like we did). In the past, we encounter (or jump over) a couple of copperheads per warm season, with no aggressive action taken by the snakes. They aren't as poisonous as rattlesnakes, (which we have plenty of in this area, also), but their bite can make you sick and lead to "complications." That's why running with a group on trails can be much safer than running by yourself.
I find ways to enjoy life as much as I can. Also, life's too short to treat people poorly.
I'm into long runs in the park, consuming salt, popping blisters,
eating roadkill & tree bark, and burying whiners in shallow, unmarked
graves. I also enjoy designing trail race courses that would make the
Marquis de Sade blush.
A fun time for me would include banging muddy shoes together, setting
broken bones with a machinist's vise, and duct-taping-down any part of my
body that is bleeding or just flopping-about uselessly.
What helps me to be an active trailrunner and grandpa?
1) Daily sponge baths with bovine stem cells;
2) Copious amounts of delicious & nutritious homebrewed beer; and
3) My secret elixir...Bicarbonate of Figleaf.