About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed one 100 miler and numerous other ultramarathon trail races and marathons. I ran a 5K once.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Snakes!

Two snake encounters within five minutes of each other! That sums up my run in the Franklin Mountains. My running buddy spotted the first one in the middle of the trail and stopped in time for us to admire his black and white banded tail and rattle. We were about to turn around soon anyway so decided to head back the way we came so as not to have to guess where he was on the return trip.

The first one
After running for five minutes or so I noticed something out of the corner of my eye and realized that I had just run past another rattler. Where was he when we came through here the first time? How close did we come to him? I would venture to say that I’ve probably run a few feet or perhaps inches from snakes in the past having never noticed them. After seeing one snake, we were on high alert when we passed the second one, but didn’t spot it.

The second one
It’s terrifying to think about, especially if you’ve ever seen the affects of a rattlesnake bite. Last summer my dog, Taz was bitten by a rattler and I now have greater respect for venomous snakes after caring for this dog’s misfortune. I’m happy to say that he has since completely recovered. 

Read: Emergency on the Trail!

Another recent outing took me, once again, past a snake that was coiled up beside the trail. I suppose I thought it was just another rock because I was heading downhill on a very rocky trail trying to avoid taking a digger. Once past the snake, I turned around and realized just how close I was to him. (I think I pooped in my shorts a little.)


I was quite on edge after this and was planning to do an all night training run in a few days to get ready for my up coming hundred miler. I wanted to run on trails in the Franklin Mountains, but was afraid of stepping on a land mine since snakes are more active after sundown.


Instead I opted to run on the Rio Grande levee road and connecting canals. There would be fewer snakes and the smooth dirt roads would allow me to see one easier. I started my run just after sundown and within 30 minutes saw a snake crossing the road heading towards the river. Fortunately it was only a harmless king snake so I stopped to watch him move off the trail. 

King Snake
The other wildlife I saw that night was a skunk and a jaguarundi, a small panther like wild cat that is only native to the southern most tip of Texas. OK, you’re right. I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and had been running all night. It was most likely a huge stray cat that had been dining out of the Rudy’s Bar-B-Q dumpster. But you never know.

While running at the ranch with my dogs recently, I spotted another serpent. Monsoon rains have filled stock tanks with water and I was running along a levee that created a riparian zone where aquatic plants flourish. (This is a rare sight in an otherwise desert landscape.) A small benign looking snake was stretched out across the path, but fortunately the dogs were oblivious to his presence. It turned out to be a checkered garter snake which are abundant around wetlands where they dine on fish, frogs and worms. 

Checkered garter snake
We had a cold front move through this past weekend so I wasn’t too worried about snakes while out on my trail run. I figured they were too cold to be moving about and would soon become dormant as the weather became colder. The morning was chilly and windy and I completed 22 miles on snake-free trails. 

Baby rattler
This was the first day I started using my Charity Miles App to earn some donations for Team Red, White and Blue. When I returned to the trailhead, I realized that I was close to a full marathon so decided to keep running for my team. To get some more miles, I ran on the road in a new sub-division in W. El Paso (Cimarron). Lo and behold, there was a baby rattlesnake in the bike lane near the sidewalk. The same sidewalk where children wait for the school bus, people walk their dogs and moms and dads stroll their babies. I’ve heard that baby rattlesnake bites are the worst because they can’t control their venom. 

Rattlesnake country (notice the proper footwear).
At first I thought the snake was dead because his tail was injured; perhaps a cyclist ran over him. However when I touched him with a stick he coiled up as if to say, “make my day, buddy!” It just goes to show that you are never safe in rattlesnake country so always be alert whether on or off the trail. If the worst ever happens, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The good news is that you are most likely not going to die. The bad news is that you may wish you had. 




See you on the trail.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Two States Run

Hundreds of bats flutter above me as I run under a bridge that crosses the Rio Grande. I stop for a closer look and am amazed by the sound of thousands of fluttering wings. Suddenly I hear a screech and see an owl take flight. She continuously flies overhead while making an eerie call like fingernails down a chalkboard. I was once struck on the head by an owl protecting her nest. Although it is hard to see in the dark, I suspect this raptor is a barn owl because of it’s pale color and incessant screeching. 

Blurry bats
I’ve only been running for an hour having left my house at 3:30am because I plan to run to the next state; New Mexico. This 40 mile training run will take me from West El Paso, TX to Old Mesilla (Las Cruces) and should take a whopping 9-10 hours because of the August heat and humidity.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

St. Sebastian River Preserve


Ah, sunny Florida in August. This is the life. Nothing like relaxin’ on the beach where your only worry is a blown out flip-flop and maybe a lost shaker of salt. Indian River County is on the East Coast about half way down the state where there is an abundance of lush vegetation, tropical birds, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles that bury their eggs on the pristine beaches. Sounds like a tropical paradise until you try to run in the sweltering heat. The humidity is off the scale and you will be soaking wet if you make it to the end of your run.



Sandhill Cranes wander the neighborhoods

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bush Mt (Guadalupe Mountains National Park)


Why is it getting light outside already? I set my alarms for 4 and 4:30, but never heard anything. Epic alarm failure or was I in such a deep sleep that I just didn’t hear them? I rarely oversleep, but had a hard time drifting off last night due to thunder storms. Sleeping in my hatchback turned out to be a good idea. I don’t have to worry about breaking camp and should be on the trail by 6:00am.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Hillsboro Peak

CAUTION...watch for FALLING TREES, BLOCKED ROUTES, ERODED TRAIL. Well, I didn’t plan this one very well did I? The night before leaving for a camping and running trip, I decided to check the status of the Black Range Crest Trail (#79) in the Gila National Forest, NM. Status: OPEN (Hikers and horsemen should beware of the hazards in the burned area.)



Friday, June 20, 2014

Puebloans Ran Here

Not only did the Ancestral Puebloans run, but also scaled cliffs to reach the safety of their homes. Imagine climbing a 100 foot precipice each time you had to run to the grocery store. Well that’s what the ancient peoples who inhabited what is now Mesa Verde National Park had to do in the 13th century AD. 

Cliff Palace
Knife Edge Trail

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tonuco Mountain


Falling to my death doesn’t scare me half as much as being helplessly trapped in a tight space. You could say I’m claustrophobic. The thought of living out my last days unable to move, dehydrated and starving to death is more than I can even imagine. It’s no wonder that I feel squeamish as I peer into a dark pit on Tonuco Mountain, careful not to slip on the loose sandy dirt and fall to my final resting place. 

Tonuco Mt
Open mine shaft