Thanks to the gals at running group, trail running has become one of my favorite activities.
I now LIKE running uphill. Even more than I like running downhill. I am a freak.
However, even though trail running is wonderful exercise mixed with beautiful scenery, it does carry some risks.
As I mentioned in my early trail running posts, I’m not the most coordinated of folks, and the rocks on the trail pose a real danger to me. Not to mention the steep drop-offs that are sometimes on the side of the trail. So far, nothing bad has happened (a couple near falls, but no ACTUAL falls yet…knock on wood.)
There are other dangers, though.
After I started working, I decided to go run a trail every Tuesday after work. I do one of two trails: Deer Creek (my arch nemesis from the first day of running group) or Green Mountain (my other arch nemesis I had to walk up one Saturday morning when I was hungover.) I believe that running these two trails regularly has put me in the shape I am in today.
Back on the subject. I was a little wary of running the trails alone, but I took my phone with me and there always seems to be a bunch of mountain bikers, hikers, and other runners around so I figured I would be safe.
So, one day I’m running Deer Creek when I pass by a forest ranger talking to a woman on the trail. I feel a little safer knowing he’s there, but I hear him say to the woman as I’m trotting by, “I hope I get to see it.” See what? I didn’t stop to ask, I just kept running.
I ran and ran and up I climbed over to the other side of the mountain where, unusually, I didn’t pass nearly as many mountain bikers or hikers. When I finally did pass some mountain bikers, they said to me, “Be careful; there’s a bear in the area.”
“Great,” was all I managed to say.
For about another lonely mile after that, every squirrel, bird, and grasshopper made me jump three feet in the air. And I spent a good amount of time trying to remember what it is you’re supposed to do if you see a bear. Make yourself big? Make noise? Run away? All I knew was that if it attacked me, I needed to play dead.
I made it through the run without seeing the bear. I was slightly relieved, and slightly disappointed.
The next week, I went to Green Mountain. I was running along happily (seriously, I love Tuesdays) when suddenly, a snake began to slither in front of me, then stopped, coiled up and rattled at me. I jumped essentially 3 feet over the snake and did a very girly scream and continued on my way. About 50 feet ahead, a runner going the other way passed me. I flagged him down (he was wearing headphones) and informed him there was a rattle snake up ahead. He barely blinked and kept running. Well, it was a big deal to me. It was my first rattle snake sighting!
I guess these dangers are to be expected. I mean, to get to these trails, you have to take roads such as “Grizzly Drive”, “Rattle Snake Gulch” and “Alameda Avenue.” There are signs all over the place that tell you coyotes and/or mountain lions in the area (what do you do if you see a coyote and/or mountain lion?)
Today, I went back to Green Mountain to face it again. It was sprinkling when I got out of my car and there was a little bit of thunder. I know it’s not safe to run up a mountain when there’s lightning, but to be honest, I’ve never been very afraid of lightning. Plus, the thunder was not the loud roar of thunder that tells you that the lightning is right there upon you, it was only a whisper of thunder softly implying lightning was somewhere in the vicinity.
Plus, I was ready to run me some hills.
I began to run up the mountain and the clouds began to roll in. And it was sprinkling. Then raining. Then it stopped for a minute. Then it started raining again. Then, by the time I made it to the top, it started hailing. Yep. Pelting me with hail. There are no trees at the top, there was no where for me to hide. The hail was only pea size, but I wondered what I would do if it began to grow into golf ball size, and what the welts might look like, and how I would explain them to people. At least I was wearing a hat?
I began to take a trail back down and suddenly realized my feet were really heavy. I looked down and saw that all the mud on the trail was sticking to my shoes. I had about an inch of mud caked to my shoe and it felt like I was running with weights on my feet (not a bad workout). All I could do was laugh and laugh at being pelted with hail and now running in mud-caked 5 lb. shoes.
I kept on trucking, though, and finished those miles.
Now that I’m home, I get to watch some of my favorite shows (19 Kids & Counting and Teen Mom).
I love Tuesdays!
Oh! And I used my phone to capture some of my favorite scenery (I unfortunately missed the view of the top of Green Mountain as the angry storm raged over the Denver skyline…but my phone would have been soaked if I took it out at that point.)
This is my very favorite part of the Deer Creek trail. After running up the side of the mountain and then turning in to go down, there’s suddenly a break in the trees and this little meadow appears. Beautiful. I always imagine deer will be frolicking there (actually I ran within 10 feet of a deer at running group last week, but that was a different trail.) Now, sometimes I picture a bear here. But it’s still so pretty!
Here it is with a shot of the trail.
The sky as the storm was letting up today.
See? Unlike Deer Creek, at Green Mountain there are no trees to hide under in case of golf ball-sized hail.
I love Colorado.